11 July 2024

May 31, 2023: Elon Musk has sounded the alarm over and over, but the tycoon is anything but a western media darling, so the wake-up call must come in the form it took on Tuesday.

AI, even leading people in its own industry warn, must be handled with the greatest care, in the same way that humans treat pandemics and nuclear risks, or it could wipe out mankind.

The warning, according to CNN, was signed by leading industry officials including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman; the so-called “godfather” of AI, Geoffrey Hinton; top executives and researchers from Google DeepMind and Anthropic; Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s chief technology officer; Bruce Schneier, the internet security and cryptography pioneer; climate advocate Bill McKibben; and the musician Grimes, among others.

It carried the following statement: “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

So far, machines can only think the way humans programme them to, or so we believe. And every expert agrees that the world is a long way from the Armageddon seen in sci-fi movies. Present fears are mostly confined to super-smart chatbots (the likes of ChatGPT) that can easily be abused by human controllers, but the latest warning underlines the growing anxiety that possible misinformation could become something worse.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he does not exist, goes one of the most famous movie quotes of all time. Who knows, the greatest trick AI ever pulls could be convincing the world it does not think for itself.

May 30, 2023: Pita Limjaroenrat is cool and all, but he has to learn how to play poker.

Pheu Thai makes it seem that the House speakership is the only stumbling block in the coalition-forming talks. Therefore, if this was poker, Move Forward was playing an unbelievably easy game. Problem is, the party does not appear to realise that yet.

Give the position to Pheu Thai and see what happens. The “tussle” would only give Pheu Thai a very good reason to quit the fragile alliance. Calling Pheu Thai’s bluff will deprive the second-biggest party of its only good excuse for leaving.

As some people put it, Move Forward “does not misinterpret the role of the speaker; it only interprets the role in its own way.” Granted, Move Forward has a few controversial policies to push, like proposed end to military conscription, provincial gubernatorial elections, detaching rural administrative bodies from the Interior Ministry, “lesser” Article 112 and so on, but it’s not as if controlling the speakership will guarantee victories. Those policies need votes of MPs and senators, not a party’s control of the speakership.

May 29, 2023: Rumours about it compromising on ideology virtually cost Pheu Thai an election, so imagine what the party will get if it actually does so.

Pheu Thai’s hands are tied. What its strategist and ardent supporter Duangrit Bunnag tweeted bitterly the other day is spot on. “If we don’t help, we are wrong. If we help, we will be hurt,” he said and one could see that the message was tweeted with clenched jaws.

It must have been the same for Pheu Thai leader Cholanan Srikaew. He must have rejected a call by a red shirt faction for the party to leave the fledging Pita Limjaroenrat coalition with gritted teeth.

Well, it sounded like a rejection at least. In a Facebook post, he said Pheu Thai was obliged to promote democracy, hours after the faction asked the party to assert itself as a rival government-forming core.

Pheu Thai could be heavily punished in the next election if it backed away from the Pita alliance. It is better for the party to stay and throw the ball back to Move Forward’s court. Thaksin Shinawatra has said he would come back to Thailand in July no matter what, hasn’t he? How he is treated when/if he comes back will speak volumes about the new government and the new prime minister.

May 28, 2023: Once in a while banks collapse, depositors lose parts of their money, taxpayers’ contributions are used to “rescue” greedy miscalculation makers, and someone somewhere will have managed to do a runner. On top of that, maybe money comes out of nowhere purportedly legally and everything will be fine for a while.

Until the next bubble threatens to burst again, that is. In which case the circle will be repeated.

The political agreement in America hours ago to raise the US debt ceiling is an integral part of the odd (and some may say scary) big picture. It’s a world economic order that propagates investment freedom but, critics say, actually stays atop a great mountain of debts that are far too much and increasingly complicated financial instruments allegedly intended to prolong the fragility.

May 27, 2023: America will not default, because unmanageable debt is like an alien invasion that will force the Republicans and Democrats to join hands for mutual survival.

In that case, everyone can relax, as nothing should happen and the “X date” should be nothing more than a word to scare kids. A deal on extending the government’s borrowing ceiling should be struck to avoid calamity of being unable to pay lenders. To heighten the drama, they would make it very close to the deadline.

