Abhisit’s fairy tale, Part I

12 06 2011

In The Nation it is reported that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is consistent in his capacity for purveying untruths. We were going to comment on that story, but put it aside for a while. Now Prachatai has a translation by Pipob Udomittipong of Abhisit’s revealing Facebook “explanation” to supporters and voters of his political role.

PPT could have ignored this self-serving account as just another set of lies from a politician with a penchant for untruths. We have had several posts over the past couple of years that attest to this element of the premier’s politicalpersonality. And yet Abhisit’s fairy tale tells us quite a lot about the man and his political position. It is rather long – we wonder how he has the time for this kind of activity while electoral campaigning. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that everywhere he goes, he is met by jeers and vocal critics. PPT takes up some of his points here and in a companion post.

Abhisit begins by explaining that while he has always been offering “participation” and has tried repeatedly to have the people “understand my mission,” nasties in some media are spreading “misinformation.”

The so-called misinformation is, it seems, no more than a restatement of the events that led to Abhisit becoming prime minister. These accounts are widely known. So why does Abhisit feel the need to whitewash now? Or in his words, why “the urge to write this record” of these events?

It seems because he has seen that his marriage to the Army’s generals is an election issue. In fact, like 2007, the 2011 election is looking like a referendum on the coup. More, it is a referendum on Abhisit’s royalist regime, the military, and the role of the palace and its aristocrats. In a sense, whatever the final election count, Abhisit has been shown as tainted and hated.

Back to his tale of events. Mark refers to “My Path toward the Premiership.” He begins by blaming the then Samak government for beginning the PPP’s downfall, claiming that the political situation became “shaky” when “PM Samak proposed constitutional amendments to give an amnesty to Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra. This stirred up very strong opposition from people who did not want politicians to be accorded such extra-legal privileges.” He means that yellow shirts hit the streets again.

Of course, during the 2007 junta-managed constitutional referendum, the continual refrain from those on Abhisit’s side was that the then draft constitution could always be amended by the party that won the election. Abhisit campaigned for the approval of the draft, claiming that this would restore electoral democracy. He also claimed the draft had many good features, even while noting that the constitution would need amendment. His call for change to the constitution was made prior to the election and was supported by PPP leaders. At the time, some commentators and many in the military and establishment reckoned Abhisit would be the next PM.

During the election campaign, the People’s Power Party took this “promise” up, and repeatedly stated that, if elected, constitutional reform would be undertaken. So it was hardly a surprise that the newly-elected government began considering changes. But Abhisit’s side then had a new tune.

The unexpected electoral victory by the PPP saw Abhisit aligning himself with the People’s Alliance for Democracy. He opposed amendment and warned of violence if the government used its parliamentary majority to amend the charter, arguing that the only amendment required was to prevent the government amending the constitution according to the process set out in that document! In effect, Abhisit merely supported the street-based politics of PAD’s position that opposed any amendment. At the same time, Abhisit was using other PAD tactics in throwing allegations of lese majeste at his opponents.

Abhisit now claims that charter amendment “angered” many – he means PAD and the election losers – who opposed “using a political majority to have a law promulgated to exonerate politicians from criminal offences, including corruption.” He’s talking about charter amendment. He says this “would only make people lose faith in the justice system and the highly revered democracy with the king as head of state.” Given that the constitution fully exonerated those who made a coup in 2006 that overthrew the 1997 Constitution, it is not clear that there in any logic or consistency in Abhisit’s current position. And we haven’t even mentioned the travesties inflicted on the rule of law by his own administration.

Abhisit dismisses the idea that “there was collusion between the Democrats and the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).” While noting that Abhisit expressed his support for PAD several times, PPT simply cites his old school buddy and current finance minister Korn Chatikavanij from December 2008 when he claimed to be a PAD sympathizer: “No point shying away from the obvious – after all, … one of the PAD leaders … is a Democrat MP. Many other key speakers were our candidates in the recent general elections. Almost all of the tens of thousands … [of PAD demonstrators] are Democrat voters.” He also claimed he understood PAD’s illegal actions, “… I understood it from the perspective of strategy.” Korn explained: “… like it or not, the Democrats could not on our own have resisted the PPP…”. Clearly Abhisit is dissembling.

One of Abhisit’s truly marvellous lines in this account is his recollection of calling on Samak to solve political conflicts – he means PAD occupying Government House – by “dissolving Parliament…”. We wonder what was different for him from December 2008 to May 2010, when he repeatedly stated that dissolving parliament in the face of red shirt protests was “impossible.” His offer of “early” elections only came as a non-negotiable item in his so-called reconciliation plan.

When writing of the upcoming dissolution of the PPP, Abhisit reveals that he met with “Pasit Sakdanarong, former Secretary of the President of the Constitutional Court…”. He says: “Our meeting took place at a restaurant near the headquarters of the Democrat Party. I kept listening as Mr. Pasit told me the PPP was going to be disbanded. He kept on saying that the reason he wanted me to know this was because this news would benefit the Democrat Party.” He uses this possibly illegal and certainly unethical meeting to explain that he didn’t covet the premier’s position. But then he admits that he wasn’t surprised when “other political parties decided to join the Democrats [he means Democrat Party] and formed a coalition?” He knew what was going on and encouraged it.

Abhisit then turns to how this coalition was brokered. That’s in Part II of this post.






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