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A Week in Review: August 28 - September 3, 2010

It's your fault...

It is no coincidence that the expression, ‘As responsible as a Thai politician’ has never entered the vernacular. Find out where the fingers were pointing last week in our latest review of the news from Thailand. Read more here…

Last week’s city and district elections in Bangkok proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the Democrat’s still hold power in the capital. Of 61 districts, the Democrats won 45, with 15 going to Phuea Thai and 1 to an independent candidate. The political wing of the yellow shirts, the New Politics Party (NPP), won a resounding 0. Of 256 council seats up for grabs, the Democrats won 210, with 39 going to Phuea Thai and 7 to independent candidates. The NPP won a resounding 0.

While the NPP is a new party contending its first election, the results were still a major slap in the face. However, the failure to win a single seat doesn’t necessarily indicate that the party has the least support in the capital. Far from it in fact. As the NPP and the Democrats share the same support base, it is more likely that many potential NPP voters chose to vote for the more established Democrats rather than splitting their support and playing into the hands of the common enemy - Phuea Thai.

The NPP apparently saw things differently and blamed the low voter turnout, which was just 42%. They didn’t say why they thought the voter turnout was low, but they blamed it nevertheless.

Meanwhile, Phuea Thai played their own blame game and decided that their poor showing was the result of the weather. Perhaps realising that they needed a better excuse, they also blamed troops on security duty at polling stations – a somewhat ironic result of previous violence by their own supporters.

Changing strategy and taking a break from blaming others for their own shortcomings, Phuea Thai later announced that it was disappointed with the results, which it felt indicated the party still had a lot of work to do to win over voters in Bangkok. Naked Farang would suggest that not trying to cripple its business district or burn it to the ground might be a good place to start.

Surprisingly, Phuea Thai agreed for once in what might legally be referred to as 'temporary sanity'. The party whose politicians are leaders of the quasi-militant red-shirted UDD finally decided to blame the quasi-militant red-shirted UDD for its poor recent election results in an apparent attempt to distance itself from its staunchest though most-prone-to-violence supporters.

Indeed, infighting and defections have plagued Phuea Thai since its red-shirted supporters laid siege to Bangkok in a failed attempt to force the government to step down.

The problem has become so acute that Phuea Thai is in danger of disintegrating, or at the very least fragmenting. Phuea Thai’s fugitive leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, clearly has a major job on his hands to keep the party together long enough for it to win the next election, grant him an amnesty, and bring him back to Thailand as its leader.

While Thaksin may be the founder, chief financer and driving force behind Phuea Thai, his removal from the spotlight has led many to believe that he is no longer the uniting figurehead of the party, but rather a wedge splitting it asunder.

However, there was at least a temporary degree of unity between Thaksin and Phuea Thai last week as they both made comments publicly calling for reconciliation.

In an interview with Thai Rath newspaper, Thaksin admitted that he longed to come home to Thailand but that peace and reconciliation were more important to him. As he also claimed recently that he was struggling to support his family after being forced to return some of the money he stole from the Thai people, a large pinch of salt is recommended when considering this comment.

Phuea Thai went even further and issued a statement through deputy leader, Plodrasop Suraswadi, asking for cross-party talks with the aim of ending the political conflict, bringing about an end to violence and forgiving all parties.

Considering that Phuea Thai and the red-shirted UDD are the only ones who have previously boycotted cross-party talks, resorted to violence and committed acts that require forgiveness, it is a statement that flits fancifully between desperation and hypocrisy.

Plodrasop went on to say that the statement was intended as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ but that it was also an ‘ultimatum’ as Phuea Thai’s tolerance was running out. Many sane and impartial observers would argue that Phuea Thai’s intolerance is one of the key factors currently dividing the country.

Meanwhile, just to ensure that they weren’t left out, the Democrat Party played the conspiracy card by claiming that Prachuap Sangkhao, a former business executive, colluded with Suchart Wonganandchai, a former deputy chief of the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) to engineer a case against Thailand’s oldest political party in the ongoing illegal donations case.

Under questioning in court, Prachuap refused to answer several questions, in one instance because he feared being sued for defamation by Phuea Thai MP Chalerm Yubamrung.

It was perhaps a wise move as, in another courtroom, yellow shirt leader Sondhi Limthongkhul received a 2-year suspended jail sentence for defaming Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was upset because Sondhi apparently quoted a comment made by Thaksin’s former deputy prime minister, who allegedly mentioned that Thaksin did not support the Thai monarchy.

With such thin skin, it is no wonder that Thai politicians choose to constantly point the finger at others.

Paul Snowdon – September 4, 2010

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28 Nov 2015, 03:34
This man Sondhi Limthongkul is so arrogant and over-confident that he awalys tends to ignore and forget latent dangers around himself. God bless him.
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