April 18, 2013 00:00
By Attayuth Bootsripoom
Politics has heated up after ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra held a Skype meeting with the Pheu Thai Party, sending a message for the third anniversary of the April 10, 2010 unrest with a harsh and uncompromising stance against judicial activism.
Getting the big boss’s clear and loud message to pass the amnesty bills, Pheu Thai has suddenly decided to push for a speedy passage of the bills – even though it had earlier been indecisive over whether to go forward or back, fearing a political accident.
Thaksin’s words on that day were unprecedentedly stinging against his opponents, especially the judiciary.
He attacked the justice system – whether it was the Courts of Justice or the Constitutional Court – making no bones about the fact that he viewed the verdicts against him as unfair.
Thaksin has threatened to provoke a peoples’ uprising against the judicial powers if they cross the line. He has wooed the masses to join his path of struggle against the judiciary, saying he will never abandon them if they fight alongside him.
As if all are under Thaksin’s spell, the Pheu Thai Party has made a U-turn, although it had rejected its MPs’ demands to bring forward a Parliament agenda to urgently deliberate the amnesty bills.
Samut Prakarn MP Worachai Hema, a red-shirt leader, had earlier said he would exercise his right to bring forward the agenda for urgent deliberation, but the response from the party was lacklustre. Even government whips did not take him seriously, saying it was just a personal opinion of the MP.
However, now Pheu Thai is enthusiastic to push for Parliament’s deliberation of the bill.
The burning question is, does Pheu Thai have the guts to go forward with the amnesty bills? The opposition has made it quite clear it will not accept the bill, even though it had approved granting pardons to protesters, but not leaders.
The opposition has a strong inkling that once the bill is in the process of being vetted, lawmakers will interpret those who should qualify for amnesty to include Thaksin.
It is likely the opposition will exert an all-out effort, either within a parliamentary frame or outside Parliament, and adopt any out-of-the-box methodology to oppose the passage of the amnesty law.
Politically, the government is likely to opt for catching one big fish rather than several small fish. The Bt2-trillion loan bill has not yet passed as it has to be deliberated in the second and third readings. The charter-amendment bill, which would allow the party to revamp the country’s power structure, is now being vetted in the second reading. These important bills will evaporate if the ruling party stumbles.
The party therefore must get its priorities right – which issue is urgent and which can wait or be done later?
One of Thaksin’s characteristics is that he can get himself into trouble by shooting his mouth off. He uses different political groups to do him favours by promising things in return.
His latest Skype session reflects his attempt to get MPs to fulfil his wishes, brushing aside opposition within the party as he believes in his ability to manage MPs.
If one day he loses his management magic, or no one is willing to wait for him to realise promises, he will totally lose both credibility and support of all the people whom he can use.