Looks like it might be a good weekend to be away from Bangkok – central Bangkok at any rate – if any of the various ‘doomsday’ scenarios pitching the anti-democracy PAD mob against the pro-democracy DAAD supporters and a police presence led by former Police Chief General Salang Bunnag come to pass. Disgraced PAD ringleader Chamlong Srimuang, a man with a great deal of blood on his hands already, seems quite prepared for more of his pawns to lose their lives and to continue murdering opposing protestors. The police seem to be preparing for the worst. Curious how quickly one’s sympathies can change – who’d be a copper with the heavily-armed and powerfully-supported PAD are out to get you? Not to mention being held to blame for anything else that happens.
Will the military take this opportunity to stage yet another coup? It seems to be quite well established that leader of the army Anupong Paojinda is holding out against the rest of the top brass who are in all favour of rolling the tanks out onto the streets again. Anupong, surely, calculates that he is now at the height of the power he can expect – the military receives huge amounts of money from the budget, enough to smooth over many things, shall we say, as well as buying a load more gear (and of course purchasing provides its own opportunities). At the same time, Anupong can lord it over the government because PM Somchai is in no position to act against him, even if he wanted – it was reported earlier this week that Anupong had further bolstered his position by appointing protégés to key Bangkok-based posts. All of this power and prestige is likely to be lost if there is a coup – it is more than likely that there would be an armed response to the tanks and jackboots this time and one which might, just might conceivably spiral into an entirely more serious series of changes in Thai society. Anupong would also face international condemnation and would have to make more constitutional changes to protect himself and his cronies from the criminal prosecutions which he and the previous junta so richly deserve. It is a lot to throw away.