Thing is, they _ the men in power and their disgruntled allies _ very likely have to nuke the aliens. In other words, America will have to go into more debts to pay (some of) its current debts and thus more money would likely need to be printed improperly and surreptitiously. Which would require everyone depending on the US-based world economic order to pray.

America defaulting is not an option. People even say the US cannot do it constitutionally. So, sit back.

For now. And don’t forget to say a little prayer.

May 26, 2023: The Move Forward leader’s statement on the spiraling conflict between his party and Pheu Thai can be both a rallying cry and a warning that can prove prophetic.

Pita Limjaroenrat said in a tweet that the issue of House speakership was “a disagreement so tiny compared with the public-service obligations entrusted to us by the people.”

It’s imperative, therefore, that “members of the government alliance” keep their unity, Pita said. He also called for the disagreement to be discussed among assigned negotiators of the conflicting parties. In other words, those not really involved must keep their mouths shut.

Those “government members” had better listen to him carefully, because talks on how Cabinet seats should be allocated have not really begun yet.

May 25, 2023: Who else can better inflame the Move Forward-Pheu Thai conflict than Thaksin Shinawatra?

And all it took for Thaksin to drastically fuel the tension was one retweet with a little message of his own.

Duangrit Bunnag, a key Thaksin supporter and strategist, has posted a dramatic tweet that read: “Are we supposed to let people calling themselves our friends trample on our face day in and day out? I mean the friends who keep lying and back-stabbing us who need our help because they wouldn’t go anywhere otherwise. If we don’t help, we are wrong. If we help, we will be hurt.”

It came with a hashtag saying “Sometimes patience has its &%$#ing limits.”

Thaksin retweeted that along with his own message saying “Sound familiar krub”.

May 24, 2023: The “Fight one day, kowtow another day” narrative has met with “Fight one day, lie another day” as the Move Forward-Pheu Thai tension continued to simmer amid coalition-forming talks.

To add to that, Pheu Thai leader Cholanan Srikaew has suggested that he was deeply dissatisfied with remarks by the Thai Sang Thai Party’s prime ministerial nominee Sita Tiwari and wanted Move Forward to do something about it. As much as Move Forward needs Pheu Thai’s 141 seats in an attempt to form a government, Thai Sang Thai’s 6 seats are also very important.

Sita has been critical of Pheu Thai regarding the trouble-plagued MOU that purportedly should bind all the anti-military parties together. Some apology has been issued and later accepted, but Sita has kept up his criticism and Cholanan was asked today if it would affect Pheu Thai’s political plan.

“I just want to tell core leaders not to let trivial things affect our work,” he said. “But if six seats are seen more than (appear more important than) 141 seats, I don’t know what to say.” He even said that, at the peak of his anger, “I could have punched (someone) if I could.”

Interpret that as you may, but it’s not the only one curious statement by a Pheu Thai big gun. Adisorn Piengket has said that Move Forward should not assume it deserved everything both in the future Parliament and government. His resentment at Move Forward’s push for the House speakership apparently reflects the general feeling within Pheu Thai.

“There has been a contemptuous statement that one party is fighting one day and kowtowing another day, but when the victory comes, will it look like fighting one day and lying another day?” Adisorn said. “All this happens while they are not even the government yet. How can I be confident about the future?”

Many people describe Adisorn as a very emotional man. So, Move Forward must be hoping he was being emotional alone.

May 23, 2023: Pita Limjaroenrat will not be prime minister; Pheu Thai will back-stab him and be in danger of party dissolution itself; senators will seem to scatter all over the place ideologically but, eventually, any “unwanted” prime ministerial nominee will never get the 376 votes required; and there can be a huge upheaval.

That’s the prediction of former Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan, who, despite proclaimed knowledge of shady conspiratorial deals and secret meetings, seems not quite sure himself what shape the next government will take and how long it will last.

In short, he predicted that things will be very messy. Jatuporn, who used to be a catalyst for violent political uprisings but has turned into a considerably-followed reader of political developments, based his predictions on Move Forward’s tough stand on Article 112 which has divided public and allies’ opinions, senators’ last chance of wielding its provisional PM-selecting power, and detrimentally-serious Pheu Thai-Move Forward competition.

