Yingluck's house of white lies
A recent New York Times story described how fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra rules Thailand "with help from Skype". The story was not surprising. Virtually everyone in Thailand knows that Thaksin is actually the man in charge of the government nominally run by his sister Yingluck.
For PM Yingluck, however, public admission by a high-level government and party official of this basic fact of Thai politics was a little too much truth for comfort. So, for the umpteenth time since she was elected PM, Yingluck insisted that she was running her own government and denied that big brother was really the big boss.
But there is not one person in Thailand who could honestly claim that Yingluck is the real ruler. Does she make some of the decisions? Yes, undoubtedly. Does she sometimes disagree with Thaksin and insist on her own way? Probably. But is she ultimately the person with the authority over everyone in her Cabinet and control over key decisions? Is she the one running Thailand based on her own political vision and leadership? No - and everyone, including her, knows it.
So, perhaps to Yingluck, the mantra "Thaksin is not running the government" is another type of white lie that's perfectly acceptable for public consumption.
What's interesting is that Yingluck's supporters know she is not being honest, and appear not to mind. It seems that many of them understand that an open admission that Thaksin is running the government would land her government in legal hot water, and feel she needs to be protected from the law that might be used to remove her from power if the truth were made official.
Red shirts, in particular, have openly called on supporters to "protect" their PM in the event she is "threatened" in any way - and that includes having to resign for legal reasons. The government recognises this support and winks back. But if Thailand's leaders continue the habit of pretending to tell the truth, and its citizens continue pretending to believe them, where does that leave the country? And where does it leave those who want no part of this cosy little arrangement?
Where is the prospect of reconciliation if neither government leaders nor its many supporters desire genuine honesty?