Old allies, new allies


From Naewna, May 10, 2018
Left, Newin speaks to Thaksin: It is already the end, boss.
Right, Newin speaks to Prayuth: it is just the beginning, boss.

[The political world was stunned recently when it became clear that the military junta had forged an alliance with one of the major factions that once underpinned Thaksin’s political empire–Newin Chidchob.

Newin is among the most notorious of Thai politicians and the very symbol of the rural mafioso kingpin.

1996: Newin’s canvassers caught red handed in vote buying
2010: 20 million baht is too cheap to assassinate Newin
2010: Nothing in this world causes as much pain as what Newin did to me!
2010: Newin’s Tears and Drool
2010: Beware of the Newin Pipe!
2017: The beginnings of the military coalition–What do these bombs mean?
2018: The worst of politics comes to support PM Prayuth

Newin was also the rarest of politicians–one who dared betray Thaksin by joining a Democrat coalition in 2008. The betrayal of Thaksin saw Newin hounded from politics by the strong arm tactics of the Red Shirts.

Newin publicly swore off politics, instead building his own sort of potential political muscle to counter the Red Shirts in his Buriram football club.

The present emerging political climate, crafted by the junta, is compelling for old political hands like Newin who wish to finally participate in a government that is not controlled by Thaksin nor harried by the Red Shirts.

From the perspective of those who cheer on the military for its role in preventing a Thaksin return to power, an alliance between Newin and PM Prayuth seems to be the ultimate hypocrisy.

The junta has spent years now crowing about how they are superior to elected politicians. The association it is making with Newin contradicts all of the military’s high flown rhetoric about its purity of intention in ruling. There would have to be, no doubt, shady big money deals that the junta would have to promise Newin to keep him on board in a government.

Still, the apparent gains the junta is making in courting factions is something that has not happened before. It is an erosion of control by Thaksin that observers have been watching for since the 2006 coup. It never materialized before.

Ultimately, it will not be (and has never been) about the popularity of Thaksin. It is about the co-opting of of longstanding MP cliques that are consistently elected. Turning their support to one candidate created the Thaksin political juggernaut. Turning them elsewhere will determine if the junta can make a convincing case to hold on to power after the next elections.]

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