the Thai world: Thai-language newspaper headlines
Pra Prayom cover – Matichon Weekly, June, 2008
It reads: Oh, look what you have done to me. How can you do that to me?
[This person is Pra Prayom a famous monk from Wat Suankaew in Nonthaburi who allegedly supports Thaksin and Samak. He has criticized the PAD rally for causing people trouble and said that, because of bad language at the rally, people should not bring their children. This headline mocks his position against the PAD by using the line of a song common in advertising and by the PAD protesters that reads "Oh, look what you have done to me."]
Pluem Obama – Nation Weekend, June, 2008
It reads: Pluem Obama – feudalism which is not outdated
["Pleum" is the nickname of Bangkok governor candidate M.L. Nattakorn Thevakul. "Obama" is U.S. presidential candidate Barak Obama. We are not sure of the exact meaning, but it seems to mean that this person who is the cousin of a royal still wants to be the Bangkok Governor and work with regular people.
Update: Doug writes: The background of the "Pleum Obama" headline on the Nation Weekend cover is that Nattakorn was quoted in the Bangkok Post on June 5 as saying, "I will be the youngest, cleanest in the field. I will be a real alternative. I will be the Thai Barack Obama!" ]
Ticking timebombs – translated and summarized from Krungthep Turakit; Column: Political Tracking (Kae Roy Karn Muang); Author: Reporter No.10, June 30, 2008
The censure debate, instigated by the opposition Democrat Party, and the debate on the national budget (for the next 12 months) have both now been concluded. The People Power Party (PPP)-led government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is still faced with 3 ‘ticking’ political timebombs, however. The ‘bomb’ that could explode first is a Constitutional Court ruling over the Preah Vihear Temple – since that court has already issued an injunction to temporarily halt any Cabinet and Foreign Ministry participation in the registration process of that temple as a World Heritage Site by the Cambodian government. This ruling might well come out in support of the considerable public distrust that has been generated by the work of the PPP-led government. The second ‘bomb’ might be the 2 million baht ‘pastry box’ bribery case, which involves a lawyer of a certain deposed Thai prime minister. The court’s eventual verdict on that case could have a significant impact on other corruption investigations currently in progress against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The third ‘bomb’ could be the July 8 court verdict over the electoral ‘red card’ issued to the former House Speaker & Deputy PPP Leader Yongyuth Tiyapairat, that might possibly seal the demise of both the PPP and Thaksin Shinawatra.
‘Secretary Tu’ – translated and summarized from Matichon, June 28, 2008
Interior Minister Pol. Captain Chalerm Yoobamrung has recently been criticized over his alleged intervention in the acquisition of a 48-rai plot of land by one of his supporters on Racha Yai Island (City District, Phuket Province). These allegations were made by Suthep Theugsuban, the self-styled Shadow Interior Minister, during a recent ‘Vote of No Confidence’ debate against the Samak government in Parliament.
An investigatory committee, into incursions on government land, recently ordered the Ministry of Interior to revoke the Nor Sor 3 Kor document of the disputed land plot because of insufficient evidence that it was eligible for private ownership. It was then proposed that the current Interior Minister should make a judgment over the issue.
Chalerm has tried to explain the matter to both Parliament and the media, saying that he knows the man involved in the disputed ownership – Khun Suthichart (AKA Tu) – but disputing any notion that the person named was ever his ‘personal secretary’.
It is a fact that ‘Tu’ is a key supporter of Minister Chalerm, and that they are quite close to each other. ‘Tu’ is known to most officials in the MOI as ‘Secretary Tu’ – even though it is thought he has never been officially employed in that capacity.
‘Secretary Tu’ is not a servant in any normal sense of that word. He is actually a successful businessman who owns many hotels. He is the Managing Director of the Racha Yai Island Company and the Racha Yai Estate. His family runs many real estate businesses in Phuket Province.
’Tu’ is said to regularly hang around the MOI’s main administrative building in Bangkok, always at the ready to involve that ministry in his plans. It is also said that he has his own room in the building, and that he frequently attends meetings there.
From Makhawan Bridge to Chamai Maruchet Bridge – PAD protestors in battle of patience with PPP-led government – translated and summarized from Matichon; Column: Inside the Country, June 27, 2008
The current People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest rally is intent on ousting the People Power Party (PPP)-led government from power This long-term political conflict is likely, however, to turn into a trial of wits – to find which side possesses the greatest patience. The PAD protest rally moved to a location in front of Government House on June 20. There is every indication, however, that the tense standoff between the PAD and the government is set to continue for a considerable time yet. Foreign media correspondents have commented that the PPP-led government will probably face even stiffer political opposition in the months to come, with the confrontation between the PAD and pro-Thaksin supporters possibly leading to a military intervention. Internal media correspondents have revealed that the Prime Minister is being encouraged by the Royal Thai Army (RTA) Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) to remain in office. The C-in-C has ruled out the use of emergency decree powers to break up the PAD protest rally, however. The PAD has announced that it will continue with its anti-government protests outside Government House, regardless of any significant events that might occur within the country’s parliamentary system. I believe that the PAD leadership might eventually have to reassess its protest strategy against this government. The PAD might eventually be forced to abandon the current location of its protest if the PPP-led government persists in allowing the police to handle the rally in a patient and non-aggressive manner.
