POLITICAL OBSERVERS have been taken aback by the sudden return to the spotlight of Suthep Thaugsuban, a former leader of the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Suthep suddenly announced on Facebook Live on Friday night that he would release a video clip showing the group’s fight during 2013-2014 “to commemorate the fight that we fought together”.
While he did not explain who the “we” were, his latest move suggested to some commentators that he wanted to address the junta. His group supported the junta and allegedly invited them to take office during the months-long protests.
Suthep first released a video clip on November 24, the date of the PDRC’s big gathering at the Democracy Monument in 2013. His first video clip did not attract any media attention when it was released so this time, he made an announcement a day before he released the second one.
Some commentators believe that he released the second video clip yesterday not only to commemorate the fight but to remind others, including the junta, of the origins of their fight.
December 9 was the day former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra declared Parliament to be dissolved. Some might consider that the video clip’s release yesterday was intended to emphasis the fight that justified the junta’s existence and their term in office, but others might believe Suthep wanted to remind the junta of their fight and the purpose of their fight.
If that is the case, Suthep won’t be pleased with the junta’s move to set up its own political party to run in the coming election.
A junta party would contradict the PDRC’s initial purpose. It did not want to allow the junta to prolong its term in office after conducting a coup that intervened and prevented bloodshed.
History shows that a military party could lead to bloodshed, such as the Black May protests in 1992.
In addition, a junta party would reduce the significance of alliances, including the Democrats, the party to which Suthep is still attached.
Suthep may not be pleased with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s recent trip to the South, where the Democrats have a strong base.
During the trip, Prayut had an issue with some locals, including opponents of the Thepha coal fired power plant and rubber growers who complained to him about plunging rubber prices.
He scolded fishermen who tried to reach him to complain about the government’s fishery policy that has had an impact on their business.
The incidents have stirred dissatisfaction against the government as locals felt abandoned, and this has affected the popularity of the party and Suthep himself.
Suthep defended Prayut’s “four questions” which asked people about the future of the country and reform, but when the PM asked six more questions, suggesting the junta’s intention to set up its own party, Suthep stayed silent.
By releasing the second video clip of the PDRC’s fight, Suthep seems not to “commemorate the fight” as he claims. His act strongly suggests that he wants to remind the junta of the days they fought together – and the real purpose of its existence.