Friday, July 13, 2007

The Nation: Will General Sonthi Run? Surayud Says "Up to him"

Military MPs don't have good record: PM

But Army chief free to run from Sept: Surayud

The Nation

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont says he agrees that former military officers are not very successful in politics.

Speaking from personal experience?

The PM was responding to a question about a comment by Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Prasong Soonsiri that there were no true friends or permanent foes in politics.

Prasong is right. In Thai politics, the opposition never has any power, so they sell their souls to either destroy those in power or they switch sides and join the enemy for their own political expediency.

This is why representative democracy is a failure in Thailand, or at least one of the major reasons.

If you look over the last 800 years of Thai history, the country has been ruled by strongmen (either the King himself or a powerful Chao Phaya who had the other Chao Phaya and King under his thumb). During the modern era, the country has also been ruled by strongmen, and when the country was ruled during times of weak coalitions, the military stepped in to restore strongman rule. What made Thaksin unique was that he was the first civilian strongman to take control democratically, but being a parvenu Chinese businessman with no ties to the military or to the old khunnang families he had to be destroyed because he wasn’t one of them.

But Surayud said Council for National Security chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin had the right to enter politics after retiring. "It's his personal affair and he has the right after he is free from military duty," he said.

"It will be his own decision and the outcome will depend on the people."

Unlike the idiots at The Nation, who prefer a dictator Sonthi to a democrat Sonthi, I actually agree with Surayud.

Meanwhile, a source in the Cabinet who is close to Sonthi and asked not to be named said Sonthi is studying related laws. He was worried about legal issues as he will still be CNS chief after he retires from the Army.

I thought this was interesting. Sonthi will be out as army chief but remain the head of the CNS. Why would he be studying the law? To a junta leader, the law is irrelevant.

If one were to read between the lines, I would say that Sonthi is politically weak and has no power beyond his title of army chief. That title gives him power the other titles don’t. Sonthi is scrambling for a position that would justify his continued rule. Is it all about ego? Probably. Since the coup, he probably has had powerful and influential people crawling on their hands and knees to him at his office. After September, who will come crawling to him asking for favors? Further, how much wealth has he accumulated since being army chief? Since the Thai media refuses to look at his books, maybe a civilian government will, but only if Sonthi is out of the government and in retirement with no control over any powerful civilian and military factions.

Khajit Tappananon, a former executive of One-Two-Go Airlines and former Lions Clubs International president, said he was preparing to set up a new party, but he would not say anything about its policies before the Council for Democratic Reform's announcement prohibiting party registration is lifted.

Khajit is being criticised for his party, Rak Chat, being a vehicle for coup leader and Army chief Sonthi to enter politics.

He said he was close to Sonthi but has not talked to Sonthi or invited him to join the party. It is up to Sonthi to decide.

The typical Thai two step: Take no responsibility for anything that could happen until all the ducks are lined up in a row.

Moreover, he would have to talk with Sonthi to determine if their political goals were in line with each other's, Khajit said. If they have different goals, they can't work together.

Money talks, bullshit walks.

He said Sonthi still had some obligations to the country. When he was free and if he wanted to enter politics, he must remove his uniform, Khajit said.

But will Sonthi have any power as a civilian? Yes, but only if those anti-Thaksin forces from the aristocratic families and Chinese capitalist class back him. But will they back him without the prestigious title and no factional power of his own?

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, meanwhile, said he had not asked Sonthi to join the party. "If General Sonthi enters politics and follows the rules, that's fine. Prolonging power is not as terrifying as destroying democracy. For example, issuing security laws is more worrying," he said.

WTF does this statement mean? Abhisit sold his sold his soul to General Sonthi already. And now he is babbling about destroying democracy and rules when both have already been destroyed.

I always love how these weasly politicians embrace a coup to oust their political enemies, yet when the junta wants to pass organic laws that will affect the future of all politicians, they get anxious.

The truth is that the coup only affected Thai Rak Thai, so Abhisit could really give a shit about Thai democracy, but after the Security Act is passed, the military will be in a position to monitor all political agents and blackmail them, and that is why Abhisit is now worried about his neck.

If Sonthi joins the Democrats quietly, he might be able to become a General Sanan, which might be lucrative to the Democrats in terms of fundraising, especially if General Sonthi calls in “bun khun” chips during the election season.

Personally, I would love to see General Sonthi run. It will expose his power base: his business partners and political allies.

But, in the end, I guess we will have to wait to see what the fortune teller in Chiang Mai decides for him.

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