Thailand: Tension between PAD and the Democrats boils over
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Thailand: Tension between PAD and the Democrats boils over

Tension between the PAD and the Democrats has been ongoing for a long time. Just as Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was about to become PM in December 2008, the PAD issued a list of conditions that the new government had to comply with. By March 2009, the PAD and the Democrats started to drift apart after the PAD announced they were setting up a new party and the PAD criticized Suthep over summons issued to PAD leaders.

In August 2009, Sondhi L called on people to choose sides between the PAD and the Democrats. In September 2009, former well-known PAD member and then Foreign Minister Kasit criticized the PAD and their affiliate over their criticism and their excessive nationalism towards Cambodia.

In August 2010, PAD Leader stated he believed there was now more corruption under the Abhisit government than under Thaksin’s government. Then, in November 2010, PAD started to protest outside of parliament against the amendments to the constitution and then in December against the Abhisit’s government’s refusal to revoke the 2000 Thai-Cambodian Memorandum of Understanding and the French map with a scale of 1:200,000 square kilometres – see posts here, here, and here. In response, Suthep stated that Thaksin and Sondhi Limthongkul were equally bad and branded the PAD as “dangerous for the country”.

In late December 2010, the Cambodian authorities arrested seven Thais on the grounds that they have illegally entered Cambodia. Aside from Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth others arrested include well-known PAD affiliated activist Veera (the Bangkok Post refers to him as a PAD co-leader) and Samdin Lertbutr of the Dharma Army Foundation, who has close connections with Chamlong Srimuang, a leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.  Then, PAD criticized the government and the military saying they conspired with the Cambodians over the arrest of the Thai seven.

Then, in January, the police arrested Thai Patriots Network (TPN) leader Chaiwat Sinsuwong and another TPN core member. In February, at least one key PAD member, was also suddenly arrested.

In February 2011, a document was released online and Government House sources started to tell reporters that Sondhi L was working with Thaksin for the ‘no vote’ campaign.  Surawich Verawan, the Managing Editor of ASTV, blamed Thepthai (Abhisit’s personal spokesman) as the source of this rumour.  In March 2011, Sondhi L called for Thailand to be cleansed of dirty things and stated that the Democrats were just as bad as Thaksin.

Last month, ASTV criticized Abhisit stating he “lusted” to dissolve parliament and was disregarding HM the King’s health.

Then, in the last few days, Sondhi L stated that, in regards to the campaign by former Senator Kaewsun Atibodhi and multi-colored shirt leader Tul Sitthisomwong to get Yingluck investigated for perjury charges, that it is the work of the Democrats (เป็นผลงานของพรรคประชาธิปัตย์). In response, Abhisit told reporters he asks Sondhi in response whether he is now in the Thaksin camp or not? (จะถามกลับว่า นายสนธิกลับไปอยู่กับ พ.ต.ท.ทักษิณ ชินวัตร หรือไม่).

BP: Indeed, you are either with us or against us…

In addition, Suthep stated that the acts of Kaewsan and others was not the work of the Democrats and he asks Sondhi to clarify to the people after Sondhi L came out in support of Yingluck (ตนขอเรียกร้องให้นายสนธิ ลิ้มทองกุล แกนนำกลุ่มพันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย ชี้แจงประชาชน หลังจากที่นายสนธิออกมาสนับสนุน น.ส.ยิ่งลักษณ์ ).

BP: One assume that this “support” for Yingluck is in reference to Sondhi mentioning that the campaign against Yingluck is the work of the Democrats because it is only on June 5 that Sondhi L is criticizing the military for secretly negotiating with Thaksin. Sondhi L states that the monarchy is reliant on the military, but those in the military are accepting money from politicians inside and outside the country such as Thaksin (สถาบันกษัตริย์นั้นต้องพึ่งทหาร แต่ทหารวันนี้รับเงินนักการเมืองทั้งในประเทศ และนักการเมืองที่อยู่ต่างประเทศ คือทักษิณ ชินวัตร).

The Nation on some details of the tensions:

The Democrats have been upset about the PAD’s “Vote No” campaign, but now they are trying publicly to make it look suspicious. Since the ruling party and PAD have similar support bases -middle-class, inner-city people – the more voters mark abstention on their ballots, the more it can affect the Democrats’ chances in the election. Now, the party is openly saying that the “Vote No” campaign will directly help Thaksin’s Pheu Thai Party.

The PAD has been complaining that the Democrats let it down, and now the political party must share responsibility if Thaksin is to make a political return thanks to the “Vote No” campaign. The movement has always begrudged the Democrats getting all the political windfall without playing a major role in Thaksin’s ouster. The “Vote No” campaign, the PAD said, was only meant to reflect its disillusionment with all Thai politicians.

From the yellow-shirt camp the other day, meanwhile, a leading speaker made a tantalising comment, pointing to the possibility of a yellow-red partial cooperation after the election. He said the “Vote No” campaign would create political repercussions big enough to warrant a major change after the election, and that the PAD would welcome support from like-minded red shirts to strengthen the drive.

It should be known soon if the apparent re-alliance is serious, or if Thailand’s divided politics has become firmly three-pronged. Those questioning the possibility of a red-yellow “merger” only have to check out where PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul’s loyalty lay just seven years ago.

BP:  Then, there is even subtle criticism of Prem’s role by ASTV Manager on his role in supporting the Democrats to come to power. The Bangkok Post:

A set of 12 video clips have been posted on YouTube in what is being viewed as a vague effort to attack a top figure in the People’s Alliance of Democracy.

The video clips titled “Unmask Sondhi” were recorded at a hotel in Bangkok on Jan19, 2010 and were uploaded to YouTube on June 5 by a person using the login “mochoco1000”, according to the site.

The clips feature the names of five people mentioned as “five key actors”. One of the five men (Surasak Chinwongwattana, chairman of Fibre to the Home Co), was named as being close to “Sondhi”. The video footage features a meeting of a group of people discussing and bargaining over Information and Communication Technology Ministry projects.

They are seated at a dining table in the hotel. There are subtitles indicating what was being said. The name”Sondhi” was also mentioned during the discussion. It is unclear in the video if the men were referring to media magnate Sondhi Limthongkul, a top leader of the PAD.

BP: Haven’t watched the videos yet so won’t comment on the content, but one wonders who recorded the video and why it is being released now. Given the title of the clips is “Unmask Sondhi” – actually the title of the clips also includes Sondhi’s last name ฉีกหน้ากาก สนธิ ลิ้มทองกุล – there is no doubt what the intention of the uploader is… Will Sondhi blame the Democrats? What next?

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