Abhisit’s fantasy land

30 09 2009

Chulalongkorn University’s Thitinan Pongsudhirak has a particularly strong op-ed in the Bangkok Post (30 September 2009: “Abhisit’s fantastic speech about a fanciful Thailand”) where he looks at the contradictions embodied in Abhisit Vejjajiva’s speech at Columbia University and his different profiles in Thailand and abroad.

We agree with Thitinan that Abhisit charms foreign journalists, but he is essentially unknown internationally, so his personal profile counts for little. At the same time, Abhisit’s perspective is indeed fanciful and he is even untruthful in many of the points he makes. But he knows that relatively uninformed journalists overseas aren’t going to push him, and if he says the “right” things, he looks good to them.

As we outlined in a PPT post a couple of days ago, we also agree with many of Thitinan’s criticisms of Abhisit.  At the same time, we think he makes some additional and important points.

Thitinan who was initially keen to give Abhisit a chance to prove himself now observes that the premier is a “lost creature imprisoned by his patrician past, unable to face up to Thailand ‘s future needs and expectations.”

Then, importantly, he notes that, “Whether he continues to be beholden to his backers, who currently see him as their best hope, or breaks with them to stamp an effective leadership, is critical not only to Mr Abhisit the prime minister but also to Thailand as an aspiring democracy.”

It seems, though, that Thitinan has little hope for Abhisit, captive to the unmentionable backers (see PPT’s “A country for old men”): “Unless he can muster the wherewithal to break with his backers, a window of rehabilitation requires Mr Abhisit to expeditiously wrap up the crooked proceedings known as Thai politics of the past year by retooling the constitution to return power to the people. The longer his rule drags on, the less the PM will be able to rehabilitate his political career.”


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