Sunday, April 29, 2007

Deconstructing Sophon: Still Chasing After the Thaksin Boogeyman


Threat from 'large' anti-govt rally much overrated

Sopon Onkgara

The Nation

Government and military leaders must have heaved a big sigh of relief after the pro-Thaksin rally at Sanam Luang on Friday failed to draw a huge crowd as earlier feared.

The turnout ranged between 800 and 3,000 people, according to estimates in news reports.

The rally's organisers, who are ex-Thai Rak Thai members, earlier boasted that there could be up to 30,000 people attending, and that they would stay on until the Constitutional Court passes its judgement on the fate of the Thai Rak Thai Party late next month.

My Thoughts:

Last week I went upcountry to Isaan. There were many road blocks coming back and forth. After Songkran, the military told the "undercurrents" to stay in Isaan. Coincidence, I don't know. But many of our boys in brown got a little suspicious of me when they saw all my PTV and "We Love Thaksin" gear in the backseat of my car. Just kidding. But I do believe that the roadblocks had something to do with the small numbers for the rally.

With the number falling far short of the expectations, the powers that be now have a clearer picture of the potential of the pro-Thaksin faction and of whether future hisses about organising large demonstrations should be taken seriously or treated as exaggeration.

My Thoughts:

I am not sure, and correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it The Nation that was getting hysterical about the potential size of the rallies at Sanam Luang.

The protesters loyal to Thaksin must have felt disappointed by the low turnout as well. Friday was a vital indicator of whether the various groups against the government and the military could pose a serious threat to national security by means of turbulent street protests and demonstrations. The bark was proven to be more harmful than the bite, so to speak. It also raised questions about whether the so-called undercurrent elements have actually been as well-funded by politicians of the previous Thaksin administration as speculated.

My Thoughts:

People work on Friday. The only people that I know who have been freaking out about the anti-coup groups, the Thaksin supporters, and the PTV people are the idiots at The Nation and some in the military.

Gotta love Sophon. On one side of his mouth, he says that the Thaksinistas have deep pockets that can fund all these anti-junta rallies, yet when nobody shows up, he is upset that his conspiracy theories haven't come to fruition.

Of all the columnists, Sophon really is the dopiest of the lot.

It has been long perceived that the pro-Thaksin crowd received financial support to organise protest rallies and cause problems for the government and discredit the military junta, the Council for National Security (CNS), which serves as the protector of the Surayud administration.

My Thoughts:

Yeah, The Nation columnists have done most of the perceiving, because they are too lazy to do any investigative reporting.

I would bet that the Sophon never put a reporter on the beat to investigate anything in regards to the PTV rallies, who is funding them, where are the numbers coming from, and why none of his perceptions have come true. In other words, he and his buddies at The Nation have been talking out of their butts the entire time about Thaksin funding PTV and the "undercurrent" movement.

The previous rally at Sanam Luang drew a larger crowd due to other, non-political events in the area. The high turnout must have led the PTV activists, who were formerly with Thai Rak Thai, to believe that they had enough support for a bigger show of force on Friday, but it failed to materialise.

My Thoughts:

Who was talking up these rallies and making a big deal about them? The Nation and the military.

What was behind the low turnout? The main problem is still the lack of credibility of the PTV activists, who obviously could not come up with fresh ideas and selling points to draw a crowd, especially middle-class and educated people.

My Thoughts:

Sophon is all over the place. Before the turnout was a threat to national security. Now the turnout is insignificant. Then he insults the majority of Thais by saying that because PTV hasn't attracted "middle-class and educated people," their rallies lack any credibility. What does a credible rally look like? You must look Chinese, wear a yellow shirt, and have Master's Degree tattooed to your forehead?

Those concerned about their standing and self respect would not want to be perceived as participating for financial inducement following news reports earlier that every person would be paid Bt300 to Bt500 per day if they showed up for the rally at Sanam Luang.

My Thoughts:

So anybody who disagrees with Sophon doesn't have any self-respect. Interesting how Sophon doesn't report if people received any money to attend the rally. In the end, did anybody pick up any cash?

It could also be that the speculation about pro-Thaksin rally organisers spending money to woo a crowd was misplaced and based on rumours, because it would take a tidy sum to attract a large crowd, especially if there were to be many days of protracted protest.

My Thoughts:

Sophon really is a genius. He writes that nobody respectable would attend a PTV because they wouldn't want to be tainted with bribes, then says it would be too expensive to pull off.

The pro-Thaksin groups also failed again to convince people with good reputation and credibility to join their campaign against the government and the CNS. No academic or public figure expressed support for the rally - in their view, the campaigners have serious image and credibility problems, not to mention character flaws.

My Thoughts:

Sophon really is a bigot who hates his own people. Unless you have a good reputation and credibility in his eyes, you don't have a right to express yourself politically.

Funny how Sophon never got upset about his buddies with "good reputations" that took money from the junta's not so secret 12 million baht propaganda slush fund. To Sophon, those journalists and academics bought by the junta are men of integrity and character without image and credibility problems.

Among those who still had some love for Thaksin before Friday's rally should be some who regard such a campaign as a lost cause now that the former premier and his family members are destined to face long and complex legal problems, including claims for back taxes and criminal proceedings.

