Friday, April 10, 2009

People Power

Just wondering out loud - where will this all lead?

A few questions I have are:

1. What will victory look like?

2. What is Thaksin's future role?

3. Why has it taken Thaksin so long to start talking?

4. Is Thaksin really into the spirit of democracy?

5. If there is a dissolution, who will be the next PM

6. How will the cycle of protests ever end?

Clarification: The above questions are posed to a hypothetical scenario under which the current 'red' shirts achieve 'victory'.

I'm really struggling to come up with the answers to #1 and #2 because it sounds like the Reds basically want to turn back the clock to 2005/06 pre coup days - Does that mean victory means more tax havens, nominees, extra-judicial killings, manipulations of the institutions, and subversion of checks and balances???

I think the answer to #3 is fairly obvious - Thaksin only started talking because he was running out of options, and saw this as his last opportunity to make a push to get back the money.

I also don't think we should discount the 'loss of face' motivation - from my observations of Thai politics over two decades, avoidance of loss of face seems to rank right up there with that other motivating force for politicians: Greed.

For some reason, amongst politicians, especially the Thai variety, loss of face is seen as a sign of weakness, when in other circles the ability to admit mistakes is seen as a strength.

If the 'greed' and 'aversion to loss of face' characteristics were not so strong, then it seems fairly obvious that Thaksin would still be in power.
(although whether he would have got there in the first place without those motivators is another question!)

Unfortunately Thaksin has taken a long time to learn that lesson (if he has at all) and his two puppet PM successors also met similar fates due in no small part to failing to concede anything for fear of losing face/appearing weak.

Now Abhisit is walking the same path, when if only he had conceded on some points (like getting rid of Kasit for instance), then Thaksin would have found it much harder to garner mass support for the current uprising.

IMO, Thaksin had no excuses - with his unassailable electoral superiority he was the master of his own destiny , but Abhisit has been hamstrung by the way he came to power, the GFC, and having the Generals, Prem, Newin, PAD, Reds, Thaksin etc all breathing down his neck has had him walking a tightrope just waiting for the inevitable stumble.

If my answer to question #3 is correct, then the answer to #4 is also obvious.

Who will be the next PM if there are new elections? - you would think it would be a small field with the 111 still banned, but it seems to me the next PM will have to be a puppet of one or other of two prominent members of that banned list.
Whether it is a puppet of Thaksin or Newin will probably depend on how well their respective nominee parties do in the next election.

That leaves the big one: How will the cycle of protests ever end?

If we can extrapolate the motivating forces for the majority of politicians across to the military, business & royalist elites, then neither side will give up unless:

(a) they are adequately compensated under some sort of deal, which also needs to allow them to save face,
(b) they suffer such a crushing defeat that they are obliterated and have no hope of fighting back for decades (if ever).

This time it is unlikely to be the 'reds' that are obliterated, but dismantling the old network without replacing it with a new one, is not what I think Thaksin has in mind.

The above is all my perception of reality, so now here's something to dream about:

- Abhisit realizes that the majority of the Thai electorate want change, and he (they) also realize that going back to Thaksin is a dead end, so he (the Democrats) fully acknowledges the problems and goes to the electorate seeking a mandate to bring about that change, and is rewarded by the electorate (in good faith).

That dream can be added to the one I have about the succession where:
- Having acquired wisdom with maturity, the prince recognizes that his past actions make him unsuitable to be king and he withdraws in favor of his sister. Brother and sister work together to groom the prince’s children for the role after the princess’s reign ends.

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