Aristocrats, Democrats and a compromise

2 04 2009

Aristocrats and politics: The Nation op-ed writer Avudh Panananda (2 April 2009: “Thaksin: A Don Quixote for democracy or a Shylock for power?”) claims that Thaksin Shinawatra’s claims about Privy Council involvement in his downfall “has no new information.” This is becoming a common refrain. However, the responses to Thaksin have certainly brought to light details not previously known and has made them public. That Privy Councilors Prem and Surayud have spoken on these events in some detail is new. The author adds: “Practically all leading figures, the so-called aristocracy, turned their backs on him. By staying silent about the coup, the aristocrats, like Prem and Surayud, spoke volumes on how they viewed him.”

Avudh also makes the claim that: “The Privy Council is an established institution with exemplary records for more than a century. There is no reason to suspect a bad-mouthing by Thaksin can alter anything.” This would be more accurate if the activities of the Privy Council were more transparent. Outside the closed circles around the palace, little is known of the Council’s activities.

Meanwhile, at the Bangkok Post (2 April 2009: “UDD sets Wednesday for showdown”), Veera Prateepchaikul attacks the Democrat Party-led government, saying that “the Democrats need to shape up in their handling of the [UDD] protest, and especially in their handling of Thaksin. That Thaksin manages to make regular, uninterrupted phone and video-link calls to his supporters to launch attacks on the government and … Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda clearly shows how ineffective the Democrats are in coping with the problem despite the huge resources the government has at its call. The Democrats have also failed to come to the defence of Gen Prem, accused by Thaksin of being behind the coup which toppled his government in 2006. In the war to capture media space now being fought between the government and Thaksin and company, the Democrats are falling behind.”

Veera’s commentary has some resonance with the claims made in the pro-PAD outlets such as ASTV and Phujatkan. Calls for the Democrats to defeat Thaksin and the UDD are getting stronger in these outlets as are the calls to “protect” privy councilors, always worried that the councilors are the king’s men and that attacks on them reflect on the monarchy.

A compromise?: Suthep Thaugsuban has spoken of a willingness for talks. Now House Speaker Chai Chidchob (The Nation, 2 April 2009: “Person with a lot of clout ready to mediate: Chai”) has said that negotiations may be in the works, referring to “a person with a lot of clout” who would act as a mediator between the parties.

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