Jatuporn sees Move Forward on a tightrope. On the one hand, the party wants to please its ardent supporters pushing for drastic national reforms. On the other hand, “compromise” is needed to lure support of other parties as well as some in the Senate. The pro-Pita street campaign to pressure senators will lead to some sweet promises but will not lead to the 376 votes required, he predicted.

“I believe that Thai politics is heading toward a dead end, and any eventual result will not come easily,” he said. He added that even if senators are put out of the way now, there will still be the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Constitutional Court ready to pick up on the iTV share controversy which is already standing in Pita’s way.

As for the old government camp, any attempt to set up a “minority administration” will be a “sure-fire disaster.” Pheu Thai, meanwhile, will think it can be the kingmaker but that is a deadly assumption because the party is living dangerously itself. According to Jatuporn, to get to Pita, one does not need to dissolve Move Forward, as dissolving Pheu Thai will be enough block both parties.

A big crisis is brewing, Jatuporn said.

May 22, 2023: In politics, “special-task” parties are fragile, especially when they are no longer in a position to carry out their special tasks.

This brings the future of two parties _ Palang Pracharath and Ruam Thai Sang Chart _ into spotlight, the former created before the 2019 election and the latter founded before the latest election. Palang Pracharath achieved the “special task” goal in 2019 but the party, along with Ruam Thai Sang Chart, are in danger of losing their significance after May 14.

Rumours have been rife that Prawit Wongsuwan would quit Palang Pracharath’s helm whereas a deputy leader of Ruam Thai Sang Chart has admitted publicly that he did not know what Prayut Chan-o-cha was thinking.

The two men will most likely wait until the dust settles regarding government formation and the door slams completely shut on the premiership issue, hoping against hope that there will be one last anti-climax. After that, rumours and speculation should become official.

May 21, 2023: A glimpse of how politically-difficult it will be for a party that depends a lot on social media trending to govern has materialised for Pita Limjaroenrat.

Fast developments on the Chart Pattana Kla Party suggested key politicians have been backpedaling thanks to online sentiment.

The “Chart Pattana Kla: With Korn, Without Me” hashtag led Twitter trending on Friday, as diehard supporters of Pita and the Move Forward Party launched into strong objections to Chart Pattana Kla joining the still-unfinished coalition that wants all the votes it can get.

The uproar reportedly forced Move Forward to backtrack by dropping the party. In addition,  Chart Pattana Kla party leader Korn Chatikavanij has come out to say that the party never contacted Move Forward to join its coalition-forming alliance, because the two-seat party was too small to bargain for anything.

On the one hand, a political party that responds immediately to how its supporters feel is being a political party in the oldest definition of the words. On the other hand, the new definition of “political party”is something along the lines of “Horse-trading can be more important than anything, so keep every public pledge at your own peril.”

With Move Forward involved in things a lot more controversial than the now-doomed partnership with Chart Pattana Kla, Pita will need to keep looking over his shoulder and checking Twitter’s political top ten.

May 20, 2023: Pita Limjaroenrat has been compared to Julius Caesar and unnamed political force to his friend-turned-betrayer Marcus Junius Brutus.

Trace the iTV share controversy threatening Pita and you will know who Brutus is, according to Jatuporn Prompan, ex-warrior of Pheu Thai who has turned against Thaksin Shinawatra and his political camp.

Jatuporn said he did not think the man who publicly started the iTV storm, Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, who defected from Pheu Thai, was working alone.

“Pita must think really hard about how Ruangkrai got the information,” Jatuporn said in his regular online “Live” that has become a much-followed anti-Pheu Thai forum.  Jatuporn’s programme, in fact, contributed to what became a giant ideological tsunami rocking Pheu Thai and benefiting Move Forward in the May 14 election.

He now says Pita could face the same fate as Thanathorn Juangronngruangkit whose V-Luck Media case shockingly resulted in the latter’s being disqualified as an MP.

“If or when Pita figures out how the iTV information came into view, he will know the identity of the one holding the knife,” Jatuporn said.

