Why did the Thai Deputy PM visit Red Shirts in prison?
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Why did the Thai Deputy PM visit Red Shirts in prison?

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Chart Thai Pattana Party chief adviser Sanan Kachornprasart stated that he had visited key red-shirt leader Natthawut Saikua, who is currently detained in a prison. After his visit, Sanan stated, as reported in the Bangkok Post:

“Core leaders of the red-shirt people group are ready to provide cooperation for the national reconciliation plan,” he said.

Maj Gen Sanan pledged to continue holding talks with various political groups to seek their opinions on the issue.

“I will try my best to bring reconciliation to the country,” said the veteran politician.

TAN has more:

After the talks, which lasted more than 40 minutes, Sanan disclosed that his visit was a personal move and was not an official business of the government.
/>They asked Sanan to act as mediator to coordinate with conflicting groups and, when possible, schedule a meeting between all parties involved in the political conflict.
/>The deputy premier continued that he will meet with all sides involved in the conflict, including the People’s Alliance for Democracy to exchange views on the reconciliation process.
/>He added he will contact former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra at a later date and ask him to stop his political movement in order to bring about national reconciliation.

BP: So we have visiting the reds in jail, visiting the yellows (Sanan met with PAD leader Sondhi L earlier today), and possibly a visit to Thaksin. While Chat Thai Pattana have shown signs that they will also support the proposed Bhum Jai Thai amnesty (as blogged about here), Sanan’s actions could also be interpreted as Chat Thai Pattana also wanting to get in on the reconciliation bandwagon and to be seen as playing a role (and to help his chance of becoming PM!).

While, Chat Thai Pattana and Bhum Jai Thai are currently allies in the coalition government, they are also direct competitors for seats particularly in the Central Region in the next election so they don’t want to let Bhum Jai Thai have all the glory. Both are now clamouring to be party who will bring about reconciliation and trying to use this to get the edge at the next election, but will either be successful or be perceived as successful? Chat Thai Pattana may stand a better chance as they less hated and there is less bad news about them than Bhum Jai (how often do you a story about Chat Thai Ministers and corruption/problems over appointment compared Chat Thai Pattana?).

Will Sanan be able to move beyond just meetings to talk about reconciliation to actually implementing something? Probably not, but Puea Thai and the reds would be more amenable towards a Chat Thai Pattana-led solution than a BJT one.