Friday, June 1, 2007

Deconstructing Thanong Khanthong: Thaksin's Republican Guard and Pimping for Abhisit

Tribunal delivers its deathblow, but TRT refuses to die

Thanong Khanthong

The Nation

On September 19 of last year, the military struck Thaksin Shinawatra down with a bloodless coup. On Wednesday, the Constitution Tribunal followed up by hammering the nails in his coffin. Can we be sure that Thaksin is dead?

The spectre of Thaksin will always haunt Thanong. He won't be able to survive without his main boogeyman.

If you were a fan of horror movies, you would never believe that a zombie is dead until it really dies. Even though a giant nail is pierced through its heart, a zombie always comes back to life to haunt you and grab your throat when you drop your guard. Thaksin, too, will refuse to die.

The Nation needs Thaksin the unstoppable zombie. It needs an enemy it can blame all of Thailand's problems on.

For the moment, Thaksin and his 110 republican guards are in disarray. They had anticipated that the axe would fall, but they had never thought that it would chop off all of their heads in a massacre on the eve of Visakha Puja Day. The "Red Army" and PTV threatened to strike back if the Thai Rak Thai Party were to be disbanded.

Thanong really knows how to kick people when they are down. Isn't calling a Thai a republican the highest form of treason?

In the end, members of the Red Army were so tired and sleepy that they could hardly raise their fingers. They were worn down by a marathon 11-hour reading of the landmark verdicts by the Constitution Tribunal judges. It was not until 11.45pm that the rulings on Thai Rak Thai were brought to a conclusion. Chaturon Chaisang, Phongthep Thepkanjana and other Thai Rak Thai members listened patiently to the verdicts in the courtroom with their pale, zombie-like faces.

Now he calls them zombies. Republican zombies. Zombie republicans.

In one fell swoop, the Constitution Tribunal dissolved the Thai Rak Thai Party for alleged election fraud and ended its nine years of existence. It also handed down a 6-3 verdict to ban all 111 executive Thai Rak Thai members from politics for five years. Any attempt to disrupt law and order had to be put on hold because a few minutes later the country would observe Visakha Puja Day, the most auspicious and sacred day on the Buddhist calendar.

He doesn't need to use the word "alleged" anymore. Yesterday, Suthichai was angry that some people were making claims that violence would break out if they didn't get their way and causing unncessary panic, yet his columnists keep inferring that these imminent threat rumors or true over and over gain. There is no evidence that Thaksin supporters put off disrupting law and order because of Visakha Puja Day.

The Democrats were spared the wrath of the Constitution Tribunal's rulings. They put up a strong legal defence over alleged election fraud. You have to give the full credit to Chuan Leekpai, the former party leader. If you read his defence statement, you would feel mesmerised by his eloquent and persuasive argument that the Democrats never committed any wrongdoing. In the end, the Democrats were cleared all the charges in a unanimous decision.

The Nation can't help but salivate over the prospects that the Democrats will come back to power. Even with Thai Rak Thai out of the picture, what do the Democrats offer? After all this time, I still don't know what it is that they stand for just in terms of public policy.

On the contrary, the Thai Rak Thai Party fought a half-hearted legal battle, knowing darn well that they would be sent to the scaffold. Err ... the executive board did no wrong. If some members of our party did hire the three small parties to run in the April 2 election, then please do not blame all of us. But the money trails would not lie. General Thamarak Isarangura and Pongsak Ruktapongpisal were deemed by the judges to have financed the other three political parties, which distributed the money to their candidates to stand in the election so that the election, boycotted by the Democrats, Chat Thai and Mahachon, could fulfil the constitutional requirement.

I agree, Thai Rak Thai was screwed.

If you read the verdicts of the Constitution Tribunal, you will find that they carry very harsh statements against Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai as if the judges were denouncing the Thaksin regime themselves. Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai were deemed to have posed a danger to democracy through their corruption and cronyism. Most importantly, the rulings will become a benchmark for other courts to refer to when cases against Thaksin and his family concerning their assets go to trial.

Why was the court making political statements that had no bearing on the jurisprudence?

Why would a case about election fraud have anything to do with the tax and land cases?

With the Constitution Tribunal's verdicts, the Thai political landscape has been dramatically altered with a tsunami-like force. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the young leader of the Democrats, is most likely to become the next prime minister of Thailand barring any other accidents. The Chat Thai and the Mahachon parties stand to become natural allies in the forming of the new government.

