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Sides should be thinking about 'least bad' outcomes

In a zero-sum game, for the players to find a compromise that maximises benefits for both sides, they have to trust each other not to pursue any strategy that maximises one side's payoff at the expense of the other. Furthermore, strategies the opponent pursued in the past influence the choice of strategy the other side will make.

For Thaksin, who has shown his preference for a win-lose game, as evidenced by his track record in both business and politics, the name of the game is to acquire, maintain and accumulate power. In negotiating with someone like this, it would be very difficult to get an optimal outcome that maximises payoffs for both sides. The winner is expected to take all.

Instead, in a rational non-zero sum game, the aim is not to maximise gain, but to attempt to find an optimal outcome for both sides. This is called the "minimax" solution or the best of the worst outcomes.

Finding the least bad outcome calls for a paradigm shift in the thinking on both sides. To insist that everything has to be played by existing rules or some new rules that would result in only one side benefiting at the expense of the other is equivalent to playing a win-lose game, a suboptimal strategy.

More importantly, a winner-takes-all attitude should have no place in a true democracy.

Anan Pakvasa

Bangkok


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