A Civil War Has Begun

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Thaksin is now not afraid of anybody on earth. With his back against the wall, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra can no longer run. He does not know where to go. He faces a two-year jail term. The UK has denied him a visa, dealing a blow to his international standing. He says he will fight back, an eye for an eye.

The PAD, senses that the PAD is also being driven into the corner. Both the PAD and the People Power Party smell blood. The final clash is inevitable.

AT 3:25am on Thursday morning, a bomb was thrown into the Government House compound, killing one person and injuring dozens of members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The bomb exploded a day after the completion of the royal cremation ceremony for HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana.

It’s official now. The declaration of civil war begins with that bomb. The crisis will continue around the Government House, where the PAD has fortified its position over the past 180 days, rallying for the removal of the Thaksin regime. At night ordinary people do not want to go near the Government House because they fear injury or death from random shooting and missiles.

Family members and the anti-government protesters express grief at the death of 48-year-old Chon Buri resident Jenkit Kladsakhon, killed by a bomb attack inside the Government House.

Family members and the anti-government protesters express grief at the death of 48-year-old Chon Buri resident Jenkit Kladsakhon, killed by a bomb attack inside the Government House.

With his back against the wall, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra can no longer run. He does not know where to go. He faces a two-year jail term. The UK has denied him a visa, dealing a blow to his international standing. He says he will fight back, an eye for an eye.

“Even if I retreat, even if I give in, they will still kill me. It has been proved that no matter how much I retreat, they will still not give me the space to stand. Retreating will not help improve my situation at all. So I have to fight back,” Thaksin told a group of the People Power Party MPs, who visited him in Hong Kong over the weekend.

His aim is to return to Thailand and get back his Bt76 billion, now frozen, pending a trial on corruption charges against him. To succeed, Thaksin must prevail in politics through a sort of a revolution, because the law can’t be changed to give him amnesty.

Thaksin has divorced his wife of 32 years, Pojaman, but this is a tactical move. She can keep her wealth. His three children are already grown up. Matichon newspaper yesterday speculated that after the division of wealth with Pojaman, Thaksin has Bt10 billion in his war chest to finance his comeback. Pojaman might fly back to Thailand first to pave the way for his return. She has been known to be a keen deal-maker. At the moment, Thaksin still trusts her the most.

Both the PAD and the People Power Party smell blood. The final clash is inevitable. Thaksin is not afraid of anybody. How do his opponents feel then?

Chamlong Srimuang, one of the leaders of the PAD, senses that the PAD is also being driven into a corner. He has declared a last-ditch effort on November 23 when the PAD protesters will hold an all-out rally to remove the government.

The military remains cool. But we’ll probably see the red shirt mob and yellow shirt mob going against each other. Who will have more mettle? We can only wait and see.

The military will call the final shot. It will act only when it knows which side emerges victorious.

Thaksin will phone in to his supporters at the National Stadium on December 13, when Thailand is about to play host to the Asean Summit in Chiang Mai. Thaksin would love to send his message to the regional leaders. This time he has promised that he will not be considerate or reserved. He will tell it all – those who were behind the military coup in 2006.

In December, a hearing on Thaksin’s “unusually rich” case will begin. A verdict on the dissolution case against the People Power Party might also be reached. It is a ripe time for political turmoil. By that time, all conflicting parties can no longer hide in the shadows. We’ll know who’s wearing yellow and who’s wearing red.

The final scene, as overseen by the big shots of the People Power Party, will produce one of two outcomes. First, there will be bloodshed, which will lead to a political compromise (Thaksin gets part of his money back; he has a room to move on Thai soil). Second, there will be bloodshed, which leads to the complete rout of one of the two sides. Either way, bloodshed is imminent.

PPP MP Pracha Prasopdee yesterday hinted to a way out. He said either Thaksin or Pojaman might return from exile on or before December 25. Thaksin will make a big bet by going straight to jail. But his supporters will rally for his release. If the country is to overcome its predicament, all sides should support the passage of legislation granting amnesty to rival camps, Pracha said, arguing that the draft legislation should be on the fast track for debate at the next House session in January. The amnesty would allow a fresh start for all sides, including the People’s Alliance for Democracy, and is the only hope to overcome the turmoil.

Thaksin, in short, would like to move the clock back to September 18, 2006 before the coup took place. He has played his cards. How will his opponents answer?

Thanong Khanthong /Nov 20, 2008
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