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Letter from Thailand – September 19, 2008 – Somchai, Samak and Thaksin

Thaksin Shinawatra

 

Dear Reader,

Sawatdee kha from Thailand.

It’s the two year anniversary of Thailand’s last military coup today and the political situation is in an even bigger mess than it was last week. Since Samak, the Prime Minister was kicked out of office Samak’s party, the PPP (People’s Power Party) has chosen a new Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat. The odd thing is not that he’s a first time Member of Parliament with only seven months experience, oh no, that’s not the strange thing. The strange thing is that Somchai Wongsawat is the brother-in-law of ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was kicked out by the military during the last coup, and who is now a criminal on the run (he fled Thailand for England before the Thai courts could put him and his wife in jail).

The choice of Somchai Wongsawat as Prime Minister is infuriating the People’s Alliance for Democracy (the PAD). The PAD are the people who illegally took over Government House three weeks ago and who are now refusing to leave because they wanted Samak to be kicked out. Now he’s been kicked out, they’re not happy with the choice of Somchai so they’re refusing to give up their demonstrations until every member of the PPP is out of the government. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why the leaders of the PAD have not been arrested and thrown in jail? In any Western country, these people would have been in jail for weeks.

So, right now, Thailand is at a political stalemate. Word has it that officials of the PPP are on their way to London to meet with deposed ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, so they can get his approval on the list for the new Cabinet. The PAD are going to have a coronary but you kind of have to say ‘Som Nam Na’ (Thai for ‘Serves you right’). They wanted Samak out and they got their wish, but now they’ve got someone in Somchai who could possibly be worse? I guess the PAD has never heard of the saying “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” eh?

So, right now, Thailand is at a political stalemate. Word has it that officials of the PPP are on their way to London to meet with deposed ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, so they can get his approval on the list for the new Cabinet. The PAD are going to have a coronary but you kind of have to say ‘Som Nam Na’ (Thai for ‘Serves you right’). They wanted Samak out and they got their wish, but now they’ve got someone in Somchai who could possibly be worse? I guess the PAD has never heard of the saying “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” eh?

Most people don’t think Somchai Wongsawat will last long as Prime Minister though before he gets kicked out because of the ongoing political demonstrations against him and his party, the PPP. However, stranger things have happened (especially in Thailand) so he could surprise us all and be Prime Minister of Thailand for a lot longer than we expect him to be.

In other news, the rain continues to pour down. It’s rained every morning on my way to work and every evening on my way home for the last week and a half. I managed to get home without rain today but only because I left work an hour earlier than normal so missed the evening rain. Some areas of Thailand are still flooding badly and villagers in more remote areas are having to be rescued from the floods by boat.

In fun news, I got to meet Chuwit Kamolvisit today. He’s an infamous political figure in Thailand who is running in the election for Governor of Bangkok. He runs almost every year and has never been elected but does manage to get around 300,000 votes every year. He’s infamous because he’s the ex-owner of an enormous group of massage parlors, and also because his campaign ads are so un-polite-Thai but so funny. This morning, he was campaigning outside the Sukhumvit sky train station and I stopped to tell him I liked him. He gave me an autographed campaign ad (which I’m going to get framed) and completely made my morning.

Well, that’s it from the crazy country of Thailand. Hopefully the political situation will improve as Thailand is getting very close to sliding back down into the status of third-world country again if it’s not careful. And that would be a shame.

Sawatdee kha from Thailand.

 

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