Friday, April 3, 2009

Who are the real people behind Thaksin?

By Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation

Don't give too much credit to the "hard-headed trio", namely Jatuporn Promphan, Veera Musigapong and Natthawut Saikua. The on-going mass rally by the red-shirt movement has exceeded expectations and defied all contempt thanks to a small group of people whose faces we have never seen on the D-station or in the news about the protests.

Yes, Thaksin Shinawatra has been the star attraction, but, according to our political reporters, he could not have done it without the following:

Yingluck Shinawatra: Forget ideology. Every mob needs lots of money, and apparently this woman, Thaksin's younger sister, meets this need for cash despite the searing heat and freak storms. The majority of the protesters are being kept fairly motivated and the whole logistical mechanism remains well-oiled.

Pongthep Thepkanchana: Did you think that Thaksin might have consumed a few too many alcoholic beverages before a certain satellite address? Well, Pongthep is the man who makes sure the ousted PM isn't blind drunk when he speaks to his supporters via video link. In other words, Pongthep is the link between Thaksin, whose schedules and daily activities are strictly tied to his whereabouts, and the protest organisers out here.

Adisorn Piengket: Our sources say Adisorn plays a key role in keeping events on stage interesting. He is in charge of dealing with the stars and artists, the very people whom the protesters can't seem to be able to live without in this new era of political activism.

Prommin Lertsuridej: We have kept the best for last. Yes, Prommin is still alive and kicking. His role might well be compared to that of the talented military strategist, Zhuge Liang, in the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", but having said that, there is no guarantee his boss, Thaksin, would end up being victorious.

Meanwhile, how reliable are all these reports of "truce talks"? The truth is, this is not the first time that Suthep Thaugsuban has appeared to consider extending an olive branch. However, it's also a fact that when he brought up peace talks the last time, things were not quite as pressing.

Someone out there is obviously trying to test the waters. If you ask me, a chat between a Democrat government and the red shirts is always a more plausible scenario than talks between a Thaksin-nominated government and yellow-shirted protesters.

In this case, what the Democrats fear the most is appearing to be a lame duck, whereas Thaksin knows he can't actually win even if the Democrats crumble. We therefore see some possible motives for the government to initiate negotiations. But while a talk is likely, a compromise will be extremely difficult because it would have to deal with one non-negotiable issue - Thaksin's conviction and the explosive issue of his frozen Bt76 billion.

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