Beautiful Country, Ugly Politics


Andrew Marshall has published an article titled “The curse of the blue diamond” on Reuters. The main story is of course the jewelry that has been stolen from Saudi Arabia and ended up somewhere in Thailand more than two decades ago. But even if you’re not interested in that story anymore, it’s an excellent analysis of how messed up and corrupted Thailand’s power networks are.

Secondly, the bumbling efforts of senior government officials and even Abhisit himself to talk their way out of the mounting crisis followed a familiar pattern. Abhisit and his senior ministers repeated the same mantra usually employed by Thai officials in such situations – everything was fine, there was nothing to worry about, it was all a misunderstanding because those who criticised the government were not fully informed about the situation, due partly to the unique complexities of Thailand and its laws, and once things were explained to them the whole problem would be resolved. The promised explanation rarely materialises.

Wait for the next time the Thai government is accused of wrongdoing and in danger of looking bad to the outside world – that’s exactly the strategy they employ pretty much every time.

Thirdly, and most worrying for those who hope Abhisit can lead Thailand towards reform and reconciliation, the latest chapter of the blue diamond saga demonstrates the degree to which he remains in thrall to corrupt but powerful vested interests. Whatever one thinks of Abhisit’s policies, he is no fool and he has a reputation for personal probity. But he holds on to power thanks to the support of highly questionable elements in the armed forces and police, as well as notorious politicians like Newin Chidchob whose party has been put in charge of three very lucrative ministries. For those wondering why Somkid was offered such a controversial promotion – even if it was in accordance with Thai regulations, which is open to question, it was clearly a move that the Saudis would see as hugely provocative – the fact that his his brother Somjate was a key member of the military and police faction that plotted the 2006 coup provides the likeliest answer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *