A war of words

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What fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra said over the weekend in Chiang Mai was still in the headlines of local newspapers, even though people accused by Thaksin of plotting to oust him came out to dismiss what he said as groundless

Lom Pleantis, a columnist for Thai Rath, tried to decode what Thaksin said in his video-link phone-in. The columnist said that if one decodes what Thaksin said by considering the intent of the fugitive premier and of the anti-government red-shirt protesters, it can be said that the video-link was Thaksin’s last-ditch effort to create another commotion to pave the way for him to come back to power.

Lom Pleantis said, “This is because if Thaksin prolongs the period of his exile further, his popularity with the grassroots demographic group, which has been his vote stronghold, will diminish.”

An Abac poll showed that PM Abhisit’s approval rating increased after the no-confidence debate, ranging in zone B – or 50.6 per cent. In contrast, Thaksin’s popularity declined. The survey showed that respondents gave Thaksin only a 23.6 per cent score, or D+.

Lom Pleantis attributed the rising popularity of Abhisit to a series of economic stimulus package measures. The columnist said that if the government has the opportunity to stay in power longer, chances are that it might be able to win more popularity.

Besides, MPs in the House have started to isolate themselves from Thaksin, such as the “nine cobra” MPs. Some MPs even refuse to listen to Thaksin any longer. Political activities outside the House, meanwhile, have started to lose momentum due to the inconsistent flow of money.

Therefore, Thaksin is desperately trying to encourage a big political movement so he can return to Thailand as a winner. But if the red-shirt rally fails to shake the political scene, then Thaksin’s chances will become dimmer.

Matichon’s editorial leader commented on the same topic, with an article entitled “Listen With Reservation”. The paper referred to what Thaksin said during the phone-in to Chiang Mai and the Abhisit government’s attempt to spread information to counter Thaksin’s allegations.

Matichon said that the political battle is now an information battle. Both sides are trying to disseminate information to the public to attack their opponents. The government claims the red-shirt protesters are trying to topple it, while Thaksin claims he has survived two assassination plots. The latter claim has not been substantiated.

Matichon summed up that, amid the current political situation, Thais should listen to the claims with reservation because the information might be incomplete and is politically motivated. People should open their minds and ears and carefully think about the information from all sides.

Nation Opinion, Published on March 26, 2009

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