Monday, November 28, 2011

Pracha wins the battle but may lose the war

The outcome of the censure vote at around 10.00 am today didnt' surprise anyone. The 273-188 vote was in favour of the target of the no-confidence debate, Police Gen Pracha Promnok, justice minister and director of Flood Relief Operations Center (FROC).

But opposition Democrat Party had, in submitting the motion, a more general objective: to underscore the Yingluck government's overall poor performance over the flood relief efforts. Revelations of political interference, misuse of donations, lack of coordination among official agencies concerned during yesterday's 14-hour debate (marred by protests by both sides) were damaging politically to the three-month-old government to a significant extent.

Pracha's an-eye-for-an-eye strategy by blaming the previous government under Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva for "conspiring" to hit the new government with an unusually huge volume of water from the two big dams didn't draw much support. In fact, Abhisit's counter-attacks were somehow more credible.

Pracha charged that Abhisit had deliberately left a huge amount of water in the two big dams, going into the general election with the plot to hit the new government under Pheu Thai Party with unprecedented inundation. "The Abhisit government knew that there would be a few big storms on the way. It also hatched a plan to store so much water that the new government would face a serious problem," Pracha said during the debate.

Abhisit wasted no time in hitting back. "That's a very ridiculous accusation. Is the government suggesting that we knew that there would be huge storms ahead. Is the government saying that the Democrat Party had planned to lose the election?"

The debate will put a dent in the government's credibility. The flood is still with us in many outlying provinces and parts of Bangkok. The recovery effort is still not well understood. Frustrated people are still tearing down Big Bags wall. Businessmen are still waiting for clear measures to help them rebuild their businesses.

A Cabinet reshuffle may be in the works to improve upon the government's image. Yesterday's censure debate may not have ousted the justice minister. But the prime minister certainly have been felt the growing pressure to do something about the performance issue.

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