Return of the political zombies

21 07 2013

Just as the white mask “movement” has declined after two weeks of mainstream media frenzy has passed and as the sorry lot at Sanam Luang have split andd most have gone home, the failed Pitak Siam has re-emerged. Is this an accident or are the master manipulators amongst the old men who think they should be running the country again pulling the strings?

If the report at the Bangkok Post is accurate then any suggestion that this is a coincidence is far-fetched. Watch out for all the generals and admirals listed below.

The report states that the Pitak Siam group is now led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap who was at earlier Pitak Siam rallies and “key figures of the Isan Kuu Chart group announced the formation of a ‘people’s army against the Thaksin regime’ and issued new demands to the government.” The report states:

Isan Kuu Chart leaders who joined a news conference at the Royal Turf Club on Saturday included Gen Preecha Iamsuphan [who once wanted to declare war on Cambodia via PAD], a former member of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy, Gen Chukiat Tansuwat and AM Watchara Ritthakanee [also associated with PAD].

If PPT’s hazy memory is any good, this group has connections – through people associated with it – that stretch back to the days of the Cold War and counterinsurgency and mercenary training. These men of a past era continue to haunt Thailand like grotesque political zombies.

According to the Post,

They called for action against critics of the monarchy, especially those in the camp of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. As well, they demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa from the defence and deputy defence portfolios respectively.

The protesters also called for stern measures to curb the rising cost of living, the end of the 350-billion-baht water management scheme and the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure investments, and the withdrawal of all reconciliation and amnesty bills aimed at bringing Thaksin home.

If their demands are not met, they promise to rally on 4 August. That may be no idle threat as these old soldiers link into the zombie- and dinosaur-controlled networks of ultra-royalists and ultra-nationalists that are able to mobilize several thousand supporters.

Zombies





Further updated: Political custard congeals

20 01 2013

PPT has repeatedly noted how the political opponents of the Yingluck Shinawatra government and everything associated with Thaksin Shinawatra congeals around particular causes. While the yellow-hued lot have had their differences over various ultra-nationalist causes like Preah Vihear, the Democrat Party has now come into a gooey political mix with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and other “patriotic” – read xenophobic – groups to demand that the Foreign Ministry “protect Thailand’s national interest.” This refers to a small piece of land that has long been disputed by Thailand’s xenophobes despite a World Court decision in 1962 that went against the then military xenophobes.Yellow, gooey custard

Like the other ultra-nationalists, the Democrat Party and their vacuous – meaning devoid of any original idea – leader Abhisit Vejjajiva believe that Thailand will lose the “clarification case” at the Court, brought by the Cambodian government. Hence they are huffing and puffing about Thailand needing to “formally reject Phnom Penh’s claim that Thailand had intruded on Cambodian territory around Preah Vihear temple…”.

Abhisit supported the Thai Patriot Network, “which plans a rally … against the ICJ’s pending ruling, has the right to express its opposition to the court’s jurisdiction on the issue.” Of course they have the right, but Abhisit should be principled in rejecting ultra-nationalist maneuvering; he can’t because he lacks principles and hopes that demonstrations will further congeal the yellow custard opposition in trying to bring down the elected government.

Joining Abhisit in supporting the so-called Thai Patriot Network is the deep freeze political failure General Boonlert Kaewprasit of the yellow-shirted royalists of the Pitak Siam group. Of course, all of these groups are pretty much one and the same, but the media reports them as separate even when their political campaigns are coordinated. Boonlert says he “would not take part in the rally” but he handed over a list of 80,000 names from Pitak Siam to the other lot so they can mobilize together.

As far as we understand it, the Court’s decision is not for several months yet, so this mobilization is more about anti-elected government activism than anything else.

Update 1: A reader admonishes PPT for not pointing out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also dived into the custard, rejecting the Court’s authority on this case.

Update 2: The Nation reports that the congealing of yellow/ultra-nationalist political forces continues, although the Thai Patriot Network only managed to rally several hundred supporters opposing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. That demonstration was headed by PAD’s Chaiwat Sinsuwong. Chaiwat’s gaggle of mostly elderly protesters told the U.N. that it rejected ICJ jurisdiction and that “Thais were against the government and politicians who ‘betrayed’ the nation by handing over national interests to others.” There’s a social science thesis in this conception of “nation.” He claimed to have 1.2 million signatures opposing any ICJ ruling. The demonstrators also pressured the Army and then the Supreme Court “demanding that the head of the judiciary balance the government’s power to stop it from giving the country’s sovereignty away.” The latter visits were to allies, pushing them to take positions in the political-dispute-in-the-making.

