Monday, February 5, 2007

Prasong vs. Surayud, Intelligence vs. Military: New Factions Developing?

Spymaster/Constitution writer Prasong Soonsiri gives Surayud a Verbal Spanking

The Surayud government's lack of decisiveness and inability to get officials to act on political problems could lead to further unrest in the country, Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Prasong Soonsiri has warned.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Prasong said he was not blaming the Council for National Security (CNS) because it had already handed over administrative powers to the government of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, but the government had not used its powers to get work done.

The government had failed to concentrate on urgent matters, especially proving the wrongdoings of the previous administration as alleged by the coup makers, he said.

Prasong said political disturbances, like last week's grenade attack on the office of the Thai-language Daily News, had persisted because the government was not decisive enough.

"This government has a weak point. That is, it lacks the decisiveness to clear up problems and obstacles. They were assigned to clean house, but they have not done it. The house is still dirty and full of diseases, which are spreading," Prasong said.

The Surayud administration should have been bold enough to punish government officials who refused to cooperate in solving problems caused by the previous government, he said.

"These officials know well that the government only has a one-year term, so they have shifted into neutral gear because they are not sure whether the old power clique will return to power or not," Prasong said.

"The government's weak point is that it has not paid enough attention to these neutral-mode officials. It has failed to make them expedite their work and to punish them, and this has caused society to feel uneasy," he said.

If the government did not complete its work in time, the old power clique could return and the country could erupt into turmoil again because the people would once again take to the streets to protest, he said.

Prasong warned the old power clique would step up attempts to cause disturbances because corruption investigations against its leaders were nearly complete.

"The power losers still have mechanisms in the country, so they will use their financial might to make movements to obtain their goals," Prasong said.

He said the "power losers" would use their financial might to increase misunderstanding about the current government in the international community.

Prasong likened the old clique's supporters in the country to "pre-paid SIM cards that still have old information and are ready to function once the money is refilled".

"From now on, the power losers will step up measures to create disturbances for their own survival. They will try to inflict damage on the government and CNS and make them unacceptable to the public. The situation will become very worrying if the problems are not dealt with decisively," he said.

He recommended the government use its communication facilities to explain to the people the wrongdoings of the previous administration and then bring those involved to justice for their crimes.

Failure to punish the wrongdoers had allowed the toppled government to claim it had done nothing wrong, he said.

"Members of this Cabinet are good people but they lack political experience and have not kept up with the [ousted politicians'] games. They know that they are in office for only a year so they do not want to make enemies, and this has become a weak point of the government," Prasong said.

Besides blaming permanent officials for shifting into neutral mode, the government should also ask itself whether it was actually going backwards because of its failure to make any progress, he said.

He said the Surayud government was losing public support because it had failed to carry out the mission assigned by the CNS: punishing members of the Thaksin administration for the four charges cited as reasons for staging the coup.

The coup makers accused the Thaksin government of massive corruption, interfering in the work of independent organisations, causing divisions in society, and committing lese majeste.

Prasong said the Surayud government should have analysed the four charges and assigned the ministries concerned to speed up investigations into the charges.

"Instead, the government focuses on issues of the future, as if it will be in power for 4 or 8 years," he said.

Prasong pointed out that one power retained by the CNS chairman under the interim constitution was to remove the prime minister, but stopped short of saying that General Sonthi Boonyaratglin should fire Surayud.

"I don't know," he replied when asked if he thought the situation warranted the CNS chairman invoking the power.

"I won't talk about it. It's not my duty," he said when asked if he thought the CNS had erred in choosing Surayud as prime minister.

But Prasong said it was not too late if the CNS and government discuss their work and started getting things done now.

"I like to speak my mind straightforwardly and I think that what I am saying is what the people are thinking but don't get a chance to say. I would like to warn that the people's uneasiness could escalate into anger," he said.

Somroutai Sapsomboon,

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation

This is a very interesting development. There must be a little war going on behind the scenes.

You basically have the head of Constitution committee lashing out at the head of the government for being worthless. Prasong, by the way, has a history of doing this when he is being ignored. His feud with Thaksin goes way back.

Sonthi better knock some heads together, because with Thaksin attacking the junta daily in the international press and internal conflicts going on behind the scenes in Thailand, this military dictatorship won't last too long, and then we will have to suffer under Thaksin's comeback and subsequent revenge. Then where will you generals run to? This ain't the Cold War anymore. The US won't be sheltering Thai military dictators again.

Sonthi tell Prasong to shut up or fire Surayud. Get your house in order before Thailand really falls apart.

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