May 19, 2023: It’s a “Thank you” message that makes readers scroll past the “Thank you” part and go straight to the main point right at the end.

Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, leader of the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party, included the future of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, sort of, in his online statement thanking voters who supported the party in the general election.

The “Thank you” and “We will keep on working” bits, however, were ceremonial and the focus of many people is on how Prayut, the party’s prime ministerial candidate, goes from here. The answer, vague as some may feel, is at the end of Pirapan’s message.

Following is a word-for-word translation of Pirapan’s statement: “Importantly, Uncle Tu, or Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, will continue to work with the party in his capacity as chairman of the strategic committee that is part of efforts to make Ruam Thai Sang Chart strong and serve as a main party in protecting and supporting the country’s three main institutions. (The party will continue to be) the hope of all Thai generations who love the nation our way. Thank you.”

Earlier parts of the message mentioned that Ruam Thai Sang Chart was third in the popular vote category and many of its constituency candidates came second.

May 18, 2023: Thaksin Shinawatra’s suggestion that Move Forward was aided by a misinformation campaign against Pheu Thai in the run-up to the general election can increase some serious seeds of doubt in an alliance already facing an acid test.

So far, it looks like Pheu Thai is backing Move Forward to be the core of the next government, but Thaksin’s “IO” statement was among curious developments which also include Thaksin’s repeated remarks on his “loyalty” to the orthodox Thai political system with which Move Forward is not totally happy.

Both Pheu Thai and Move Forard are wooing the same Thai political market, and the latter’s shocking election triumph was largely attributed to the perception that it was more ideologically dedicated than Thaksin’s camp. Pre-election fights to win voters’ hearts presented their alliance a big test, but the election outcome plus Thaksin’s online comments must have added more weight to the strained relations.

Thaksin’s “IO” charges had to do with what he suggested were unstoppable rumours about Pheu Thai’s “readiness” to form a post-election government with Palang Pracharath, a scenario that would facilitate his vowed return to Thailand.

May 17, 2023: Mathematically, it’s far simpler than in 2019, so if the talks on forming a coalition government requires more time than usual, more and more Move Forward supporters will start biting nails.

All of a sudden, Pheu Thai is the kingmaker, the second-best thing after its hope of becoming king in an unambiguous election landslide was shattered to pieces on Sunday. Their MPs combined,  Pheu Thai and Move Forward have just short of 300 seats, a comfortable House of Representatives majority. This is different from 2019 when the general election produced two cores _ Palang Pracharath on one side and Pheu Thai on the other. Back then, both camps had to compete in gathering House of Representatives support and the Palang Pracharath camp just nicked it, despite the fact that Pheu Thai actually had more seats.

This time, a Move Forward-Pheu Thai alliance would have an unbeatable majority in the House of Representatives and they won’t need any other party. The Senate may flex its muscles, yes, but a strong House of Representatives union will make senators think twice because if such a union fails to be the government, there would be troubles here and abroad.

But such a union needs to really exist. If Pheu Thai is perceived as ambivalent, bargain hunters will be more active than in 2019, as generally-accepted government formation rules dictate that any camp that manages to gather the House of Representatives majority gets the chance.

The longer it takes, the stronger the signs that something is going on.

May 16, 2023: It would be quite an irony if Abhisit Vejjajiva, who quitted the Democrat helm due to a humiliating election loss to be replaced by Jurin Laksanawisit, comes back to replace Jurin at the Democrat helm after another humiliating election loss.

Thailand’s oldest political party will wait until the election results are formalized by the Election Commission to elect a new executive board. Some key members have mentioned Abhisit as a proper Jurin replacement along with the likes of ex-party leader Chaiwut Bannawat.

Abhisit took a break after the election misery in 2019, being barely active in helping the party with low-profile affairs. He had been one of the most vocal critics of military fingerprints in the existing Constitution, though.

People old enough will remember that the shriek-and-scream fever engulfing Move Forward’s Pita Limjaroenrat at the moment was more or less something that happened to Abhisit before. He was a heart-throb back then, and you wouldn’t want to be a judge tasked with deciding which one between Abhisit at his prime and Pita is prettier.

