The “tamed dog” won’t show repentance tomorrow (March 26, 2009). It will be a day when he barks fiercely. He will blame everything but himself for the state Thailand is in. He won’t admit that the concealment of shares, the evasion of tax and the purchase of the Ratchadapisek land plot were major ethical flaws that sent the country down a slippery slope.
SO, the “tame dog” is all set to remote control what his supporters proclaim will be the biggest political rally since the October 14, 1973 uprising – after following up on his “absolute loyalty” claims with a stinging attack on key Privy Council members, that is.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and, in this case, desperate measures will be the last nail in Thaksin Shinawatra’s coffin. He has been swinging back and forth from appearing hopeless (I’m docile now, please allow me back) to being extremely mad (I’m ready to die), to delusional (Only the people’s power can bring me home). Over the past few days, the despair, the madness and the delusions have combined spectacularly to get the better of him.
The red-shirt crowds tomorrow will be big enough to make headlines. They may even be big enough to lay a sustained siege to Government House and give Thaksin’s enemies a taste of their own medicine. But they simply won’t be enough to bring him home.
Thaksin should know this better than most, but his back is now against the wall. With his world shrinking, financial resources dwindling and parliamentary backing in danger of being neutralised, he has no choice but throw some wild punches. He must be thinking, “Of course, the chances are slim, but if half a million people turn out, who knows?”
After the Pheu Thai Party failed to hold on to power, the Thaksin machine seemed to be cooling off fast, but now it risks getting overheated as its leader has decided to go for broke. The phone-ins have become virtually a daily event, suggesting Thaksin is ready to sacrifice the bigger impact of rare, well-timed contact in order to make sure tomorrow’s gathering will be massive. And the direct attack on the Privy Council helped to quash any doubt whether the man has gone past the point of no return.
The rally may bruise his enemies, but Thaksin is fighting a losing battle. Why? Because unlike the post-coup Thaksin, who was then a political refugee, he is now a criminal on the run – and whatever happens politically in Thailand cannot change that fact. Thaksin can return to the country and escape jail only on one condition – if his followers seize back not just state, but also legal and constitutional powers.
Such an upheaval is impossible and Thaksin knows it. Although he is still loved by a large section of the population, so were Joseph Estrada and OJ Simpson in their own countries. It requires far more than the love of a man or sympathy for him to trigger a revolution, let alone in a country as divided over one person as Thailand.
Optimists in the Thaksin camp may believe that it doesn’t have to be an upheaval, and that a massive show of force will give them enough momentum and pave the way for a switch in power in the future. They may be confident that if hundreds of thousands of people show up, it will be a good investment for the next election, after which a victorious pro-Thaksin party can realise his dream return.
Those believers have forgotten how the exact same strategy blew away the Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat governments. The Samak administration was even spared the complications of Thaksin’s court conviction, which came during Somchai’s short-lived era. For any future government, the court ruling will be more than a sleeping tiger that isn’t supposed to be touched.
The Thaksin network has been trying to undermine the credibility of the Thai courts. Whether they have succeeded does not matter as long as the grim consequences of the verdict are concerned – the man will have to go to jail once he sets foot in Thailand. This inevitability is, on the one hand, why he has to put up a desperate fight, and, on the other hand, why the fight will be futile.
The “tamed dog” won’t show repentance tomorrow. It will be a day when he barks fiercely. He will blame everything but himself for the state Thailand is in. He won’t admit that the concealment of shares, the evasion of tax and the purchase of the Ratchadapisek land plot were major ethical flaws that sent the country down a slippery slope. And he will preach all kinds of democratic principles, ones that he never admits he started to advocate only when it was already too late.
Our job is simply to watch – and not mistake his eventual break or fatigue as a sign that he has been tamed.
By Tulsathit Taptim
Published on March 25, 2009
SOURCES FOR FURTHER READING
If Mr Thaksin decided to “spill more beans”, then it is his own judgement. But he should be smart enough to know that the more he talks the less the chance of his safe return home
The way ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra has recapped his downfall is interesting and baffling at the same time: Is he letting the cat out of the bag or is he invoking a phantom conspiracy in order to explain away his predicament?