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Stoppage Time

Abhisit, you can be bolder than this

"Reform" is the same as trying to straighten out the tangled-up wires of your earphones. In other words, relax and then see how one simple move can do the trick. Abhisit Vejjajiva is not the first to have come up with proposed measures to fix Thailand's messed-up political ball of string and he certainly won't be the last. He probably copied the mistakes of those before him, by making anticipated audiences lose interests half-way through.

Don’t get me wrong. Unconstitutional or not, Abhisit’s ideas deserve thorough consideration, not the instant missiles thrown at him from all directions right now. But if you say Thailand’s political problem has to be resolved by postponing an election which has not even been announced yet and by making a caretaker government resign to make way for an interim government which would supervise the first stage of reform so that an election can be held so an elected government can come to oversee the second stage of reform so that the House of Representatives can be dissolved again within approximately a year so an election can be held again and then, presto, a legitimate government has been born out of democratic reform, you’d better brace yourself for brickbats.

Abhisit should have just said "I’m quitting politics. How about you, Yingluck and Thaksin?" Trust me, this will put the siblings under a lot of pressure. Headline writers would be fascinated and web board commentators and trolls alike would be befuddled. Boycotting a general election is one thing; announcing one’s gracious exit from politics for the country’s sake is quite another.

What did I do to have to do that? Abhisit may ask this question, but this very question has also been asked by Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother. And it’s the question that has cemented the current deadlock. "We haven’t done anything wrong" is what’s terribly wrong in Thailand. Check out the South Korean leader who had absolutely no idea that someone somewhere was planning a maritime trip that would end tragically but who has announced resignation nonetheless. Bowing out is an act of political honour, but it’s a shame that many Thai politicians think of it as an act of shame.

Abhisit had promised that, to prove his sincerity, he would stay away from a future election if his proposals were accepted by all. It was a good gesture but in the Thai political context, it proved to be too little. Let’s just say he was almost there but needs to be bolder. His unequivocal and unconditional departure would amplify the spotlight on the Shinawatras, making it almost untenable for them to go on and be the only remaining source of the country’s political strife.

What if Yingluck and Thaksin took advantage of Abhisit leaving and just said thank you and bye-bye? Well, if politics, in Thailand at least, is all about how good one plays the role of a victim, it would be much harder to keep on with tearful speeches and charges of pro-Democrat conspiracies with Abhisit out of the equation.

A politician’s greatest contribution is probably his or her ultimate sacrifice for the country. At his age, there must be a lot more things that Abhisit wants to do or achieve in politics, but what can match helping his motherland out of a severe, prolonged crisis? If he bows out, those who don’t will have to answer a lot of questions. That is because what is best for Thailand now is not persisting at all costs thinking the nation cannot live without you. What is best for Thailand is for the antagonists to step aside to allow peace to return.

Debating who’s right and who’s wrong has come to the point where it’s pointless. There is no "doing the right thing" except for sincere and unconditional departure from the scene. Truly patriotic politicians hold no stakes that must be protected come what may and the real heroes are not ones who win or even those who fight for "ideals" till the bitter end. Heroes think of others and don’t really care what an honour means.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission is poised to rule on the rice pledging scandal. The Constitution Court will soon hand down a verdict on the controversial removal of Thawil Pliensri as National Security Council chief. The red shirts are mobilising, and so are opponents of the Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin Shinawatra. Fights for and against a new election are continuing. Anyone who thinks the increasingly bigger mess will disappear all of a sudden is badly mistaken.

All are claiming they are trying to fix the tangled-up wires, but in the process, the jammed hands are making everything more complicated. What should we do then? Someone has to handle it, you argue, as we aren’t supposed to leave it there like that. You may be right, but should we start with all hands withdrawing? At least only through that will we see the mess clearer and be able to relax just a bit.


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