The former prime minister has been sending mixed signals about full-scale return to politics, however. He has given some major opinions here and there, but many people believe he could choose to remain on the periphery.

It will be interesting to see another Abhisit-Pita debate on Article 112.

May 15, 2023: Elections are tough, but life beyond them are tougher, especially if you are the winner.

Pita Limjaroenrat has experienced the best day of his life, but how he can look back and feel proud of _ and grateful for _ Sunday, May 14, 2013, will not depend on millions of voters. It’s what he does from now on.

Old-style politics (back-stabbing, cutting corners, horse-trading etc) that Pita and his supporters can say he has beaten on Sunday has a way of coming back to life, even in the midst of more democratic and sophisticated citizenry. Pita’s challenge is how to keep it dead and buried for good.

May 13-14, 2023: Hopefully, when a Russian spacecraft returns from the moon later this year under renewed exploration drives which had been subdued in no small measure by Apollo 11, the never-say-die moon landing conspiracy theory can be put to rest.

Russia plans to launch its first lunar space mission in modern times on July 13, state corporation Roscosmos has announced. Added significance of that followed a remark by a former Roscosmos director general just less than a week ago.

The 59-year-old man, who was a kid when the world watched Neil Armstrong in awe in 1969, was the latest senior expert to put his neck on the line and doubt the legitimacy of that still-controversial moon landing. Dmitry Rogozin said he was skeptical about the Apollo 11 narratives because of a few things and among them is how fresh the Apollo 11 crew looked upon their return.

During the prime of his life, Rogozin carried out his own pursuit to find the truth even as he was chastised for trying to belittle something “sacred” achieved by the enemy. Time and again, he said he observed how fatigued Soviet cosmonauts appeared upon their return from spaceflights, in contrast to the seemingly unaffected state of the Apollo 11 returnees. He challenged the United States to “do it again” and remove all the doubts.

The credibility of his claims suffered a setback when his career with the Russian space agency ended tumultuously. His doubts about Apollo 11, however, now have helped conspiracy theorists and also coincided with “Luna-25” preparations.

Luna 25 is basically Russia’s new determination regarding space exploration. The Russians have kept a respectful public stance regarding Apollo 11, and Rogozin has critics in his own country in addition to being painted by America as a jealous guy.

“The launch of the Luna-25 spacecraft is scheduled for 13.07.2023, taking into account the astronomical ‘window’ in 2023,” Roscosmos said in a statement earlier.

The unmanned mission had originally been planned for 2022 but was postponed due to technical reasons, news reports said. With or without crew, the mission certainly must be equipped sophisticatedly enough to find out traces that could end the “Is it a giant hoax?” debate for good.

May 12, 2023: Speculation has been rife about reviving all cases that led to Thaksin Shinawatra’s jail terms, but such a development requires a big legal push which would be all but impossible if the Pheu Thai Party ends up in the opposition bloc again.

This week, Thaksin repeatedly tweeted that he was coming home. In his latest message, he vowed to return to Thailand while the Prayut government was still a caretaker administration in post-election early days. This would, many think, pre-empt criticism that he was taking advantage of Pheu Thai’s state powers.

However, he is also being seen as trying to send a warning to rival authorities that the political wind will likely change after this Sunday. His homecoming pledge may also be aimed at making one side of the political divide cast the popular vote for Pheu Thai instead of Move Forward. A real, mega landslide would increase Pheu Thai’s chances of being in the next government, thus making it easier to revive all cases that have led to Thaksin’s jail sentences.

This theory of new trials, however, flies in the face of the Thaksin-is-definitely-returning scenario. If Pheu Thai fails to be in the next government or its bargaining power is not big enough to start a pro-Thaksin legal campaign, Thaksin’s vow to come home will be questionable.

That Thaksin sounded very definite in his tweets that he was returning to Thailand in July makes many analysts believe that he is very certain about Pheu Thai being in the next government.

May 11, 2023: Like Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit before him, the Move Forward leader has been presented with a problem that looks trivial in the beginning.

Claims that Pita Limjaroenrat is not fit to run as an election candidate because of some iTV shares in his possession have brought back the memory of Thanathorn’s V-Luck Media case that resulted in the latter’s being disqualified as an MP. The amount of iTV shares in Pita’s name is not that big and iTV has not been active in media business.

