Above, the turmoil of Samak as PM: from Komchadluek, September 5, 2008
The headlines read: Samak turns the game to avoid Army resistance – Seizing back power to prevent Anupong from staging coup – Orders forces to suppress the people – No resignation, no parliament dissolution – “Tej resignation is due to his wife” – Move on public referendum [for constitutional amendments]
It was five years ago this month that the Thai political world was reeling over the appointment of Samak Sundaravej as prime minster of the Thaksin-directed People Power Party.
As one of the key villains of the right-wing backlash against left-wing students in the 1970s, it was a shock to find this person suddenly at the head of government. However, as a politician with no discernible political faction nor backing of any kind, he was the perfect candidate to serve as a PM placeholder who could only be loyal to Thaksin.
The People Power Party was no Pheu Thai Party–it has no promises other than a mantra that the country was in crisis and no governing could be done until the constitution was amended. Cabinet meetings presided over little governing decisions except to approve government honors and promotions of officials.
After his appointment as PM, Samak was hammered by the press over the details of his involvement in the 1976 right-wing campaign that resulted in a raid of Thammasat University and a massacre of protesting students. Samak tried to downplay the events to the international press and bully local reporters who attempted to confront him (much in the same way Chalerm does).
Halfway through the People Power Party government era in 2008, Samak did attempt to double-cross Thaksin and build a coalition of his own ministers and political figures who wanted the government to govern (that is, start spending money) rather than wait until after the constitution was amended when a new government, presumably headed by a rehabilitated Thaksin, would mean everyone would be that much further down on the political ladder.
Samak failed in this attempt and was later disqualified by the courts for a conflict of interest over his hosting of a cooking show. He died a little more than a year later of liver cancer.
From 2007: Samak spits venom as Thaksin’s nominee
From 2007: 30,000 people walk out on Samak speech
From 2008: Will Sutham call Samak over Oct 6 truth?
From 2008: Samak’s atonement
From 2008: The upcoming Samak government
From 2008: Samak becomes pale when shown his picture taken with Prapass
From 2008: Don’t twist the history of the 1976 October 6 Massacre!
From 2008: STUDENT MASSACRE: Historians reject PM’s ‘distortions’
From 2008: The Prime Minister’s problems
From 2008: Samak, don’t be such a @&&%# coward
From 2008: Angry Reaction to Samak’s ‘Suu Kyi is a Tool’ Remark
More: Thammasat University Massacre
And from 2003: Samak: Just shoot bothersome jumbos