[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Thai food is dangerous ...
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Sep 10 05:18:34 BST 2008
... to the PM's political health
TV scandal: Thai PM must quit
AFP Published:Sep 09, 2008
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his entire cabinet must resign
over the scandal surrounding his TV cooking show, the Constitutional
The court, which said Samak had violated the constitution by accepting
payments for hosting the show, ruled his cabinet could remain as a
caretaker administration for 30 days until parliament elects a new prime
However, Samak is not barred from standing again for prime minister, and
his party has already indicated that they would elect him back to the
Thaksin's long shadow
DUNCAN MCCARGO: ANALYSIS - Sep 07 2008 06:00
When the first fatality occurred in the clashes between rival
"pro-democratic" forces in Bangkok this week people were shocked, but
Pressure had been building for more than three months, as yellowshirted
protesters, styling themselves as the People's Alliance for Democracy
(PAD), appropriated royalist colours and nationalist language to oppose
the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his People Power
Party (PPP). Late last year, Samak proclaimed himself a nominee of the
party's mentor and financier, the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Although he was ousted in a military coup in 2006, Thaksin's five-year
premiership has cast a long shadow over Thai politics. As the first
recent prime minister to threaten the symbolic dominance of the
monarchy, he remains a controversial figure.
He was supported initially by two main groups: elements of the middle
class and the business community, many of Sino-Thai descent; and rural
voters from the populous north and northeast. Both groups, who were
exasperated by the bureaucratic and military establishment, saw in the
billionaire telecoms tycoon someone who could restore national pride
after the 1997 Asian economic crisis. A former policeman fond of swift
action and populist mobilisation, Thaksin threatened the core elite --
monarchists who occupy key formal and informal positions in the country.
Protests against Thaksin and Samak reached new heights after Thaksin
fled in August to escape a series of corruption related court cases.
Samak has since been publicly distancing himself from Thaksin, and the
PAD demonstrations have served his purposes well, giving him a pretext
to drop Thaksin loyalists from his Cabinet. Samak has cultivated army
commanders in a bid to avert a further coup, something the PAD has been
trying to trigger. In much of this, Samak has been advised by a leading
power broker, tough-guy ex-minister Newin Chidchob, who has links to the
shadowy "pro-Thaksin" Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship, which
was involved in the fatal clash with the PAD.
What does the PAD really want? It has advocated a "new politics" based
on a Parliament with a 70:30 formula: 70% appointees, 30% elected
representatives. PAD supporters are drawn largely from the south, where
they have blockaded airports, creating chaos for tourists. With Thaksin
gone, the movement's call for a "general uprising" seems rather
desperate, and its substantive demands -- beyond Samak's resignation --
Whereas previous demos involved clear clashes of ideas, neither the PAD
nor the DAAD advocates any recognisable form of democracy; Thais are
deeply divided into pro-PAD and pro-Thaksin camps.
Those on the streets are not the main protagonists in this struggle. The
real players are working behind the scenes. On some level, the PAD is
receiving moral support from the monarchical network yet the monarchy
itself remains sniffy about street protests and sceptical about the real
motives of the PAD leadership. Newin Chidchob is rumoured to be
coordinating events from a suite at the luxury Pullman Hotel; many
senior police officers are personally loyal to him.
Meanwhile Thaksin is holed up in his Surrey mansion and has applied for
political asylum in the UK. He is another potential beneficiary: the
newly declared state of emergency in Bangkok may strengthen his claim
that he should not be sent home just yet. -- © Guardian News & Media 2008
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