Chai-anan Samudvanij, president of the Royal Academy, talks to Krungthep Turakij newspaper on the current political confrontation.
Q : Is there still a solution to the political crisis? The red-shirt anti-government movement has demanded a House dissolution.
A : It’s difficult. First of all, the protesters have not had any specific criticisms of the current government. There’s nothing substantial in their argument except the fact that they’ve been setting the stage for Pol Col Thaksin (Shinawatra), the former premier, to phone in from overseas or hold the video link sessions.
I’ve not heard anything from any speakers on the red-shirt stage with regard to serious offences committed by the current government.
Politically, I think the intent is to show off the public support for the ex-premier rather than criticising the government in order to overthrow it.
The movement’s demands for the government to quit or dissolve the House are just unreasonable. The Abhisit government was formed after the former People Power Party (PPP) was disbanded. As a result, members of that party had to join other parties in accordance with the charter.
PPP was just like any other parties, which grouped together various types of politicians.
In other words, the largest parties with the most MPs are supposed to form the government and that’s also the case for the current government. As a result, the red shirt movement’s argument that the current government came to power undemocratically is relatively weak.
Q: You still insist that there’s no solution to the confrontation.
A: I don’t see a way out of this mess because the anti-government gathering is designed to open the way for Khun Thaksin. It was planned and co-ordinated in such a fashion.
Q: Will there be any compromise? Is there going to be any high-powered mediator?
A: It’s un-compromisable because Thaksin was convicted by the court. There’re also other pending cases against him in the justice process. Hence, the only way Thaksin thought he could fight these cases was to use the masses to serve his purpose.
He thought he needed a new political landscape, a new general election after which his allies could form the new government to reconcile, to grant amnesty to politicians currently banned from politics. I think no one will allow that to happen.
On the red shirts, my observation is that the core leaders are mainly the speakers but there have been very few speakers from the masses who joined these protests. They mainly applause and clapped their hands.
However, the yellow shirts were quite different. There were more political debates among those protesters.
Q: What’s the probability of violence (as Thaksin and other red-shirt leaders urge people to join the mass gathering on Wednesday)?
A: There is a reasonably high probability. It would be very unfortunate if there would be people killed because they wanted to support Thaksin. Such a cause would be un-worthwhile, but I think it’s possible.
Q: Again, what’s your suggestion if we wanted to avoid such a possible scenario?
A: It’s all about Thaksin. If he changed, the situation changed.
Q: What about your feeling as far as General Prem Tinasulanonda (president of the Privy Council) is concerned, since you used to be one of his advisers?
A: Nothing, but it’s quite usual that he would be attacked because one of his close aides (General Surayud Chulanond) was prime minister (following the Sept 19, 2006 coup).
The Nation, Published on April 6, 2009