Perhaps it is that these things go in cycles and I just have not been in Thailand long enough to have witnessed this stage of the cycle before but I have not seen this kind of critical scrutiny of the military or of the Secret Hand. In part, this is following (or at least moving in parallel with) the pro-democracy movement’s attempt to shine light on particular acts and crimes by the establishment – with some success as it revealed junta prime minister General Surayud Chulanont as illegally occupying public land and he had to demolish his property there. Now, attention is focused on army procurement policies and the payments received (allegedly) by Privy Councilor Prem Tinsulanonda from the army. It is claimed that the army pays Prem 200,000 baht per month. This has been denied by army chief Anupong Paojinda but then Anupong says lots of things and still plans to use the GT200 metal sticks.
Just who has access to M79 grenades and 1.3 kg of C4 explosive? The questions arises after a grenade exploded harmlessly at Rajamangala University of Technology and then the explosive was found (a tip-off?) 250 metres away from the Supreme Court from which position it can not possibly have done any damage to the Court or any of its members. The military-installed Abhisit regime and its lackeys in the pro-establishment media have wasted no time in trying to suggest that these bombs are evidence of what have been falsely called the ‘violence prone’ pro-democracy protestors’ willingness to use force in the run-up to the 26th February verdict – will it be postponed? That would not be very surprising and there are many precedents – it depends, I suppose, whether the Secret Hand thinks he can get away with taking all of the money now or would have a better chance later.
Speaking of wholly incredible utterances, military-installed PM Abhisit Vejjajiva was summoned to the home of the Invisible Hand himself, the Puppet Master General Prem Tinsulanonda to receive new orders ahead of the next round of political disputations. Denying claims made in various newspaper reports, Khun Abhisit observes:
“Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted on Thursday he visited Gen Prem Tinsulanonda at his Si Sao Theves residence late yesterday afternoon for the sole purpose of wishing him a happy New Year and it had nothing to do with politics.”
In other news: the moon is made of green cheese and pigs have been observed flying over it.
Really, to be treated like an idiot is insulting – no wonder so few people actually vote for the person.
Is this the day? It might be.
Many thousands of red-shirted pro-democracy supporters are expected to demonstrate in Bangkok and throughout the country. They will make their demands – an end to the unelected Abhisit government and a return to the 1997 Constitution.
Yet two factors make this a very different occasion from previous demonstrations. First, despite the pathetic protestations of lying rightists and cronies, the pro-democracy movement has been decoupled from support for ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra. He supports the movement, of course and is allied with it but does not lead it. This has enabled many people who were pro-democracy but uncomfortable identifying themselves as Thaksin supporters to join the movement. The increasingly desperate attempts by the right-wing press (and foolish international media persons who should know better) to paint the movement as being entirely about Khun Thaksin in fact reveal the truth.
Second and more important, since Khun Thaksin named Privy Councillor Prem Tinsulanonda as being the chief conspirators behind the 2006 military coup, an enormous taboo has been broken in Thai society. Now people feel free to discuss whether they really want the unelected and enormously privileged few to have so much power and money. The general feeling in the air is that there is an unbottling of rage and resentment, particularly at Prem, who has increasingly sought to equate himself with the Royal family. It is widely believed (the habit is hard to break) that Prem has been the secret hand behind so much of Thai politics in the last quarter of a century and it is also believed by some people that every decision he has made has benefited himself and his cronies while condemning the mass of Thai people to penury. Today will be the first day on which this will become an openly stated theme of the demonstrators.
If the privileged elite in the unelected bureaucracy, the privy council and the military do not prepare to make a proper compromise, they could see the whole edifice of their power swept away in a torrent of protest. Things could change very quickly – then again, the military might again be ordered in by invisible people behind the scenes to suppress political dissidence. Or nothing could happen. However, there is a recognition in at least some parts of the Thai media that things have genuinely changed.