Abhisit, PAD, Thaksin and Cambodia

24 08 2010

Okay, call us slow, but PPT seems only now to have worked out what the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has been up to on Cambodia. The light bulb went on when we read the article in the Bangkok Post about Thaksin Shinwatra resigning as economic adviser to the Cambodian government. Some accounts have him being sacked, but that’s the yellow-shirted press and other unnamed government sources in the Post story.

The story says that the “resignation of Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to Cambodia and subsequent return of Thailand’s ambassador to Phnom Penh have boosted hopes of an easing of diplomatic tensions between the two countries.” Abhisit moved faster than the speed of light on this. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya stated that the resignation “satisfied a Thai condition – that he not play a role in the Cambodian government – before bilateral ties could return to normal.”

While “Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Kanharith also said yesterday Thaksin’s resignation was unrelated to the Thai-Cambodian border dispute,” PPT can’t help joining some dots. Yes, relations between the two governments have been strained since the People’s Alliance for Democracy used the Preah Vihear historical site as an attack on the pro-Thaksin government under Samak Sundaravej.

But the sudden resurfacing of the issue around a seemingly innocuous meeting of the UNESCO committee on the site, which saw PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang mobilizing a crowd of demonstrators and then Abhisit showing up to talk with a PAD rally – all technically illegal acts under the emergency decree – suggests coordination between PAD and the government. The question for us is: did the Abhisit government mobilize PAD to bring pressure on the Cambodian government? Presumably PAD can now be demobilized now that the government appears to have gotten its way.

If that scenario is in any way accurate, it is an interesting commentary on the links between Kasit, Abhisit and Chamlong’s Dhamma Army wing of PAD.


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