‘People’s Politics’ – translated and summarized from Thai Rath; Editorial, June 24, 2008
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s comments during his weekly ‘Samak’s Style of Talk’ TV program on Sunday (June 22) have convinced many people that he knows nothing at all about ‘People’s Politics’. Or is it perhaps that he knows more about it than he is letting on – but can not come to terms with it from his narrow outlook? During the program, Samak stated that his government had been legally elected. Additionally, he labeled the 5 leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) as “a five-man gang”.
Such talk could be viewed as an indication that there are significant gaps in Samak’s political awareness. It might also indicate that his concept of current Thai politics is an extremely backward one – stuck in an era when ‘representative democracy’ was considered the norm. Our political system turned itself into a ‘participatory democracy’ long ago. That said, there is still a tendency for some Thais to think that winning an election is all that really matters. The thinking appears to be that those who win elections have an absolute right to do as they please including the condemnation of those who gather to express their views through the means of ‘street politics’.
‘People’s Politics’ is already a fact-of-life in our political system. The rules of engagement for this kind of politics were even laid down in the 1997 Constitution allowing ordinary citizens to fully participate in political movements and actions at their own will.
Another smart step by PAD – provoking a coup to take power from the government – translated and summarized from Matichon; Column: Wipak Haeng Wipak, June 23, 2008
The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest rally in front of Government House – beginning on June 20 – could be counted as a victory of sorts for them. That said, it is a victory that belies the heavy rancor that has been generated by the PAD’s ongoing political conflict with the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
The PAD found it to be a physical pushover to move its protest mob from the Makawan Rangsan Bridge to Government House – easily achieving the goal that they set for themselves on May 25. But in the case of the PAD’s primary objective – to stop the government from proceeding with amendments to the 2007 Constitution – it seems that the movement could be far less successful.
PAD leader Sonthi Limthongkul recently made a very interesting comment. He said that the PAD not only wanted to oust the government, but also wished to assume its powers. By studying the speeches of PAD leaders, we get a remarkably clearly insight into the operational strategies and goals of that movement.
This ‘fight’ seems set to continue for a considerable time yet. It is undoubtedly the sharpest piece of politicking that this country has witnessed since the ‘People’s War’ era.
Thaksin Regime Vs. PAD – RTA C-in-C yet to choose sides – Female politician attempts to spy on former CNS members, as part of efforts to stave off another coup – translated and summarized from Matichon; Column: Special Report; Author: Paruehad Assadong, June 21, 2008
People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest rallies, against the ‘old power’ of the Thaksin Regime, have now been going on for over 2 years. The rallies began before the September 19 Coup staged by the Council for National Security (CNS) in 2006 – under the leadership of General Sonthi Boonyaratglin. At the outset, the PAD was viewed as enjoying a close relationship with the coup-making faction in the Royal Thai Army (RTA). The PAD protest rallies are now attempting to oust the elected People Power Party (PPP)-led government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. The PAD once again appear to be hoping that some RTA factions will again side with them, and stage another coup.
The RTA Commander-in-Chief General, Anupong Paochinda, has continued to maintain his silence over the current political chaos. Anupong is known to be close to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in the 2006 Coup. Anupong has only stated so far that he sides with the people rather than with the government. Anupong’s attempt to ignore politics may demonstrate his desire to protect his post at all costs, by hiding it behind the shield of PM Samak. (It should be noted that Samak is also the Defense Minister.) If Samak resigns in accordance with PAD demands, a new prime minister might just decide to make things difficult for the incumbent RTA C-in-C.
The PAD still enjoys quite a close relationship with those RTA factions that staged the September 19 Coup of 2006. It now appears that the PAD protest rallies are aimed at rousing the RTA, in the hope that some of its factions will support a ‘new’ coup. Many subordinates of the former CNS Chairman, Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, are still in power – and if a degree of unanimity is reached in this group, another coup could take place.
Gen. Anupong’s eventual decision, to side with or against the current government, will be an all-important one. If he decides to change his mind, and support the PAD, a coup will undoubtedly occur. Thaksin’s strategy to prevent such a coup will be to sow the seeds of disunity amongst ‘influential’ RTA senior officers. Sudarat Keyuraphan, a former leading light in the Thai Rak Thai Party, recently managed to get herself invited to a private luncheon meeting of high-ranking RTA officers. Those present were mainly the Royal Thai Military Academy alumni of the Gen. Sonthi. This prompted Sonthi to cancel his previously-scheduled appointment to join this meeting.
‘New’ police region for restive South? – translated and summarized from
Khao Sod; Column: Chok Mai Mee Moom [‘Chok Mai Mee Moom’ means something like ‘Taking No Sides’. It is a boxing analogy.], June 19, 2008
Current proposals to establish a ‘new’ Provincial Police Region 8, to oversee the three restive southern border provinces (of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat), might eventually bear fruit for both the current government and the nation as a whole.
These proposals appear to entail far more than yet another attempt to create a personal empire, or to create more cabinet seats – the sort of cynical move that a certain politician attempted in the past.
National Police Chief General Patcharawat Wongsuwan has recently visited the South, where he held a meeting with Pol. General Pansiri Prapawat and Pol. Lieutenant-General Adul Saengsingkaew. [Their meeting was noticeably greeted by further bombings and shootings in the region.] After this discussion, Patcharawat immediately came up with the idea of creating a new police region to tackle the region’s problems. It is likely, however, that other government officials will seek to hinder such a move – and that the cooperation of these officials, or lack of it, will probably be instrumental in deciding whether or not there will be any improvement in the region anytime soon. If a new and permanent police region is established, with a well-chosen and competent commander, the region’s unrest could eventually be eased.
