Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This election offers a 'clear choice'

"I can't think of another election with such a clear choice -- what the Democrat Party stands for and what the Pheau Thai Party stands for," declared Premeir Abhisit Vejjajiva at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) last night.

Inevitably, Thaksin Shinawatra came into the picture. Abhisit added: "Do (the people) want a government that will continue putting their interest first or do they want people who are still tied to one person's interest? That's the choice that will be facing the Thai electorate," he said.

Thaksin's campaign slogan will obviously attack Abhisit for his coalition government's lackluster performance, alleged corruption and offering nothing new except to copy his archrival's populist policy.

Thaksin will probably also say that the voters will have a clear choice, of a different kind, perhaps.

NPP and PAD: Genie out of the bottle

The apparent split between the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and New Politics Party (NPP)is causing quite a stir in the local political circles.

Sondhi Limthongkhun probably couldn't believe that Somsak Kosaiyasuk, the NPP's leader, and Suriyasai Katasila, the party's secretary general, could "rebel" against him. After all, NPP was supposed to be the political arm of PAD. It was also supposed to follow every instruction from PAD's leadership, especially Sondhi's every wish.

But when Sondhi declared on the stage the other day that NPP was going against PAD's decision to boycott the upcoming election by preparing to field candidates, it came as a big surprise to a lot of people.

Is Somsak staging a mutiny against Sondhi? Nobody can say for sure. Privately, a number of PAD and NPP leaders were questoning Sondhi's stand. Publicly, every effort is still being made to put up a facade of harmy and unity.

Sondhi and Chamlong Srimuang have declared their "Vote No" campaign. They have also called for a three-year moratorium during which a "special government" -- it is not clear how to bring that about -- runs the country under Article 7 of the Constitution.

But the NPP appears to be headed towards a different direction. It wants to take part in the election and wants to have nothing to do with this "special arrangement."

Like it or not, the NPP now seems like a genie out of the bottle. It is defying attempts by PAD to put it back in.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Purachai: Premiership? Say 'No' when you mean 'Yes'

Is Purachai Piamsomboon, the leader of the newly-formed Pracha Santi Party, ready to be a candidate for the premiership after the upcoming election?

He is still coy about it. Purachai, who had joined Thaksin Shinawatra to form Thai Rak Thai Party before saying goodbye to pursue his own dreams, told reporters yesterday when that question was posed:

"It's still too early to say. I am like a kintergarden kid. How can I talk about doing a PhD?"

But a recent poll put him quite close to Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva in terms of popularity. Does that give him a big boost?

"Popularity in polls is one thing. Real votes in an election are something else,"
he said.

Humility in politics, especially in Thailand, promises to be a strong boost if handled with consistency. Purachai knows this very well, no doubt.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chalerm is calling his bluff, again

Why did Chalerm Yoobamrung suddenly resign as MP from the House yesterday?
The apparent reason is that he is calling attention from Thaksin Shinawatra who seems to have not taken his advice seriously about all the major issues int the party.

He was trying to shoot down Mingkwan Saengsuwan's ambitious rise and appearing to back Thaksin's sister Yingluck instead. But that doesn't seem to have boosted his position in the party. Now, he wants Thaksin to know that he is sulking in a very serious way.

Quitting now doesn't affect Chalerm that much since election time is just a few weeks ago. He simply wants to make virtue out of necessity.

Don't be surprised if he starts talking about forming a new party again --- that's his usual tactics to stay on in Pheau Thai with a higher profile.

Thaksin doesn't want to anger him but then he doesn't him Chalerm to have any real say either.

Pheau Thai is split before the big election -- and Chalerm's gesture is just the beginning of a tidal wave of defections and attention-grabbing negotiation tactics among the opportunistic politicians.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

When is Election Day?

My political sources have come up with important dates for the next few months: House to be dissolved on May 3 and Election Day could be either June 26 or July 3. So, things are getting into the "election mode" and no doubt, you know that you have to take everything with a grain of salt from now on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hours of debate didn't change anybody's mind

Deputy Premier Suthep Thuangsuban and opposition MP Jatuporn Prompan sparred for more than five hours in the no-confidence debate in the House. But they didn't change anybody's mind about what happened during the April-May, 2010 violent confrontations between the red shirts and government police and troops.

That's because they presented their own versions, produced the same old clips and pictures and stuck to their own side of the story. The public who watched the proceedings were determined to believe what they havd believed all along anyway, because neither speaker produced anything new in the debate.

Even when they produced the same clips and pictures, the accompanying stories delivered by Suthep and Jatuporn were poles apart.

And they didn't even bother to answer the other's questions. Both said what they wanted to say anyway.

My conclusion: Nobody was any wiser listening and watching the debate. In effect, they were obviously kicking off their election campaign speeches.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who torched Central World?

The Oppositon has threatened to "expose" the identities of those who torched the Central World building on May 19, last year at the height of the red-shirt protest. Jatuporn Prompan said earlier this week that he had "video clips" to prove that some military personnel might have been involved in the arson.

Leading military figures such as Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Air Force Chief ACM Ithiporn Suppawong have reacted strongly to such allegations.

Prayuth blurted out: "Are they mad? Who in his right mind would burn down a building like that. Soldiers were only trying to help put out the fire."

Ithiporn chimed in: "On that day, as the buildings were on fire, soldiers were asked to go in to help out. Just think about it. Who were those armed men in black?"

Deputy Premier Suthep Thuagsuban has countered by saying he will present evidence to show who the "men in black" were.

Stay tuned. The no-confidence debate that is due to begin March 15 promises to be very very interesting indeed.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The risk of public appearances

The signs declaring: "You are only good at talking!" went up as Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva was speaking at the 100th anniversary of the International Women's Day event at Thammasat University. The protesters were ex-employees of a company producing bras. They have been seeking government help for quite a while now but so far no action has been taken to their satisfaction.

At another function the other day, a red-shirt protester shouted: "You are a blood-stained leader!"

Abhisit has claimed all these harrassement tactics won't deter him from public appearances.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The 9 targets set for verbal assaults

Here are the nine Cabinet members targetted for the no-confidence debate that is due to start next week. It's going to be a marathon exchange of heated words between the government and opposition. You can be sure that all political parties represented in the House will exploit this opportunity to launch their election campaigns. So, be prepared for lots of hot air, from all corners of the boxing ring!