By Panuwat Panduprasert
The writing has been on the wall for some time, but is this finally the moment to describe the yellow shirt PAD and the Democrat Party as ‘former allies’? The two were best friends during the PAD’s campaign to oust Thaksin and especially during the yellow shirts’ 193-day rally against the governments of Samak and Somchai two years ago. And Kasit Piromya’s notorious defence of the yellows’ airport occupation gets brought up every time his name is mentioned.
Since the Democrat-led coalition assumed power at the end of 2008, however, the PAD have been somewhat marginalised. Their efforts to paint themselves as separate and independent from the Democrats have proved rather futile. The PAD’s New Politics Party failed spectacularly in Bangkok council elections held in August (see here). Their fierce anti-Cambodia rhetoric sometimes borders on jingoism and fails to make a discernible impact on government policy. It seems that with Thaksin and his associates gone, there just isn’t the same level of energy behind the movement. Plus, a large proportion of those who joined yellow shirt demonstrations were Democrat supporters who are now mostly content with the status quo. Even Suriyasai Katasila, a key yellow shirt orator, admitted as much in an interview with Post Today (Thai-language source here, UPDATE: Prachatai has an English translation here).
While it does not look like a good strategy for the yellows to be so openly hostile to Abhisit and co., the PAD apparently do not care much about maintaining a healthy relationship with them. The yellow shirts have been stepping up their campaign against the government in recent days (see Bangkok Pundit’s posts on this here, here and here), much to the annoyance of Democrat Secretary-General Suthep Thaugsuban. As reported by Matichon on Sunday 28, the 61-year-old bluntly stated that Thaksin and Sondhi Limthongkul were equally bad (ถ้าถามผม ผมว่าสองคนนี้พอกันเลย) and branded the PAD as “dangerous for the country” (กำลังเป็นอันตรายกับประเทศ). Suthep added this morning that he thought Sondhi “had never done anything in the public interest” (ผมไม่ค่อยเห็นว่าคุณสนธิจะทำอะไรที่เป็นประโยชน์ต่อส่วนรวม).
In 2008, current Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij freely admitted in a Bangkok Post op-ed that he was “a PAD sympathiser” (see here). Anyone willing to make a bet as to how much of that ‘sympathy’ still remains?
Panuwat Panduprasert is a student based in London, UK. He can be found on twitter @tumbler_p.