Further updated: Old men and the crisis

19 04 2010

The Bangkok Post reports that former prime ministers Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Somchai Wongsawat, both associated with former pro-Thaksin Shinawatra political parties and Puea Thai Party called on the military-defended Abhisit Vejjajiva government to dissolve the House of Representatives and revoke the emergency decree. Chavalit and Somchai “said political problems stemmed from the lack of any real democracy and lack of fairness in the country.” They added that the country’s “problems cannot be solved if a true democracy is not established in Thailand and if double-standards are not eradicated…”.

In addition to calling for a House dissolution, the two called on the government to:

1. Stop using violence and killing people

2. Guarantee that not a single life will be lost because of protests

3. Revoke the state of emergency so people have the right to engage freely in political activities

4. Stop distorting news and information

It is not clear that Chavalit or Somchai can do more than ride on the coattails of the red shirt rallying.

Chavalit is an old man devoid of the political clout he once had. Sure, he still carries some weight, but his ideas are old-fashioned. This is clearly seen in his resort to “trying to get an audience with His Majesty the King through the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary in a bid to end the growing political crisis.” The old general said that “it is the only solution to the political deadlock.” Even if the the old man at Siriraj hospital wanted a solution that was something less than the destruction of the red shirt movement, he must wonder if Chavalit’s assessment is accurate . Calling on the old to solve the new problems is a dead-end. It really is time to get beyond the old men.

Update 1: There have been several comments in the media regarding the role of the king (this is one example). This piece says: “it seems puzzling that King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at 82 the world’s longest reigning monarch, does not seem to have the power to settle this political mess. But the king’s health and his power are receding, setting up a free-for-all that has consequences for the country and its stock market…”.

Maybe these commentators might want to consider the possibility that the government’s actions are in line with the palace’s desires. Certainly, since long before the 2006 coup, the palace has given no indication that it feels any sympathy for the  issues the red shirts are now raising or even for democratic forms of government.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports on reaction to Chavalit’s call. The usual blarney from the Abhisit Vejjajiva military-backed regime: “Deputy Interior Minister Thaworn Senneam said it was very inappropriate to involve HM the King in the political conflict.” One wonders how they can say this with a straight face. Recall PAD’s call for the king to sack Thaksin Shinawatra under Article 7 of the 1997 constitution?

PAD “coordinator” Suriyasai Katasila “said the move by Gen Chavalit and Mr Somchai was seen as an attempt to pressure the royal institution.” PAD never did that, not even just a teeny bit. Lying seems normal now. Even the king criticized PAD on this. Suriyasai added the now mandatory: “the Puea Thai Party and the red shirts had changed their goal from seeking a dissolution of the House to wanting to run the country.” Bringing Puea Thai into this equation raises the stakes even further. Will they all be branded traitors?



3 responses

20 04 2010
Abhisit, monarchy and Chavalit « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] monarchy and Chavalit As PPT noted in an earlier post, there has been considerable government and yellow shirt opposition to Puea Thai Party leader […]

22 04 2010
Chavalit’s backhanded critique of the monarchy « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Chavalit had requested an audience with the king in order to seek ways out of the current political crisis. He wanted the king to prevent the use of […]

17 05 2010
Party leader and lèse majesté-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] Chavalit had requested an audience with the king in order to seek ways out of the current political crisis. He wanted the king to prevent the use of […]

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