Now, Pita is saying that he is not worried, that the shares did not originally belong to him but it is part of an inheritance business that he is legally obliged to carry out, and that the authorities have been informed about it a long time ago.

Thanathorn was there before. Many media outlets, meanwhile, have begun active coverage as if they are smelling something.

May 10, 2023: One of Thailand’s most respected intellectuals has welcomed the drive of the country’s new generation and urged it to strive for something that he said even America still does not have.

Dr Prawase Wasi, a highly-regarded senior citizen, academic, writer and humanist, said in an article coming out at the homestretch of the general election that genuine “equality” is what the new generation must aim for although that is “the most difficult thing.”

“Even America that has won the most Nobel Prize awards is very lopsided right now,” he said.

Prawase called for open-mindedness when it comes to new ideas but emphasized that new ideas must also prove their true worth.

“The new generation is the future. If they are fully alert, idealistic and highly capable, the future will be bright. That new thinking is necessary does not mean old thinking is bad. Even in business, what used to make profits will lead to losses if it’s not changed. Everyone needs reconceptualisation. I have been observing new thinking being shot down time and again. Everyone needs to find a way for new thinking to not just survive but also flourish,” he wrote.

May 9, 2023: This time Thaksin Shinawatra’s homecoming pledge looks very real. In a tweet today, he said he would certainly return to Thailand before his birthday anniversary on July 26.

This is one translation of his Thai tweet: “I’m asking you to allow me again. I have made up my mind.  I will go home within July before my birthday to raise my grandchildren. Please allow me. It has been almost 17 years away from my country and I’m old now.”

It’s unclear whose permission he is seeking, but he sounds hell-bent on coming back. This is not the first time, though, that he has made such a vow, or plea, or request. It’s only a few weeks to go before everyone will find out how serious he is this time. Thailand should have a new government by then.

May 8, 2023: Dozens of people including the leader of a prominent anti-monarchy group have been arrested during the King Charles III’s Coronation, alarming rights advocates.

BBC quoted London’s Metropolitan Police as saying that 52 arrests were made for a range of reasons during the celebration. Other news outlets reported different numbers but they confirmed that many in custody were anti-monarchy protesters.

The Met, BBC reported, insisted it “understands” public concern, and officers had acted proportionally under the law. “Protest is lawful and it can be disruptive,” Commander Karen Findlay, leading the day’s operation, said. A case was made about numerous protests that had been closely-watched by police without any arrests.

Officers, she told BBC, have to intervene “when protest becomes criminal and may cause serious disruption”.

Claims coming out the other side questioned the insistence that the police were considerate. Accusations of heavy-handed enforcement started on Saturday, when the chief executive of anti-monarchist campaign group Republic, Graham Smith, was arrested. BBC said Footage showed protesters in “Not My King” t-shirts being detained, including Mr Smith. Republic said they were stopped by police near the procession.

“So much for the rights to peaceful protests,” the campaign group said, claiming that certain arrests were even made without detainees being informed what the illegality of their acts was.

“The reports of people being arrested for peacefully protesting the coronation are incredibly alarming,” said Human Rights Watch UK director Yasmine Ahmed.

“This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London.”

Some protesters call it a “dystopian nightmare.”

May 7, 2023: While problems elsewhere may have to do with new thinking or emerging cultures, Liverpudlians’ perception of the English royal family goes back a long way.

That perception formed during times of hardships, of widespread feelings of being outcasts, of the term “Scouse” being generally perceived as a major insult. When a big fuss has been made out of King Charles III’s coronation, national anthem and how the crowds at the Anfield stadium did before the kick-off of the Brentford game on Saturday, the issue in fact is less about Liverpool supporters versus the monarchy than the entire Liverpool city versus the establishment.

“God save our team” is what Liverpool football fans in the city prefer to “God save the King.” That was long before LFC supporters in Anfield booed “God Save the King” when it was played before the Brendford kick-off just hours ago.

