11 July 2024

August 31, 2022: “Come here and rent my place if you have to”. That was how Thaksin Shinawatra is mocking the ordeal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and risking embarrassing himself in the process.

On a Facebook page of his political strategists, Thaksin was asked to comment on the Constitutional Court’s decision to suspend Prayut from prime ministerial duties pending a final verdict on his controversial eight-year tenure.

“If he is in need of an exile, he can come and rent my house, and then I will return to Thailand,” Thaksin said in a tongue-in-cheek manner that seemed to suggest “I will return to Thailand to take your place.”

Even before the tease, the pro-Prayut camp was already drumming up the “respect for the court unlike some people who ran away” narrative. With Thaksin openly mocking the prime minister, the on-and-off war of words between their supporters would only intensify.

August 30, 2022: Full budgetary and appointment powers for caretaker Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan would make the next few weeks extremely uneasy for Prayut Chan-o-cha.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, official rules governing the care-taking situation which required the prime minister who is suspended or temporarily unable to perform administrative duties to be “consulted” over budgetary and appointment matters were “impractical”. The Cabinet, therefore, has done something about it today by dropping the requirements.

That wouldn’t be a problem if Prayut and Prawit were seeing eye to eye on important budgetary and high-level appointment issues. Rumours have suggested they were not.

It’s going to take one month at least before the Constitutional Court comes up with its final verdict on Prayut’s tenure. Until then, all budgetary and appointment matters will be put under a media microscope, and probably multiple times.

August 29, 2022: Whoever becomes Britain’s next prime minister _ either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak _ will have to deal with massive and scary rises of British energy bills that are certain to trigger large-scale public anger and capable of dooming any government.

British power bills will rise 80% to an average of £3,549 ($4,188) a year from October, regulator Ofgem has just said, demanding urgent and decisive government action to tackle the impending and major “crisis”.

Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley was quoted as saying that the energy situation would have a “massive impact” on households across Britain, and yet another wave of bad news would likely hit in January.

He said whoever becomes the next prime minister, be it Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, needed to think about immediate action regarding the matter now. Already, the public perception that they both lack the ability to deal with the crisis is in the conversation now.

August 28, 2022: America’s latest episode of political divisions is playing out like a boring spy movie and the viewers are in danger of losing the plot.

What did Donald Trump take with him after leaving office? How much did the White House take back? Was the urgent and tumultuous raid necessary? Is it “political persecution” as claimed by Trump, or is it something that was needed to be done for national security’s sake as claimed by the government? In addition to being a “sour loser” (which most politicians are anyway), is he also a traitor? Last but not least, if he was also the latter, does that mean Americans elected a snake president in 2016 who was allowed to complete his term and, if so, what does that say about what should be the model of democracy?

All those questions are being answered, or handled, or treated like an elephant in the room with the word “confidential” written or spoken all over the place. Shouldn’t democracy mean “as little secret as possible” if not at all?

Formal official or judicial languages that apparently play down the magnitude of what is happening do not help. Hopefully, this coming week, when everyone promises the “Highly confidential” could become less confidential, will shed some light.

August 27, 2022: There are reasons for a last-minute change of heart such as “… but the people demand it”, so Move Forward MP Amarat Chokepamitkul’s Facebook announcement that she won’t be in the next Parliament is by no means irreversible.

One of most controversial MPs _ who has sparred with the prime minister in Parliament, made taboo statements on the national assembly’s floor, pushed the boundary of Article 112 enforcement and actively gave all kinds of support to anti-establishment protesters _ told admirers on a comment thread she would not be running as a constituency candidate and neither would she be in the party-list. But she asked supporters of Move Forward to continue backing the party.

Apart from the leaderships of the Move Forward Party and Progressive Movement, which are under the same umbrella, she stands out the most. Therefore, it is hard to imagine Amarat being outside Parliament next year.

She has courted legal troubles, but a lot of politicians have done the same. She is controversially and explosively outspoken, but so are many MPs. She has had online warriors bombard her accounts and rival media crucify her, but which politician is not on the similar receiving end? Whatever the real reason is, her announcement can make the party scratch its head and there could be more statements on the matter in the days to come.

August 26, 2022: The biggest opposition camp is asking voters to “switch off” the Senate and give it a general election landslide big enough to form a government in spite of the non-elected chamber.

The Pheu Thai Party believes a House of Representatives dissolution would likely happen after the Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting near the end of this year to pave the way for an early general election in late January or at the beginning of February.

The belief was expressed today as the party unveiled its 36 election candidates for 15 central region provinces.

