Thaksin Shinawatra has been lying low in silence for quite some time, probably still licking his wounds and planning new political tricks to regain some credibility in the international community. It was a big blow when his Thai passport was cancelled. He is now the holder of a Nicaraguan diplomatic passport. Nobody knows whether he retains the same name.
Indeed it must look odd to his friends if he happens to show up in, say, Cambodia for a round of golf with Prime Minister Hun Sen. At the immigration point, the square-faced fugitive, previously holding a Thai diplomatic passport, would now present his new Nicaraguan passport. If that did not suffice, he could also produce a passport from Montenegro.
Such passports don’t come cheap, for sure. They are either procured by the power of money or through connections with people in high places, usually because of past favours and business deals. Thaksin’s ability to stay in Dubai and the UAE is mainly due to his strong financial connections.
Nevertheless, Thaksin will not give up the struggle to regain his frozen wealth and his political power in Thailand. But his chances are slim, judging from the weakening strength of his followers. He still hopes that if a general election is held, the Puea Thai Party will get back into government.
For the time being, his red-shirted campaigners must continue their role as a pressure group outside Parliament, while hecklers in the House will also try hard to shake the Abhisit government through guile and gimmick after all other resources and tactics have been exhausted.
The red-shirted ringleaders and voices in the House have used rhetoric and half-truths as key weapons to rouse public support. That worked to a certain extent in the recent sizeable public rallies – until they resorted to violence, riots and attempted murder. Prime Minister Abhisit was an intended victim. It was indeed a close call.
From half-truths and tirades, come distortion and lies. The red-shirted ringleaders will use these methods to retain the support of Thaksin’s admirers, whose numbers are thinning pretty quickly. The violence has alienated the public, some of whom might otherwise have been sympathetic to their dubious cause. After the suffering due to street closures and riots, and the threats to blow up gas trucks in the city, there is no new positive view towards Thaksin and his cronies and followers.
The latest distortion and ludicrous claim was made by a red-shirt leader, who told the public that Prime Minister Abhisit was not in the limousine that was surrounded and attacked by red-shirted thugs inside the compound of the Interior Ministry on April 12. Another claim was that the red-shirted attackers were actually soldiers who had mingled among the protesters and were intent on causing trouble.
That became a selling point to draw a red-shirted crowd to a rally on Sunday. Full exposure with a video clip was promised in order to prove that Abhisit was not in the car at the Interior Ministry. It worked well for those who were willing to hear more falsehoods. It did not matter that the fellow who made the claim has been proved a liar a number of times.
There was no solid proof. The promised video clip was a short and sloppy cut. Earlier, Abhisit’s personal spokesman showed what he said was a series of photos showing what actually happened during the violence.
During the red-shirt rally at the weekend, one of the leaders asserted that the heavy downpour that wreaked havoc at the site was actually artificial rain prepared by the government to disrupt the event. Not many people seemed to care enough to consider whether it was a sick joke or another lie.
So, from guile, Thaksin’s cronies and campaigners have resorted to distortion and lies, and now they have lost whatever credibility they might have had at their peak. They look more and more like a public nuisance. Then there is also the issue of long legal battles and pending criminal charges for instigating the unrest and violence during the Songkran festival.
We have experienced political and marketing gimmicks from Thaksin and his supporters when their populist policies captured the hearts and minds of the poor. Not anymore. People have become educated about his abuse of power, massive corruption, misdeeds and cronyism. What is left now is disinformation, distortion and lies through public statements, press interviews and protest rallies. But we can expect to hear their battle cry, full of spin and propaganda, continue for a while yet.
Truth alone cannot help counter these sinister acts of deceit. The sincerity of politicians is hard to prove. But like it or not, that is what Abhisit and his key Cabinet members have to show – through their own credibility. His honest deeds can silence the lies only when the people are given the facts and the truth.
By Sopon Onkgara
Published on May 12, 2009