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Time is approaching for the Democrats to pay the PAD piper

The heyday in the relationship between the Democrats and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has come to an end. The saying that there is no permanent friend or foe in politics has proved true in every case.

Had the PAD not been born, Thaksin might have stayed on as Prime Minister and Abhisit Vejjajiva might have still been opposition leader.

The reality however has led the PAD to demand so much from the Democrat Party - based on a PAD belief the Democrats should continue to be grateful to the PAD.

The PAD earlier put pressure on the Democrats, demanding the government punish or transfer some policemen who opposed the PAD during their protest against Thaksin's government and his nominees.

But apparently the Democrats seemed not to favour the PAD.

There were rumours that deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban - who oversees the National Police Office - joined forces with Newin Chidchob to help National Police chief General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, who was in charge of the October 7 violence, escape from punishment. Newin is close to Patcharawat, brother of Defence Minister Pravit.

Also, a police forensic report recently concluded a C4 substance had been found on Angkana "Bo" Radabpanyawut's clothes. Bo was killed in the October 7 violence. The conclusion could be that PAD demonstraters carried bombs in the protest.

After that disclosure, the National Police Office summoned 21 PAD leaders for questioning in relation to their involvement in the siege of the Parliament Building last October.

The summons might be the last straw in the relation between the two. The PAD was so upset its leaders said from their stage last weekend that Suthep had secretly given the green light to the police to go after the PAD.

The PAD then announced its plan to found its own political party named "Thein Haeng Dhama" as an alternative choice. Founding a new party could be interpreted as PAD wanting to stay out of the Democrat's shadow, or merely to threaten the Democrats.

"We still support Abhisit. We want to send a signal to Abhisit to control Suthep's role as Suthep is too close to Newin and wants to turn against us," a key PAD leader said.

If Abhisit could release the buffalo from the yoke, the Thein Haeng Dhama party will join hands with the Democrats in the next election, the leader said, adding they were confident they could win the election in the Northeast without needing Newin's political base.

The Democrats were put into a corner by the PAD, having to choose between Newin and the PAD. The Democrats are faced with a dilemma on how to handle the situation.

Apart from their old enemies and troubles: Thaksin and his red-shirted protesters, domestic and outside economic problems, and a no-confidence motion from the opposition party, the Democrats have now created one more enemy.

The new PAD party could be a fierce rival to the Democrats, especially voters in Bangkok and urban areas, who support both Democrats and the PAD. The two parties have overlapping political bases in Bangkok and in many major provinces.

Having seen the power of the yellow-shirted protesters in bringing down Thaksin's regime, Abhisit has no choice but to keep good relationships with the PAD in order to survive the trouble. Suthep seemed to realise the problem and opted to seal his lips and not verbally counter attack the PAD.

With many troubles besetting the government, the Democrats should bide their time. At least they could wait until the government has settled its economics policy. When the money from the stimulus package reaches people's hands in April, the government will get the people's support.

And with the people's support, the government can easily face up against the PAD.


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