“Pathetic”, Piers Morgan, one of UK’s most famous media personalities, tweeted. “Please tell me why” was one of the replies that included resignation, exasperation, outright anger and sympathy.

Booing the establishment anthem is what Liverpool fans do. Prince William witnessed it at the Wembley stadium last football season. It was an ingrained defiance fuelled by the feelings that the state did not do enough to give “justice” to the LFC fans who died at the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989.

Saturday could be even worse. “You can stick your coronation up your arse,” came the cry from the most vocal section of Liverpool fans during Wednesday’s home win over Fulham.

The behaviours were not exactly an act against King Charles III, but an expression of dissent against the entire system that many Liverpool people don’t think have fully supported them. Said one Liverpool journalist before Saturday: “It’s just a world away from some guy having a crown put on his head in London. What relevance has that got to the lives of people in this city? Especially people who have been treated so badly by the establishment for so long.”

According to a podcast whose transcript was published by a sports website, theatheletic.com, perception of Liverpool in the United Kingdom changed during the Irish potato famine (in 1845-52). In the aftermath of that, poor Liverpool Irish refugees poured into Liverpool. The city was then widely taunted as “the capital of Ireland.” The word “Scouse” was in fact considered an insult at the time as it was aimed at the poorest Irish people.

In the podcast, one participant said Liverpool was described as “a city that was outside the body politic of the United Kingdom and was regarded as an outsider, so the roots of being anti-establishment and anti-London go back way deeper than the more recent stuff”.

At the 1950 and 1965 FA Cup finals, the national anthem was mockingly altered, said the website. Instead of singing “God save the King” and “God save the Queen”, Liverpool fans sang “God save our team”.

The perception that England’s Football Association is always biased against LFC does not help. Decisions against LFC “misconducts” are often swift and harsh, it is believed, whereas greater alleged violations like Manchester City’s financial fair play case seem to be dragging on. Last year, Liverpool missed the English Premier League title by one point and its fans linked that to a refereeing “ignorance” of a blatant Manchester City “handball” that could have resulted in a last-minute penalty, allowed Everton to draw level and consequently given Liverpool the prestigious trophy.

May 6, 2023: Predicting that Pheu Thai will get just 139 seats and Palang Pracharath will be only 10 seats behind Move Forward is bold. Very bold.

Super Poll predictions point to a stalemate that would raise the bargaining powers of smaller parties and possibly invite the Senate to flex its muscles.

Pheu Thai’s predicted 139 seats will comfortably make it the election winner but are also pitiful, even when the “maximum” (less likely but still possible) of 164 seats are taken into account. The party won 136 seats in the 2019 election without having any party-list seat at all. Prayut Chan-o-cha has been repeatedly asking his supporters not to look at opinion poll results but Pheu Thai executives must be saying the same thing after this one.

Palang Pracharath, for all the talks and evidence of its “decline”, is expected by Super Poll to win 53 seats compared with Move Forward’s 63. One is the new star with a very popular prime ministerial candidate and the other is a has-been whose leader is among the least famous PM nominees, so many analysts can be forgiven if they are very skeptical about the small gap of just 10 seats.

May 5, 2023: Two superpowers are trading strong and emotional rhetoric that is making the rest of the world squirm some more.

Relations between the US and Russia had been at their lowest point since the Cold War, but the reported drone attack on the Kremlin this week must have made them hit rock bottom. When asked by CNN if Moscow thought the US was behind it, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: “Undoubtedly, such decisions, the definition of goals, the definition of means – all this is dictated to Kyiv from Washington.”

To which John Kirby, the US National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, replied: “I would just tell you Peskov’s lying. I mean, it’s obviously a ludicrous claim. The United States had nothing to do with this. We don’t even know what happened here.”

Later, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reportedly told local media that relations between the US and Russia are on the verge of an “open-armed conflict.” According to CNN, he said: “We are working to prevent relations with the US from plunging into the abyss of an open armed conflict. We are already standing on the edge, on the edge of this precipice.”

Higher-level Washington comments are being sought.

May 4, 2023: If Russia’s claims are truthful, it’s not just the Ukraine war we should be worried about.

