Monday, December 21, 2009
Thaksin drags Hun Sen into a new treacherous game
This is more than just a simple patriot game. For the first time in Thailand's history, we are witnessing anti-government elements declaring publicly that they intend to topple the state and revered institutions. They do not even wince when branded as traitors.
What's more, Cambodia has become more than a thorn in the side of Thailand. The country's leader, Hun Sen, provides shelter for Thaksin Shinawatra, ignoring Thailand's call for extradition and a request through Interpol for his capture.
The elements comprise the Pheu Thai Party, its remnants of ex-MPs from two party dissolutions, the red shirts and their cohorts, including retired army officers engaged in political activities in exchange for income from the wealthy fugitive.
They plan an all-out battle to oust the Abhisit government next month, abolish the present Constitution, do away with the monarchy, and bring Thaksin back under full amnesty together with a return of his assets currently frozen by the state.
Violence cannot be ruled out. The red shirts are dreaded for their unruly behaviour and are spoiling for blood. They staged a riot in April this year in a bid to pave the way for Thaksin's homecoming. The non-lethal crackdown by troops under an emergency decree restored peace.
Those culprits responsible for the violence in the city have yet to face charges and trial. The leniency and complacency of the government have emboldened the red shirts and Thaksin to continue destabilising the state through media, threats and treacherous acts - with full cooperation from Hun Sen.
Traitors under Thaksin's tutelage no longer have the shame to hide their acts or themselves. In all sorts of campaigns, the Thaksin loyalists play a hypocritical game, with total disregard for national security.
Thaksin has regained confidence after taking refuge in Phnom Penh to plot against his home country. Hun Sen has become a tyrant oblivious to the echelons of power in his country. The despot is arrogant enough that he needs no consultation with the lower rungs of the political and military leadership since heading on the collision course with Thailand.
Hun Sen's belligerent and despicable behaviour has caused serious harm to Cambodian interests. The country loses income from tourism, border casinos, trade, and the chance to register the Preah Vihear temple ruins with the World Heritage Organisation, and the exploitation of offshore petroleum deposits. This must have caused some degree of resentment from Cambodian people, businesses and interest groups. But they cannot move against Hun Sen.
Hun Sen has blatantly interfered in the internal affairs of Thailand, given safe haven to Thaksin, and engaged in activities considered as serious threats that have yet to be responded to fully by the Abhisit government. So far, there has been periodic verbal provocation by Hun Sen, with some lukewarm reaction from the Thai government.
The Cambodian tyrant has uttered aloud that he will not be happy as long as Thailand has Abhisit as prime minister and Kasit Piromya as foreign minister. This open, hostile act must be viewed by fellow Asean countries with unease, if not deep concern.
As the conflict edges close to possible confrontation, it can be seen that the problem exists between Hun Sen, Thaksin and the people of Thailand, while the Cambodian people have no part in the crisis, as it only undermines their livelihood. Yet, those living in the hinterland with no broad access to news and information believe that what Hun Sen has been doing is in the national interest.
Hun Sen's stake lies with Thaksin's success in regaining political power through his continuing instigation of the red shirts to go all out in their protest rallies expected next month. It's also Thaksin's last-ditch attempt and, mostly likely, his last hurrah before his force is eventually subdued. He is under the illusion that rural support remains extensive.
Not anymore. His hideous plan to join hands with ex-communist guerrillas to end the monarchy has not fooled the rural people, while many red shirts have also abandoned the anti-monarchy campaign now that the Thaksin elements have shown their true colours and treacherous activities.
Abhisit still takes things in stride. Instead of launching campaigns to educate the public, especially the rural grassroots, those responsible for national security and the state-owned media remain complacent, putting their faith only in sheer luck, ignoring prepared responsive measures.
The nation is in dire straits due mainly to the ignorance and incompetence of those in charge of security affairs, and lack of cooperation from the police, while military leaders have been passive in countering the anti-monarchy campaign.
Maybe they believe that luck will be on their side if Thaksin and his miscreants create new havoc. The people don't like what is happening because too much damage has been done to the country with nobody showing full accountability. By Sopon Onkgara The Nation, Bangkok