Remarkably, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha then chose to speak for the Army and government, saying that “the Army and the government were waiting for a ruling of the ICJ before planning the next move.” He added a rejection of the ICJ when he stated “… he preferred bilateral talks with the Cambodian government on how to settle the dispute over the plot near the Preah Vihear Temple.”

The congealing continues.

 





Updated: PAD vs. Prayuth

15 01 2013

The much-hyped dispute between Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and the People’s Alliance for Democracy ended almost as fast as it began. This means that those touting a final end to the alliance of neo-fascist, ultra-nationalist royalists and the military (who can be described in the same terms) might have to recalibrate their measurement of “end.”

Not only did Prayuth issue a public apology to the ASTV/Manager for his boys protesting Prayuth’s soundness and goodness outside the ASTV offices for a couple of days, but the PAD ranters ASTV were ever so nice in accepting the apology and praising the Army. On top of that, the Army boss “said he was also sorry about his moodiness recently…”, referring to his “irritating behaviour.”

Prayuth claimed that the “soldiers who went to the ASTV-Manager office … asked for permission [before going],” meaning that they were given the green light by the Army brass, which contradicts Prayuth’s claims that these were insulted/offended soldiers. He added that “they did this outside office hours, so they have not done anything wrong.” PPT assumes that “office hours” means “on duty” unless these were all Army pencil pushers usually saddled to a desk.

Prayuth then promised: “I will never bar ASTV reporters from doing their job, and when I mentioned the newspaper, I did not blame any particular person. I apologise if my ‘soldier-like’ remarks [made the newspaper] feel insulted.” Wow! The tough guy is brought down to terra firma and has had to gulp down a huge amount of pride. We wonder who has sent out the order for the apology?

In response, the ASTV/Manager lot “thanked Prayuth for his apologies” and “said it appreciated the military for protecting the country from the threats of political ideology as well as the violence in the South, and for its help during the 2011 flood crisis.”

ASTV/Manager is a fount of extremism, punctuated by sprouts of misogyny, racism and political fascism and it is also crucial for the royalist political camp, even if some of the less extremist royalists sometimes find it hard to accept its neo-fascism. It is a crucial ally in the war to prop up the royalist state and royalism. So we assume that Prayuth has had to kowtow to the bigger interest and the bigger bosses.

That’s our take. However, there is another pro-PAD version of events doing the rounds of the social media that the yellow lot at The Nation have taken up and advanced from rumor to news by suggesting that the protesting soldiers were pro-Thaksin Shinawatra soldiers driving a wedge between Prayuth and his PAD allies. It reports this: “Based on his remarks, it is clear he [Prayuth] is in the middle of crucial negotiations with the PAD. And he wants to reject whatever proposal it has advanced to him…. Further, the proposal is so sensitive to the fate of the government that he had no choice but to make his reply public in order to dispel any doubts on how he would steer the Army.” The Nation reckons that PAD were wanting the Army to bring down the government following an upcoming International Court of Justice ruling.

Update: For an earlier account that remains very useful, see Asian Correspondent.





PAD joins in

11 11 2012

It is no surprise that the ultra-royalist and ultra-nationalist bosses of the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy have urged supporters to join Pitak Siam on 24 November when it again stages an anti-government rally.

Co-leader Chamlong Srimuang stated: “Our country needs someone who is brave and dares to take action like us,” apparently referring to General Boonlert Kaewprasit. The grinning one went on to explain that “PAD leaders had consulted together and agreed to postpone yellow-shirt seminars in Kanchanaburi on November 24 and Phetchaburi on November 25” in order to encourage participation in the Pitak Siam rally.





Updated: The old gang regroups

26 10 2012

Prasong

The Nation reports that former intelligence boss Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri has agreed to join the anti-government rally nominally organized by old soldier General Boonlert Kaewprasit and his Pitak Siam royalist front. Prasong is one of those who claims to have been a coup plotter in 2006 along with senior military figures. Palace insider Prasong has explained that a cabal of serving and retired military leaders, including then Army boss Sonthi Boonyaratglin, began planning the coup in July 2006. As in previous coup-plotting, Prasong says he “wants this administration ousted.”

