Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Three Faces of General Chavalit

Here is Suthichai Yoon's revisionist history of General Chavalit: The Peacemaker (As Crisis Manager, Somchai proves totally Disastrous, The Nation):

But Deputy Premier Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, leading the soft-approach faction in the Cabinet urged the prime minister to avoid a confrontation with the protestors, which would make a bad situation much worse - and render the whole scenario totally unpredictable and even out of control.

Chavalit proposed holding the parliamentary meeting in another location in the capital while negotiating with the protestors to end their siege peacefully.

Incredibly enough, instead of following his own pronouncement that he would put harmony above all other considerations, Somchai put the issue up for a vote in the Cabinet. Not surprisingly, the hard-line Cabinet members won the day - and Chavalit lost.

A few hours later, a squad of apparently ill-trained policemen, under clear instruction to disperse the crowd at all costs and armed with tear-gas canisters, started firing into, instead of over, the heads of the protestors.

The ensuing melee that saw more than 400 protestors injured, several of them with mutilated legs, marked the beginning of the end of Somchai's tenure that began only two weeks earlier.

Gen Chavalit quit in disgust, citing the police's use of force as the main reason. The real reason, however, was that Chavalit felt betrayed by Somchai and, perhaps, London-based Thaksin Shinawatra.

Chavalit's role as the government's mediator with the People's Alliance for Democracy was clearly sabotaged by the police's move to take into custody two of PAD's core leaders - Chaiwat Sinsuwong last Friday and Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang on Monday. Tuesday morning's tear-gassing of the protestors in front of Parliament House was the last straw.


Here is General Chavalit: The Riot Police Organizer

After appointed Deputy Prime Minister last month, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a 76-year-old veteran politician and retired general, was earlier tasked with taking charge of security matters and acting as chief government negotiator with the anti-government movement People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to find peaceful solution for the country's current political impasse.

The efforts, if any, apparently failed, as PAD-organized protesters clashed with police in early morning in front of Parliament and Metropolitan Police Bureau in central Bangkok, which resulted in dozens of injuries.

The resignation letter, signed at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday whose content was shown on Thai TV, cited his failure on the task for the reason.

However, he said he regretted that situation worsened since Monday though he meant for the police to tackle the blockade problem with decisive measures but at the same time avoiding harm to the protesters.

Some 100 people have been injured during the clashes since early Tuesday morning when police tried to break the blockade of protesters in front of Parliament compound to make way for MPs andministers to get in and out of the compound, where they attended the government policy address by the new cabinet led by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat which ended in early afternoon.

He said he would take personal responsibility for the "losses" caused by the police action at his order.

Here is General Chavalit: The Coup Advocate(One Way Out, Bangkok Post Wassana Nanuam)

Former deputy prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who resigned from the cabinet for ordering police attacks on PAD demonstrations on Tuesday, now says a military-led coup d'etat is the only way to resolve the political strife.

In an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post on Thursday, Gen Chavalit said the answer lies with army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda, who has repeatedly ruled out a coup.

Gen Chavalit said Gen Anupong should immediately return power after staging a coup to allow an interim government to be installed and tackle the political turmoil.

"There is no other way out. A House dissolution cannot solve the problem. The problem can be solved by three institutions - the monarchy, which remains politically neutral, the military, which appears to be not interested in intervening, and the government, which stays above the problem.

"So I see [the answer in] a putsch. After the military steps in, power should immediately be returned to the people and an interim government can be formed in which every party takes part.

"Tell him [Gen Anupong] not to be afraid. After he does it [stage a coup], he should pull out and let the people take it from there," he said.

Will the real General Chavalit please stand up?

General Anupong responds:

Anupong hits back at Chavalit

The Nation

Army chief General Anupong Paochinda on Friday reminded former deputy prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to be mindful of his role in the Tuesday's crowd dispersal instead of trying to encourage soldiers to seize power.

Chavalit was critical of Anupong when he gave an interview insinuating about indecisiveness to lead the coup. He called on the Army chief to intervene because he saw the coup as the only way to end the political rifts.

Anupong countered he could think for himself and that he was completely in full grasp of the situation.

He said Chavalit might have been confused in trying to prod the military when he should be reflecting on his performance at the Cabinet meeting on the night of October 6 ahead of the crackdown.

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