A few days ago, I was told of a story, about an attempt to break Thailand “Political Grid-Lock.”
This is mainly a political report, but it is also an “Economic” one, as the story is about “A Desperate” head of a large Thai conglomerate, involved in engineering work.
A Chulalongkorn University, where the university is a staunch Royalist that is anti-Shinawatra and support Suthep’s PDRC, engineer department graduate, where the department is one of the most influential academic department in Thailand, where the graduate also went to MIT and now heads a large Thai conglomerate, met with “Thailand’s Elders.”
The MIT graduate asked the elders, if they would support Suthep’s PDRC and that included units under Suthep’s influence, like the “Selected Senate” choice of Thailand’s Prime Minister, to break the Thai political grid-lock, outsting again, the current acting prime minister.
The answer from the elders was “No way, Suthep and the PDRC are corrupt.”
Then the MIT graduate then asked the elders, then would you support a general election. And the answer from the group of elders, was “No way, the Shinawatra will win the general election again.”
The MIT graduate than asked the elders, then what do you proposed as the solution? And the answer, incredibly, from the group of elders, was: quote: “We do not know.”
Then the MIT graduate asked the elders, a last question, “Would you support reform before the election.” And the answer from the elders was, “There is no way to fix the system, so the Sinawatra will not win the election, there is only buying time, to keep the Shinawatra out of Thai politics.”
Andrew Buncombe, a journalist with UK’s news house, The Independent (source) titled in his “Letter from Asia” on Wednesday 14 May 2014: “The stalemate that leaves Thailand’s future looking increasingly hopeless”
Andrew wrote, quote “Does Thailand’s democracy have a future? The photograph of the two men was nothing less than remarkable. One of them was Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister and leader of the protesters who for months have been demanding the ousting of Thailand’s government. The other was Surachai Liangboonlertchai, an appointed member of the upper house of the parliament. Behind closed doors, these two unelected individuals sat and discussed the future of Thailand’s democracy.”
Andrew concluded, quote: “In a way, the image summed up the strange, sad situation Thailand finds itself in: while the elected government works from makeshift offices because protesters have prevented them getting to their official premises, the leader of the demonstrators dropped into the parliament building for a private conversation he hoped would help bring down the faltering administration.”
That “Faltering Administration” is now headed by Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who is serving as “Acting Prime Minister, who last week replaced Yingluck. A few weeks ago, Thailand’s Constitutional Court and the anti corruption unit, kicked out the then acting Prime Minister Yingluck, in what most global press, such as WSJ and NYT called “Judicial Coup.”
Niwattumrong is a Shinawatra Family “Insider.”
Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan served as the Chairman of the Executive Committee-Media and Advertising Business of Shin Corp. Public Co. Ltd. since 1995 and as Vice Chairman of Group Executive Committee since 2000. Mr. Boonsongpaisan served from 2001 to 2002 as Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of ITV PLC and from 1993 to 1995 as President of Shinawatra Computer and Communicaitons PLC. Mr. Boonsongpaisan served as Director of ITV Plc since 2002. He served as a Director of Shin Corporation Public Company Limited from 2001 to March 16, 2006. He has been Chairman of the Executive Committee of ITV Plc since 2002. Mr. Boonsongpaisan holds Master’s Degree Course work in Computer Sciences from Chulalongkorn University and Bachelor ‘s Degree in Education from Srinakarintrawirot University.
However, it is not just Niwattumrong’s administration that is faltering, it is Thailand in general.
The latest here in Thailand, is that a grenade and gun attack on Suthep’s gathering, late at night, a few days back, killing 3 and injured about 20. Total number of killed since Suthep went active is about 25, on all side. Thailand’s army chief, Prayuth, after the USA says, will likely not stage a coup, has come out, to say, if the Thai crisis, continues to be violent, the army may use force (What-ever that means). Also, Thailand’s care taker Prime Minister, Niwattumrong, is trying to come to an agreement, with the well known, anti-democracy, Thai election unit to set an election date. Today, at one of the meeting between the two, Suthep protesters disrupted the meeting. The care taker prime minister, latest statement to Reuters, is that he doubt, the July 20th “Tentative General Election Date” is still possible.
A way out for Niwattumrong?
Months before Niwattumrong became acting Prime Minister, around March of this year, the BBC went to interview him, and he told the BBC journalist, Jonathan Heard, that the Thailand must under-go, a general election, before reforming the political system. Since becoming Thailand’s acting prime Minister, he had repeatedly made the same statement.
In the aftermath of the Constitutional Court’s ouster of Ms Yingluck, Thailand stands at a crossroads marked by three avenues: a military coup, an appointed government, or an election. As the Thai military has repeatedly declined coup opportunities in recent months, the outcome is likely to be either an appointed prime minister and government, as the street-based on what Suthep’s PDRC is demanding, or another election.