Nation For Sale – translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit; Column: Kae Roy Garn Muang [‘Kae Roy Garn Muang’ approximates to ‘Tracking Politics’ in the same sense that one might track wildlife by its spoor.], June 19, 2008
Thais are much more sensitive to such clichés as ‘Thailand For Sale’ than they ever are to the mention of the word ‘corruption’. This is because they believe that every Thai government has its corrupt side. As long as any government continues to provide benefit to the majority, the thinking goes that a degree of corruption is acceptable. That said, any Thai government accused of betraying its own country is likely to be sorely tried in its attempts to remain in power. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was once heavily criticized for selling Thailand’s leading satellite business to another country. His government was finally terminated by a military coup on September 19, 2006.
The current government is also being accused of attempting to put Thailand up ‘For Sale’ – in relation to the Khmer ancient monument of Khao Preah Vihear. Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama has stated that the Cambodian government’s current initiative, to register Khao Preah Vihear as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS), will not affect Thailand’s ongoing territorial claim to the temple. Many Thais seem to believe, however, that this country is about to lose part of its territory to Cambodia. They are also afraid that the Thai government might be holding secret negotiations with the Cambodian Government. They fear that the current Thai government could allow Cambodia to register the temple as a WHS in exchange for favors involving that country’s offshore oil and gas concessions. It is even thought that those favors might extend to investment opportunities in Cambodia’s Kong Island. Thais might not perhaps be so worried if it were not for the fact that their Foreign Minister enjoys a very close relationship with Thaksin Shinawatra – who is reputed to have plans to invest heavily in Cambodia.
The Khao Preah Vihear issue will again be under consideration during the period July 2-10. Further negotiations over this hot topic might well lead to it becoming even more controversial – despite Thaksin having [astrologically] predicted that the Thai government’s numerous problems will be successfully resolved in the period following July 2.
It is perhaps also worth noting that Thais are still arguing over exactly who it was who made immense profits through gaining ‘insider’ information over the float of the Thai Baht on July 2, 1997 – all of 11 years ago!
A glimpse of a possible future Thai-Cambodian offshore oil and gas treasure trove – translated and summarized from Komchadluek; Column: Scoop; Author: News on National Security Team; page: 1, June 24, 2008
The territorial dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple is generating a lot of doubt and anger in both Thais and Cambodians – despite a decision still being awaited over the possibility of the ancient monument’s enlistment as a World Heritage Site (WHS). Many sources have suggested that this territorial dispute could involve some sort of hatched-up agreement to ensure that certain individuals benefit from the future exploitation of Cambodian oil and gas concessions. These concessions lie in an offshore area over which there are overlapping territorial claims by Thailand and Cambodia.
There has also been a great deal of speculation over the exact business relationship between the deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. It is thought that both men stand to gain from future investments in joint Thai-Cambodian exploitation of their overlapping oil and gas reserves in the outer Gulf of Thailand. It has been claimed that the Thai government – under Thaksin’s influence – is willing to compromise on its territorial claims over Preah Vihear in exchange for being allowed to take the leading role in offshore oil and gas exploitation.
The Cambodian Commerce Minister recently revealed, to the Cambodian press, that Thaksin stood to benefit from the initiation of joint Thai-Cambodian offshore oil and gas exploitation – in exchange for a rapid compromise over the Khao Preah Vihear territorial dispute.
Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama has since denied, however, that there is any conflict of interest over this territorial dispute for his government. He has also insisted that business interests will not be directly involved in any future bilateral talks between the Thai and Cambodian governments over their overlapping offshore territorial claims. That said, he has also opined that the Cambodians have the right to involve any oil conglomerate they like in the exploration and exploitation of their offshore oil and gas concessions.
During the tenure of his government, deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra visited Cambodia to instigate talks with its government over the demarcation of the disputed territorial overlap. Those talks were stalled by the 2006 coup, but resumed when the People Power Party (PPP)-led government came to power this year.
Negotiations over offshore oil and gas claims, in the outer Gulf of Thailand, are now likely to be delayed yet again by Cambodia’s upcoming General Election in July. They may also be delayed by the fact that UNESCO will shortly begin pontificating over the possibility of Preah Vihear being registered as a WHS. I believe that Cambodia’s failure to secure WHS status might also destroy the dreams of those who wish to invest in the exploitation of its offshore oil and gas concessions for the sake of heavy personal profit alone.
Losing land to Cambodia
– translated and summarized from Matichon; Column: Matichon Prelude, June 21, 2008
Two days ago, Matichon published an article expressing some doubts over a move by the government of Samak Sundaravej to enter into negotiations with the Cambodian Government over the status of Prasart Phnom Preah Vihear. This government has since shown some inclination to hide the real details of that negotiation process from its citizens. This administration only agreed to release the details of that process after it came under a great deal of public pressure. The information, thus revealed, has done little to reduce the high level of public distrust of Foreign Affairs Minister Noppadon Pattama. This government always appears to be far too eager to acquiesce to proposals put forward by FM Noppadon. Prasart Phnom Preah Vihear has thus become, once again, a major issue in the minds of many Thais.
If Noppadon had made any attempt to study the historical conflict between Thailand and Cambodia over this ancient monument, he would have been far better prepared to tackle this issue. He would have realized that by allowing Cambodia to register parts of this mountaintop temple as a ‘World Heritage Site’ (WHS), that Thailand would be effectively denying itself the right to take back any part of the disputed territory in future.
