Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bangkok Post and The Natiion: The Tale of Two Editorials About Somkid

The Nation


Somkid debacle an embarrassment

The saga exposes the Surayud government's error-prone judgement and serious lack of political savvy

For Surayud, being patronised in this way by Somkid, who was supposed to lay low because of his guilt by association with Thaksin, was very politically damaging to his leadership.

Somkid managed to raise his profile as a political leader to reckon with - one who is seen both by the Surayud government and Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai Party as a key player in the run-up to the next general election, scheduled before the end of this year and beyond. Somkid made ample use of the opportunity to whitewash his own reputation by publicly dissociating himself from his former political master, who has been accused of being anti-democratic and corrupt.

Many would undoubtedly find Somkid's account difficult to believe - let alone his sudden change of tack in wholeheartedly embracing the sufficiency economy philosophy.

It was thought that getting Somkid, widely seen as the main architect of Thaksinomics, to publicly disown his former political master would be a good tactic to puncture the former prime minister's reputation. In other words, Somkid was supposed to wage a proxy war against Thaksin on behalf of the Surayud government and the CNS.

The Bangkok Post


PAD has little to crow about

The anti-Thaksin alliance, officially known as the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), should be pleased it has successfully forced the resignation of Somkid Jatusripitak as the country's envoy to speak to the international community on the subject of the sufficiency economy. The PAD should take pride in the fact that it has a powerful voice, which even the government could not afford to ignore. But to assume that its call for Mr Somkid's resignation truly reflected the voice of the people would be misleading. At least one opinion poll _ conducted last week by Abac which showed most of the respondents favoured the new role for Mr Somkid _ told a different story. Local business leaders also welcomed his return.

By rejecting Mr Somkid outright without giving him the chance to prove his worth for the good of the country, the PAD has sent a clear message that it still harbours a deep distrust of anyone closely associated with the old regime and is not interested in the effort of national reconciliation. Such a rigid and narrow-minded view by the PAD leaders will only worsen the political divide, for which Mr Thaksin was largely to blame.

However, it is regrettable that such a person as Mr Somkid, whose abundant resourcefulness could be put to good use for the country at such a critical time, is being shunted aside for the simple reason that he was too close to Mr Thaksin. In other words, to quote the late Chinese supreme leader Deng Xiaoping's famous line, the PAD didn't want a black cat to catch mice because of its colour, despite the fact that it is as capable as its white sibling.

With Mr Somkid now gone and obviously hurt, it is hoped the PAD leaders will not interfere with Prime Minister Surayud if he wishes to find a new replacement for Mr Somkid to carry on the task of reducing the gap of misunderstanding within the international community about the sufficiency economy.

The PAD might be indulging in a false sense of self-glorification that it is a potent political force which the country cannot do without. The truth is that without public support, they are merely a bunch of loudmouth individuals of diverse backgrounds, whose voices will get them nowhere.


The Nation blames Surayud for the Somkid debacle.

The Bangkok Post blames the PAD.

How come neither blames Somkid? How come neither blames Prem or Sonthi, who supposedly pushed the appointment?

How come the press is not holding Somkid accountable for what happened to Thailand during his six years as Thaksin's brain and head crony?

How come nobody in the Thai press is confronting Somkid and holding him accountable about his role in the rubber sampling scandal or his role as Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Secretary and Commerce Secretary?

How come all of Thaksin's cronies are running around free in Thailand, yet the government only seems to be chasing Thaksin all over the globe, particularly monitoring his horrible inarticulate interviews with the foreign press? On the other hand, the government allows him to take out millions to buy massive mansions in the West.

Do these idiots at the The Nation and Bangkok Post truly believe that holding Thaksin accountable (and only with conjecture and rhetoric) for the misdeeds of the entire government serves Thailand in the long run? Who do they think they are fooling with this type of horrible reporting?

The Thai press can rant and rave all it wants about how Thaksin and the faceless Thai politicians and bureaucrats who have hurt Thai democracy. But if you were to ask me, the incompetence of the Thai press in their lack of holding everyone accountable for their actions in public life is a major part of the destruction of Thai democracy. No, it is not all Thaksin's fault.

If the Thai press thinks it can coast on ill-informed analysis and stenographing for the government and still think democracy and political freedom can be sustained in Thailand , then they are far more deluded and ignorant than I thought.

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