However, many Thai observer, like academic, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, noted for the Strait Times, quote: “At the end of the day, the Thai electorate will have to play judge and jury. If others do so in disregard of the overall will of the people, Thailand is likely to endure more hardships in what is likely to be dire times previously unseen in the country……………The risk of political turmoil and violence will mount if an unelected government takes power. Despite its shortcomings, the best way ahead for Thailand remains the electoral system.”
At issue now, with Thai observer, such as Thitinan, is whether Yingluck’s successor Niwatthamrong will be allowed, as acting premier, to steer the caretaker government to Election Day.
So far, Niwatthamrong is failing to steer Thailand towards an election.
For example, the well known anti-Democracy, Thai election unit, yesterday, says AFP called for national polls planned for July to be postponed because of the political unrest that is escalating in Thailand. Suthep’s PDRC protesters, reports AFP, stormed a meeting between the government and Election Commission officials which forced caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and other ministers to leave.
“The election on July 20 is no longer possible. It must be postponed,” Election Commission secretary general Puchong Nutrawong said, reported AFP. “The reason is because today’s meeting collapsed and it affects the election timetable.”
Mr Puchong said early August was one option for the polls but it “may be too soon”. “The election cannot be held if protesters do not agree,” he added.
That point by Puchong is correct. In the Constitutional Court, “Nullification” of the last general election, it was based on the court citing that the general election must be completed within the same day. And since Suthep’s PDRC protesters blocked the voting, on the general election day, the general election was not held and completed in the same day. With that court ruling, most observer says, in the next general election, all Suthep’s PDRC protesters need to do, is t, quote: “Stop vote casting in just one vote casting unit, and the general election, will be nullify by the court again.”
Yingluck’s supporters, meaning the party’s political machine and its population base and the Red Shirts, have accused the Election Commission of conspiring with the anti-government movement and parts of the judiciary to prevent her party’s return to power.
Thailand has been torn apart by political divisions since 2006 when Ms Yingluck’s older brother Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup after frictions with the country’s royalist establishment. Thaksin-led or aligned parties have won every election since 2001, but four prime ministers have been removed by coups or court rulings.
(Up-Date 1) A grenade and gun attack on Suthep’s gathering, late at night, killed 3 and injured about 20. Total number of killed since Suthep went active is about 25, on all sides. Thailand’s army chief, Prayuth, after the USA says, will likely not stage a coup, has come out, to say, if the Thai crisis, continues to be violent, the army may use force (What-ever that means). Also, Thailand’s care taker Prime Minister, is trying to come to an agreement, with the well known, anti-democracy, Thai election unit to set an election date. Today, at one of the meeting between the two, Suthep protesters disrupted the meeting. The care taker prime minister, latest statement to Reuters, is that he doubt, the July 20th “Tentative General Election Date” is still possible (End).
(Up-Date 2) New York Times reports BANGKOK — Thailand’s economy shrank more than expected in the first quarter, data showed on Monday, as exports remained weak and months of political unrest threatened to tip the economy into recession. The state planning agency, which compiles data on gross domestic product, said there had been a 2.1 percent contraction in the January-March quarter, compared with the previous three months. The first quarter recorded a contraction of 0.6 percent from a year earlier. The agency, the National Economic and Social Development Board, lowered its 2014 G.D.P. growth forecast to between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent from between 3 percent to 4 percent. The country has been governed since December by a caretaker administration with limited fiscal powers, and the crisis seems likely to continue as protest groups seek to install an unelected government. The outlook for the April-June quarter and beyond is grim, analysts say. “Chances are, we are going to see another technical recession in the economy, given that the second-quarter G.D.P. number is likely to be rather poor as well,” said Gundy Cahyadi, an economist with DBS Bank in Singapore (End).
(Up-Date 3) Reuters reports Thailand’s acting prime minister on Monday ruled out resigning as a way out of a protracted political crisis that is stunting economic growth, as anti-government protesters stepped up pressure to remove him and install a new administration. Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan has replaced Yingluck as caretaker prime minister, but the anti-government protesters say he has no legal standing and they want a “neutral” government to push through reforms. Niwatthamrong met members of the Senate, which is trying to come up with a way out of the deadlock, but he told them he would not resign. “The current cabinet is legal in every way … it must stay until a new cabinet of ministers is elected in. We cannot install another prime minister while we have an acting one in place,” Niwatthamrong said in statement following the meeting. Thailand has not had a functioning lower house of parliament since Yingluck dissolved parliament in December. Bangkok is the scene of a tense stand-off between government supporters loyal to Yingluck and her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and opposition demonstrators drawn from Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment. The upper house Senate, the country’s only remaining legislative body, says it could select an interim prime minister but it wants the caretaker government to step down first. That has incensed protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who wants the caretaker government removed right away. “We will take democratic power and hand it back to the people,” Suthep, a former deputy prime minister in a government run by the pro-establishment Democrat Party, told supporters late on Sunday (End).
(Up-Date 4) The Thai army invoked Martial Law, in what it said is to restore law and order, hiowever, where Thailand goes from here is anyone’s guess, as fundamentally, the struggle in Thailand is still between dictatorship and democracy.