One side is belligerent, while the other is “stubborn”. Does that sound very familiar? Whereas the red-shirted movement seems to be following the People’s Alliance for Democracy manual step by step, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is demonstrating the resilience of Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat combined.
Unlike Samak and Somchai, though, Abhisit doesn’t have to look over his shoulder as his enemies on the streets grow in numbers and aggression. Even without the allegiance of the military, and when the judiciary was closing down on him and his party, Samak managed to stave off pressure after pressure from the PAD. Somchai, also facing unfriendly generals and courts, scraped through Thailand’s politically bloodiest day since May 1992 and only crumbled weeks later as a result of a court ruling.
Abhisit’s advantage is obvious without having to mention the fact that the “real leaders” of the red-shirted campaign, the ones believed to have provided the bulk of the financial supply to date, may no longer be able to operate locally. Most, if not all, members of the Shinawatra clan have gone overseas, and speculation is rife as to whether they will, or can, come back in the near future.
Therefore, the call for Abhisit to resign or dissolve Parliament will not be met. Turmoil in the city will be dealt with according to the severity of the situation. His battle has only one front, the red shirts, and how relieved he must be at the moment knowing that Newin Chidchob, a leading mob strategist and organiser, is now on his side.
Whether the red protesters will ever feel abandoned is anyone’s guess. Even without the Shinawatras nearby, the movement has got the required momentum to last many more days, if not weeks, provided the ongoing provocation manages to escape a crackdown. But the protesters may feel disheartened if there is any truth in some fresh rumours coming out of the anti-Thaksin camp yesterday.
The rumours have it that Thaksin had phoned a senior general in a bid to strike a deal. The fugitive allegedly made three demands
1 Abhisit must dissolve the House.
2 The government turns him [Thaksin] into a political refugee.
3 Which is only possible through the dropping of criminal cases (including one involving the frozen assets) and granting of clemency for previous convictions.
This kind of contact rarely gets confirmed, so everyone can feel free to discard it, especially if one believes in Thaksin’s yelling, table-banging claims he makes every night that this is a fight for democracy and justice for the poor, not himself.