Boooring

The court killed all the suspense for me with scheduling Thaksin’s verdict on Feb 26 – more than a month from now.

In the meantime the public is treated to a cacophony of predictions, scenarios, strategies and other assorted bullshit – all possible ways to keep themselves “on the edge”.

Nothing will happen. It’s a huge waste of time.

Reds won’t make a dent, parliament won’t change a thing, Thaksin won’t start an invasion from Cambodia. The only way to affect the outcome is to put pressure on the individual judges but that is not going to be allowed either.

We are in for a one huge anti-climax.

Nothing big is going to happen after the verdict either. Reds will be reds, Thaksin will be Thaksin, Prem will be Prem, and Democrats will be Democrats.

Even if Thaksin gets all his money back there’s not much he can do with it in Thailand in the short to medium term. He needs to wait until people forget him before staging a comeback, with or without the money. With the money he’d be accused of buying his way in, with all the predictable opposition. I think he’d have a better chance counting on compassion.

Without the money he could be in a deep deep shit financially and Thai politics would be the last thing on his mind, if the stories of his huge borrowings are true.

Either way, it doesn’t affect the way the country would live its live in the meantime.

Banharn and his constitution amendments push during no confidence debate might break up the coalition and force the elections sooner than Democrats hope, that would be the end of him as people in general are just not ready for a new round of instability and electioneering when things have just started looking up after years of gloom and crisis. He’d would lose more seats than he hopes to gain by changing elections rules.

I hope he’s doing this only to squeeze some money from Thaksin and so his enthusiasm will be short lived.

The only cool head these days is on Abhisit’s shoulders, he just keeps going, ignoring all the brouhaha around him. Unusually quiet Sondhi could also be a sign that PAD/NPP/KMM realize it’s not the right time to rock the boat yet. They’ve just opened their new HQs and the event was reported as very low key.

To sum it up, only untimely elections and Thaksin’s premature push back in following a court victory would have a real adverse effect, everything else could be safely ignored.

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Red Rally postponed, Dubai Declaration goes into bin.

After the govt imposed Internal Security in Bangkok, red organizers indefinitely postponed their rally (which is another was to say it was canceled).

What does it mean for “Dubai Declaration”? Sure it must be binned, but, on the other hand, the cancellation rather proves it – Thaksin strategy is tied to a possibility of a coup, without it there’s no point in holding the rally at all.

The government cannot be toppled and snap elections won’t achieve anything, time to cut the losses and concentrate on the future.

The court is still questioning the witnesses in asset concealment case and there’s still time before the verdict, which was initially expected in the mid-November, then mid-December, then before the year end.

Thaksin’s Big Ones

I refer to the planned big rally coinciding with the 76 billion baht court verdict – people have always assumed that recovering this money was Thaksin’s main motivation in his struggle with Thai state. A few months ago it probably downed on him that the case is as good as lost.

He tried royal pardon, but that didn’t go anywhere either, and that’s really interesting – if he really wanted a pardon, he could have come back, checked into the jail, and submitted the petition himself. He’d probably be released by now, and asset concealment case would probably be stalled for good. It would have been a sacrifice on his part, but if the money is the main motivation, it would probably have been worth it.

On the other hand, perhaps he thought that Royal pardon wouldn’t have granted him immunity from those who want his blood and it wouldn’t have stopped 76 bil case. Or, perhaps, he didn’t have enough wits to go through this plan – it needed to be played just right, without overplaying his “remorse” and displaying utmost sincerity at all times. Either way, it’s in the past now.

Then there was “only a miracle can save me” quip, then build up to September coup anniversary, then to October rallies (traditional month of big political changes), and now it’s a new “all out war” to oust the government again. Not much of a plan, really, and there’s no way they get enough people on the ground to pull it of. Kwanchai, red leader from Udon, was talking about forty thousand coming to Bangkok from North and Northeast. He was probably being optimistic, as usual, and it still falls short of Jatuporn’s promised one million. Kwanchai was saying that people were waiting for money for travelling expenses and Thaksin’s personal go ahead.

The government will impose ISA, again, the parliament will be in recession, so no chance of legally changing the coalition make up (though they could theoretically force Abhisit to dissolve the House). All in all it will probably be soon forgotten, just like previous September and October rallies. At worst they could force a violent confrontation on the streets, and at most they could try to frame the military/police, but it’s still a long long way of toppling the government. They could try a coup (let’s see how many of them would drive their taxis into tanks if the coup goes their way).

That leaves the trial itself as the last hope, and that’s where it gets murky – no one knows all the details. All we know that it involves Ample Rich and Winmark stakes in Shin Corp or SC Assets in particular. Prosecution wants to prove that Thaksin and his wife still legally controlled those companies, while the defense argues that all the control was fully in the hands of their grown up children. There are transaction records presented by both sides to prove their point, and we know next to nothing about them.

While the case make look big and important, and the verdict will be played by both the winning and losing sides to their full advantage, some basic stuff needs to be kept in mind first – no one in his right mind believes that Thaksin’s children were really in control of Shin Corp all these years. It’s just stating the obvious, and the whole legal contention is about omissions and errors in the paperwork.

It would be a good time to look at the laws and regulations covering the ownership and nominees, they are obviously inadequate. Perhaps a totally different approach is needed, from a totally different angle, so that nominee problems doesn’t arise altogether. Fighting the paperwork seems like a huge waste of time and resources, not to mention all the damage done by PAD and Red rallies and paralyzed governments and parliament. So much struggle, and it all comes down to spotting errors in a few backdated documents. That’s what is supposed to decide everything.

Just look at what they are arguing about, as The Nation describes it:

“The facts show that if the Bt4.5 billion payment by Panthongtae to her mother for the TMB shares was real as claimed by Pojaman, the mother would have probably conned her son out of as much as Bt3 billion in just one go.

Why? The entire 450 million shares of TMB Bank as cited by Pojaman included 300 million shares that Pojaman got for free via the exercise of 300 million warrants, so the actual cost of all 450 million TMB shares was just Bt1.5 billion, not the hugely-inflated Bt4.5 billion.”

Is this what PAD were trying to prove by airport closures, and Reds by April riots? If this money is confiscated, would it even cover all the damage?

Back to the case – there are two parts in it, first is whether Thaksin was still controlling Shin shares while being the PM – he’ll get only political punishment for this, and second is whether prosecution can prove that he benefited from using his position – that would cost him a lot more, possibly a new jail time. The verdict could be split along this line, or it could be complicated and include splitting the assets instead – how much to confiscate, how much to return, or it could be simple but ugly, like Ratchada conviction.

Let’s wait and see, it won’t be long now, I think Surakiart Sathirathai, former Thaksin’s Foreign Minister and UN Secretary General contestant, is the last witness, and he is testifying today./I was wrong – it was an official from Exim Bank. Connection to Surakiart that I was expecting is that he was involved in Exim loan case, too – Added on Nov 26 – /

Back to Thaksin’s motivation – will he keep trying after losing his money? I think he would, I think he’s too attached to his followers to simply cease and desist, and it would a totally different game then, without deadlines and pressure – he can build a solid and well thought case against “bureaucratic polity”, for example. Something good might still come out of it.

Let’s wait and see.