It’s natural to assume that Yingluck and Thaksin want their most outstanding front-line political soldier, Jatuporn Promphan, to remain a free man. Under the surface, however, it’s a bit more complicated, as a free-wheeling Jatuporn will almost surely stake a claim for a Cabinet post.
Giving Jatuporn a ministerial post could put the government’s purported “reconciliation” agenda in jeopardy. But keeping him out of the Cabinet could be hard for the government to explain the reason why to the red shirts. Jatuporn back in jail would deflect this dilemma, with all the blame and criticism shifted to the court.
Jatuporn and 18 other red-shirts face the Criminal Court today with possible bail revocation hanging in the balance. Number one red-leader Jatuporn put himself in this trouble after aggressively attacking the Constitution Court for halting the government-advocated charter reform process.
Facing charges related to the bloody political strife in 2010 and no longer enjoying parliamentary immunity after losing his MP status, Jatuporn will return to jail if the Criminal Court rules that his verbal attacks on the Constitution Court constituted behaviour warranting the loss of bail.
The bail situation for another senior red-shirt, Yoswarit Chuklom (Jeng Dokjik), looks equally fragile, if not more. He revealed the phone numbers of Constitution Court judges at a red-shirt rally, virtually asking those opposed to the charter reform delay to call the judges to voice their disapproval.
Today’s crucial court session was postponed from August 9. On that day, a few thousand red-shirts gathered to give those facing bail revocation moral support. Today’s gathering is not expected to be bigger than that held on August 9.
One red-shirt leader, Nutthawut Saikua, is already in the Cabinet, serving as deputy agriculture minister. But observers say if Jatuporn joins him, possibly as deputy interior minister, it will not only reinforce the perception that the government is confrontational, but also create a rumble of discontent among other factions within the ruling party.
Legal analysts find it hard to predict today’s verdicts, as any decision would have different political implications, which may be taken into consideration by the judges. One compromise scenario has the Criminal Court allowing the 19 red-shirt members to remain free on bail but imposing more restrictions on their activities, violation of which would lead to undisputed bail revocation.
Such probation should be greeted with delight by the reds, but not necessarily Prime Minister Yingluck and her brother Thaksin.