Prasong knows quite a bit about coups. He has been involved in a range of political campaigns over many years. Prasong has a short entry at Wikipedia that mentions his role as head of the National Security Council. The entry finishes by noting that “Prasong was a central figure in the 19 September 2006 Thai military coup that overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra’s elected government…. A palace insider and favorite of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Prasong was later appointed by the junta to the National Legislative Assembly.” Prasong has also been a strong supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and a strong opponent of Thaksin. Also close to the military brass, Prasong acted as a palace and junta lackey in being chairman of the committee which drafted the 2007 constitution.

Pitak Siam is boosted by Prasong’s decision to again emerge from the shadows and push for extra-judicial and extra-constitutional politics. The paper also reports that the infamous Dhamma Army is going to show up. These royalist militants are rabid supporters of the PAD’s Chamlong Srimuang and the Santi Asoke sect.

Also rejoining his old anti-Thaksin allies is General Pathompong Kesornsuk, said by the report to be a “former chairman of advisers to the Armed Forces.” That’s a pretty innocuous way to describe a man who is a rabid nationalist and royalist who appeared, in uniform, on the PAD stage back in 2006. Close to the yellow elements of the Democrat Party, like Boonlert, he has repeatedly made the unconstitutional call for the military to carry out coups, laced with neo-fascist ideology.

Boonlert

Boonlert, Prasong and Pathompong all have close relations with figures in the palace.

This group has stated “that they could no longer stand the rampant corruption and moves to defame the monarchy.” The latter is a nonsense claim, but one that will always be used even against the monarchy-timid Yingluck Shinawatra regime. They criticized Yingluck for having “failed to heed criticism from academics.” Shame on her! Heavens, the “academic” is just so very significant! While that hardly seems like a battle cry, this is a dangerous group that is able to mobilize like-minded neanderthals.

Interestingly the old gang’s almost all here! The gang that conspired to bring on the 2006 coup and then engineered the judicial coup in 2008 is coming back together. Sure, Sonthi Limthongkul is absent, but there are plenty of yellow shirts and he can make a grand entrance later. The question is how much of the old palace, military and capitalist support is also there.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a story on the participation of The Dhamma Army. Describing it as an “ultra-conservative religious group allied to the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy,” the Dhamma Army is one piece of the conservative apparatus that must come together if they are to achieve yet another unconstitutional royalist overthrow of an elected and popular government.

As another story in the Post points out, “Gen Boonlert is also trusted by Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and by Gen Prem’s inner circle.” It is that inner circle which will be watching this test of the political waters.





Queen, propaganda and violence

5 08 2012

As is to be expected, as the birthday of Queen Sirikit comes around and as she continues her recovery from her stroke, the palace propaganda machine kicks up a gear. There are three stories in Sunday’s English-language newspapers, and these stories have been headlines in most Thai-language editions as well. That’s in addition to the required tribute pages (see examples at The Nation and Matichon’s emetic “Love Mother” page).

The most immediately eye-catching story is the one that claims that the queen has “graciously granted Bt20 million to help the 2,000 residents of Bangkok’s Bon Kai area who were affected by the 2010 political riot…”. The term “riot” is a misnomer for the events at Bon Kai in May 2010 amounted to a revolt against the royalist establishment.

The Nation states that General Naphol Boonthap stated that the queen “instructed him to check on residents of Bon Kai who were affected by the 2010 riot, and to provide seedling money for their small businesses as well as relief bags.”

The Bangkok Post reveals that the general “is now deputy Chief Aide-de-Camp General to His Majesty the King. He also serves on a team of personal staff working for Her Majesty the Queen.” He’s a former assistant army chief and former chief of the Second Army.

It seems that “[u]pon Her Majesty’s instruction, he said he disguised himself to seek information from residents in the area.”

Sounds like he was a royal spy. Long-time followers of royal stuff will likely recall that the king reportedly sent officers like royal policeman Vasit Dejkunjorn out to spy on student activists in the 1973-76 period.

