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THIS IS THAILAND
A Week in Review: March 5-11, 2011


Be careful what you wish for...

What do you do when you get what you ask for? Read this week’s This Is Thailand to find out

At the start of last week, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that the government was determined to go ahead with its plan to dissolve the House of Representatives within the next few weeks despite pressure not to do so from the anti-government protesters who had been calling for the government to step down.

The Bangkok Post reported last week that anti-government groups were not only opposed to the PM’s plan to set up an early general election but were actively working to prevent it.

Confused? You will be…

Last year, the red shirts held Bangkok under siege demanding that the government step down in the name of democracy only to refuse early dissolution when it was unexpectedly offered to them. What the red shirt leaders say they want and what they actually want are clearly not the same thing.  

Now, it is the yellows who have engineered a reason for the government to step aside in the name of patriotism only to oppose early dissolution when it is unexpectedly presented to them. What the yellow shirt leaders say they want and what they actually want are clearly not the same thing.

Nevertheless, the government confirmed on Friday that it will dissolve the House during the first week of May. The law requires that elections be held between 45 and 60 days thereafter meaning that voting will take place at the end of June or beginning of July.

While applauding the decision, Phuea Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit also warned of opposition from “certain activist groups” and “the possibility of another coup” orchestrated by members of the military who are against holding the election as early as June or July.

Phuea Thai went on to announce that it was ready for the election and had almost finalised its list of candidates – although there was no mention of a manifesto.

Despite Phuea Thai’s recent attempts to clean up its image by distancing itself from the mob tactics of the UDD, at least some of the MPs on its list of candidates are red shirt leaders who have decided to move into politics for the sole purpose of hoping to acquire political immunity and avoid future prosecutions after their recent release on bail.

Meanwhile, the yellow shirts (who are protesting outside Government House because they want the government to step down) are not only continuing to protest outside Government House (despite the government announcing that it is set to step down) but also threatening to take their protest back inside Government House because the government is threatening to move then from their protest site.

While the yellow shirts had a lot of support in 2008 when they protested against Thaksin and his subsequent proxies, it is very difficult to take them seriously this time – and even harder to work out what they actually want.

Is it a case of not really wanting what they ask for or not asking for what they really want?

Unfortunately, rumours of another coup are beginning to sound much less farfetched than they did just a few weeks ago. One thing is for sure. Whatever happens, it is going to be a very big year for democracy in Thailand.

Paul Snowdon – March 12, 2011

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