Archive for March, 2010

Astonishing vote buying : the government… eases debts of 510 000 farmers

What a joke (but a relief for half a milion of poor farmers) !

The government is introducing a debt moratorium scheme for farmers worth 80 billion baht which is seen as a strategy to appease grass roots people as political divisions continue to widen.

The plan was released as tension mounted after a second round of negotiations between red shirt demonstrators, most of them farmers in northern and northeastern provinces, and the government failed on Monday.

A government committee on easing farmers’ debts is planning to submit the scheme to cabinet next month.

The ad hoc committee met on Monday to discuss a debt moratorium scheme for about 80,000 farmers who are members of the Farmers’ Reconstruction and Development Fund (FRDF) and 430,000 farmers who are not FRDF members.

The 510,000 debtors in the farm sector have a total principal debt of more than 80 billion baht.

The debt moratorium will be limited to 2.5 million baht each, said Khunying Supatra Masdit, an adviser to the prime minister, who sits on the committee.

She said the new debt restructuring scheme will help clear farmers’ debts owed to financial institutions within 15 years. (Bangkok Post)

Let’s summarize. Farmers are against your government and they fuel opposition rallies. You have a problem. So you erase their debts. Simple.

Let’s not play with words there… The Abhisit’s plan is like a big eraser. The point is (and it’s a valid point for the whole world) : those debts can’t be repaid. In full.

But 80 billions THB. That’s not a small amount…

Nice move.

Again, It’s going to be a serious relief for those people. But let’s not forget : someone will pay. That’s the trick. The thai tax payers, eventually.

Anyway. Where are the supporters of the rule of law, democracy and good governance principles ?

Where are the people who were criticising Thaksin, the TRT and the PPP for their vote buying policies ?

Well, I guess, we could say : same same, but… not different.

😉

Change with Abhisit ? Yes We Can(‘t). As usual.

Talk Comedy : why Abhisit would agree to a dissolution… in 9 months ?

Exactly like predicted, the “historic talks” between the government and the Red Shirts were inconclusive… It’s of course an understatement.

There is nothing to negociate, obviously.

But something is strange. Abhisit said he would agree to a House dissolution, but only in 9 months. Why such time frame ?

And this is non negotiable too.

Democrat Deputy Secretary-General Chamni Sakdiset, one of the government representatives attending talks with with the anti-government group, notes that a timeframe of nine months for a house dissolution proposed by the PM is non-negotiable.  (PRD)

What could change in 9 months ? Is it just a mean to gain time ? 9 months just to avoid to say “never” ? 😉

Abhisit could have said : a dissolution is possible once we have amended the charter for instance. Did he go too far by giving a time line ?

From the government/army perspective… 9 months is no better than tomorrow or next week. They don’t want fresh elections. Period. Way too risky.

So why speaking about 9 months ?

Do they think that something could happen ?

Only one thing could “transform” the 9 months in “never”, at least delay a lot the time frame : the royal succession.

Anyway, the frustration, on both side, is surely huge. It’s very difficult to see any compromise, any significant move before the Big Event.

Think about it : the political circus started at the beginning of 2006 ! Four years. And counting.

It’s hopeless.

From a tactical point of view, the government/army should give a few ministers to the opposition, in a “national unity” logic. That would be a smart move.

The Thai Commedia Dell’Arte : Government and Red Shirts “talk”

Penultimate chapter in the Thai Political Saga : talks.

Even “peace talks” (were we at war ?). And even “historic peace talks”, like Nation writes. Sounds impressive.

Historic peace talk starts

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva starts what it is called peace talk with red shirts leaders at King Prachadipok’s Institute on Sunday.

Abhisit arrived at the peace talk room with the red shirts leaders.

Apart from Abhisit, the government side comprises PM’s secretery general Korbsak Sapavasu and Democrat MP Chamni Sakdiset.

The red shirts side are Jatuporn Prompan, Weng Tohjirakarn and Veera Musikapong. They all wore red while the government side wore light blue.

After years of coup, rallies, betrayals, fights, scams, riots… could it be the beginning of the end ? A normalization ?

Of course not.

Those “talks” won’t produce anything, or more precisely won’t change the scenario.

At best, the Red Shirts will get a promise that would allow them to retreat without losing face. And in a few months, It would be “play it again Sam”.

Why I don’t believe in such “talks” ? Because both camps won’t move. They can’t.

The government and the army can’t allow elections, before the royal succession. It’s as simple as that. They will use every tricks available to gain time.

This is why the whole process is totally biased, and the Red Shirts know It well.

It’s a deadlock.

However, from a tactical point of view, the government/army has a good card to play : “national unity” by giving a few ministers and/or deputy ministers to the opposition. Enough to blurr the game and to gain time.

But fresh elections ? No way.

UPDATE
Well… The “historic” part has seriously been deflated. Stalemate. Even the clowns at Nation have to acknowledge this fact. Until tomorrow. They promise a second round…And then a third… A fourth. And so on.

The show must go on.

Govt-red shirt negotiations fail to produce results

UPDATE 2

The People’s Alliance for Democracy Monday issued a statement to express opposition to the on-going talk between the government and the red-shirt movement.