The queen reportedly gave 20 million baht to some 2,000 people after the general discovered that:

Many residents were seen to be red-shirt supporters. He said that at the time the residents were angry and blamed soldiers for making their lives miserable. They claimed the tools of their trade were damaged by gunfire from security officers.

That is hardly a revelation, but caused the royal spy to give away the looted loot saying:

“At first, some did not believe [that aid money was being dispensed],” Gen Naphon said. “They were afraid they were being lured into joining the [red shirt] protest. But they were filled with joy when I told them that Her Majesty knew of their hardship and donated the money so they could use it to buy new equipment to make a living…”.

In making this point, the royal aide is simply reconfirming the notion that red shirts were duped, paid or both. The queen’s intervention seems designed to attend to both stereotypes.

These comments came in the context of a broader statement that the king and queen “are concerned about the violence in the South…”. Most specifically they worry about Buddhists and Buddhist monks.

There’s nothing new in this chauvinism on the queen’s part. On 11 February 2010, a U.S. Embassy cable  released by Wikileaks stated:

PROBLEM CHILD: VILLAGE PROTECTION VOLUNTEERS (ROYAL-MIL)

The most recently created, and problematic, militia is the Village Protection Volunteers (in Thai: Ratsadorn Asa Raksa Moobahn, or Or Ror Bor). In 2004, in response to multiple entreaties from Buddhist villagers seeking protection after the upsurge in violence, Queen Sirikit ordered the military to provide training for interested people. Deputy Royal Aide-de-Camp GEN Naphol Boonthap established the Village Protection Volunteers (VPV) and made arrangements to provide each village with shotguns. Members can purchase these shotguns at a 60 percent discount from the original cost, according to Nonviolence International’s Southeast Asia report for 2009. Phinit Intharaksa, an assistant to GEN Naphol, told us that most of the weapons are loaned to VPV volunteers, who must purchase their own ammunition. VPV members attend a seven-day initiation training course conducted by the military and the MOI and are supposed to attend five-day refresher training courses twice a year.

Each Village Protection Volunteer unit received a lump-sum payment each month, similar to the VDV. Funding comes from the military budget, as VPV units report to the local task force commanders, who then report to the Fourth Area Army Commander, according to Pattani deputy district chief Abdulkarim. The widely-held perception on the ground is that the VPV answers to GEN Naphol, with a secret budget from the military, according to the Daily News reporter who spoke with us. Nonviolence International’s 2009 report stated that each VPV unit received 300,000 baht ($9,900) a month. GEN Naphol’s representative Phinit also told us that VPV members were not individually compensated. Narathiwat Vice-Governor Niphon, however, claimed to us that VPV members each received 4,500 baht ($150) per month. Abdulkarim also said that VPV members were given a monthly stipend.

Phaisan Toyib, President of the Islamic Private School Association in Narathiwat, told us that of all the militias, the VPV were the most troublesome. Most notably, the June shooting at the Al Furqon Mosque in Narathiwat (REF D) was widely attributed to VPV members from a nearby village (NOTE: Thai authorities have arrested one suspect, an ex-ranger and VPV member, see REF A). Several of our interlocutors attributed this generally negative perception of the VPV to the exclusively Thai Buddhist composition of the VPV. The journalist from the Daily News said VPV members were most likely to view the insurgency as a religious issue, something he said was very frightening. He also claimed to us that most villagers associated the group with the Queen and not solely GEN Naphon; [and] … this damaged the Queen’s reputation in the South….

Today’s report at the Bangkok Post makes it clear that for the general and the queen, nothing has changed. They ignore that Malay Muslims are victims of violence and concentrate on “Buddhist monks and civilians…”. General Naphol says “the southern unrest persists due to insurgents’ attempts to exploit religions and faiths, and spur their followers on to violence.”

Presumably the same one-sided perspective informs his and the queen’s view on the 2010 violence.

Royals, hyper-nationalism and violence are linked in the south and in anti-red shirt actions and propaganda as they were in the 1970s when the chauvinist right-wing was unleashed by the palace.





They’re back with the same ideas and tactics

21 01 2012

At The Nation there is a report that deserves some attention simply because it is a distorted mirror of events in early 2008.

