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Thailand’s melodrama: Doomsday predictions, conspiracy theories and the “lame duck” government

Updated On: Jul 11, 2006

The allegations against Thaksin are getting wilder and wilder. Some even beg belief, such as the allegation that the Thai Rak Thai Party is plotting to claim absolute power by inciting a civil war.

Thaikorn Polsuwan, a leader of the fringe group Isaan Kuchart (Northeast Liberation Front) and a former Democrat Party member linked to electoral fraud allegations spoke at a seminar entitled “The Plan to Incite Civil War to Allow the Thaksin Regime to Seize the Country”, the Nation reported. It is said that this secret plan to bring about civil war to usurp power was revealed by his informers who had infiltrated pro-Thaksin groups.

Thankfully other allegations are more credulous, such as the warning by Anant Laulertvorakul, a coordinator of Chulalongkorn University's Network for Ethical Democracy, who said that violence and bloodshed could ensue if Thaksin ignored the courts’ rulings. He added that the “era of bloodshed… could have more profound consequences than any other crisis in the nation's history.”

This reinforces former Constitution drafter Kanin Boonsuwan’s opinion that only the Thai Constitution, Supreme and Administrative courts can work to prevent a national crisis by making ruling justly on the political debacles. He added that a possible outcome might be to “sentence the election commissioners to jail, the Constitution Court might order the dissolution of Democrat and Thai Rak Thai parties, and the Administrative Court could annul the status of Thaksin Shinawatra as caretaker prime minister”, the Nation reported.

The TRT party remains unfazed, calling all anti-Thaksin groups as undemocratic. TRT spokesman Sita Divari said Thailand would be paralysed if Thaksin were forced out of office unconstitutionally, insisting that the TRT was respecting the King’s advice of seeking national reconciliation. Sita also criticized outgoing Senator Kraisak Choonhavan for speculating on the contents of Thaksin’s communications to US President George W Bush and making spurious claims such as the discovery of mass graves in the South, or that Thaksin had complained to Bush that he was a victim of an ongoing ouster plot.

In any case, telling America his woes has not helped Thaksin at all, given that the letter was sent in April and the situation seems to be getting worse for him. It seems that Somjai Phagaphasvivat of Thammasart University has predicted rightly that the letter would not gain sympathy nor attention, that the US would merely treat it as “justification from a lame duck government and reserve [its] stance”, the Bangkok Post said.

Sources:

PM's letter to Bush 'breach of protocol', says lecturer (Bangkok Post, 10 July 2006)

Premier 'wants to incite civil war' (The Nation, 10 July 2006)Kingdom 'is on the verge of bloodshed' (The Nation, 10 July 2006)Bid to oust Thaksin not democratic' (The Nation, 10 July 2006)Courts are the nation's only hope: Kanin (The Nation, 10 July 2006)Country would be paralysed without a leader, TRT says (The Nation, 10 July 2006)

3rd Foreign Ministerial Meeting of Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS)

The ACMECS is a cooperation framework among CambodiaLaosMyanmarThailand and Vietnam. It was originally proposed by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin at the special ASEAN summit on SARS in 2003. The aim of the meeting was to utilise the strengths of the individual members and to promote balanced development in the region. It is a sub-regional grouping within ASEAN.  Two summit meetings have been held so far, the first in Myanmar in 2003, and the second in Thailand in 2005. The third summit is scheduled to be held in Vietnam in 2007.

In preparation for the summit and to expand on possible areas of cooperation, the third Foreign Ministerial Meeting of the ACMECS took place in the Southern Laos city of Pakse on 3 July 2006. The ministers adopted the ACMECS Action Programme for 2006 which included a list of 55 common projects and 241 bilateral projects.

One of the key items on the agenda was the establishment of a contact point and deployment of expert teams to respond to any bird flu pandemic. This Thai proposal was supported by CambodiaLaos and VietnamThailand has offered a seed money of 100 million baht for the plan.

During the meeting, members of ACMECS also met with other development partners such as Japan to seek funding for the various projects.  How this new subregional cooperation framework would complement or compete with the Greater Mekong Subregion framework is yet to be seen.  

Sources:

Website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand

Foreign Ministers Gather in Laos to Review Cooperation (Thai Press Report, 10 July 2006)

Thailand Region Agrees to Plan to Fight Bird Flu and Infectious Diseases (Thai Press Report, 6 July 2006)

ACMECS Meeting Open in Laos (Thai Press Reports, 5 July 2006)

Regional Countries to Discuss Anti-Bird Flu Efforts in Laos (Thai Press Reports, 4 July 2006)