My Thoughts:

After 7 months, Thaksin still has not been charged with one single crime. You would think that if the military wanted to overthrow the government, it would have pretty strong evidence before deciding on the coup. Also, it is fairly frightening that we live in a society where a major newspaper like The Nation doesn't even bother to ask the junta after all this time, "What was your evidence before the coup?" Also, now that Thaksin is gone, The Nation is really free to write an investigative report on all of Thaksin's crimes. But how many reports has it done? Zero. The Nation accused Thaksin of cowering the media into submission. Now that Thaksin is gone, why hasn't The Nation done all those stories it was prevented from doing?

Hobby, can you find me one investigative story by The Nation, which puts all the pieces together of Thaksin's criminal and political empire, that would justify a coup?

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont also made it explicit that Thaksin has slim chances of returning to Thailand after several months of forced exile because more and more people have come to realise that the goodies disbursed under his populist programmes were just temporary, with no long-lasting benefit.

My Thoughts:

Sophon really is an idiot. Is he serious? He actually says that Thaksin has a slim chance of coming back because people have started to realize that his populist policies were a failure.

The prospect of criminal prosecution makes it less tempting for Thaksin to return home, though Surayud said he knew his predecessor well as a tough and tenacious fighter who would not give in easily. Instead the disgraced billionaire would spend his plentiful financial resources to pave a way back to power.

My Thoughts:

It seems that Thaksin has chosen to live in exile and play football owner in England, which actually sounds a lot more fun than coming home to Thailand and takimg a lot of abuse from The Nation.

"My message for him is 'Don't come back'", especially now that investigations into wrongdoing during his premiership will soon move towards due legal process, Surayud told a group of senior journalists on Thursday. That message must have also sunk into the minds of many pro-Thaksin people.

My Thoughts:

Is it just me or does anybody else see the comedy of incompetent Surayud telling Thaksin not to come back when Thaksin is busy in London buying a mansion and a football club?

Should the government and the military still be worried by the undercurrent movement, which continues to cause jitters in the business community? This point should be assessed realistically rather than getting jumpy whenever the PTV activists hiss about more action and larger protests.

My Thoughts:

Sophon writes that the undercurrent/PTV movement has no numbers and has no people of quality supporting it, yet he says that it is causing the business community jitters. Who in the business community is afraid of PTV?

Of course, they should not be taken lightly. Desperate men usually resort to desperate means to get some level of recognition. Thaksin is a die-hard sort of man and so far he has been trying to get even with the military leaders who ousted him from power. Using his big fortune to solicit assistance from American lobbyists has yielded some result so far, but without any impact.

My Thoughts:

Is Thaksin desperate? How has Thaksin been trying to get even? What results has Thaksin received from the hiring the lobbying groups? Where is the evidence?

What then could possibly enable him to regain his place in the sun back home? That's not difficult to answer. Premier Surayud must fulfil his promise to shape up or ship out and get non-performing Cabinet members to earn their salaries and plush offices. Failure to do so would be tantamount to laying down a red carpet for Thaksin to return to Government House.

That is indeed a thought to make one shudder.

My Thoughts:

Sophon doesn't make any sense. First he says that Thaksin's support comes from bribes, but nobody shows up to take them. Then he says people know that Thaksin's economic policies were failures and wouldn't want him back. Then he ends his column by saying that Thaksin would get the red carpet treatment if Surayud can't whip his cabinet in shape.

The fact that Sophon has a job working at a major newspaper is indeed a thought to make me puke.


hobby said...

Fonzi said: "Hobby, can you find me one investigative story by The Nation, which puts all the pieces together of Thaksin's criminal and political empire, that would justify a coup?"

I don't need convincing that a coup was justified - I'm with the flowers on tanks crowd.
Obviously I would have preferred the constitution court, or even better, the electorate to have done it, but 'beggars can't be choosers'.

To help you in your own search, I would recommend that you do not limit your research to The Nation and Bangkok Post. I suggest you start with the Manager and go back over the last 2 or 3 years.

Anonymous said...

I count myself with Hobby here. As much as a coup is reprehensible and greatly to be despised, there simply was no other option. It is clear from Sonhi (Media) that the coup was the end result of a conspiracy by the Thai elite who saw their power being eroded, and good ole HMK himself. Even so, however self-interested their actions were, the by-product was that a national catastrophe was averted. I personally have no doubt whatever that Thaksin was determined to be Thailands first El Presidente. Ironically if he had volunteered the same taxes that his kids and family will now have to pay anyway, I am convinced he would have been successful. His biggest flaw (among many) was the legendary Chinese greed - enough is never enough. This alone explains why he could never be allowed to be President, or even to continue as PM. We had another Ferdinand Marcos in the making and missed it by a hairs breadth.


anon said...

Red comments (rather than in bold) would be much easier to read.

Fonzi said...


I got complaints about the old style.

I am going to try different things.

Thanks for the feedback.

Any stylistic advice is always welcome.

3 months into the blog; it is time to do some house cleaning.

hobby said...

At last, Patiwat and I agree on something.
I also preferred the red comments rather than bold, as it clearly distinguished between the original article and your commentary.

You could try a few other colours, or different fonts to get a similar effect.

Fonzi said...

Thanks Hobby

Anonymous said...

Me too, red is *way* easier to identify as your comments.