Suthep’s gaffe will haunt the junta
Share this on

Suthep’s gaffe will haunt the junta

After Suthep revealed that he had been communicating with Prayuth for four years,* Thai Rath‘s political analysis on June 25 wondered whether Suthep was calling in his chits as summarized below:

Suthep revealed that he has been discussing with Prayuth since 2010 about removing Thaksinocracy [Thai Rath then summarizes the Bangkok Post article including the 1.4 billion baht cost]. Suthep put everything on the table. For someone like Suthep this was done intentionally in order to achieve a result (การตั้งใจ “ปล่อยของ” ต้องหวังผลแน่). First, it was about claiming victory and trying to please PDRC supporters so that they will be in high spirits from succeeding to bring down the Yinguck government. Suthep’s mob played an important role in laying down the path for the military to act.

However, looking deeper than this, it was Suthep handing in a “receipt” to claim expenses (แต่ที่มองได้ลึกไปกว่านั้นอีกชั้น นี่คือมุกส่ง “ใบเสร็จ” ขอเบิกค่าแรง). Suthep was acting after whispers heard widely in circles that Prayuth was not giving positions to Suthep’s people after the seizure of power. Even though there was dealings through a figure, it didn’t reach the junta head and Prayuth has been trying to act as a neutral figure.  From Suthep’s revelations this time, if there are positions for PDRC figures as Ministers, the NLA, or Reform Council then it will be interpreted as compensation from the expenses claim. (ถ้ามีการจัดให้เครือข่าย กปปส.เข้าไปนั่งเป็นรัฐมนตรี สภานิติบัญญัติแห่งชาติ (สนช.) หรือแม้แต่โควตาสภาปฏิรูป ย่อมถูกตีความได้ เป็นการชดเชยค่าใช้จ่ายตามใบเสร็จ.)

BP: Given the current legal restrictions, BP thinks Thai Rath is being a little naïve over neutrality particularly as they give no consideration to Suthep’s backers and those behind-the-scenes who have already been rewarded (Prawit and Anupong are advisors and may also both get ministerial posts as well, which Thai Rath itself had predicted). The question was is, what goodies will be given to others in the PDRC particularly those in the public eye? They may not get as much…

The Nation had a piece with the headline “Prayuth must end his cosy relationship with Suthep”:

After months when it seemed that the country was tipping dangerously close to anarchy, the military’s stated aim upon seizing power was to bridge political divisions, bring about reconciliation and dissolve political colours to restore peace and order.

However, Suthep’s latest claims leave the NCPO open to accusations of political bias in favour of the PDRC and its goal of eradicating Thaksin Shinawatra’s influence from all spheres of Thai political life.


Healing political rifts is a task that critics believe the junta has yet to achieve, however. Its mission of bringing the two rival camps in for breakfast discussions has been dismissed as mere propaganda with no real or tangible results.

Ever since the seizure of power, the PDRC and the Democrats have claimed that they have trumped the pro-Thaksin camp. Not only does this triumphalism complicate the situation, it also undermines efforts by the junta to fix the deep political cracks.


We will have to wait and see if Prayuth will choose the stick or carrot approach to fix this problem.

Observers also harbour suspicions that Suthep has ulterior motives behind making such remarks. Let’s hope that it was just a slip of the tongue or an attempt to entertain his audience. After all, Suthep had been doing that for almost six months on the PDRC stage.

Kom Chad Luek had a political column by the same author of the article in The Nation where the headline was “Suthep’s words are a problem for Prayuth”.

BP: Prayuth appears to have tried to stem the criticism by indirectly calling out Suthep on Friday night, which has stopped the Suthep dinners. The key will still be who are the people to draft the Constitution and what will they recommend – since it is looking more likely that we won’t have a referendum on the constitution – and BP expects the political reform will be mostly in line with what Suthep and the PDRC has been asking for especially with the likely introduction of functional constituencies to dilute the power of the rural and urban poor. The problem for Prayuth is that anything that benefits the PDRC will be viewed through the prism of what Suthep said….

* Not quite sure that Suthep’s gaffe is a Kinsley gaffe which is defined as “meanwhile, a gaffe, it has been said, is when a politician tells the truth -or more precisely, when he or she accidentally reveals something truthful about what is going on in his or her head” after Michael Kinsley. It has been amusing to see the outrage – see here  – where Suthep is criticised for revealing that he had been talking with Prayuth. There is no condemnation of the conspiracy; just condemnation for revealing it.