Siam sojourn 4

No major developments here … for now … You can read about some of the jockeying & poker playing in The Nation and The Bangkok Post, which are better than foreign news media (I’ve noticed some bias in The Economist). The Thai papers are much better at reading between the lines of Thai politics than the farang outlets, and often have better pro-democracy credentials.

There is talk of the airport opening at 6 pm Saturday, but that appears to be an earliest possible time that as of yet doesn’t have a clear possibility — perhaps none. Officially, it’s closed till then. Doesn’t at all mean it will open then.

First, the protesters will have to leave and the PAD has declared they won’t do so. Nor is there any sign of the police moving to remove them, tho the govt has “asked” them to (govt may lack ability to “order” them to do so). Hopefully, the police have been chastened by there heavy-handed behavior in October, when two people were killed. Increasingly, it looks like the police are unwilling to do the govt’s dirty work.

A certain diversion is playing in the courts but may not have much meaning or impact. So looks to me that the closure will be extended if PAD doesn’t leave today. (If they leave tomorrow, it will still take time to get the airport in working order.)

If police don’t move in, will govt try to replace Police Chief with someone more willing to tame the PAD? Or will govt fold? Business leaders are increasingly desperate for a resolution. Lots of money is being lost, on top of the world’s already bad economic mess. And there are increasing doubts that the govt has what it takes to end the situation wisely and peacefully.

While some of the govt MPs are being rude, the PM is publicly polite, as well as tired and worried. Behind doors, however, the threats and counter-threats may be more blunt.

The military is trying to avoid taking responsibility for the crisis, as they lost a lot of face when unable to manage the country after their last coup. Properly, the govt doesn’t publicly offend the diginity of the military by giving direct orders. There are more polite ways to do things. Theoretically, the military leadership could either stage a coup, carry out govt orders, or be removed for disobedience. All of these would have consequences. I suppose that all factions are jockeying for public support and legitimacy.

It could be that Thaksin and his people (e.g. the PM) are losing options to get Thaksin back into power & regain his wealth. It could be that Thaksin will never give up. It may not be in his character to become desperate, at least not consciously, but I’ll bet the PM and others are feeling some. A cornered Thaksin may be very dangerous. This could be his last chance to get back his Empire. How much of the country is he willing to take down with him? Probably most of it … he’s always been rather “The Emperor” who seems whatever he wants as his property, unwilling to share with the other kids.

How much are the PM & Thaksin’s other syncophants willing to fight to the end with him? That may be what decides the situation. Currently, the PM is staying up in Chiang Mai, where he is likely to be isolated, perhaps surrounded by a small coterie of one-sided advisors. Is avoiding the pressures of Bangkok, such as the business community and foreign diplomats?

There is some feeling that things will settle out in the next day or so. If that happens, then I could be on a plane Monday, maybe Tuesday. That now looks like the earliest possible, unless I take ground transport to Malaysia and buy a new ticket, which would be expensive.

Anyway, tho this post is written from the frame of a standed farang who would like to get home, I am mcuh more concerned for the welfare of the Thai people and a peaceful, decent, relatively just, long-term solution to the turmoil & gross corruption unleashed by Thaksin’s rise to power.

Btw, Americans should recall that Thaksin has been aided by the policies of the Bush administration since 9/11. In other words, the incompetence of the USA’s govt has a part in the situation here. No stranded foreigner is completely innocent. Our own governments have been playing games too.

Also, I’m a bit more hopeful that the govt will cave and this can be resolved without violence. So far, the police and military are doing what they can to avoid and quell violence, tho “red shirts” continue to heave ther occassional bomb. Hopefully, the police will keep the “red shirts” from doing much harm, even as govt MPs try to stir up their “grassroots.”

Foolishness, greed, clinging to views, profiteering, and power mongering can still do a lot of damage, yet other forces are at work. Fortunately, Thai culture still has resources at its disposal.

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