With 3 updates: Things that make you …

23 04 2012

Readers can finish the headline in whatever way seems best after reading The Nation’s groveling attempt at reporting a mere mortal as if a devaraja.

Equally groveling and indeed slithering is the focus of the report that tells readers that  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung are leading cabinet members to “pay homage and give a Songkran blessing to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda on Thursday.”

Yep, they are going to slither up to Prem and grovel before him as a way of “paying homage.” Chalerm said he and Yingluck are visiting the aged Prem “to seek advice and a blessing…”. Don’t they have a shred of pride or memory or recent history?

An earlier report, also in The Nation stated that Yingluck and her ministers will “pay belated respects for Songkran to elder statesman Prem…”. He’s certainly old, but hardly a statesman in any sense beyond him having been an unelected prime minister for several years. But a political leader regarded as a disinterested promoter of the public good? Hardly.

Readers will be pleased to know that Yingluck has “received permission to pay homage to Prem on the occasion of the Thai New Year…”. Isn’t it nice that, schoolgirl-like, the prime minister has gained permission from the aged boss.

The visitors are expected to “perform the Songkran ceremony of pouring scented water over Prem’s hands.”

Chalerm even jumped in with Abhisit Vejjajiva-like nonsense when he “said privy councillors had nothing to do with politics…”. Of course:

Chalerm declined to comment on the reports that the coalition-leader Pheu Thai Party was seeking to reconcile with Prem so that Yingluck’s brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, could return home.

That increasingly seems to be the aim, unceremoniously trumping everything else as Thaksin stumbles over the bodies of red shirts to “reconcile” with those who murdered them.

But back to the near devaraja. The Nation reminds its readers that “Prem allowed the commanders of the armed forces and the police commissioner-general to visit him at the Si Sao Theves residence on the occasion of Songkran festival.” Isn’t it so sweet that he allowed this.

At the Bangkok Post, another Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa reckons Prem’s “response to a request that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra lead cabinet members to seek his blessing … is a good sign for reconciliation…”.

It’s a great sign for Thaksin who has again allowed the personal to triumph over everything else. It’s also a great sign for Prem and the royalist elite, for it suggests that Thaksin is prepared to allow it to rule again, unfettered. But a supine Thaksin is hardly likely to convince the royalists that he is a born-again royalist and nor is his prostration before the elite’s gods likely to engender electoral support.

Both Prem and Thaksin might feel a lot more comfortable without the political mobilization of red shirts and yellow shirts. They can always get out of control and demand more than they want to give.

Hence we see Prem calling “for unity among the people in the Northeast.” Will Thaksin and Puea Thai join him in attempting to depoliticize the northeast?

Update 1: From Thai E-News, a plea from a red shirt in the U.S., in Thai and English:

This is for Kun Yingluck ka, your plan to go pay respect to the old man of “Si Sao Thevej” on the 26th cause quite a stir among us Redshirts over here. Most of us think that if you want to go,go by yourself, not with the whole cabinet members … and if we see your picture kow-tow on your hands and knees like a slave … your career in politic if finished.do not forget that we, the people elected you to be our Prime Minister because  we trust you, have faith in you to  lead the country forward, not to kow-tow to the old regime.

Update 2: It gets worse for Yingluck. She has allowed herself and her government to be placed in a situation where she risks alienating many supporters by having to “respect”/”kow-tow” to Prem. A new report in The Nation makes it clear that she has seen the political damage but is “locked-in.” Now it seems that only “the PM and her deputy PMs” would attend and “represent the entire Cabinet…”. That’s a backtrack, but the damage to political support is already done. Prem and the Democrat Party must be so very pleased.

Update 3: At The Nation, red shirt leader Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn is reported as warning Thaksin and the Puea Thai Party that “there could be negative consequences in disappointing supporters” from cosying up to the royalist elite. You’d think that hardly needs to be said, but read all the stuff above, and it is always clear that Thaksin is blind on politics when his personal interests are at stake.

Thida acknowledged that red shirts could not be simply ordered about when she said that “the movement’s leaders – herself included – could not order red shirt supporters to do something they found unreasonable.” She added that nobody “owns” the red shirts and that “the red shirts were ‘playing two different games’, independently of each other.” And she “said Pheu Thai’s loss in the by-election in Pathum Thani was among the first negative consequences for the government.” Clearly, “many red shirts have independent minds.” Is Thaksin listening?

It seems he is, but not closely enough. We base this on statements by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit. He said that a smaller group of just “four Cabinet members would meet Prem tomorrow to ask for his blessing for Songkran…”. That was the bit heard, trying to play down the politically stupid decision to get warm and cuddly with Prem.

Not heard was the red shirt anger on even this and Yongyuth’s deafness on reconciliation. His very stupid comments on the latter included taking “issue with calls by families of the victims that the truth about the political conflicts be known first, particularly the identities of those behind the killings of many people during the unrest and riots in 2010.” His response was that:  “It will be too late of we wait for the truth to be known before achieving reconciliation. If we have to wait for the perpetrators to be identified first, I don’t know when we can achieve reconciliation…”.

That’s the best he can do? He can do worse: “In response to criticism that Thaksin would eventually benefit from the amnesty law expected to be issued as part of the reconciliation package, Yongyuth said the ex-leader would not benefit alone, as that would be unfair to others.” He’s politically deaf and dumb.




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