Tectonic Shifts

Splits among the elite are generally to be applauded as they demonstrate a weakness in the powered classes and opportunities for gains for por-democracy forces. Occasionally, like an earthquake manifesting itself as the result of long-term struggle between tectonic plates, some glimpse of how these splits take place can be discerned. This is what appears to be happening with the scuffle over chairmanship (there is little prospect of a woman being given this post) of the National Security Committee (NSC).  It has been precipitated by the rapid outwards transfer of previous chair Surapol Puen-Aiyaka, perhaps because of poor performance, perhaps because of a perceived connection with the democratically-elected PM Thaksin Shinawatra and perhaps, most likely this, of some manoeuvring between the elites that will never by made public.

Now there is set to be a struggle between the military faction of General Anupong ‘neutral’ Paojinda and the faction currently headed by the leaders of the Democrat Party and their sponsors in the Secret Hand. The position itself is a plum one and offers numerous opportunities to distribute promotions, booty and privilege – most of it behind the scenes (which is how power generally likes to behave).

Of course, while the important offices of state are carved up by the rich-military elites, there is very little hope for real democracy in Thailand (it is notable that the 2006 military coup was triggered at least in part by the attempt to move some of those leading military personnel who were particularly obstructive to the will of the people).

One potentially positive note is the apparent demotion of the violent PAD mob: police have announced that after seven or eight months of studying a series of cases which o not seem to be too difficult to analyse, some charges may or may not be laid against people for the illegal seizure of the two international airports last year. The extent to which the PAD leadership is charged will reveal a certain amount about how much support they have lost from their celebrity sponsors, who have (it is widely thought) hitherto protected them from their rightful punishment.