Military and other analysts are scrambling to speculate how Moscow would respond, or whether it was a hoax; or whether it was somebody’s tests on the limits, precision and innovations of weaponised drones and stealth attacks; or whether it was a pretext to up the ante against Ukraine; or whether it was just a high-level sympathy scheme (people blow up their own stuff all the time to paint themselves as victims so that a lot of things can be done more easily). But one thing has to be focused on: If a flying object carrying deadly arms can get that close to the heart of a superpower, the entire world has entered highly-dangerous uncharted waters.

Ukraine has denied responsibility, and, of all the developments, the denial seems to be the most rational. Bombarded with missiles and facing superior forces already, it would be very naïve of Ukraine to attempt such a thing and make Russia angrier or more dangerously paranoid in the process.

In multi-layer cutthroat international politics, however, the most seemingly-logical thing is not necessarily what it looks.

May 3, 2023: Worrying signs continue for the biggest political party in one of the latest opinion surveys conducted in the home stretch of the May 14 election.

Move Forward Pita Limjaroenrat is emerging as the most popular prime ministerial candidate of late, and that has been confirmed by the NIDA poll which covered 2,500 voters across Thailand and was carried out in the last week of April. He won 35.44% backing followed by Pheu Thai’s Paetongtarn Shinawatra (29.20%)

Pheu Thai can be a bit more relieved in the “political party” category (only just). More than 38% of the respondents said they planned to vote for Pheu Thai in the constituency elections, compared with 33.9% for Move Forward. For party list, Pheu Thai gets 37.9% support while Move Forward received 12.8%.

Trailing a distant third but remarkable anyway is Prayut Chan-o-cha and his political party. In the most popular prime ministerial candidate category, he has 14.8% backing, compared with 6.7% for Pheu Thai’s Srettha Thavisin. In the political party category, Ruam Thai Sang Chart is favoured by 4.2% in constituency elections (third) and 3.3% for party list (also third). Prawit Wongsuwan is so far behind Prayut in the individual popularity section and Palang Pracharath gets just 1% in the party list category.

May 2, 2023: To say that Pheu Thai is not actually directed by its board is a familiar accusation, but the Bhumjaithai leader is using that anyway to taunt one of the opposition party’s prime ministerial candidates.

“We know who has real decision-making power,” said Anutin Charnvirakul today as he strongly implied that Srettha Thavisin, one of Pheu Thai’s candidates for the top job, is not a go-to person when post-election negotiations are under way.

Bhumjaithai has emerged a major contender in quite a few Pheu Thai-dominated territories, pitting their leaders and key members against one another. Earlier, in a Facebook post, Anutin said Srettha must be careful when giving election promises because “we know whose nods are important and who can only just talk.”

Today, Anutin seriously took issue with the notion raised by his political opponents on rally stages that a vote for Bhumjaithai was a vote for Prayut Chan-o-cha’s return to power. Anutin insisted that he was ready to be prime minister himself if his party becomes strong enough after the election.

“I don’t want to say it as it would sound like blowing my own trumpet, but they are forcing me to say it,” said Anutin. “Let me be clear that if you vote for Bhumjaithai, you will be voting for Anutin as the prime minister.”

May 1, 2023: While Move Forward and Pheu Thai are fighting their frenemy fight elsewhere, Ruam Thai Sang Chart, Democrat and Palang Pracharath are intensifying theirs in the South, with Prayut Chan-o-cha’s party targetting more than half of constituency seats available in the region.

Opinion polls are favouring the Democrats generally among the three government parties, but Prayut is said to be the most popular prime ministerial candidate of the government bloc in the South. Palang Pracharath, meanwhile, will try to hold on to whatever it can in the region, although its popularity plunge appears to be continuing and weirdly attributed to both anti-government and pro-Prayut feelings.

In other words, for the three “allied” parties, Palang Pracharath is widely expected to come third, leaving the Democrats and Ruam Thai Sang Chart to fight it out for the southern dominance.

“We are confident that Ruam Thai Sang Chart will win more than half of constituency seats in the South and will get 3 million party list votes or more from the region,” said Ruam Thai Sang Chart’s Secretary General Ekkanat Prompan.

 

 

Daily updates of significant domestic and international events by Tulsathit Taptim