The Fallout

The government quickly blocked the Times article but not the transcript.

In the banned story there is “Thaksin calls for shining new age after King’s death” line. I don’t know why exactly the government feels it warrants blocking but Thaksin has all the reasons to be enraged – for all the things he said, he didn’t “call” for it, he said “I’m confident he can be shining to perform Kingship”, which has a completely different meaning.

Too late now, in PR wars it’s not the truth that matters it’s the perception, and Thaksin has been buried here. The govt is actually doing him a favor, considering the way Thais could have passed it around.

On the other hand, Thaksin made his preferences clear, too, just in a more subtle way.

Red shirts will continue to worship him, and probably look forward to the succession, but for the rest of the society Thaksin has passed the point of no return. Double whammy in one week: “I will work for Hun Sen and I will wait for the King to die”.

Interesting point is that he admitted to having a hundred, maybe two hundred million dollars outside the country. Those funds never appeared on his asset declarations and this fact alone could disqualify him from entering politics again. Doesn’t matter, with all the legal hurdles he is facing, but if he talks about political persecution that would eventually end, and his slate will be wiped clean, the stashed funds will become a hot issue again.

100-200 mil is also well within range of Nation’s Thanong estimate he published last year, not many people believed in his calculations then.

Thaksin On Succession

According to Thaksin’s interview published in Times Online it will be shining new age after the King’s death. Apparently Thaksin puts high hopes in the Crown Prince.

Is he talking about his personal fortunes or the country, though? Rumors of Thaksin courting the Crown Prince were around even before Thaksin got elected, so it’s not surprising that Thaksin expect better treatment from him. It can’t get any worse, afterall.

On the other hand I can’t see the monarchy as being relevant to Thailand’s future, so no matter how well the Crown Prince performs, setting off the “shining age” is a bit out of his jurisdiction. If one thing the recent political upheavals taught the palace is that it should stay out of the way. Even with King Bhumibol’s unmatched reputation and authority, he doesn’t want to displease any of his subjects on any side of the political spectrum. If the Crown Prince decides to flex his muscles it would be a painful lesson – without the “barami” and without legal grounds he’d be simply slaughtered, politically, of course.

Thaksin doesn’t seem to learn that the country is run by people now, not by “elites”. He believes in his own story about “elite conspiracy”, that if he could get along with Prem he’d be set for life here. He refuses to acknowledge that Prem and coupmakers were forced to act on behalf of the people, not for personal gains or power. He refuses to acknowledge the power of massive anti-Thaksin movement that compelled the “elites” to get involved.

Two point to consider – it’s impossible that Crown Property Bureau, major shareholder in Siam Commercial Bank, had no knowledge of the bank underwriting the biggest deal in Thailand’s history. Apparently no one in the palace circles thought it would be so disastrous. Another point is that I suspect ill-fated April 2006 elections were Prem’s idea in the first place. Thaksin reportedly had consultations with the palace just on the eve of dissolving the house. There were no problems with “elites” at that time either.

Massive protests that were sparked by Shin sale and massive opposition and boycotts to the elections show that the “elites” were led by the people in this war on Thaksin, not the other way around.

If Thaksin thinks that changing palace guard can solve all his problems, which are run ins with the law and massive public outrage, he is deeply mistaken. Opposition to Thaksin is not going to stop, and the palace should try its best to stay clear of it. Officially it can only insist on everybody doing their ascribed duties – the ministers, the judges, EC and NCCC commissioners etc. This is exactly the line Abhisit has been drilling all along. Stepping outside it is very very risky for the new monarch.

It’s a pure speculation and conjecture on my part but this version seems plausible anyway.

Another thing, Thaksin is basically betting on the new generation of “ammart” while his foot soldiers are being told to fight it as a principle. It’s possible that the same red army he build to save himself would eventually spell his doom.

Successful succession

With the King being hospitalized for over a month now, people are naturally thinking of the succession issue. It has always been around and it has always been percieved as the most provocative and potentially dangerous. The feeling was that the country could explode in the aftermath. Now the succession talks are out in the open, and no one seems to care. What has changed?

I think the reason is that now the society is mature enough to separate the man and the principles, and what is needed is the succession of principles – justice, fairness, utmost concern for the country and so on. Back in 2005/2006 yellow PAD turned to monarchism to uphold those principles, their fight for justice and democracy became synonymous with the fight for the king. As they were forced to tone down their monarchism, the principles were left standing on their own, and they found out that they can survive just fine and have a lot of support in the society.

About a month ago Sondhi said in an interview that their support for the monarchy depends on the King following his prescribed duties, the ten royal qualities. I saw it on Bangkok Pandit’s blog here

Later on the reds brought the royal institution into public discussion, too, and lessons the society learned from them was that politics and governing should be kept separate from the monarchy, and that relying on the King to fix everything is not going to work.

It’s this attitude that helps the country to look at the succession possibilities without freaking out.

The speculation that the Crown Prince would be bypassed are being put to rest – another precious find by Bangkok Pandit.

Shawn Crispin in Asiatimes outlined several scenarios how succession could be managed exactly, and none of them leaves the possibility of any kind of serious revolution, or handing the power to Thaksin. It still might go terribly wrong, but my bet would be that the country survives just fine.