Abhisit The Election Man

Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit has urged voters to exercise their rights and participate in the Bangkok council elections. It’s not without some irony when a man who made the decision not to hold fresh elections, even at the cost of 90 human lives, and thousands that have been injured, and billions of baht in damage – now urges people to vote.

Of course, he also explained why a general election can not take place now or in the near future – unless a not really defined “normalcy” returns to the country. Interestingly, if “normalcy” is a necessary requirement for fresh elections, and the party that is currently in power is the one who decides when “normalcy” has returned, it would require a really saintly character to not use that as an instrument to shift things in one’s own power. The kind of saintly character that politicians all over the world for are so well-known for I suppose.

For people who don’t observe the situation too closely, Abhisit’s reasoning makes perfect sense.

“I had repeatedly said that the government will hold a general election only when the country has peace and order.

“If I dissolves the lower House, holds an election and violent political confrontation reoccurs, there is a risk that the situation will escalate to unrest”, he said.

There were examples in many countries that the election holding had brought about social division and violence instead of democracy. This had led to a failure in holding an election, said Mr Abhisit.

While PM Abhisit obviously likes to make it look as if general elections are not being held in the interest of the country, some observers might believe that general elections are not being held in the interest of those who are in power now – the Democrat Party, who stands to lose the most in a general election.

Elections, Imprisoned Candidates, Bombs & More State of Emergency

Yesterday at 5:45 PM  a bomb exploded at a bus stop near the Big C shopping mall in Rajaprasong, where the red shirts protested earlier this year. One 51-year old man got killed, and ten people got wounded.

This happened directly after the by-election for Bangkok MP –  the ruling Democrat Party won with 54% of the votes. (the unofficial count is 96,480 votes, against 81,776 for Mr Korkaew). Total voter participation was at 49.55 per cent — 191,598 votes out of 386,660 eligible voters.

Imprisoned Terrorist Gets 45% of Votes

It should be mentioned that the main rival in this election was running his campaign from prison, where he still is being detained by the authorities.

Imagine what it would look like if a man that’s currently in prison become the MP of Bangkok. What’s more, the government will press terrorism charges against Korkaew. Think about the fact that while 96,480 people voted for a “proper politician”, 81,776 people voted for a “terrorist”. And this in Bangkok, where there always has been a high sympathy for the Democrats.

State of Emergency Won’t Be Lifted Soon

This happened just shortly after prime minister Abhisit announced that he wanted to lift the state of emergency as soon as possible. Of course, after the bombing this won’t happen, and Panitan already publicly commented that the state of emergency was necessary.

Who Was Behind The Bombing?

Nobody has taken responsibility for the bombing. The obvious culprit would of course be a group of (red shirt) anti-government terrorists who want to cause chaos with the bombing.

Although, they would not have gained anything from the bombing. If the state of emergency would have been lifted soon as Abhisit announced, they would be in a way better position to carry out their plans. What’s more, it is likely that the government will use this incident to argue that it is not safe to hold elections anytime soon. (Remember that the currently ruling government is the party that is opposed to new elections, whereas the protesters want new elections).

That’s why some people speculate that others, who do have an interest in keeping the state of emergency in place, might be responsible for the bombings, and simply set it up to make it look like red shirts did it.

Potential to Spread Climate of Fear

It’s really sad that this happened – it is a tactic that is being employed by insurgents in Southern Thailand, where bombs explode in public places. Even with all the violence that happened during the clashes, people still had the option of avoiding the dangerous areas and thus “stay out of trouble”.

But random bombings are a completely different kind of problem. There was a similar incident during the New Years celebration in 2006.

Let’s hope that this will remain an isolated incident.