One of the hottest topics in Thailand is amnesty, and particularly so for corrupt Thai politicians. So needless to say there are some comparing this to a self service open bar where drinks are free.
This most certainly is a topic that will get the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) out of hibernation. It also is a topic that has the full attention of everyone that has been in Thai politics for the last 10 to 15 years. So Connecting the Dots has decided to dig for dots with this topic.
We must first consider the nature of Thai politics and that corruption had been a big part of what makes things go round. There are very few Thai politicians that can be called clean. When Thaksin Shinawatra was Prime Minister the stench of corruption got so bad it went beyond what Thais could endure, and the PAD was formed as a voice of the people to fight Thaksin’s overwhelming greed and corruption.
If you take into consideration the dissolving of the Thai Rak Thai party and the People Power party, you will note that several corrupt pro Thaksin politicians got banned from politics. The soonest 111 of them can return to politics is June 1, 2012. What active politicians are left have less than stellar records and many are in the court system awaiting trial. Many of these politicians make up a fairly significant part of the governments coalition. So there in lies the political leverage to push for amnesty. If the democrats want to stay in power, they must be willing to make some concessions.
So to sum it up in a nut shell, this is all about negotiating where that line will end up. On one side the convicted fugitive Thaksin would like to wipe everything and pick up from the day before the coup that sent him packing. On the other hand Prime Minister Abhisit would like to see as much corruption cleaned up as possible. In reality neither can happen.
To completely and suddenly root out all political corruption would be too much of a shock for Thailand to endure. Think of it as needing a series of smaller surgeries done over time. The doctors could do it all in one shot, but the patient would probably go into shock and die if it was done all at once. So doing a piece at a time is the method used. The corruption in Thailand must be dealt with in the same way. So this amnesty negotiation is all about deciding how much surgery is to be done on this round.
So deciding that a political crime can be forgiven one last time, but a criminal crime can not is probably where this will end up. On the other side of concessions, a very fast track to the courts could be sweetener that would make Abhisit sign off. Meaning the next time you mess up you will be standing in front of a judge in a month and not a year. Also mandatory stepping down from their political seat while waiting for a final verdict would encourage Abhisit to sign off. Essentially the same results are achieved thus putting to an end this painfully slow court process that can last a decade or more.