I was reading the Wassana Nanuam column ‘From the Barracks’ in the Bangkok Post last night – I try to read her regularly since she seems to know what is going on in the military, much more than I do anyway, even if I do not agree with everything (or even very much) of what she writes.
One thing struck me forcibly. I rarely have time to watch television and get my news mostly online – as a result, I do not know what most people in the news look like. In addition, Thai coverage usually or at least often focuses on the first name of individuals, which is used more commonly than the surname. Consequently, it was not until she pointed it out that I realized that the current Defence Minister (Prawit Wongsuwon) and the current Police Chief (Patcharawat Wongsuwon) are brothers.
Well, I could have dope slapped myself like Click and Clack the Tappit Brothers. Doh! Of course – this is the context of Thai politics and public service that I so often forget about – it is the same set of people, from the same families and sharing the same networks – that get appointed again and again to the important offices of the state (thereby making it much more difficult for outsiders ever to gain admittance or to be treated as anything other than an unnatural outsider if they do gain admittance).
So, this helps explain why there are ructions within the cabinet now – PM Abhisit has been trying to force out the Police Chief and replace him with someone to the taste of the PAD mob, it is political interference of the most obvious kind. There have also been rumours that Khun Prawit was in some way involved in the supposed assassination attempt on repulsive PAD demagogue Sondhi Limthongkul. So this is all getting more personal than I had appreciated.
It seems, disappointingly, that the repressive rightist regime of Abhisit is perfectly happy to see ideology drain out of the political scene and to return to money politics and patronage as a means of supporting the status quo.