Thursday, August 2, 2007

Could Samak Sundaravej Be Thailand's Next Prime Minister?

Thai Rath - Bangkok Post

Samak Sundaravej is certainly the right choice as leader of the Thai Rak Thai group of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The former Bangkok governor has what it takes to lead remnants of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party into the next general election, tentatively set for the latter half of December this year.

When I read this at first, I thought it was sarcasm.

Hundreds of members of the TRT group joined the little-known Palang Prachachon or People's Power party early this week in an apparent attempt to meet a rule which stipulates that candidates must be members of a political party for 90 days before a general election.

Mr Samak has a strong support base in Bangkok, where he was elected member of parliament several times. His constituency, Dusit district, has a big concentration of army personnel. He also enjoys huge support among members of the national police force.

If he has the police force's confidence, he has my confidence. Not.

With the Thai Rak Thai group now on the defensive following the dissolution of the party for electoral fraud, Mr Samak's presence can shore up the group's image.

I thought its image couldn't get any lower.

Even though he is seen as a right-wing politician, Mr Samak is a staunch supporter of the Monarchy. This will help boost the Thai Rak Thai group's standing among the electorate as well.

I guess if you are a right-wing supporter of the monarchy, you are immune to anything.

Another likely successor of Mr Thaksin is Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who is popular in the Northeast, where the largest number of parliamentary seats are at stake. But when political campaign funds are taken into consideration, Mr Thaksin is likely to opt for Mr Samak.

Don't count Gen Chavalit's money out. He probably still has a lot of cash left over from all his dirty dealings with the Burmese junta.

As in previous national elections, the forthcoming general election will see a lot of money changing hands. The former TRT bigwigs are not likely to spend lavishly this time, and that's why Mr Samak is likely to be chosen as their front man in the next political battle.

Wouldn't the irony of all ironies be getting rid of Thaksin only for him to be replaced by Samak?

Just when I thought the blowback from the coup couldn't get any worse, Samak "Let's wipe out those commie bastards" Sundaravej might become prime minister.

Well, at least the queen and the crown prince will be happy.

More on the Thai Rak Thai- Samak "Halloween Coalition" in the Bangkok Post:

And now, two people who represent different ideologies _ who are supposed to be poles apart and to stay so, to maintain their different stances _ are kissing and making up and joining hands to battle for supremacy in the next general election. Is this the end of history? I would add a most startled-looking emotion here for effect if I could, but of course I don't want serious citizens reading this newspaper accusing me of being ab-baew again. But it must be. The incident makes me think that history is no longer relevant. And it makes me worry about what kind of politics is in store for us.

With Samak's choice - and the general proposition in the 2007 draft constitution which seems bent on creating conditions for a weak, coalition government - it seems the political clock is being turned back and it will most likely land us back into the politics of the '70s. It's not such a distant past. And people whose memories are not as short as Surapong and his transformed Octoberist friends in TRT will remember the time as marked by extreme political polarisation, instability and violence. If there is anything from that time that can be said to be better than now - and this is probably seen in hindsight _ -t's that the '70s politics was clearly a contest between left and right, between conservative forces and small, progressive elements that leaned towards communism. Now, what characterises current politics? To say that the major fault line is between people who are pro- and against deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra would be simplistic. It does not even take into account the coup factor and the many sub-sets of people that support or oppose it and for various, different reasons which can't always be allied. The unlikely alliance between the former TRT who only a few years ago insisted that they would ''think new, act new'' and an old blast from the extreme past like Samak only makes the murky situation even cloudier.

This marriage of convenience is reported to happen because Samak is probably the only person who would dare challenge president of the Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda, and he is seen as having strong support in Bangkok (as evidenced when he won the city's gubernatorial election by almost a million votes).


hobby said...

I'm not holding my breath, but hopefully the voting masses have learned something over recent years.

Anonymous said...

Now now Fonzi or Ponzi why the outrage against Samak who was just a lowly deputy interior minister during the 1976 Thammasart students massacre?

But Thaksin Shinawatra, your Thaksin Shinawatra Ponzi, was the Thai PM, the chief honcho, in fact the instigator, the director, the orderer, the hands-on meticulous manager demanding the weekly blacklist and demanding the weekly kills, from his deadly poorly trained poorly paid police hicks during Thaksin\'s 2002 - 2005 extrajudicial glory (at least 2,500 innocents killed)! But Ponzi says the HRW groups are wrong, the generals did it and Thaksin was NOT responsible . . .

Ponzi the scammer is back, head buried in the sand along with Patiwat, Bangkok Pundit and Andrew Walker, but hip pockets protruding for the Thaksin refills, for the weekly Thaksin refills! Your 'insufficiency-economy' pockets Ponzi could be tainted by innocent blood.

dizzy said...

How come the queen and the prince would be happy?
What about the King and other princess?
Please educate me.

Fonzi said...


Pure comedy.

Anonymous said...

Ponzi - Chiengmai maew bit your tongue? maaeeeeew . . . .

Are you getting cat food for refills then?

Del said...

Maybe PURE COMEDY to you Fonzi the shark, or to Thaksin the toxin and to those extrajudicial police shooters; but to the thousands of victims and to thousands of families of the victims of Thaksin's extrajudicial rampage. . . it was tragedy, heart-breaking and bitter.

Yeti said...

Same as dizzi: can you tell more as to why the queen and prince would be happy with Samak? I'm not familiar enough with the guy...

Fonzi said...

Yeti and dizzi-

Well, I don't know how much you guys know about Thai history and politics, so it is difficult for me to know what to explain.

Between 1973-1976, it was the most radical time in Thai politics, and when I say radical, I mean leftist agitation was high all over the country. It was also right in the middle of the Vietnam War. When the US pulled out, it basically abandoned Thailand. Well, it didn't abandon Thailand. It was kicked out. Well, the royal family was scared for a couple reasons: 1. They saw how Laos fell to the communists and had its royal family wiped out. 2. When the US left, it took its billions of dollars in aid with it. 3. Domestically, the communist/socialist/democratic movement was at its apex.

However, there were many right-wing groups in the country also, like the Red Gaur, Nawaphon and Village Scouts. Plus, the police and military were right-wing and anti-communist. The royal family basically put all its support behind the right-wing to crush the left-wing.

What happened in 76 was that Field Marshall Thanom, the previous dictator of Thailand and exiled in the US in 73 during the previous crisis, came back to Thailand. The royal family gave their blessing to him, more or less.

This caused the left, notably students, to start protesting.

At Thammasat University, known for its radicals and political activism, the right-wing militias basically started murdering Thammasat students with the full blessing of the police and military. Gen Samak was basically leading the charge against the students.

Gen Samak is close to the Queen, who is far-right wing and believes in sustaining the old order, and she is basically the backer and chief sponsor of the Crown Prince.

If Samak becomes PM, the Crown Prince's future is fairly secure, and the pro-Princess Srindhorn factions will be isolated.

I hope that answers your question.

Yeti said...

Exactly the kind of answer I was looking for, thxs.
I knew about Thammassat events, but didn't know Samak's role in it, and didn't know the implication of the Queen.

dizzy said...

Hey FonZi
Thank for explain.
I use to like Samak when he was young I watch him on the game show like Jeopardy in Us.
BTW I would love to see you talk about the Royal Charity in Thailand.
Where the money goooooo.
In Jan. I was blame for not loving the King because I did not buy a CD.
I donate money to help the Elephant instead.