Party leader Cholnan Srikaew told a gathering at the unveiling ceremony that “it’s very highly likely” that the House would be dissolved after the Apec meeting. He called on voters to give the party a bigger victory than in 2019 when winning the biggest number of MPs was not enough to make Pheu Thai a government.

He said senators should be “switched off” come what may to ensure that Pheu Thai will be the core of the next government.

“The chance of a general election happening in late January or early February is very high,” he said.

August 25, 2022: In a statement that must have eased some fears, the head of the Thai army has hailed the “democratic” way Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is taking the Constitutional Court shock.

Gen Narongpan Jitkaewthae, the army commander-in-chief, today dismissed rumours that he faced an immediate transfer, saying reporters, just like everyone in Thailand, must not be so “negative.”

“Please look at Prime Minister Prayut. Everyone should admire the way he is accepting the democratic way of qualification scrutiny,” Narongpan said. “The process calls for the Constitutional Court judges to settle this kind of dispute and their decisions to be passed on to the administrative branch, which must accept them. This is a perfect democratic process. Let me just say he’s a gentleman and good example.”

Prayut’s opponents may disagree, but they can take heart in the likelihood that, now that Narongpan’s statement is out there, the Army chief shall not do anything that could disrupt the “perfect democratic process.”

August 24, 2022: Protesters may find fewer reasons to keep up street pressure on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for now, but potentially calmer streets will be like the prelude to a big storm, whatever the final ruling of the Constitutional Court will be.

Prayut, not totally unexpectedly, has been suspended from duty after the judges agreed to consider his controversial tenure. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will act as a caretaker prime minister according to preliminary reports.

The suspension and the fact that Prawit is a political party’s leader who does not have a tenure problem should take away much of the current heat, but, by the end of September, the court reportedly should come up with the final ruling. That will be the real climax.

August 23, 2022: As Thailand rolls toward another volcanic political moment, one of the government’s top legal experts says that the fact that the prime minister was endorsed twice _ first by a post-coup assembly and later by constitutional Parliament _ is “significant”.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam did not go further, but he seems to favour the idea that if the Consitutional Court issues an injunction on Prayut’s premiership in case the judges accept the petition questioning the issue of the eight-year tenure, a “caretaker” prime minister should be somebody else.

Wissanu was in effect saying that an injunction was possible, yet Prayut could continue as a caretaker, but he (Wissanu) would prefer somebody else to assume the caretaker role.

The deputy prime minister was speaking as government authorities prepare for potentially vociferous and snowballing protests to force Prayut to step down after having been in office for eight years.

Prompted by reporters, Wissanu said the fact that Prayut’s eight-year reign has spanned two periods _ when Thailand first had a post-coup national assembly and then a constitutional Parliament _ was “significant”.

“I would say no more because it will up to the Constitutional Court judges,” he said.

August 22, 2022: It boils down to the question of which one is more of a surefire investment. One side says digital asset management expertise is the way to go and we all must be prepared for a sophisticated, digitally-driven future, while the other says people shall not dive straight into what they know little about and should stick to what they are good at.

When Jirayut (Topp) Srupsrisopa, founder and Group CEO of Bitkub Capital Group Holdings Co., Ltd., a highly- popular blockchain and digital asset group of companies in Thailand, suggested the country should go easy on tourism now and concentrate instead on his own kind of digital trading equipment, promotion and development, an uproar is threatening to overshadow supportive voices.

Here’s apparently the most controversial part of his speech, crafted very recently for an economic forum focusing on the future trading and technology: “Thailand must change from the tourism promotion or the Amazing Thailand campaign which has been a backwater over the past 20 years. We should become a digital hub and the government must promote the idea and start building foundations for the digital economy now. We must end the old-fashioned economy and give importance to the digital economy. Strong foundations [of the digital economy] will bring about prosperity.”

With so many lives depending on tourism in Thailand, that does not go down well. The technicality of his preferred business means even some supporters of his are still relying on mainstream financial activities and are not investing in the type of his “future.” Which, however, means that Thailand needs to “increase the knowledge” and lay down some foundations. That is his proposal exactly, although he pushed it in a quite offensive way that turned many off. To add to criticism against him, collapses or near-collapses of digital currency trading activities around the world are cited as a proof that “flying blind” or imperfect guidance can be disastrous.

“People are good at different things and it will be unwise to make everyone do the same, unproven thing,” said one of the “No, thank you” online posts. One of the more polite, that is.

“…Besides, his preferred business is full of sharks who exploit or cheat directly, and preys who drop like flies everyday.”

A middle path is probably the best way to do it. Thailand needs more knowledge about the futuristic changes and maintain tourism as an economic backbone as of now.

August 21, 2022: If the latest NIDA survey is to be believed, a substantial number of people might go for one party in the constituency election and, simultaneously, another when they mark their party-list ballot.