On Friday the ultra-nationalist and ultra-royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy held a public meeting “to mark the Chinese New Year” and the event saw its four core leaders “vowed to resume the struggle against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Sondhi

Big boss Sondhi Limthongkul didn’t attend as he was in China, apparently receiving acupuncture treatment (at Chinese New Year??). Sounding decidedly Thaksin-like, he phoned in.

Showing how bereft of ideas and how anti-democratic the PAD is, Sondhi “said the military should stage a coup in cooperation with the people in order to wrestle a complete control of the country from Thaksin.”

In essence, Sondhi and PAD are sick of an electoral process where the “will of the people” is not what they want. We doubt this call is in line with Section 68 of the constitution, but PAD uses constitutions rather than accepts the principles embedded in them.

Pledging “a make-or break struggle,” Sondhi said that PAD isn’t going to just focus on street-level politics, “but a complete seizure of power…”.

In a harking back to the PAD of yore, Sondhi made the compulsory complaint that “he feared for the future of the monarchy if the Thaksin camp had its way.”

Another PAD leader Phipob Dhongchai said the movement “stood ready to step out and fight against the domination of rogue capitalists over the political system.” He mumbled something about “ethics” as his boss called for a coup….

Like Sondhi and his clique, Phipob hates the idea that people vote, but he drew solace from his claim that the Puea Thai Party only received a paltry 15 million votes. PPT recalls that the party of PAD, which kind of had a falling out amongst the leadership because they knew they were hopeless, got almost no votes. But still Phipob, sounding delusional if not fascist, states “PAD was ready to lead the people to victory in safeguarding the country.”

Another PAD leader, the former Democrat Party parliamentarian Somkiat Pongpaibul, “said he expected a final showdown with the Thaksin regime.” Never short of an outlandish fabrication, this time Somkiat borders on the maniacal when he:

claimed about the regime was contracting some 5,000 Cambodian and Vietnamese mercenaries to topple the monarchy in order to inaugurate a republic.

He expected “PAD will pour into the streets at the first sign of changing charter provisions pertaining the monarchy and granting amnesty for Thaksin…”.

Now he’s confused us, where did those mercenaries go??

Chamlong

PAD’s other leader, the always grinning Chamlong Srimuang said he was sure of “the invincibility of the people’s power.” Except, of course, the power of voters.

PPT will be interested to see how much traction PAD gets. Their front organizations in Tul Sitthisomwong’s multi-colors, the Sayam Prachapiwat anti-Nitirat lawyers, and Siam Samakkhi have been setting the scene for a full PAD rebirth.

We tend to think that it requires mis-steps by the Yingluck Shinawatra government for PAD to get much support. That is not to discount the possibility of support for PAD in high or armed places that would also provide impetus.





Unions, PAD and the “democratic” royalist elite

1 05 2011

When Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party government was first elected, it was on the back of a nationalist rejection of the Democrat Party’s lack of independence from the International Monetary Fund’s demands for the further liberalization of the economy following the 1997-98 economic crisis. At the time, organized labor was pretty much on board with TRT.

However, there was soon grumbling about the government breaking promises. Then, in 2004, when Thaksin’s boisterous threats and popularity had cowed the whining of many middle class NGOs and intellectuals, it was the state enterprise unions that first gave anti-Thaksin opposition some backbone.

These unions waged a protest campaign that demonstrated that that the TRT government could be challenged. The state enterprise unions opposed the privatization of EGAT, and the government backed down. While others got most of the credit in the mainstream media for rolling back privatization, it should not be forgotten that rallies of up to 50,000 opposed TRT policy. In fact, this was not forgotten when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was brought together, with state enterprise unions playing a significant role.

With their one time leader Somsak Kosaisuk installed as one of the PAD leadership, the state enterprise unions signed up for the anti-Thaksin campaign and stayed with it through its domination by the royalists and Sondhi Limthongkul and the Dharma Army-Santi Asoke alliance around Chamlong Srimuang. This curious alliance led to the unions being seen to support the 2006 military coup and the Fascist-like claims that wanted to prevent the lower classes having much participation in politics.

All this seemed a clear betrayal of the years of economic and political struggle by unions which had earlier included anti-monarchy actions associated with the 1932 Revolution.

It seems appropriate the, that this Labor Day, there has been an interesting development. The Bangkok Post reports that the State Enterprise Labour Relations Confederation “is defecting from the movement led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy because PAD leaders have said they support undemocratic political change…”.