What is so odd here is that this government has so easily acquiesced to Cambodian desires to register the disputed territory as a WHS. Noppadon has also spoken about it being necessary for Cambodia to return the ‘compliment’. This strange request might just be because Noppadon and his supporters do not actually have (themselves) any real business interests in Cambodia. Or is it just the case that he has already placed far too much trust in the Cambodian Government?
Noppadon has no right to make major decisions alone – just because he considers himself smart. It is a matter for the Kingdom as a whole and any attempt to deal with complex issues in a cavalier manner is almost certain to cause far more damage than it actually fixes.
Also a police victory in June – translated and summarized from Thai Post; Column: The Editorial; Author: Pleaw See-ngern, June 21, 2008
Regarding the claim of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that its protest group won an important victory by breaking through police barricades to surround Government House yesterday. I believe that the Royal Thai Police (RTP) can also claim victory over this incident, since they were not tempted to react with undue force against those protesters who were prepared to resort to violence. This shows that the RTP is capable of respecting the rights of ordinary citizens who wish to demonstrate their opinions with a protest – an entirely normal event in any true democracy. I would like to thank the RTP, and also the Royal Thai Army, for not overtly interfering in the ongoing political chaos with the use of force – since a show of strength would have done nothing to resolve our current political problems. I wish to comment, however, that the current political chaos is not a result of the PAD protests – but rather the inevitable result of the actions of the ‘old power’ Thaksin Regime. The solution to our numerous political problems is, undoubtedly, to address their deep-rooted causes.
They make us believe that this is democracy – ThaiRath, June 20, 2008
They make us believe that this is democracy
Top left: The head of the party goes one way, while the party’s members go another way
[PM Samak points in one direction as the rest of the party members ignore him.]
Top middle: The Prime Minister and the Cabinet were remotely appointed by an unseen hand
[This refers for former PM Thaksin who is widely believed to be controlling the present government.]
Top right: The reorganization of the media means the media is allowed to present news with only one aspect
[This is a reference to the many attempted changes by the current government that are seen to restrict media freedom.]
Bottom left: The government has a right to avoid being probed like those people running away from Tsunami
[The government has avoided any parliamentary debate on its performance and this avoidance is compared to people running from a tsunami.]
Bottom middle: The country is ruled under the ‘one country, two ministers’ system
[Thaksin operates a Samak puppet.]
Bottom right: People are jailed when they do something illegal, while politicians amend the Constitution to make themselves innocent.
Warnings by adults are a waste of time – and could be likened to the droning of flying mosquitoes – translated and summarized from Matichon, June 21, 2008
The huge rift of public opinion, in Thai society, appears to be widening yet again – and could easily lead to an outbreak of communal violence at any time.
Respected and learned senior citizens have already pointed out possible solutions to this widening gulf – but they have generally received far more negative feedback than positive, as a result.
Eminent social critic Dr. Prawes Wasi recently suggested that 4 former prime ministers – Anand Panyarachun, Chuan Leekphai, and Barnharn Silapa-archa and Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyud – should meet to seek solutions to this crisis. This suggestion was criticized by Anand, who said that the situation had already deteriorated too far to be worth discussing. Dr. Prawes keeps trying, however. He has also proposed the formation of a ‘Government of National Unity’, but has yet to receive any response from those who might be included in it. He has also written an article detailing a number of ways in which our current national crisis could be resolved.
Politically-independent individuals – such as Professor Nithi Eyowsriwong, the academic Theerayut Boonmee, Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyud and a number of other prominent citizens and academics – have already offered their advice on this burning political issue. So far, the government has made no response to any of that advice.
Pid Mai Lap – translated and summarized from Matichon; Column: Pid Mai Lap Special [‘Pid Mai Lap’ means something like ‘not a complete secret’], June 21, 2008
People are waiting to see whether there will be any changes in the government line-up during the period leading up to July 2 – as former PM Thaksin Shinawatra has mentioned that there will be some let-up from the country’s numerous problems early next month [as a result of certain planetary alignments]. The Democrat Party are of the opinion, however, that this indicates that Thaksin still wants to be the center of public attention. Others believe that the former PM is signaling the imminence of a political occurrence that might have a big impact on the future of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. It is rumored that some people are predicting that Deputy PM and Education Minister Somchai Wongsawat [Thaksin’s brother-in-law] could replace Samak as prime minister. PM Samak recently appointed a number of new Defense Ministry Spokesmen. One of those appointed was Lieutenant-General Paradon Pattanathabut. Rumor also has it that Paradon has been secretly assigned, by Thaksin, to keep a close eye on the current ‘puppet’ prime minister.
Thumbs up for temple deal – Chim Pai Da Pai column, Phujatkan, June 20, 2008
The man says: To allow Cambodia to register the Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site is really a masterpiece work of Noppadol [Foreign Minister Noppadol Pattama]
The sign on the barbed wire reads: Cambodia [literally "Kampuchea" as Thais refer to the country]
At the bottom right: Yes, lots of people agree with it [In the background are hoards of wide-eyed Khmers dressed in army fatigues perhaps referencing the look of the Khmer Rouge. Also note they are wearing Khmer scarves.]
