Preserving the government and monarchy is core mission

26 02 2010

Television is wall-to-wall coverage regarding the Thaksin Shinawatra and family assets case. The print media is full of huge headlines. The government is stating again and again that it is prepared. The middle class are feeling a little more secure. Some see the case as the big showdown, with former Assets Scrutiny Committee members coming out demanding that the courts take all of money that is frozen. It is as if this case is the big turning point. As one correspondent put it, “we’ll be able to exhale.”

Others are looking more to the medium and long terms and are less focused on the decision. The Bangkok Post (25 February 2010) reports on comments by former academic economist, former commerce minister, spectacularly failed businessman, and advisor to various governments Narongchai Akrasanee, now chairman of MFC Asset Management (even if you fail in this industry and lose millions of baht in other people’s money it seems you can be reincarnated).

He begins by noting that “major political changes are unlikely no matter how the Supreme Court rules tomorrow in the Thaksin assets case…”. Narongchai said the balance of power was unlikely to change…” as the “Democrat-led coalition government under premier Abhisit Vejjajiva remains the best option for all involved…”. His reasons for favoring the Democrat Party was because it is the “strongest in terms of leadership, authority, military support and resources…”.

This seems to be a common perspective amongst the Bangkok-based ruling elite and high society types.

For example, in the Bangkok Post (26 April 2010) it is reported that several analysts agree that the “protracted political crisis is here to stay regardless of how the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions rules…”.

Woothisarn Tanchai, who is deputy secretary-general of the royalist bastion at the King Prajadhipok’s Institute, said the assets case was “unlikely to be a critical turning point in Thai politics.” He added that the red shirts “would press on with its rally to bring down the coalition government and discredit the amataya thipatai system…”. Woothisarn, however, “doubted the red shirts would succeed.” Targeting the amat system “will bring together other forces in society including the military to fight them.”

Not surprisingly, Woothisarn was supported in his views by government security authorities.” One such unnamed source said “the activities to discredit the government, the Privy Council and independent organisations were likely to continue. They might also intensify because the red shirts’ ultimate goal was a state of social anarchy, which they hoped would force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament.” They would be unsuccessful in this “battle” because of the “strong alliance made up of the government and the military led by army commander Anupong Paojinda.

This view was supported by a cabinet member from the Ruam Jai Chart Pattana Party who said the full support of the military meant the government was likely to last.The minister added that: “Military leaders have intervened and mediated between the Democrat Party and its partners when conflicts have risen.The military needs to keep the Democrat Party-led coalition in power for as long as possible in order to preserve the monarchy.

The earlier cited security source believes that as long as the “red shirts have set their sights on the country’s core institutions,” meaning the monarchy and privy council, the military will continue to support the government…”. The agreed core mission of the government and military is said to be “to save the country and core institutions…”.

Adding to the chorus of opinion that the government remains in place because it is the military’s preferred government is Chairman of the Political Development Council and former academic Suchit Bunbongkarn, who “said he could not see how the red shirts could bring down the government.

If it wasn’t clear already, these statements from government-aligned sources spell it out: the Abhisit government remains the military’s government, put in place and maintained by military support. December 2008 was the military’s solution to its failure to get the Democrats elected in December 2007. Protecting the monarchy is its core mission. The political choice is clear.

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