Bangkok poll critical for govt, ex-premier Thaksin

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - The March 3 vote will be a litmus test on whether fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will come home or end up in permanent exile.

Bangkok voters are going to cast their ballots to elect their next governor and their voice will, in turn, send a subtle message on Thaksin's fate.

At Thaksin's intervention, the Pheu Thai bigwigs put their differences aside to rally behind their gubernatorial candidate, Pongsapat Pongcharoen.

In a month of campaigning, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been very active in swaying votes for Pongsapat as if she were waging a proxy war to fly the Pheu Thai flag in the capital.

She knows her brother Thaksin has a personal stake in the race.

Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is campaigning hard for the re-election of his fellow Democrat MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, even though the two rarely speak to each other.

As we enter the final two weeks of the race, the Democrats have been mobilising all resources to convince voters that a Pongsapat victory would be tantamount to condoning Thaksin and the political violence that engulfed the capital in 2010.

In other words, the Democrats' campaign strategy, led by Abhisit and Sukhumbhand, has been designed to achieve victory by playing up the sentiment against Thaksin.

Should Sukhumbhand claim victory, the underlying meaning will be that Bangkok residents still hold Thaksin in contempt.

Under this scenario, the central government will face an uphill battle fought under the pretext of amnesty and reconciliation to bring Thaksin home.

Thaksin, Yingluck and their three strategists, Somchai Wongsawat, Phumtham Wechayachai and Suranand Vejjajiva, are fully aware how important the voice of the urban middle class is.

Nationally, Pheu Thai can grab power with or without the Bangkok voters. But it can cling to power only if it remains in good graces with the urban residents.

Yingluck is putting her utmost efforts into securing Pongsapat's victory because she knows the sentiment in the capital is key to the fate of her brother.

Regardless of his victory or defeat, Pongsapat is the proxy used by Thaksin and Yingluck to chart the next move.

Should Pongsapat win, Pheu Thai will heave a sign of relief that Thaksin could and would definitely come home without having to serve his two years in jail. By the same token, the red shirts would enjoy full and unconditional amnesty.

A Democrat defeat would mean the loss of momentum to organise anti-government, anti-Thaksin protests.

Somchai, Phumtham and Suranand have already mapped out plans hinged on varying scenarios.

A clear win for Pongsapat would mean the green light for Pheu Thai to fulfil its agendas for reconciliation, amnesty and rewriting the Constitution.

Somchai is the designated man to push for the new charter once his five-year political ban ends in December.

Chart Thai Pattana Party chief adviser Banharn Silapa-archa will see the end of his ban that same month. And he is poised to lead the reconciliation crusade facilitating Thaksin's homecoming.

In the case of a narrow win or loss for Pongsapat, Pheu Thai would still push for its three agendas, but at a cautious pace.

Under no circumstances will the ruling party put Yingluck's leadership at risk. Each move would be undertaken only after there were no threat of street protests spiralling out of control.

Should Pongsapat suffer a big defeat, Thaksin and Yingluck would have to come up with a new way to appease the urban middle class.

A misjudgement of the sentiment in the capital could spell permanent exile for Thaksin.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack
    US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was slashed on his face and arm in Seoul on Thursday by a lone, blade-wielding activist opposed to ongoing US-Korean military drills. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which left the ambassador bleeding profusely from a deep wound on his right cheek and saw him rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable. Witnesses described how a man with a blade concealed in his right hand had lunged across a table at Lippert …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options