When Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said no more news coverage of Thaksin Shinawatra, it was a huge blow for Thaksin. Thaksin was finding his way into Thai news for the most trivial of things and on the front page no less. But now there is just a trickle from media outside of Thailand, so Thaksin has upped his game.
It is no coincidence that some sporadic anti coup protests are popping up deep in Red Shirt country. Keeping them in check is easy because martial law is still in effect. But the fact is they only started after the no Thaksin coverage order was given. Given the fact that this sort of behavior would have been expected directly after the coup and not so much half a year later, there clearly is a connection to Thaksin.
The linkage of Red Shirts to Thaksin and their anti coup stance is still fresh enough in people’s minds that any anti coup demonstration provokes the thought of Thaksin. This also says that Thaksin is still working behind the scenes to keep people motivated and ready to pounce as soon as martial law is lifted, and that is the reason why it looks to stay until the new laws are in place that will viciously deal with corruption.
The behavior of the Government towards ending Thaksin’s influence is one or two tiers above the 2006 post coup effort. The Thais have learned from their mistakes and it cost them nearly 8 more years of political turmoil as Thaksin worked to have all charges dropped and get his money back. So keeping him out of the news is having a significant effect on his efforts to stay in the hearts and minds of Thais that support him. The positive side of it is the level of stress and anxiety across Thailand has dropped significantly.
As for what will be next, we can expect more events that provoke thoughts of Thaksin. Most of them will appear to be spontaneous, but the facts are likely to be that they were planned and staged to get the media to fire up their keyboards. Brief marches, protests at Government buildings and the here and there anti coup banners will spring up all being news worthy and all invoke thoughts of Thaksin.