Three-Way ‘Third Way’ to end the nation’s ongoing political conflict – translated and summarized from Thai Rath; Column: Chak Thong Rob [‘Chak Thong Rob’ means something like ‘Raising the Battle Standard (War Flag)’.]; Author: Kilen Pralongcherng, June 19, 2008
Eminent social critic Prawes Wasi has recently commented on the ongoing political conflict that is afflicting the whole nation, with particular reference to the pro-Thaksin groups and their opponents. Prawes suggested the three following ways in which the current political rift: could be brought to an end:
1. The People Power Party-led government should be allowed time to fully-demonstrate its intentions for the country’s future, without any further hindrance from its opponents. This, however, would mean that the government would need to focus all its energies on ensuring that it was running an effective and honest administration. The Cabinet would need to establish a ‘good’ public image, and demonstrate to the public that it would not abuse its powers or interfere with the judicial system.
2. The two opposing poles of present-day Thai politics should realize that the judicial system offered the best hope of a breakthrough solution to their conflict. This would make it necessary for all groups in Thai society to show their respect for the judicial system. It would also make it very necessary for the judiciary to demonstrate its transparency in running a system based on sound judicial principles.
3. Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should seriously review his own role in the ongoing conflict. He should clearly restate his decision to quit politics, and not get involved in business deals that might fuel further conflict – such as making investments in Cambodian casinos, rice trading, or soliciting investments in the country by middle-eastern capitalists. Thaksin should prove to the country, as a whole, that he has its best interests at heart.
‘Thai Khadi Research Institute’ says new agreement with Cambodia could result in Thailand losing territory – translated and summarized from Komchadluek; June 18, 2008
The ‘Thai Khadi Research Institute’ today issued a statement concerning the current cross-border argument over the Prasart Preah Vihear ancient monument on the Thai-Cambodian border. The statement commented on an agreement recently reached by the government of Samak Sundaravej with the Cambodian government – saying that by allowing the Cambodians to go it alone in registering the ancient monument as a ‘World Heritage Site’, the Samak government was also allowing certain political groupings to derive personal benefit.
The statement urged the government, the military hierarchy and the Thai people to arrive at a decision about whether they wished to protect the nation’s best interests. It urged people not to be easily seduced by the words of those groupings who stood to benefit most from the agreement.
The statement also said that if the Thai government signed a non-transparent agreement with the Cambodian government, it would be to the disadvantage of the nation as a whole.
The statement added that a non-transparent agreement would succeed only in changing Thailand’s land and sea boundaries for the personal benefit of those who pushed hard for the agreement – and that it could eventually result in Thailand losing territory to Cambodia.
The statement urged all groups in Thai society to remain alert, and to weigh up its conclusions carefully in arriving at the truth of the matter.
Dissolution of parliament seems likely outcome – translated and summarized from Naew Na; Author; Kad Ta Tap [‘Kad Ta Tap’ can be used in the sense of ‘not seeing eye-to-eye’.]; June 14, 2008
The current Thai government seems rather unstable, in the face of so many economic and political problems. People are increasingly unhappy with higher goods prices, the oil crisis, high inflation and low income – amongst others. Many are beginning to feel that this might be an opportune moment for the government to leave office, with so many mobs of demonstrators active throughout the country. ‘Puppet’ Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is certainly under great pressure from the current economic and political problems. Not only does he have to find a solution to the rising prices of goods, but he also has to attempt to amend the 2007 Constitution for the sake of his ‘puppeteer’. It has even been suggested that Samak might wish to consult a psychiatrist – since he seems to be suffering from a mental illness. The two possible solutions for Samak’s problems are that he can either dissolve parliament or he can resign as PM. It seems possible, however, that Samak will not wish to ‘die’ alone. The dissolution of parliament thus seems likely to be the eventual outcome for this afflicted administration.
‘Thaksin Regime’ or ‘Samak’s Show’? – translated and summarized from Naew Na; Author: Chalermchai Yodmalai, June 14, 2008
The label ‘Thaksin Regime’ is capable of creating either pain or pleasure in different groups of Thais. Although Thaksin Shinawatra is no longer this country’s prime minister, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is still firmly convinced that Thaksin’s political influence remains largely undiluted. They see current Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej as little more than Thaksin’s political nominee – with Thaksin as the ‘de facto’ leader of this present government. Despite the official dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party in May 2007, Thaksin supporters continue to believe that the spirit of TRT still lives on in the form of the People Power Party. Both PAD and Thaksin supporters are of the same belief in this respect – but this apparently similar belief has actually put the two factions at each other’s throats. In effect, PAD supporters believe that a protest against Samak is additionally a protest against Thaksin. Conversely, Thaksin devotees believe that their support for Samak is also a form of support for Thaksin. It seems, however, that the number of PAD supporters is not now as large as it was before the 2006 coup d’état.
The PAD again steps back to observe? – translated and summarized from Thai Rath, June 8, 2008
All the current political conflicts and problems of this country seem unlikely to be happily resolved any time soon – since this government seems only to care about those constitutional amendments that will please its ‘Big Boss’ and reverse the legal decision to dissolve the Thai Rak Thai Party. The government is, however, facing stern opposition from both the Democrat Party and the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). This administration would be well-advised to immediately tackle the present-day problem of rising prices for many goods. It should also do something about the ‘dangerous mind’ of former Prime Minister’s Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is continuing to face down the PAD in an aggressive manner – and has even threatened the use of violence against it. The PM has taken such a hard stance in spite of the withdrawal of the parliamentary motion to amend the 2007 Constitution – and despite the recent resignation of Jakrapob as a minister. Samak has since denied making such threats against the PAD – saying that his words were misunderstood. It is actions and words like these that make this government seem so untrustworthy to so many people.