SELRC leader Sawit Kaewwan is quoted as saying that “PAD bosses had often suggested the country be ‘shut down’ for national reform despite the fact that a new election was near. They had also expressed a desire to change the political structure to an undemocratic system. Sawit claims that such ideas “were in opposition to the political beliefs of the confederation…”.

Where was Sawit in 2006? The answer seems to be in this statement: “We believe in democracy and we do not agree with the enforcement of any power or any individuals’ power for political changes [coup]. We also oppose all forms of dictatorship…”. We imagine that Sawit would associate Thaksin and TRT with some kind of “dictatorship.” However, as we noted above, it was state enterprise unions that showed that TRT could be successfully opposed.

The significant point now is that Sawit says “the board of directors of the labour confederation had resolved that its leaders should withdraw from the PAD and refrain from joining the PAD on rally stages as well as at other activities. The confederation told the PAD of its intention on Tuesday.”

It is also reported that Somsak Kosaisuk, who remains an adviser to the confederation, has “quit as a PAD core leader, and Mr Sawit himself has resigned from the PAD’s group of second-tier leaders.” In another Bangkok Post story it is noted this move “followed an SELRC resolution on Tuesday demanding Mr Somsak and Mr Sawit quit the PAD because the yellow shirt movement’s campaign was undemocratic.”

Meanwhile, Somsak remains leader of the PAD-aligned New Politics Party while rejecting the PAD leadership’s demand for the party to boycott the general election. He appears to be trying to drag the NPP away from PAD. This would appear futile given the domination of Sondhi and Chamlong. However, the damage to NPP and PAD is potentially very considerable.

Somsak appears to have left a way open for PAD to reconcile with the unions, saying “he and Mr Sawit might join PAD rallies in a personal capacity later if they agreed with the group’s activities and approaches,” and noting that he was not in conflict with Chamlong, Sondhi or other key PAD leaders. Even so, he lambasted PAD leaders for “campaigning for something which is ‘close to a coup d’etat’…”.

Pundits seems ready to write PAD off. In a further report in the Bangkok Post the now “embattled People’s Alliance for Democracy” is said to have “lost another ally, with a former fund-raising group demanding an immediate end to its ‘divisive’ rally.” The group mentioned is the ironically monikered “Thais Love Peace group” that has called on PAD to “end its protest and stop verbally attacking its critics.”

Group leader Kanchanee Wallayasewee said “her group raised money for the PAD during its 193-day protest two years ago against the Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat governments.” She claimed that the group included “businessmen, self-styled defenders of the monarchy and online social network activists.” But because PAD speakers were now attacking her members and “distorting” information, her group was jumping ship.

Kanchanee also accused “some alliance co-leaders” of “exploiting the higher institution [monarchy] and trying to foment a pretext for a military coup.” She indicated that many of her wealthy and well-placed supporters were upset when “smeared” by PAD.

She added that her group was ready to support the upcoming election. PPT guesses that this group is already shovelling money into the coffers of the government coalition parties.

This potential loss of support for PAD is seen by several pundits as the beginning of the end for the ultra-nationalist royalists. PAD and Sondhi have been able to mobilize people and this is threatening to the elite and this means that PAD has been tolerated but never fully trusted.

When PAD was necessary for the resurgent royalist elite was in beginning activities that allowed for Thaksin’s huge electoral mandate to be challenged and then to oppose other elected pro-Thaksin governments. In each instance, once the elite had its political path cleared, the result was a military coup and judicial coup. Following that, PAD usually hibernated. Think of how PAD demonstrations ceased in 2006 as Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda took the lead in marshalling forces for the coup.

PAD has been unsuccessful in its current round of rallies, drawing small crowds and becoming desperate and uncontrollable – as witnessed by its attacks on former supporters. That said, it should not be forgotten that PAD did begin this round of bloody border disputes with Cambodia, giving the military further fillip. And yet it now seems clear that the elite strategy is finally coalescing around the idea of an election that it believes the royalist Democrat Party can win. The military has been least convinced of this approach, but the border war and the frantic use of repressive powers to stifle opposition seem to be the approach that has been agreed.

And, quite suddenly, all of the anti-democratic, coup-supporting, royalists and military brass are democrats….