With several updates: Abhisit appears on BBC and CNN

27 04 2010

A press release from the BBC states that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is to appear on HARDtalk today to discuss the current political crisis in Thailand.The scheduled broadcast times are: 1930 GMT Tuesday 27 April 2010 on BBC World News, repeated 0330 Wednesday 28th April, 0830 Wednesday 28th April and 15:30 Wednesday 28th April 2010. PPT stresses that we have yet to see the show. The press release has these interesting tidbits [Update: BBC currently has a 3-minute clip from the show available]:

“Zeinab Badawi: If you truly believed yourself that you were an obstacle to Thailand recovering and getting some kind of stability, would you step down?

Abhisit Vejjajiva: Of course. I’ve never put my interests above the country’s.”

PPT: Interesting response. Make of it what you will, but we think Abhisit believes he is the only one capable of saving the ruling class.

“We are in agreement at the moment that the problems we are seeing is not a purely political problem. There are security problems involved, there are terrorist problems involved. We need to tackle all those issues at the same time. When we talk about the stability everyone wants to achieve, not a short term stability waiting for the problem, the same problem to be repeated again and again. I think at the moment all sides need to take into account the views of the other sides and find a reasonable solution. That’s what I’m aiming for and I’m sure that’s what the majority of Thai people want us to do.”

PPT: Nothing new here.

“ZB: Thaksin Shinawatra removed in September 2006 by the miliatry…you are a direct beneficiary of that because you came to power without an election and people don’t like that.

AV: That’s not right, that’s not right. Thaksin was removed from power in fact he was only an acting Prime minster because the elections were going to be held and then after the coup they had a referendum on the new constitution. A referendum passed that constitution, we had fresh elections, it returned a parliament that was a hung parliament which actually arguably you could argue that Thaksin’s party actually took some of the minor parties who during the election campaigned, people who defected from that party.”

PPT: Can’t wait to see this response in video form. But it shows Abhisit is befuddled by his own rationalization of his rise to power. “Actually arguably you could argue that” Abhisit doesn’t know how his parliamentary system under the 2007 junta constitution works. A hung parliament is one in which no party has an overall majority and where  the government will not be able to win votes to pass laws without the support of members of other parties. However, in Thailand’s case in 2007, prior to parliament convening, a coalition government was formed, meaning that there was no “hung parliament.” As far as PPT can recall, no one defected from other parties to join the PPP. In fact, this kind of coalition government has been the standard form in Thailand, with only the parliaments convened following elections under the 1997 Constitution being different.

“ZB: But it doesn’t look like that, (referring to AV saying that they are doing their best to make sure there will be no clashes between the two groups) quoted on the Reuters news wire April the 25th Thailand’s top broker Kim Eng Securities said ‘escalated political violence could lead to civil war’. That’s a pretty strong statement there.

AV: It is and it’s the result of protestors trying to escalate the level of violence and tension and it has obviously met with a stronger reaction from the rest of the population from the public in general who do not want to tolerate illegal activities. What the government is trying to do now is telling the public that it is up to us officials and people who need to restore order to do our job. They can express their opinions but they should avoid any kind of confrontation. We are aiming to restore order as soon as possible but at the same time we have to be aware of the need to make sure that there will be minimum losses and to make sure that we comply with international standards and respect the basic rights of people including those of the protestors.”

PPT: Abhisit can do little more than blame the protesters for violence, for illegality and so on as he needs to whitewash his own culpability. We think the exaggeration of “stronger reaction” is wishful thinking or tunnel vision.

Update 1: Abhisit has been on an international media blitz. He’s also on CNN, with video. Christiane Amanpour’s full interview with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at 3 p.m. EST Tuesday (2100 CET) and 8 a.m. EST Wednesday (2 p.m. CET). It is not really comforting to know that the law and order conservative is trying “to enforce the law with minimum losses…”.

Abhisit’s repeated claims that his government is not illegitimate, by saying “We assumed office under the same means, under the same rules, by the same vote of parliament as the two previous administrations” elected after the coup tends to ignore quite a lot and assumes that viewers are gullible.

Update 2: With respect to minimum losses, mentioned in the previous update, this is in the context of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, preparing to disperse red shirt  protesters from the Rajaprasong area, authorizing the use of live bullets. This is no different from 10 April, but the announcement in advance is intimidating and demands a response from protesters (who will have assumed live rounds anyway). The details are a little different however:  “If an attacker comes within 100 metres, officials will fire tear gas first, but if he comes closer, within 30 metres, guns may be fired…”.

Update 3: In The Nation, Abhisit has declared his duty as “to protect the system and the country, not to fight over political issues…”. It is also stated that the police and military from upcountry on their way to Bangkok are “reinforcements.”


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