Last Wednesday, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a former Thai prime minister and now a member of Pheu Thai Party, paid a visit to Phnom Penh and came back with news that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has built a house for exiled Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to stay whenever he wants.
Hun Sen has known and done businesses with Thaksin for a long time. According to Chavalit, the Cambodian leader said he felt sympathy for Thaksin as he has been unfairly treated by the Thai judiciary.
Chavalit claimed his visit is meant to patch up a quarrel between Thailand and Cambodia, especially the ongoing Preah Vihear dispute.
To me, it looks more like he was inviting an enemy into our country and adding fuel to the ongoing internal political strife, acting like a mouthpiece for the Cambodian leader.
Whoever watched or listened to Chavalit’s interview on his return would have noticed the manner in which the former leader of now-defunct New Aspiration Party conveyed Hun Sen’s message. His words seemed to be more emotional and compelling than those reportedly uttered by the original speaker.
If what Chavalit said was true, it means Hun Sen is looking down on the Thai justice system and interfering with Thailand’s internal affairs.
And he is playing the Thaksin card to his own advantage and to give Cambodia a better position in the conflicts with Thailand.
However, those wanting to know Chavalit’s game plan might have their heads spun as it looks like the former defense minister has no plans at all.
But some may say that it is what one should expect from a good strategist whose plans are so complex that no one can ascertain whether he is a friend or foe.
Well, Chavalit himself may not even know which side he is on.
At one end, Chavalit said he was willing to meet with leaders of the New Politics Party. He even said he would talk to Sondhi Limthongkul and Chumlong Srimuang about political reconciliation.
At the other end, he came back from Cambodia and spoke for its prime minister.
And Chavalit did not inform Hun Sen that his comments could negatively affect reconciliation efforts in Thailand.
Then, Chavalit’s visit to Cambodia and Hun Sen’s statement would only result in widening the rift among Thais, with Thaksin and his Cambodian friend enjoying the scene of political and social disturbance in their high chairs.
From ‘Ka Fae Dum’ column, Krungthep Thurakij newspaper, October 23rd, p.2
Translated and edited by Wacharapol Isaranont