It looks like my friend Tom was correct. Tom is a neighbour of mine (he owns several properties) who likes to practise his English. He's a good guy who likes to help people and is more sensitive than he lets on. But one thing about Tom is that he is rich, and like most rich Thais, he likes to let me know about it. He will often playfully invite me to invest in a Sweensens franchise or some new business venture with him, because he knows I can't afford it. He also likes to jibe me about political figures, especially ones he knows I dislike.
I recall one day when I visited him and he was talking on the phone as I entered. He was talking to the controversial son of a well known politician. When he finished the conversation he smiled and told me: "Don't worry, I didn't tell him what you said about him on your blog".
Tom is a sharp guy and often tells me about business news before it happens. A few months back he told me he was ordering several large sacks of rice (the most expensive brand of course) to his 'upcountry' home. I asked him why and he told me: "There will be a civil war in Thailand soon for sure, I want to be ready". At first I thought it was another one of his jokes but it wasn't, he was serious.
He isn't the only hi-so person to suggest this to me either.
Could things really get that bad? Even if war is a bit of a melodramatic prediction, what does the next ten or twenty years hold for Thailand?
It makes me nervous to think about it. If Sondhi and his mob are successful, Thailand will move backwards in democratic terms by having far more appointed roles in the Parliament. That may restore stability to the country but at what cost? It's almost unheard of for a country to move backwards democratically and forward academically, economically or in terms of social freedoms.
Of course, there is a strong chance that this will not happen and Samak will ride the storm and PPP will continue to form the government.But opponents of Thaksin and Samak will remain vigilant and continue to apply pressure. Many of these alleged opponents - such as Prem - are elderly and in the final chapter of their lives but will stability ensue when the next generation of Thailand's elite take their place? Thais don't talk about this much but - according to Tom - there could be more problems ahead and with our senior statesmen gone, who will provide the stability?
Thais seem unwilling or unable to discuss this. Why is this? Perhaps a clue lies in the sort of behaviour we see from many of the protesters on either side of the ongoing conflict. Each day, the Thai and international press are showing us adults - from young men to elderly women - behaving like thirteen year old boys. They want to look tough so they carry weapons they have no idea how to use, they would be unable to use anyway and even if they did know how to use them, they would be of little help against trained and armed police or soldiers. In reality, the long planks of wood, the sticks, baseball bats and knives are almost entirely to pose for pictures with. Yet while these people strut around looking for attention - and student groups want to get in on the act too, now (they want to miss class, let them!) - problems continue to mount.
I fear that if we ignore our worries or problems then things are doomed to repeat themselves in an endless cycle of tender democracy punctured by conflict and coups, only in future the could become even more damaging. I just hope that this we can solve these problems before they happen. If we don't, I fear my friend Tom's prediction could come true.