PM’s help needed in solving Sondhi attack

abhisit_vejjajiva

Police want more backing for work to bring action against gunmen sheltered by big names

For Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the most crucial task lying ahead is how to deal with the case involving the assassination attempt on media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul. This is the source of the unstable political undercurrents which can resurface at anytime. If Abhisit fails to deal with this issue decisively, he might become a victim again

Twice Abhisit has been the target of attack, with the first in April at the Pattaya Summit and the second at the Interior Ministry. Abhisit narrowly escaped with his life.

Then, red-shirted protesters mounted an all-out blitz against Bangkok in order to pave the way for an abrupt and radical political change through a coup. That plot failed to materialise.

Shortly afterward, the target was shifted to Sondhi, the leader of the yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy. The murder attempt was aimed at cutting down Sondhi in order to create a political vacuum and again a coup. Miraculously, Sondhi survived the daring shooting during the declaration of a state of emergency over Bangkok. Once again, the dark plot did not work as planned. Strangely enough, Abhisit has done virtually nothing to counter his enemies. Those responsible for the security affairs of this country still hold on to their positions and their power is unchanged.

Pol General Thanee Somboonsap has been assigned to get to the bottom of the assassination plot against Sondhi. This probe has been going on over the past two months and a half. The investigation points to men in uniform playing a central role in the assassination attempt.

Behind these gunmen are many of the big names, including a lady of high political standing, who wield influence in this country. They have bunched together as an alliance to bring down the Abhisit government and foil the yellow shirts’ ambition to become a new force of Thai politics.

Thanee is pretty upset that he has not got all the necessary political backing for the completion of his investigation into the Sondhi assassination attempt. One report had it that he used rather strong words against Abhisit for not acting resolutely to help him finish up his work that would lead to the arrests of the masterminds.

In other words, Thanee has hit a big “pole”, which obstructs his progress. Only Abhisit, as the prime minister, has the power to move this pole out of the way. Abhisit’s reply was that he would try his best.

Senator Khamnoon Sithisamarn has written in Manager Online that probably Abhisit needs to exercise more leadership by sacking Pol Chief Patcharawat Wong- suwan if he would like stay on course.

In the latest development, Abhisit has finally agreed not to fully trust his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban. If that were the case, he would have to rely more on the advice of the elder generation like Chuan Leekpai or even Banyat Bandatan. Suthep did not stop police from bringing charges of terrorism against the PAD’s members, including Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.Police called Suthep up to ask if he would mind if they included Kasit on the list of “suspects” in an act of terrorism in the aftermath of the Suvarnabhumi Airport blockade. The charge of “terrorism” is very serious. But Suthep did not raise any objection. This could imply that he gave the green light for police to take on Kasit and the PAD.

If the charge of terrorism against Kasit and the PAD members were to reach the courts, the ramifications would be far-reaching. Other Democrats who appeared onstage during the PAD rallies against the Somchai government last year might also be caught in the same net. Abhisit would also have to bear the consequences for having appointed “Kasit the Terrorist” to the Cabinet. There is a dark plot behind the Kasit case.

Abhisit has yet to use his power as prime minister to his full advantage. He has been afraid to exercise his authority. If he continues to be afraid to throw his weight around, his political enemies will go after him again. If he fails to send his people to key positions in the police and military, he will be running a shaky government, which is poised to be toppled at any moment.

Abhisit still has this sliver of opportunity to act and salvage his premiership. It is now or never.

By The Nation
Published on July 20, 2009

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