Monday, May 31, 2010
Prepare for the third round in Thaksin's scheme
Terror charge won't deter ex-PM who shows no sign of giving up his fight
During the Songkran holiday last year, when the red-shirt demonstrators took to the streets of Bangkok to engage in a campaign of violence, the group's de facto leader Thaksin Shinawatra came across like an idiot.
The fugitive premier convicted on corruption charges went on television, telling the world the red-shirt hooligans holding communities hostage with their campaign of violence, not to mention a gas tanker-trailer truck, were fighting for democracy.
One reading of why the violence last April 2009 occurred was that chaos was needed to pave a way for his return. In such a situation, a coup or a counter-coup, or what have you, could take place and set the wheels rolling. Otherwise the former premier could not return under normal circumstances.
A year later, the red shirts were mobilised to repeat the violence - this time on the pretext they wanted an election because this government was "illegitimate". Never mind that two previous governments, which were Thaksin's proxies by the way, had come to power through the very same Parliament.
But when the government gave in, the red leaders shifted into a foot-dragging tactic that eventually led to a showdown between the red demonstrators and the group's invisible armed wing - hooded men in black with guns whom the government referred to as "terrorists" - and battalions of nerve-wracked, trigger-happy government troops.
Outgunned and outnumbered, it was inevitable the reds would suffer higher casualties. But they didn't go down without a fight. So they torched about 30 commercial buildings, while government offices in a number of provinces were set ablaze.
So much for liberty, justice and democracy for the innocent business owners.
Thailand was brought to its knees and Thaksin and his camp succeeded in sending a message to anyone seen as against them - business community and bankers - that they would not be spared.
Some of Southeast Asia's fanciest malls, not to mentioned commercial banks accused of financing the anti-Thaksin camp, came under arson attack as pro-Thaksin reds tried to make a comeback.
In April 2009, when asked what was so democratic about resorting to violence, Thaksin was dumb-struck. This time around, he maintained the torching of the shopping malls and other buildings in the city and around the country was a "set up", the work of "professionals".
Round two, if we could call it that, ended in a great deal of physical and emotional damage. But hold on to your saddle, Thaksin hasn't shown a sign of giving up. Round three could be coming our way sooner than expected.
This past week a Thai criminal court approved an arrest warrant for Thaksin, charging him with terrorism in connection to the recent arson attacks by the reds.
But will such a charge have any real effect on such a selfish and bitter man? Has it ever crossed his mind that he was his own worst enemy and that he has dug his own grave?
His latest ploy is to hire a fancy mouthpiece calling himself a lawyer - Robert Amsterdam - to paint him as a symbol of a victim of an "oppressive" Thai state.
It's easy for anyone who didn't agree with the military coup that ousted him in 2006 to brand Thaksin a victim of a wicked system. Never mind that the man was on the verge of turning Thailand into a banana republic or a Suharto's Indonesia or a Ferdinand Marcos' Philippines.
But Thaksin himself is damaged goods. The truth has caught up with him. Let's hope the rest of the world can see through this scam artist and help Thailand bring him to justice. By The Nation