Before you start shopping, here are the key things to watch
December 18, 2013 00:00 By Tulsathit Taptim
Let's avoid discussing Suthep Thaugsuban as much as we can today. His is a bandwagon screaming recklessly and fearlessly ahead in complete disregard of the possibility of its wheels coming off. We will have plenty of time to analyse it when it reaches th
Although much of the following list of “Things to watch” has to do with him, we can still leave his name out, at least temporarily. To borrow many people’s words of wisdom, Thai politics has become bigger than any one particular person.
So, here are major questions as Thailand teeters on towards the unknown. You must have already asked these questions, or at least some of them – I’m just putting them together. Some simply have no answers. Or none that I know of, anyhow.
1. Will she or won’t she? Initial whispers from the Pheu Thai Party have it that Yingluck Shinawatra has had it and will not defend her prime minister’s title. Thing is, it might not be totally up to her, as Pheu Thai will struggle to find a good replacement or even someone who may not be quite qualified but is willing to try.
Yaowapa Wongsawat would sail straight for big storms from Day One. Her husband Somchai Wongsawat must still be haunted by the Suvarnabhumi Airport seizure. Pheu Thai leader Jarupong Ruangsuwan might be eager, but a government led by him would have catastrophe written all over it even before the first Cabinet was announced.
In spite of what’s happened over the past few weeks, Yingluck seemingly remains the best and most adored Pheu Thai option. Will she become a woman scorned and return to the pit of fire? Or will she have to be dragged back to the fray kicking and screaming?
Remember this name, Pongthep Thepkanchana. He might not be the most outstanding Pheu Thai politician, but the party could finally turn to him and prop him up as its prime ministerial candidate.
2. Will he or won’t he? Abhisit Vejjajiva retained his Democrat leadership yesterday and has vowed to stay on the battlefield, but that won’t end speculation about his future overnight. Will Abhisit continue to be Democrat leader in the next election? Or will he remain in the post come the end of next year?
He had been bruised even before the uprising led by Suthep Thaugsuban further muddied the Democrat leadership. Should someone like Surin Pitsuwan or Supachai Panitchpakdi or Korn Chatikavanij or even Jurin Laksanavisit be given the helm to refresh the party’s image anytime soon?
A “Prime Minister Abhisit” would be beset by red storms from the beginning. Charges related to the 2010 Rajprasong crackdown are very much alive. One little spark and “red” protesters could fill the streets.
3. Will it or won’t it? The amnesty bill is dead, the Yingluck government has always insisted. Not quite, as the bill has to be confirmed as dead by the next House of Representatives. Will the bill come back from the “grave”? What if Pheu Thai wins the next election by a landslide and someone, again, entertains the crazy idea that “the majority of Thais” want this piece of legislation? That’s unlikely, but not entirely impossible.
Due to the House dissolution, the new House of Representatives has to confirm the bill within 60 days if it wants to do so. A less scary scenario has a milder version of amnesty taken up by the new House. Again, that new House will have to push the boundaries of political credibility to do that.
4. Will it or won’t it II? Will the Bt2-trillion borrowing scheme stay alive? It has cleared the House of Representatives but got stuck in the Constitutional Court. If the judges veto it, as they did with the charter amendment bill for an all-elected Senate, more fuel will be thrown into the political fire.
5. Will they or won’t they? Impeachment charges against the MPs and senators who passed the Senate-related charter amendment bill are very much alive. The lawmakers and ex-lawmakers face uncertain futures. Will they lose their parliamentary status after the next election?
The Senate can drag its feet on the impeachment process, but an indictment by the National Anti-Corruption Commission will be enough to raise political hell.
This is a serious matter that has been somewhat overshadowed by street turmoil, Suthep’s daredevil defiance of political gravity and Yingluck’s tears.
6. Will they or won’t they II? Of course, will the generals “do it”? Some will say they are being pushed, but others see them as opportunists lurking in the shadows. And as usual, the “denials” made on an everyday basis mean little.
7. Will we or won’t we? The nation along with the rest of the world has been told a general election will take place on February 2 next year. Will we see that happen? We have about a month and a half, and it’s a period marked by endless shopping, boxing and drinking.
Can we, in approximately 45 days, be ready to undo what the past 12-13 years have done to us? A “yes” is simply optimistic and a “no” could endorse that guy Suthep. Well, we need to mention him after all.
Writer’s note: This article had to be submitted before the Democrats decide what to do with the February election. The decision, surely, will have a strong bearing on the answers to some of the questions.