Nevertheless, the PAD is currently under a great deal of pressure to make its next big political move. Many people believe that the government has done enough to satisfy the PAD’s political demands – by both dropping the constitutional amendment motion, and accepting Jakrapob’s resignation. Many now believe the PAD should halt its protest rallies, and return to more of an ‘observer’ role in local politics.
PAD can hold peaceful demonstrations, but must not attempt to ‘destroy’ government allies with different views – translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit; Column: Tassana Vicharn Kit Mai Wun Arthit, June 8, 2008
This government is trying to mislead people by encouraging news reports that paint the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) as a troublemaker. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his Foreign Affairs Minister are also trying to make people believe that the PAD demonstrations are having a negative affect on foreign investments, by claiming that investor confidence has been dented by the PAD’s depiction of their government as unstable and ineffective.
The PAD has serious problems of its own, however; since its leadership seems to hold some rather negative attitudes. The group has lost the support of many of its normal political allies, through its tendency to constantly express rather contrary opinions. The PAD should stop blaming its enemies for their lack of patriotism and lack of respect for the Royalty. Rather, it should move rapidly to find out why its normal allies are not more supportive of its protests. These ‘old’ allies now appear to feel that the current political situation is not serious enough to warrant them providing more vociferous support for the PAD cause. Indeed, the PAD may even be taking the risk that its ‘old’ allies might eventually throw their support behind the current government.
Thai politics in a dilemma – translated and summarized from Matichon, Author: Nongnuch Singhadecha, June 12, 2008
The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leadership continue to insist that their current protests are a political endgame – in which they will either win handsomely, or will be forced to concede this country to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The PAD has thus created a very difficult situation for itself – with little apparent likelihood that it can successfully master these difficulties.
The PAD now faces the immense challenge of coaxing more support from ordinary citizens. It faces the uphill battle of persuading such folk that it is their civic duty to support its protest. It needs to convince people that its protests are not a further step towards anarchy.
The PAD may eventually have to accept that there is now a widely divergent range of political opinion in this country. This is even the case amongst the more highly-educated sectors of our society. Many people believe that the PAD protests are having a negative effect on the nation’s economy and society. Indeed, many find it truly hard to understand why the PAD should feel it is so necessary to take such risks with their futures.
That said, there are definitely many who think that the PAD protests are entirely justified. Such supporters cannot stand the idea of the ‘Ghost Baby’ Government being able to get away with anything it so desires. They are especially worried about the government’s proposals to amend the 2007 Constitution – which they believe are only intended to rehabilitate a certain former politician.
The current political situation needs to be kept under close scrutiny. We will all have to wait and see if the majority of Thais will eventually see fit to support the PAD – or whether they will prefer to stay at home with the view that the protests are a step closer to anarchy.
NPN leader Taikorn reveals a ‘malignant’ plot to turn Thailand’s constitutional monarchy into a republic –
translated and summarized from Phujatkan, June 7, 2008
Northern People’s Network (NPN) leader and key People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporter Taikorn Ponsuwan has recently revealed that there is a ‘malignant’ movement at work, that is intent on replacing Thailand’s constitutional monarchy with a republic. Taikorn says that this movement favors the abolition of the monarchy. He claims that a key component of this movement is the left-leaning ‘Sahai Supab’ [‘Friends of Khun Supab’] group, which is comprised of former members of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) – that were active in the Northeast during the October 1976 event. Taikorn claims that this ‘malignant’ movement is not interested in destroying the political power of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, since they believe that it will be necessary to employ that power to destroy the monarchy. The group thus view Thaksin as an important ally in their struggle, with the trade-off being that they will eventually help Thaksin to reclaim his assets – which were frozen by court order after allegations of corruption were filed against him. Taikorn says that two pro-Thaksin groups – the former United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and the ‘White Ribbon’ group – are participating in this anti-monarchy plot. Taikorn warns that, since the PPP government was formed, there have been a number of attempts to attack the constitutional monarchy. He claims that the government’s reaction to these attempts has been very ineffective, since it has not treated them with any great seriousness. Taikorn is urging the public to support the PAD’s fight against Thaksin’s power, which he sees as offering the best form of protection for our constitutional monarchy.
Summaries of Phutjatkan columnists
Devil’s claws in the state under police’s authority – By Sirianya, June 8, 2008
The return of dark circle of the police ruling mafia gang begins after the People Power Party steps into power as government leader. The dark circle, mentioned originated in the time the national police was ruled by Police General Pao Sriyanond. At that time, the mafia gang and gunmen clique were subordinates of the mafia police. I criticize that the following cases are involved with the mafia police and signs that the malign circle has returned. First, the case filed against the Election Commission that claimed the vote ballots corruption. Secondly, the alleged corruption case, filed against Auditor General Office Chief Jaruwan Mentaka. Thirdly, the charge, filed against the Asset Scrutiny Commission, responsible for investigating the disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party corruptions. Fourthly, the arrest warrant, issued for bringing in the former Special Investigation Division Director-Genera. Fifth is the police’s movement in gathering evidence that possibly leads to the arrestment of the 5 People’s Alliance for Democracy core leaders. The sixth case is related to former Head of the Secretariat Office of the defunct Council for National Security General Somjed Boonthanom. The last one is in relation with the lawsuit filed against General Saprang Kanlayanamitr, former member of the CNS. The mafia police ruling state is returning and the mafia police do everything or serve the politicians with concern most to their own benefits.
