Bombs and the elite’s ponies

27 09 2010

AP has an interesting report on one of the two most recent bombings in Bangkok. The first was in the Rama III area. The second bomb, the subject of the AP report and a “home-made device”, partly exploded near the Royal Turf Club in the Nang Lerng area. As the report points out, there have been “[d]ozens of bombings” in Bangkok this year, almost all of them without explanation or claims of responsibility. Despite this, and the serial “theft” of weapons and explosives from army bases (see here for a recent incident), the government continually lays blame on red shirts.

The interest in the AP report is for its citation of Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles for background information.This is because the “Royal Turf Club … is closely associated with Thailand’s traditional power holders in the royal palace and the military.” Handley claims the “Royal Turf Club and its crosstown counterpart, the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, both serve as exclusive sports, golf and horse racing clubs for the rich, the titled and the powerful.” He also mentions “untaxed backroom betting operations … invariably [enriching] the aristocratic and military elite…”.It also mentions Thaksin Shinawatra’s failed bid to gain control of the Turf Club.

We don’t know if the bombs link back to these issues, but they are of interest, especially as the elite gets increasingly “horsey” in their sports. What PPT does see lurking about is the potential for these bombings to be linked to challenges to Abhisit Vejjajiva’s position. The AP report makes a stab at this but we see the destabilization tactics as fitting a pattern of factional and military-backed “movements” of the past. This remains in the arena of speculation, but Abhisit does look politically shaky at present.