Abhisit will become leader only because his political opposition was wiped out in a coup. Ironically, those politicians who make up the bulk of the other parties are notorious for corruption in the past. Nice to know that Barnharn, Snoh and Sanan will become Abhisit's natural allies in the new government. I wonder what all the moralists are going to say about that.

But we shall see how the 200 former MPs of Thai Rak Thai in the North and Northeast, Thaksin's political bedrock, transform their role. Chaturon insisted that although Thai Rak Thai no longer exists, the Thai Rak Thai Group (Klom Thai Rak Thai) would continue to fight for its ideology. The Thai Rak Thai's republicanism will not die easily. Earlier, Chakraphop Phenkhae, a key member of the Thai Rak Thai Party, gave an interview during which he said that he joined Thai Rak Thai because he could not accept the sakdina (feudal) system.

My guess is that the old Thai Rak Thai MPs will be formidable. Maybe not if Thanong keeps referring to them as republicans. Thanong, a notorious Chakrinista, won't allow republicans to exist amongst our borders if he can help it, especially since he thinks he is a reincarnation of King Naresuan, or at least a modern incarnation of his character in the King Naresuan movie.

Will Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra enter the political scene like Hilary Clinton to revive the dead soul of the party? But she would have to think twice because the legal case against her purchase of land in the Ratchadaphisek area is hanging over her neck. Boonklee Plangsiri or Dr Surapong Suebwonglee, the two confidantes of Pojaman and Thaksin, might volunteer to carry the flag.

Why kind of wife would Pojaman be if she stole Thaksin's thunder and emasculated him by creating a new party and running for PM? I doubt Boonklee or Dr. Surapong would do the surrogate thing.

There will be two remaining stumbling blocks to overcome before Thailand can return to democracy. First, the new constitution must be approved. Second, the new election must be held in due course, the sooner the better. Hopefully, there will be no bloodshed between now and then. You must have a keen eye to distinguish the bad guys from the good guys, or the Red Army from the Blue Army.

Again, here we go with the non-existent threats of violence.

If time is allowed to run its course, the junta will have no choice but to return power to those they can trust most so that they have an excuse to return to their barracks. The junta and the Democrats share a common enemy in Thaksin.

This is a very telling statement. He is basically admitting that there was a conspiracy to get rid of Thaksin between the junta and the Democrats. Of course, this doesn't phase Thanong. He is incapable of recognizing that the crimes of his allies are just as bad if not worse than what the Thaksinistas did.

But earlier, we got the impression that some elements of the junta would like to linger in power by banking on the political bases of Somsak Thepsuthin and Dr Somkid Jatusripitak. Now this will never happen because Somsak and Somkid have also been barred from politics.

Now they are putting all their cards into the Democrat Party basket. Actually, this is smarter than trusting Somsak and Somkid, who only care about their political careers.

Suddenly, Abhisit looks like the only choice around. Now it is time for him to prepare himself by learning from the past mistakes of his predecessors, charting out his own political destiny, healing the wounds of the badly divided country, reaching out to the poor, who have been the bedrock of Thaksin's populist policies, and making Thailand a proud nation again in the eyes of the international community.

Funny how things work out. The Democrats were impotent when Thai Rak Thai was in power.

Now that Thai Rak Thai has been eliminated by a coup, the Democrat Party, a perennial minority regional power party with close ties to the junta, is now poised to win the next election.
Mathematically, I don't see how they can pull it off, but with the military in its corner, anything is possible

Thanong can't contain his glee concerning the new ascendancy of the Democrats, because he doesn't believe in democratic politics. Why should he care about democracy when his political allies can be put into power through boycotts, coups, and court decisions?


Patiwat said...


"Red army?"

Thanong is using such loaded language as to make me sick. This guy claims to support the King, but he's really just using the monarchy as a personal weapon.

... the Democrat Party, a perennial minority regional power party with close ties to the junta, is now poised to win the next election. Mathematically, I don't see how they can pull it off, but with the military in its corner, anything is possible...

The Democrats will probably form a coalition government with half dozen other parties. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a clusterfack "government of national unity." We all know how detrimental political conflict can be to the military's idea of an ideal government.

Rich said...

"Thanong is using such loaded language as to make me sick. This guy claims to support the King, but he's really just using the monarchy as a personal weapon."

This is what most Thais with power do. They invoke the Kings name in order to imply that what they want to do is approved of by the King or in line with the Kings wishes. It is a simple device of the schoolyard bully and most Thais with power (if given the opportunity) like to bully other people.