Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Somchai Wongsawat

Who is he?

Brother in law of Thaksin, a former judge and justice minister. Thailand's new Prime Minister and the first Thai PM whose name I pronounced correctly at the first attempt.

What happened to the previous PM?

Samak Suntarajev was another victim of the battle between the (democratic) executive and the (undemocratic) judiciary. He was found to have been in dereliction of duty by appearing on a TV cooking show whilst serving as PM. In reality, Samak accepted no payment. His driver was given 4,000 baht, which would probably be less than the PM kept in his back pocket for a trip to the Seven Eleven. Samak loves cooking and his appearance on the show would be no different to a UK MP who liked football appearing on "A Question of Sport".

The guilty charge removed Samak but left him open for reappointment. However, factional infighting led to a new appointment.

Will Somchai make a good PM?

In theory, yes. He is very different to Samak in his smooth style of speaking and modern style of presentation and mannerisms. He is intelligent, progressive and experienced.

So things are looking up?

Not necessarily. The PAD have already stated their case by demanding Somchai brings back Thaksin. The PAD surely know full well that Thaksin's brother in law will never bring him back. Likewise, the symbolic significance of appointing Thaksin's brother in law lends crEdence to the theory that the whole ongoing saga is a war of attrition between Thaksin Shiniwat and old elitists such as Privy Councillor General Prem.

It doesn't matter how many times you swallow the same remedy, if the diagnoses is wrong, you still get sick. Somchai Wongsawat is a capable PM, but he - like Samak - will be unable to achieve much as the warring factions - some visible, some not - continue to fight.

Politics is exhausting me. I think I'll return to my teacher's diary.


Andy said...

A very intersting blog. Written in a way that even I can understand. But what does all this unrest mean for tourism. Will we feel safe travelling to Thailand, are there any particular ares to avoid.

Red and White said...

Hi Andy,
It really does not affect tourism, just stay away from Government House and you will be absolutely fine! :-)

Mark said...

Greg: How many protesters are on the grounds T Govt House in the daytime? Do they sleep there at tnight? Why don't the cops judt clear them outt?

Red and White said...

Hi Mark,there are usually several hundred at any time and many do sleep there. The cops know that clearing them could result in massive casualties on both sides. The cops are not well organised and I believe that high players on both sides fear a bloodbath that could do massive damage to Thailand in many ways.