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A Week in Review: April 2-8, 2011


You can't hold back the bullshit...

The signs are all there. The countdowns have begun. And the bullshit detectors are going off the scale. For good or bad, two things are coming to Thailand. What are they?

If there was any lingering doubt that this is an election year in Thailand, it was certainly dispelled last week.

The Democrats have been busy reaching out to voters with their increasingly populist election promises while Phuea Thai MPs have been equally busy staying away from parliament.

Although some Democrat MPs took the opportunity to visit their constituencies in the southern Thailand following the recent flooding in the region, it was in fact the opposition Phuea Thai MPs whose absence prevented a quorum for 3 days. In an unexplained dereliction of duty, 175 out of 188 Phuea Thai MPs failed to attend parliament for 3 consecutive days.

Parliament may have been quiet, but it was a different story behind the scenes. Wais were being performed; promises were being made; alliances were being forged; and brown envelopes were being passed under polished mahogany tables.

In an act of horse trading designed to increase their bargaining power in the next coalition government, the Ruam Chart Pattana Party and the main faction in the Phuea Pandin Party agreed to merge into a single party under the name Chart Pattana Phuea Pandin.

Meanwhile, opinions were split on the announced return to Thailand’s political circus of Police Captain Purachai Piemsombun. A co-founder with Thaksin of the now-dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party, Purachai is best remembered by most as the interior minister responsible for the invasive and repressive social order campaign during the Thaksin administration.

Valued by many for his integrity and straightforward approach to politics, Purachai is equally despised by many others for his puritanical crackdowns on everything from dancing to naked shoulders.

On the streets of Bangkok, the reds and the yellows continued to protest, but the surest sign that an election is coming is the re-emergence into the public eye of our former democratically-paid-for dictator.

Still in self-imposed exile rather than accepting responsibility for his deeds, the fugitive Thaksin has been keeping everyone guessing about who he will choose as the proxy to lead his Phuea Thai party.

Having failed to topple the current government through violent street protests last year, Thaksin has now pinned his hopes on Phuea Thai winning the next election and quashing his convictions so that he can not only avoid going to jail for his crimes but also have the money he embezzled from the people of Thailand returned to him.

It is imperative to Thaksin, therefore, that he choose a subservient proxy whose responses will be limited to “Yes, sir”.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Thaksin confirmed that he plans to assert a strong influence on Thailand's economic and political policy from outside of Thailand if Phuea Thai wins the election.

Thaksin then wrapped his real self-serving intentions inside a flowery package by adding that he aims to offer an amnesty for everyone charged with politically-related offences since the coup that ousted his government in 2006 – a period which conveniently covers the convictions against him.

And now that the weather is starting to return to normal and we bake under the intense heat of the hot season in Thailand, another event is almost upon us once more.

If there was any lingering doubt that this is the month of Sonkran in Thailand, it was certainly dispelled last week.

As is tradition at this time of year, the police have threatened to do what they are supposed to do all year round and enforce traffic laws.

With hundreds of lives lost on the roads due to drivers speeding or driving drunk every Songkran, and with a couple of highly-publicised recent road accidents (and dozens more that barely merited a mention in the press – including one in which 7 mostly Burmese migrant workers were killed and 65 more injured by a truck ‘under-taking’ on the hard shoulder), the police have lamented the difficulty they have in enforcing the law.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Police Major General Panu made the ground-breaking announcement that most motorists in Thailand refuse to stick to the speed limit. Panu went on to explain that when Bangkok’s humble traffic policemen try to enforce the speed limit, the speeding motorists say that the rule is obsolete because new technology enabled drivers to travel faster and more safely. As a result, according to Panu, Bangkok police have been lenient in enforcing the legal speed limit.

Can you smell that?

So what is the solution? Police performing their duty? Drivers accepting responsibility for their actions rather than paying bribes? Apparently not.

Panu said that police work would be more efficient if they were better equipped with gadgets such as speed detectors and traffic cameras.

Maybe the Thai police could use the GT-200 bomb detectors that the army use in the south of Thailand.

So the signs are all there. The countdowns have begun. And the bullshit detectors are going off the scale. For good or bad, two things are coming to Thailand.

Happy Songkran everybody

Paul Snowdon – April 9, 2011

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Have your say...

Sean Worthington
09 Apr 2011, 01:36
Don't forget it was Purachai's well thought out policy that turned Sukhumvit Road from a relatively boring street late at night (except near the Thermae) to the now blossoming meat market complete with pimps and multi national products on offer.
Vincent
28 Nov 2015, 05:14
In addition, Thai royal coonuellsr Tongnoi Tongyai has been appointed Temasek's corporate adviser. Tongnoi, who is in his early 70s, is the personal coonuellsr of Thailand's Crown Prince, and has been in charge of the royal's personal affairs since 2000. Tongnoi was previously also an adviser to the Thai King on foreign and technical affairs. The above is a description of Tongnoi by the Nation on 20 Oct 06. Why would such a senior man in the confidence and employment of the Royal Palace became a 'cunning and immoral man' overnight?
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