Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit has extended an offer to have a dialog with the Red Shirts on their demands tied to democracy. Unfortunately for Thaksin he is not part of the discussion and may force the Red Shirt leaders to dump Thaksin if they want their demands met.
This is simply a brilliant move no matter how you look at it and Abhisit will come out a winner no matter what way this goes. If the Red Shirts accept Abhisit’s offer to discuss their demands and leave Thaksin out of the loop, Thaksin will simply rock the boat and force the Red Shirts to seek a new goal that Abhisit can not possibly agree to. This will in turn send signals to the Red Shirt protesters that they are being played for fools and are puppets on a string. There are Red Shirts that truly believe they are marching for their own good and that Thaksin is truly on their side.
If the Red Shirts refuse Abhisit’s offer, the Red Shirts from the northeast will most certainly wonder why the Red Shirt leaders are rejecting the opportunity that the rally is all about. This will also have the same effect of making the Red Shirt protestors feel like fools and puppets on a string and possibly lead to loss of face for allowing themselves to be used.
In either scenario Abhisit will look good and show he has the countries best interest in mind. It will become very difficult for Thaksin to maintain what little genuine support he has if he keeps changing the rules. The last time he did this he nearly caused the Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to collapse when he changed his stance on the Constitution from amending to replacing. That was a much smaller group and a bit more educated than the bulk of the Red Shirts from the Northeast. That quickly translates to the strong probability that fancy explanations are likely to be over the heads of lesser educated Thais, and leave them looking at Abhisit as being more concerned about them than Thaksin.
The reason this can happen now and not before is simple. Thaksin has been taking more of the position of ‘ This is for you and not me’ for whatever reasons. As for reasons there are certainly plenty from Treason to finding a place to broadcast from without getting ejected from the country he is hiding in. So helping the Thai people and leaving Thaksin out becomes easy and possible.
This calling the bluff method will simply lead to further discrediting of the Red Shirts as well as Thaksin. Educated or not, playing uneducated Thais for fools does have its repercussions. In this case regaining lost face may lead to some significant unpleasantries for Red Shirt leaders living in the Northeast. Marching about under the hot sun in Bangkok does have its way of changing a persons perception of things if it serves no tangible reason or gain for them.
The fact that Abhisit is genuinely sincere about his offer to the Red Shirts does make it very hard for the Red Shirt leaders to come up with some spin that does not get another defamation case started against them.
It’s a good tactical move, but I doubt Abhisit’s sincerity. He is famous for making all the right noises (on Rohinyas, Lese Majeste etc.), and then doing nothing… or worse.
What is there to talk about?
All Abhisit needs to do is dissolve parliament and call for new elections. It is painfully obvious that Abhisit does not call the shots. The powers-that-be who installed him know they would lose and would never let him call an election.
Abhisit is suggesting he’d only do that if the time is right and all parties agreed to accept the results. We all know *who* would lose not accept them — it’s not the red shirts.