Wars between the dual worlds –
By Yook Sriariya, June 8, 2008
I have been urged by my friend to write a piece of analytical work about the ongoing political crisis of Thailand by basing on the philosophy of the Taoism. I would say that nowadays’ world has considerably change and the world is losing balance. Regarding the social chaos, people are classified into different groups after the arising of the world’s top class, recognized as the Elite or the Superclass. I will not call the Superclass group as capitalists as they have fairer development in vision that threatens the world. The Superclass like the Hedge Fund CEO has influence over the US government and other governments in the world and the Superclass can rob the world(the nation and its people) by their investment. Thailand’s deposed premier Thaksin Shinnawatra is one of the Superclass member, who enter the world’s superclass society by his Manchester City football club ownership.
Assassinating Mandate from Buri Ram –
By Bannaros Buaklee, June 7, 2008
The Thailand’s political dark circle remains existed up to the present. The mafia politicians are still partaking. About 10 year earlier, in the year 2000, the life menace case, involved with the Democrat Party’s MP candidate in Buri Ram Panawat Lienphong was evidence of the story of Thai mafia politicians. Panawat fell victim in a shooting, aimed at killing him. The Democrat MP survived but was severely injured. The police investigation team revealed that the gunman initially confessed that he was hired by Chai Chidchob’s son, brother of Newin Chidchob, the former Thai Rak Thai’ s Buri Ram MP . However, the suspect later changed his testimony to the police, saying the Chidchob family has no involvement with the case. The case ended without any masterminded be taken into justice. Nowadays, the dark circle of politics continues. Some politicians can do whatever to maintain and pass on their power.
A Hired leader –
By Chaianand Samutwanit, June 8, 2008
The nation needs a leader who has wide visions and understands the modern day problems and the factors involved. The leader should own new work style that support the development of the governmental bureaus and have good communication ability, compared to a good manager who effectively coordinates work with his team. I am worried with the leader who admits he is somebody’s nominee. As it is far beyond our ability to find the definition of “nominee leader” in dictionary for political science studying, the leader is, therefore, called a “hired leader”. This is only for Thailand where everything can be hired, including a leader or a mob.
It all depends on ‘himself’ –
translated and summarized from Thai Rath; Column: Samnak Khao Hua Kiew; Author: Mae Luk Chan, June 11, 2008
Besides the Euro 2008 Soccer Tournament, this month will probably also witness an ‘Extraordinary Session’ of the Thai Parliament.
Political pundits are forecasting that this session will initially be a rocky and ill-tempered one – as the major issue under debate, by Members of Parliament, will be the proposed amendments of the 2007 Constitution. Once, however, the amendment debate has been concluded, the temperature in the chamber is likely to drop dramatically. Indeed, aficionados of local politics are likely to be highly disappointed by the abrupt curtailment of confrontational politics that is likely to occur once the debate is over.
Despite sixty-one senators having requested the holding of a ‘No Confidence’ debate & vote, it is highly unlikely that the current political dissatisfaction with this government will force any significant changes to its conduct. Indeed, the 2007 Constitution does not actually even provide senators with the right to initiate such a debate.
If – however – at least one-in-three senators calls for a ‘General Debate’, the government will be forced to accede to their demand. That would mean that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his entire Cabinet members would come under the scrutiny of the Senate over the conduct of their first 4 months in power.
I believe that the eventual outcome of this ’General Debate’ will largely depend on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s ability to control his temper during the proceedings.
PPP-led government uses psychological warfare to encourage anti-PAD sentiments –
translated and summarized from Matichon, June 8, 2008
It looks like the current political situation is in the process of change, after Jakrapob Penkair announced that he would resign from his position as Prime Minister’s Office Minister. Additionally, a number of Members of Parliament have withdrawn their signatures from a parliamentary motion to initiate amendments to the 2007 Constitution. The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) – which is currently putting pressure on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign – has also stated that it has no intention of moving its protest site away from the Makawan Rangsan Bridge.
PM Samak Sundaravej and his People Power Party (PPP)-led government presently appear to be moving away from a reactive strategy towards the PAD protests, towards more of a proactive response.
Another significant change is that the PAD also appears to be moving away from its accusational attacks against the government, towards a more defensive position.
All these moves have occurred since Samak recently launched a tirade against the PAD protest gathering. The PM’s outburst placed the PAD in a position from which they could not easily retreat. This outburst also convinced the PAD that their protests should additionally aim for the resignation of the PM.
We should always bear in mind that the majority of Thai people clearly want to see their country return to the path of peace. The majority also want the government to solve their numerous present-day problems, and bring an end to the current political conflict through compromise with its detractors.
It should, therefore, be no great surprise that the PAD attempt to oust the government has actually ended up placing it at a disadvantage since the Samak administration was clearly elected by the common will.
Column: Luek Dtae Mai Lab (Stories Revealed in Detail) –
translated and summarized from Matichon; Author: Jaran Pongjeen, June 6, 2008
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s on-air tirade against the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on the state-run NBT television channel on May 31 could have been a big mistake. Many more members of the public joined the PAD protest rally soon after the PM’s unscheduled television statement. The PAD also followed up the PM’s tirade by claiming that his statement had not been agreed upon during any cabinet discussions. Four out of five coalition parties in the People Power Party (PPP)-led government have expressed some opposition to the PM’s words.
There has also been some speculation over the possibility of four of the coalition government parties throwing their support behind the opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. It is thought possible that Abhisit might be able to form a coalition government of approximately 247 MPs, with the PPP in opposition with about 233 MPs. One obstacle to such a scenario is that the Ruam Jai Thai Chat Pattana Party (RJTCPP) will probably continue to support the PPP as it is highly-protective of the two ministerial posts it holds in the incumbent cabinet.
