February 17, 2014 00:00 By NIPHAWAN KAEWRAKMUK
PDRC CLAIMS RALLIES HAVE
THE CAPITAL has been pressured for a month after anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban began his “Bangkok Shutdown” operation to close major intersections in the capital to force the |resignation of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) sees their operation a success – but the Pheu Thai Party considers it a failure as the government still exists and military top brass is still working with the government.
Anti-government protest leader Satit Wongnongtaey said the PDRC rally successfully exposed the alleged wrongdoing of Thaksin’s regime for Thai people and their battle is going to end soon after fighting for almost four months
“The government under-estimated our fight and walked in the wrong direction. If this battle ends, the regime will have difficulty recovering. What we did was not a waste because our fight received strong support from the community,” he said.
He added the Thaksin regime was now being shaken by the protest of rice farmers who had been the ex-premier’s biggest political base.
The government now has lost legitimacy to rule the country as it could not give orders to government officials, Satit said, adding that |military also has its own stance |and the police are divided.
Former deputy prime minister Korbsak Sabhavasu said the shutdown in the capital was efficient as no complaints were made by Bangkokians against Suthep. On the contrary, Thais turned against the government and Yingluck, he said.
“Although Bangkokians suffered from the shutdown, they were trying to be patient. The feeling differed from when red-shirt protesters rallied in the capital in 2010,” he said.
However, a key leader of PDRC’s rally, who asked not to be named, said the shutdown had no impact on politics but it would be trouble for the economy.
He calculated that the PDRC’s daily activities besieging government offices had not affected government’s work or officers as they could |relocate to other places.
“It’s difficult for Suthep to continue the fight. The sieges laid or the cutting of power and water supplies were just symbolic, but failed to oust the government,” he said.
“If new voting is held, who will block the polling stations as Suthep and all of their leaders have been issued arrest warrants?” he said.
This evaluation was similar to the Pheu Thai Party’s point of view.
A high ranking source from the ruling party said the government’s retreat from an amnesty bill should have defused the time bomb, but the PDRC had gone too far to backtrack.
Suthep was wrong to think that ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra would have pushed for the bill and was ready to fight an all-out battle, he said.
However, he admitted the |government’s popularity was |damaged by the rally.
In his opinion, he thought the only way to remove the government was through a coup – but the idea was not in the minds of the military top brass.
“Suthep now has no idea where to go. He is at the end of the road. His initial goal was to rouse the military to stage a coup and topple the government,” he said.
He said the number of protesters was continually declining. More budget was needed to stage the rally while financiers could not support more.
“All sides have now come to a dead-end and should end the impasse. Though we cannot end it totally – the government, PDRC, and military should find a way to compromise,” he said.
However, Korbsak saw no possibility for talks between the government and the PDRC, especially when the former were faced with a protest from rice farmers.
The government could not push for talks as neither Suthep nor Thaksin wanted to talk, he said.
“The only way out for the country would be for the resignation of Yingluck to pave the way to appoint a non- partisan premier. If she resigned, I think people would forgive her and let her stay in the country,” Korbsak said.