Abhisit Vejjajiva's recent initiative to end the political impasse earned both flowers and stones. It is not surprising that the Democrat leader has come in for criticism.
On the one hand, as a major stakeholder in the issue, it could not help but be suspected that he had a hidden agenda. Those fighting for reform before an election, especially the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and the now defunct People’s Alliance for Democracy, certainly opposed any proposal as they wanted to see a complete reform prior to an election. The anti-government groups suspect that Abhisit has made a secret pact with the Shinawatras to put forward the proposal.
Abhisit yesterday made it clear his proposal was constitutional, so any accusation that he would take a non-elected premier’s post as part of such an alleged deal was not true. “I won’t be [doing so]. I have insisted all along that I won’t accept a premier’s post through an unconstitutional act. Actions are louder than words,” he said.
The only way people will know if the secret deal really exists is to wait and see what is achieved after the talks. If Abhisit benefits in any way from the proposal, or takes any “significant” post or a “neutral” prime ministership, as he’s been accused of planning, it would confirm all speculation.
On the other hand, for those not so sceptical, they think Abhisit’s initiative is a light at the end of the tunnel if his intention was as good as he claimed. Even caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra did not turn it down.
In fact, Abhisit’s proposal was seen as the most realistic when compared to other proposals, especially those which tried to involve His Majesty the King. For example, the proposal suggested by the Man of State group, which wants Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda to seek a royal command to help end the political crisis.
Abhisit kept his blueprint a secret, but considering his remarks, his main item of reform would be introduced first, then followed with an election that would pave the way to complete reform. His suggestion was to use the election as a tool to assure the reform.
Moreover, his initiative was considered a retreat from the opposition party, whose members boycotted the February 2 election. Abhisit showed that he accepted the need for an election – but reform must be an integral part of it.
His idea was that people involved in the conflict should stop talking about reform before election – or election before reform – otherwise the arguing between the two camps would not end and the crisis would not be solved.
He said it was impossible to wait for any reform to be completed and then hold an election – as the PDRC demanded – because the process of reform could take at least two years.
At the same time, if the government tried to push the election without any reform, the protesters would certainly rally against or even block the ballot casting. The situation would be the same as happened in the February 2 election.
He tried to find a common ground for both camps and said that nobody could win everything he or she wanted.
In politics, no winner takes it all. You have to win some and lose some.