Controlling retirees

12 12 2009

The political temperature is going up as the Democrat Party-led government tries to bolster its political position. Even with reasonably firm military backing, the Bangkok Post (10 December 2009: “PM Abhisit, Gen Prayuth and their common future”) reports that potential electoral support for the government and its allies is worse than ever.

The report states that: “According to an unofficial poll conducted in secret by a military unit, if an election is called, the Puea Thai Party could end up with as many as 290-300 MPs while the Democrats would tally only about 150 seats.” The military has decided that it has no choice but to support the struggling Abhisit Vejjajiva government.

When the political battles liven up, it is not unusual to see the old men who believe they run the country put on a bit of a show. The show has been provided by Privy Council member, retired General Pichitr Kullavanijaya (The Nation, 11 December 2009: “Pichit urges Thaksin to end political moves”).

He said it “was time fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra ended his political moves for the sake of the country.” He added that all Thais should “think of doing good things for the motherland rather than fighting for personal benefit, which in turn would create confusion for the country.” Sounding a bit bewildered, Pichitr advised people to read fairy tale histories to learn the “background of being Thai. For how long have we been independent? It’s been since BE 1781 [AD1238]…”.

Pichitr claimed that Thaksin “did not realise certain ‘facts of life’.” But of course, he wasn’t talking politics, for that would be wrong of a privy councilor…. But, as usual, the good royalist advised that the king was the great example for all Thais and urged everyone to heed his advice. Ho hum, more royalist advice that is merely supportive of the current regime.

Another group of retirees, however, are causing the government concern. The Bangkok Post (11 December 2009: “Army to probe ex-troopers at red rally”) reports that the “army will investigate why a group of former paramilitary troopers attended the anti-government rally staged by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on Thursday at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, Deputy Prime Minister overseeing security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban said on Friday.”

Suthep worried about these retirees: “It could be that the retired troopers at the demonstration were prepared to fight the soldiers and police deployed to maintain security and order there…”. And, like a magician he provided pulled a revolting rabbit from his hat: “There have been movements to topple the government by creating unrest in the country.”

So Suthep thinks the retired troopers are part of an organized movement? In any case, he sees the need to control them. Maybe a deal can be done? If Pichitr will go back to apolitical business accumulation, maybe the retired military red shirts can go home and tend their vegetable patches? But that’d be unfair, for while Pichitr is meant to be apolitical as a representative of the monarchy, retired soldiers have political rights.

Update: An observant reader points out that Suthep’s statement is ironic. When he says, “There have been movements to topple the government by creating unrest in the country,” he is correct, if one thinks of PAD in 2005-6, the 2006 military-palace coup, and the combined movement of PAD, Democrat Party, military and palace in 2008.



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16 01 2011
Privy councilor inspects new army war room | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] ilk, Pichitr has been reasonably outspoken in recent years on a range of political topics. He has attacked Thaksin Shinawatra, accusing him of creating all of the political problems facing the country. On one occasion he […]

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