I believe that the ongoing political crisis could possibly lead to a coup d’etat or a tense political standoff, as the PAD is continuing to voice its strong opposition against the PPP-led government. This problem might only come to an end if Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej were to resign. The PPP still appears to have some room for political maneuver, however.
One future option is for a new government to be formed by any one of the three following parties: the PPP, the Democrat Party or the RJTCPP. Such a new government might be formed in the style of a conciliatory national government, as suggested by the revered elder social critic Dr. Prawes Wasi. (The Democrat Party is probably not in favor of holding a new election, since it appears to have limited funds with which to run a campaign.).
A second option is for the government to defer its parliamentary motion to initiate amendments to the 2007 Constitution. A special committee might then be formed, to study possible amendments in greater depth, under the leadership of Chai Chidchob – the House Speaker. Chai is viewed by many as a person who could play an important role in bringing an end to the ongoing political conflict, as he is the father of the key PPP member Newin Chidchob.
Thaksin and Gen. Prem reconciled? – Thaksin says, “I’m sorry for everything” – Is he just ‘taking one small step back, in readiness for a giant leap forward’? – translated and summarized from Komchadluek; Column: Scoop, June 2, 2008
The current political conflict is looking increasingly serious. The conflict is particularly heated over the issues of the proposed constitutional amendments and the inflammatory speeches that have been made by Jakrapob Penkair in the past. In the midst of all this political turmoil, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra ‘unexpectedly’ met elder statesman Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda at the funeral of Gen. Anupong Paochinda’s mother on May 26. Additionally, some pro-government MPs and senators have withdrawn their support for the parliamentary motion to initiate amendments to the 2007 Constitution. Jakrapob Penkair has also decided to resign from his position as the Prime Minister’s Office Minister. These two latter actions are believed to have been ordered by Thaksin Shinawatra.
Rumor has it that Thaksin has become a lot less aggressive in his actions since orders went out to seize 70 billion baht of his assets. His softened approach could also be as a result of military dissatisfaction with Jakrapob’s inflammatory speeches against the Royalty, and the alarming increase in political tension that has resulted from the recent People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protests. Thaksin was even reported to have told Gen. Prem (at the funeral) that he was sorry for all the negative political events that may have accrued from his past actions. It has to be said, however, that the supposed ‘chance’ funeral meeting between Thaksin and Prem was NO coincidence. Thaksin’s apparently conciliatory behavior towards Gen. Prem can almost certainly not be trusted. It should perhaps be perceived as an example of Thaksin ‘taking one small step back, in readiness for a giant leap forward’.
‘White Ribbon’ group should beware the ‘black’ of election cheats doesn’t stain its campaign – translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit; Column: Newsmaker, June 5, 2008
Dr. Chuchai Supawong has recently criticized the move of a university lecturers’ network to encourage people to wear a white ribbon as a form of symbolic protest against the street demonstrations of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). Dr. Chuchai said that the ‘White Ribbon’ campaign could make it easier for the PAD to be portrayed by its opponents as violent and aggressive. He also said that the ‘White Ribbon’ group should not question the intentions of the PAD, as he believed that PAD supporters were essentially ‘good’ people.
He thought that the best solution to the current political conflict was for the government to cancel its plans to amend the Constitution – which he believed were intended to allow former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return to power, by preventing any legal action being taken against him. Chuchai also warned the group to be careful to avoid their campaign blurring issues of ‘correct political behavior’ and the ‘correct course of justice’ – as he believes that any further complication of these issues might only serve to further confuse the electorate.
‘White’ to survive? – translated and summarized from Matichon; Column: Krongrang Tamnan Khon; Author: Gartong, June 8, 2008
The Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs at Thammasat University, Parinya Thewanaruemitkul, was once a political activist who took part in the 1992 ‘Black May’ event. Parinya has now come up with an idea that he hopes will help to return this country to peace. He is promoting the idea of people wearing white as symbol of peace, to counteract the current political schism. He has formed a group of undergraduates to support him in his ‘White Peace’ campaign – which calls for an end to the current political conflict between two entrenched political camps: namely the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and the People Power Party (PPP)-led government.
I believe this movement should serve to remind us how important it is that the combined creative power of our academics and undergraduates is brought to bear on the vital issue of maintaining an everlasting peace in our nation.
Report on police handling of the PAD mob – translated and summarized from Komchadluek; Column: First Page Scoop, June 4, 2008
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej once again spoke directly to the public on his ‘Samak Style of Talk’ weekly TV program on state-run NBT on May 31. Samak spoke of the stern measures that he intended to take against the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protest mob if they did not conform to his wishes. That speech led to a police riot-squad being assembled at the Makawan Rangsan Bridge, where the PAD protest rally platform is currently based. One source revealed that the government’s plans included the arrest of 5 key PAD leaders. National Police Chief Gen. Patcharawat Wongsuwan followed up Samak’s speech by going to the bridge to enter into serious dialogue with the protest group’s leadership. The police were apparently concerned that they would face strong public criticism if they took strong-arm action against the protestors – since PM Samak had not issued the necessary Emergency Decree to allow such drastic action. There was some thought that the police could use traffic laws to take legal action against the demonstrators – but it was duly noted that this legislation did little more than specify the level of fine that could be imposed on violators.