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Thailand’s self-proclaimed leaders grasp at straws

Updated On: Nov 03, 2006

Less than 2 months after what was deemed a “successful” coup to rescue Thailand from apparent ruin at Thaksin’s hands, the coup-makers are finding themselves in the hot seat of having to justify themselves.

On 1 November, about 200 protesters gathered at Sanam Luang to oppose the Council for National Security (CNS). The protestors signed a declaration that said, “'We want to warn the CNS and the illegitimate government that if they do not step down by the end of October, on Nov 1 at 4 pm, there will be a mass rally to purge the dictators at Sanam Luang.” According to the Bangkok Post, CNS chairman Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said the council ignored the antics of the rally.

The CNS’ headache looks set to worse as pro-Thaksin groups head for Bangkok. Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas told the media that protestors “from the northern and northeastern regions would arrive in Bangkok [on 2 November], but said he was uncertain if there would be political demonstrations”. The military strategy as advised by the CNS was to “talk with the opposition forces and convince them to abandon plans to gather in Bangkok”.

Incidentally, the taxi-driver who rammed his cab into a wall some weeks back to protest the coup has taken it a step further. He hung himself off a bridge and is deemed by his wife as a hero true to his political views. The coup leaders and interim government are handling the case carefully to avoid more public outrage. Leaders of three political parties have now also urged the coup-makers “to try to meet the people's aspirations instead of tackling day-to-day problems”. The Nation reported Thai Rak Thai Party acting head Chaturon Chaisang as saying that “the coup leaders should not allow themselves to get distracted by minor issues but focus on what they set out to do [as] the restoration of democracy will take time”.

While Pracharaj Party leader Snoh Thienthong felt that “military intervention was inevitable in order to repair political flaws and heal social divisions”, he warned, “The CNS should try to deliver tangible results as proof that usurping power was not a setback for democracy as… the people want action and not daily excuses.” He also cautioned against any greed for power and overstaying its welcome, reminding “military heads to stay out of politics, saying their alleged involvement in forming a new political party might destroy the CNS”. Chat Thai Party leader Banharn Silapa-archa also commented that “military leaders should not get involved in a puppet party and politicians should not bait the armed forces as a short-cut to gaining power”.

What can the CNS and interim government do to raise support? They have already made tactical moves of reshuffling manpower to sideline Thaksin supporters, while Gen. Sonthi has insinuated that “some individuals close to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra were behind the mysterious disappearance of Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit”, the Bangkok Post reported.

With Pojaman Shinawatra working cleverly to ease her husband’s path into the Thai ruling society, leadership of the Thai Rak Thai party in the hands of a Thaksin ally, difficulties in finding proof of corruption and the Pojaman land deal certified legal by the Bank of Thailand, and the people’s mobilizing support for the former regime, it would seem that the director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University Thitinan Pondhisurak’s prediction will be proved right –“Thaksin’s return appears not a matter of if, but when”.

Sources:

Pro-Thaksin forces 'head to Bangkok' (Bangkok Post, 2 November 2006)

Anti-coup protesters test waters of dissent (Bangkok Post, 2 November 2006)

Military losing post-coup momentum (Bangkok Post, 2 November 2006)

Somchai case a challenge for DSI (Bangkok Post, 2 November 2006)

Stay out of politics, party leaders advise (Nation, 2 November 2006)

Pojaman purchase lawful: BOT (Nation, 2 November 2006)

Small rally against CNS, call for election (Nation, 2 November 2006)

Pro-Thaksin cab driver commits suicide (Bangkok Post, 2 November 2006)

No progress in corruption probe (Bangkok Post, 1 November 2006)

Sonthi: Thaksin aide a suspect (Bangkok Post, 1 November 2006)

TRT-linked governors transferred (Bangkok Post, 1 November 2006)

Thaksin aide link to kidnap of Somchai (Nation, 1 November 2006)

Please come back Thaksin, we miss you badly (Nation, 1 November 2006)

Thai rally today to press for a return to democracy (Straits Times, 1 November 2006)

Abhisit urges junta to dispel doubt that it tries to cling on to power (Nation, 1 November 2006)