March 28, 2010
7:45 PM: It was quite unprecedented that a sitting PM sat down to talk with the leaders of the street demonstrations. Abhisit, whether he did so willingly or unwillingly, had sat down on the same table with the Red Shirts to hold talks on how to find a way out to resolve the political crisis.
During the Yellow Shirt demonstrations in 2006 and in 2008, the then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat refused to listen to the rallies.
Abhisit's descendance from the Ivory Tower has eased the tension somewhat. Now the pressure is on the Reds, who do not have the luxury of time. The street demonstrations are not easy to maintain.
If the talks between the Govt and the Red Shirts drag on to Songkran Festival, what would happen?
In the meantime, we can expect more M-79 grenade shootings as the talks proceed. Well, somebody has just shot five bullets into Bangkok Bank's Saphan Khao branch in the latest violent incident.
As Abhisit is being forced into the corner, how can he survive? The Reds will also have to prove their mettle on the streets.
My assessment is that Abhisit is holding an upperhand in the first round of talks. He has more grounds to stand on.
1. Dissolving Parliament will not answer to all the political conflict.
2. The political atmosphere remains very hostile.
3. How should the government answer the needs of the Thais in other political constituencies?
4. Why should we rush to dissolve Parliament when we can't agree on what we all really want?
The three Reds' positions are as follows:
1. We have been waiting for three years and exhasuting all the arguments.
2. Let's dissolve Parliament and hand back the power to the people.
3. If the government does not dissolve Parliament, the atmosphere of animosity will continue.
4. The current government is not democratic.
The Reds must produce a quick solution because next months the National Anti-Corruption Commission might start to file further criminal suits against Thaksin Shinawatra.
7.15 pm: The preliminary talks between Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the representatives of the Red Shirts are about to end. No definite conclusion is reached, save for further talks.
They will meet again tomorrow at around five or six o'clock.
Jatuporn Phromphand has given the PM two weeks to consider dissolving Parliament. The government still has another two years before ending its term.
Korbsak Sabhavasu, the secretary to the prime minister, will coordinate with Veera Musikaphong, one of the leaders of the Red Shirts, on details or the scope of the next round of negotiations.
The atmosphere at the King Prachadhipok Institute in the Chaeng Wattana area was quite amiable. Representing the Red Shirts were Veera, Jatuporn and Dr Weng Tojirakarn. Abhisit, Korbsak and Chamni Sakdiset were on the government side.
The Reds would like Abhisit to dissolve Parliament immediately and return power to the people. Whatever the outcome of the election, the Reds would accept it. They said after the 2006 coup, Thailand has not come under democratic rule. To resolve this, it is necessary for Abhisit to call for a new mandate from the Thai people.
Abhisit's position is that dissolving Parliament is not the whole answer. What are going to be the new rules of the Constitution? Have we consulted other constituencies in the Thai society? How about the rest of the 63 million Thais?
The Reds argued that the new government, which receives the mandate from the Thais from the election, will have the responsibility of amending the Constitution to make the country more democratic.
The PM said he never opposes to Parliament dissolution. But the point is whether doing so would end the conflict in the Thai society. The current atmosphere is also very unpleasant and tense.
It never occurred to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that he had to talk with the Red Shirts. By no means! They had been very rude. Yielding to street demonstrations would hurt his premiership. But he had to appeared on national TV this morning to issue a compromising stance.
Abhisit had to rush back from Hua Hin yesterday to oversee the crisis situation. The Red Shirts signalled that they would make their way to the 11th Infantry Regiment to demand talks with Abhisit. They would like Abhisit to dissolve Parliament.
Forced into the corner.
Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the defence minister, and Gen Anupong Paochinda warned Abhisit that he has to step forward to hold talks with the Red Shirts. Otherwise, the Military would abandon their support of the Abhisit government and the Coalition would be asked to form a new government with Pheu Thai Party as a core.
The prime minister must have felt that he is being forced into the corner. But he now has no choice as the grenade launchers continue to shoot into the key premises in Bangkok. On the open streets, the Red Shirts are demanding Democracy. On the dark alleys, the grenade launchers have been shooting like crazy to destroy law and order and to weaken the government. the grenade launchers, backed by the politicians who are at the opposite side of the Democrats, have also created almost 30 bomb incidents.
The Democrats' bargaining power appears to be eroding. The soldiers, who come out of the barracks under the Internal Security Act, are getting tired and feeling very edgy. If the Red Shirts provoke the Military further, there could be accidental shooting by one of the soldiers. The Military are afraid that if their soldiers were to shoot the Red Shirts first, they and the government would immediately lose legitimacy.
The prime minister has appointed Korbsak Sabhavasu to hold talks with the Four Reds -- Jatuporn Phromphand, Natthawut Saikua, Veera Musikaphong and Dr Weng Tojirakarn. They have tentatively agreed to use a neutral place of the King Prachadhipok Institute as the venue. There has been a report that the prime minister might have to negotiate with the Reds himself.
This morning the Red Shirts failed to catch up with Abhisit at the 11th Infantry Regiment, where the Four Reds hoped to open the talks.
The whole world is watching how Thailand will go through this crisis situation. The International Parliamentarian Union meeting is going on in downtown Bangkok.
"A bullet from soldier will mark complete victory for the Reds," said one observer. "The prime minister has been forced to hold talks with the Reds and to try to cool things down. This would be a real loss to the Democrats."
He added: "I think this is the beginning of the end. The government now has no choice. And ultimately, we will end up seeing a national government. Thakisin Shinawatra is looking forward to his amnesty."
"If you are not member, please register to comment.
It take only a few steps."
member sign in | member register