Abhisit’s fairy tale, Part II

13 06 2011

PPT thought that everyone knows that the brokering of the deal for the Democrat Party-led coalition government was managed by the military with support from business and the palace. Abhisit seems to think that he can now spin a different tale.

Abhisit says: “I had no idea who was in talks with the military, but I never personally contacted any military officer. And I was sure no MPs were under anyone’s command. The Democrat Party’s Secretary-General, Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, who coordinated party affairs, asked for my opinion on the issue. I said it was up to Parliament.”

Nice try. However, media reports of the dealings involved made it clear that Army chief General Anupong and other senior military figures negotiated with Newin Chidchob, backed by wealthy business interests, that caused Newin’s PPP faction to defect and support the Democrat Party. Anupong has spoken of his role.

Missing from Abhisit’s account is also the “one who must be obeyed.” In fact, Abhisit’s comments that try to whitewash his personal position on the backroom dealing has caused a flurry of comment. Most interesting have been the comments by Chart Thai Pattana Party leader Chumpol Silapa-archa. There’s no need for PPT to detail this as Bangkok Pundit has an excellent post with the story and links.

Abhisit’s lame explanation is that there couldn’t have been all this backroom dealing within the elite because there was still challenge in parliament: “If the military was that powerful and could force the parties to do what they wanted, why did the competition (for the premiership) get so intense?” Well, perhaps it was portrayed that way, but everyone knew what the result was going to be. The military and “he or she who must be obeyed had ensured that the hastily-arranged Democrat Party-led coalition would win. Abhisit isn’t as naïve as he makes out. His account is pure fantasy and his own invention.

Abhisit then rambles on about what a great, selfless fellow he is, completely without ambitions except to save the nation from its political and economic crises: “I could have just decided against joining Mr. Newin and other parties to form a coalition, just because I feared I would get tarnished, and leave the country stuck in turmoil. Had I done that, I would have lifted myself above the trouble and created no hostile enemies. I would have evaded the many risks from political competition. But if I had done that, it would have been tantamount to abdicating my responsibility as a politician who is supposed to solve problems for the people.”

We have already commented on Abhisit’s track record on refusing an election in Part I of this post. So there’s nothing to add on that. On his selflessness, we can only point to different characteristics that Abhisit has displayed: he is stubborn, conceited and sure of his right to rule. These characteristics lead to a political ruthlessness that is seen, for example, in his capacity to criticize others for censorship and authoritarianism, then establish a regime that has censored and imprisoned more than any other civilian regime, while claiming to be democratic and liberal. What can we say?

As he often does, Abhisit mentions that the “red shirt masses were used to attack the MPs who supported me. I had to escape in a minivan belonging to Mr. Thepthai Sanpong, just to get out of Parliament and avoided clashing with them.” The two 2009 attacks on vehicles carrying Abhisit – one in Pattaya and another at the Ministry of Interior – appear pivotal in his approach to opposition: “At that time I told myself my life was about to change and I might not live as long as I should since some people were waging political violence against me.” He takes the political crisis personally.

Abhisit polishes up his trumpet and explains what a great prime minister he is: “I never got distracted by political havoc and simply devoted myself to solving the problems faced by my people…. All my decisions are made in the best interests of the people.” The problem is that in tooting his own trumpet there are those nasties who have ensured that “people have been fed misinformation aimed at discrediting me.” If he could hear beyond the sound of his own big-noting, perhaps he’d hear what the people really think. The problem is that, like so many in the establishment, he thinks he knows what’s best for “the people.”

Perhaps one of his most revealing comments is that Abhisit thinks he is a democrat. We are not sure he understands the word or the ideas it encompasses. In the end though, he has this assessment: “My only mistake is perhaps that I am the first Prime Minister in the parliamentary system since 2007 not under command of Mr. Thaksin.” It’s all Thaksin’s fault. Of course, there’s flipside to his assessment: Abhisit is the first Prime Minister in the parliamentary system since 2007 who didn’t lead the party that received the most support from the electorate.

Abhisit’s account is not really revealing of his political personality, for we have seen all of these elements before. It is just that he has put it together into an appeal for support. It is a fairy tale.

 


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