Thaksin holds an edge over his political opponents
Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra has shown all his cards on the table. He may have lost the battle, but he has yet to lose the war.
During his phone-in remarks to his crowd of supporters on Saturday, he said that only His Majesty the King could pardon him and the power of the people could bring him back to Thailand from an exile in London.
During his premiership between 2001 and 2006, Thaksin made several inappropriate remarks bordering on satire and lese majeste, such as ” I would not hesitate to step down only if His Majesty whispers in my ears”.
Now in simple term, he was sending out a Saturday Night Live message that he would like to return to Thailand but he would like to know first what the King would say about him. By doing so, Thaksin directly challenged the Monarchy to involve in his predicament on his own term.
Several Thais were feeling the high blood pressure after listening to Thaksin’s brief but highly calculated remark about the Monarchy. Thaksin thought that he had nothing to lose after having lost his political power and probably facing a likelihood of losing his wealth in Thailand altogether.
He has been sentenced to two years in jail over the Rachadapisek land deal. The Court might further confiscate his wealth of Bt69 billion in Thailand allegedly gained through policy corruption during his premiership. A host of other corruption cases are lining up against him.
The latest stage of the political development of the Thai crisis looks uglier.
Over the past three years, the fight for democracy has been twisted and distorted. Thaksin has succeeded in dividing the country, pitting himself against the establishment or the elite, whoever they are, the rural voters against the middleclass.
His supporters look upon him as champion of the poor and defender of the democratic system. His protesters view him as a demagogue, who got into politics to defend his own business interests and who had destroyed the balance and check in Thai democracy through his money game.
Do we recall what Thaksin say after having jumped bail and flying to London in August after sensing that he would lose his case in the highest court of the land?
“My dear compatriots, today is not my day. But wait for me for a while. I shall come back…..” It remains a haunting statement of the man, who does not the word “defeat” in his dictionary.
With his youth, at 59 years of age, Thaksin is gambling that he will outlive his older opponents in the Establishment through regime change. He is also confident that he could prevail over the court verdicts against him, possibly through constitutional or legislative amendments.
With money stockpiles, the backing from the rural voters and the oldtime politicians and the world’s public opinion, Thaksin hopes to make a dramatic comeback through a sort of a revolution.
Thaksin is believed to be seeking an asylum status from the UK government. This process will take time. He must prove that if he were to be sent back to Thailand, he would be subject to unjustified political persecution or a threat to his life.
Further political turmoil in Thailand would support Thaksin’s cause of UK asylum. UK’s granting of the political asylum status to Thaksin would further augment his international profile at a time when he has locked in support from the international media and the world’s opinion.
A pro-Thaksin website, Prachathai.com, flashed a message recently that Thaksin could set up a government in exile in the event that the political turmoil in Thailand went out of control or a military coup did take place again.
Other pro-Thaksin supporters were also hoping that Thaksin could elevated his status to that of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Nobel Laureate who is now being put under a house arrest in Rangoon by the military regime.
But a more likelihood scenario is a Thaksin’s strategy of weighing down on Thailand. A political turmoil that goes out of control would invite another military coup, which would support Thaksin’s political cause. His Red Army is ready to go to war against the Yellow Army of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. A bloody political violence can reoccur any time.
This course of events would result in selfdestruction for his political opponents, including the military and the establishment. He would return home in triumph over the ruins of Thailand and his political opponents.
If there were no political violence or a military coup, Thaksin could also still weigh down on Thailand by keeping in tact his nominee governments, one after another. Samak Sundaravej has gone. Now it is the turn of Somchai Wongsawat. Who’s next? That’s not so important, isn’t it?
At this moment, Thaksin still holds the upperhand. He has neutralised the military, garnered support from the police and also from the top bureaucrats, whose radar is quick to sense as to who is in power. The MPs also look like chickens in Thaksin’s hand.
The coalition partners also have no where to go but to stick to the People Powerled government because the season of budget spending is coming. The Chat Thai Party and the Machima Party MPs have no incentive to switch side either as their parties, along with the People Power Party, are under threat of party dissolution due to alleged election frauds.
Gen Anupong Paochinda, the army chief, has pledged not to stage another military coup. By showing his trump card, Gen Anupong’s call for Somchai to resign to assume responsibility over the bloody suppression of the antigovernment protesters on October 7, 2008 did not carry any weight. Somchai could conveniently brush off Anupong’s call for him to resign as “just another opinion”.
Strangely enough, Gen Anupong and Somchai have been getting along well as if nothing has happened. Is Gen Anupong wearing two faces?
If the threat of the People Power Party’s dissolution is near, Somchai will elect to dissolve the House of Parliament in order to set a stage for a new political fight. By that time, he would have finished reshuffling the police forces and the district chiefs nationwide, who form important allies ahead of a new general election.
The politicians under the Thaksin’s political wing will again make a comeback, albeit under new political parties, to form a new nominee government again. This strategey of weighing down on the political system, in which Thaksin has an edge over the electoral process because his money speaks the loudest, will continue until his political opponents are flattened to the ground.
Thaksin’s political opponents are in disarray. They don’t know what to do next or how to counter against the phenomenal money politics. The judiciary still stands firm, but other opposing forces against Thaksin are seemingly losing all their steam and energy.