Suriyasai Katasila, a coordinator of the PAD, read from the PAD’s statement saying the group disagreed with any attempt to hold a negotiation just to help one person, referring to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The statement added that the PAD was also opposed to House dissolution and charter amendments to help Thaksin and his associates. (Nation)

It’s becoming… more complicated…

Royal succession : “As father fades, his children fight”

Striking article published in The Economist this week (read here).

The King, the succession, the Prince, the links with Thaksin, the fight between factions, the future of the monarchy… It says a lot.

Compelling.

This week issue of the newspaper is not (of course) distributed in Thailand.

Abhisit in Lalaland : “People are equal under the Constitution…”

“Thailand no longer has social classes called ammart and phrai. People are equal under the Constitution although they have unequal opportunities,” the premier told TV Channel 5, referring to the terms used by Thaksin and his red-shirt supporters.

Under the old absolute monarchy, ammart was used refer to bureaucrats and phrai to commoners. (Nation)

At one point, cheap rethoric is just plain silly. Grotesque. And counterproductive.

The non elected Prime Minister, the man who became PM thanks to a parliamentary coup, the man who lost every elections, the man who has a job thanks to a handfull of MP, ex friends of Thaksin who were bought… this man loves to speak about the “rule of law”, “democracy”, “respect” etc.

This man should just shut his mouth. This man was automatically disqualified in december 2008. We should repeat it, again, and again, and over again.

To dare to say that the thai “people are equal under the constitution” is just unbearable. And is a military coup part of the “unequal opportunities” Abhisit is talking about ?

Thailand has endured dozen of coups, the last one in 2006 with an inane Junta leaded by inane generals who have designed the current constitution.

I mean what kind of political bordello is that ? Can we be proud of it ?

Abhisit is unbearable because he’s smiling. He looks self-content. But there is nothing to smile about in Thailand since several years, nothing to be proud of.

Enough.

Abhisit should just say : “it’s like that, we assume power, we have to, if you’re not happy, fuck you”, instead of trying, desesperately, to sale to the world this cheap image like a “sale representative in democracy”, like the host of a TV shopping show.

We don’t need vacuum cleaners, “PermaClear With FREE Anti Mist“, “Eco Steam Master” nor “Titan Vegetable Shaver“.

We need leadership, vision, extreme intelligence and audacity.

Instead we have absolute mediocrity.

Thai Airways : raising capital won’t be enough… 50 billions needed

Thai Airways International’s board of directors approved the Bt10 billion capital increase, which needs shareholders’ approval at the April 28 meeting.

THAI President Piyasvasti Amranand said that proceeds from the share offering will be used for general corporate purposes, including to manage its liquidity, finance future aircraft investments, strengthen THAI’s capital base, and repay its debts. (Nation)

And then a few days later:

Thai Airways International must raise Bt50 billion this year and next to repay debts and finance business expansion, president Piyasvasti Amranand said yesterday.

Funding will come from a share offering planned for later this year, bank loans and debenture issues.

Once the debt-to-equity ratio is halved from 4 at present, whatever is left over will be used for business expansion. […]

THAI recently won board approval to issue up to 1 billion shares, pending shareholder approval on April 28. The airline is now capitalised at Bt16.99 billion. […]

THAI is due to retire Bt29 billion worth of debts this year. Earlier, it was reported that debentures worth no more than Bt11 billion would be issued, to roll over maturing bonds. (Nation)

10 billions ? 50 billions ? Different tools but only one reality : Thai Airways needs money. Badly.

Not to expand the business (“whatever left…” like says the president) put to face its obligations : to roll over debts.

Healthy ? Of course not.

And don’t be fooled by the so called return to profit in 2009… It’s an illusion. Most of the airlines in the world are badly hurt.

The double dip recession is going to create a terrible cisor effect.

Apparently, the thai government (as main shareholder) has accepted to pay. The thai tax payers will pay.

Red Shirts : penultimate call for “the mother of all rallies” and a tactical defeat

The anti-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) is planning to stage a major rally in Bangkok on 20 March, according to UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan.

Puea Thai MP Jatuporn Prompan disclosed today that the group will hold a major mass demonstration this weekend in their attempt to bring down the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. He said that whenever Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva enters the Parliament building or the Government House, the UDD supporters will immediately beseige the areas without intruding the premises, in order to directly voice their demand. (PRD)

Another call for the “mother of all rallies”.

It’s obviously a bad tactic. And a bad timing.

For once, general Panlop has a flash of common sense.

Gen Pallop Pinmanee, a Pheu Thai Party member, said Thursday that the red-shirt movement was on the verge of losing in the latest battle because the trio leaders lacked effective strategy.

Pallop said the protesters were now rallying on the day-by-day basis without an effective plan or strategy, prompting the people to leave and return home. (Nation)

The state apparatus has been taught a burning lesson with the riots of april 2009…

Furthermore, let’s not forget that the King is… in the hospital since… september 2009. Yes I know : 6 months already and nobody is saying anything. It’s surreal.

My point : the army will take no chance.

There won’t be any major political change until the royal succession is settled.  Period.

Eventhough, violence could occur, the state apparatus would immediately suppress it.

For the time being, the Red Shirts have zero chance to change the situation. Their struggle could be meaningful but only on the long term, with a strategy of harassment and peaceful protests.


Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.