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Somroutai Sapsomboon
Fri, Nov 21, 2008
The Nation, ANN
Thailand racing to a point of no return?

Previously, few people would have thought about another coup or civil war taking place in this country. But now it seems hard to avoid the likelihood of either tragedy happening after defiant former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra showed his desire to return to politics.

Obviously, Thaksin's declaration of war was a signal to his supporters. He provoked them to come out and fight against his antagonist, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

There are many signs showing Thaksin's supporters are gearing up to fight for their leader.

First, red-shirted supporters will gather for a mass rally on December 13 at Supachalasai Stadium. The rally will pave the way for Thaksin to announce his comeback to politics via a phone-in speech. That would be the beginning of his war against his enemies. The location this time is significant, as the stadium is not far from PAD's stronghold at Government House. There's a risk of confrontation between the two sides.

Second, Somchai Wongsawat's administration- though it tried to distance itself from Thaksin- is pouring government budgets into constituencies ahead of a possible election campaign.

Somchai has never made any comment about Thaksin although they are brothers-in-law. But in fact Thaksin is pulling Somchai's strings. The budgets would help the government win another general election.

Third, Parliament is pushing hard to free Thaksin's camp from punishment. After coalition MPs tried to amend the charter to benefit Thaksin and his followers, which led to a clash in front of Parliament House last October, they had to ease their pressure.

They would propose a reconciliation law to grant amnesty for all political charges after the September 19 coup, also covering Thaksin and PAD's charges.

Fourth, other figures like Maj-General Kattiya Sawadiphol, a military expert attached to Army headquarters, want to join Thaksin's camp. Kattiya has warned the PAD many times to move out of Government House or face a tough battle.

Since the PAD has occupied Government House, there have been six bomb blasts at protest sites. Kattiya was the usual suspect but he denied any involvement. He was also called into suspicion over yesterday's bombing, which led to one death and more than 20 protesters wounded, as he had earlier given an ultimatum to the PAD to vacate Government House by yesterday.

Pallop Pinmanee, a former deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command, is another of Thaksin's latest allies.

Pallop, who flew to meet him in Hong Kong last week, insisted Thaksin is 100 per cent loyal to His Majesty the King. Pallop was expected to be appointed as deputy director of the new ISOC to oversee the PAD protest.

Pallop's move raised many questions, as he was PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang's classmate. Pallop had been expected to take over from the PAD leaders if they were jailed.

Pallop was seen talking with Chamlong at Government House and declared he would be the next PAD leader. However there was a report that their relationship had turned sour. That's maybe the reason why Pallop switched sides.

Considering that Kattiya and Pallop are now behind Thaksin, violence is expected not to be far in coming.

It's obvious that all Thaksin's supporters are ready to fight with all means against his opponents. Their first and biggest target is the PAD. Their first mission is to oust the PAD from the Government House compound.

Jatuporn Promphan, a party-list MP of the People Power Party, said it was about time the "majority" in this society came out and showed its stance.

"This country doesn't have only the PAD and they should know Government House doesn't belong to them. If we can't live in peace, then we should not have peace," he said.

However, the PAD can't easily walk out of its fortress. On the contrary, they have to blow the final whistle. They called a war for next Sunday and urged as many protesters as possible to join the rally in order to make a change in society.

From a conflict of ideas to a conflict of society without violence ? to a conflict with weapons until blood is shed. It seems that the country is heading now to the point of no return ? civil war or another coup.

 

 
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