The two-ballot system gives voters that option _ of selecting constituency candidates from one party and supporting another while making their party-list choice. In 2019, all constituency votes were practically reused _ combined nationally as part of party-list calculation.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in the latest NIDA survey is that almost 17% of 1,312 Thais surveyed vowed not to vote for the same party in constituency and party-list elections. About 38% would vote for the same party and 44.8% have not decided.

The findings fly in the face of the fact that most people would mark the same party in their two ballots and the chance of up to 17% or more picking two different parties is not that high. In 2011, for example, Pheu Thai swept the constituency election, winning 204 seats and also emerged the convincing champion of the party-list contest, winning over 15.7 million votes or 61 seats. The Pheu Thai results showed most people who voted for its constituency candidates also voted for it when marking the party-list ballot. The same happened with the other parties.

Additionally, we have had all the noises coming from the small parties, who should have loved the two-ballot system because it is supposed to give them a greater chance. Instead, the small parties like the one-ballot system alongside the controversial “every vote counts” concept that in fact yielded them seats without having to win in constituencies.

August 20, 2022: Superpowers are crossing more lines. That’s probably the shortest explanation of why large-scale nuclear horrors are a lot closer to reality today than they were at the height of the “previous” Cold War.

We can blame Vladimir Putin, or we should also frown upon the fact that the political leaders of the United States, Russia and China are much more gung-ho than ever before, which is practically wiping away the collective restraints of a few decades ago.

Fighting in Ukraine has been taking place near a major nuclear power plant. Diplomatic and legal provocations among the rival superpowers are taking place almost on a daily basis, more often than “high-level meetings” or “peace talks”. Last but not least, there are a lot more nuclear tools today and people who know how to activate or politically manipulate them than there were in the past Cold War.

According to Sir Stephen Lovegrove, the UK’s national security adviser, in a recent speech to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washongton, during the “previous” Cold War, there were well-understood “escalatory ladders” that could be collectively monitored, making crises easier to identify and defuse. But today, he said, “escalation wormholes” _ sudden, unpredictable failures in the fabric of deterrence causing rapid escalation to strategic conflicts” _ have badly blurred such ladders and negatively impacted containment strategies.

When the Ukraine war broke out, the risk of nuclear exchange between NATO and Russia became greater than at any time since the height of that Cold War. But such concerns have been eclipsed by the chance of an accidental catastrophe at the Russian-occupied nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia where shells are exploding around the plant which is in the heart of the battle zone. Ukraine and Russia are accusing each other of holding the nuclear complex hostage.

One thing is for sure, a Zaporizhzhia disaster can dwarf the Chernobyl crisis.

August 19, 2022: But you can’t bemoan the video of your dancing or jiving becoming public. You are the prime minister in a democratic country, period.

People do everything at 36, and Sanna Marin is 36. She is disappointed that the video of her “private” dancing was leaked and went viral. She has the right to be, but so do Finland’s citizens who don’t want to see their prime minister as a dancing queen while she is in office.

It’s debatable if what she and her critics did was appropriate. What is not debatable is the fact that she is a public figure in a “democratic” country. In a democratic society, rightly or wrongly, the public decide what is “private” and what is not. More importantly, a politician in a democratic country should have known there are possible consequences of every action.

August 18, 2022: Fears are escalating among ex-president Donald Trump’s political enemies that his potential platform for a possible re-election bid would be the US government’s “persecution.”

Such fears have been fueled by a victory of a vehement Trump supporter, Harriet Hageman, in a primary House election for Wyoming earlier this week. As for the opponent, Liz Cheney’s reelection hopes had been in question since she and nine other House Republicans voted to impeach Trump after the Capitol “insurrection.”

The Trump camp was obviously buoyed by the Hageman victory and is reportedly planning to make further noises _ backed by video tapes _ about the recent FBI search at his estate to further boost his political future, reports and American analysts claim.

One report, citing Hageman’s primary win as key evidence, said Trump’s “denialism” was appealing to Republican voters made to believe that the 2020 election was stolen and that he was being persecuted by the Biden administration, with the FBI raid one of several highlights.

Whatever the truth is, oldest political strategies in the book are being at play here. One side is decrying “persecution” and dictatorial style of governing while the other is citing top national security.

In an all-too-familiar victory statement, Hageman, now the Republican nominee for Wyoming’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, predicted that her primary triumph would serve “as a beacon” for the rest of the “fed up” country.

August 17, 2022: Elon Musk’s first Manchester United tweet sent sports reporters scrambling and many of the club’s fans dreaming. But before it all got out of hand, he quickly poured cold water on the situation.

“No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams,” Musk said when asked by someone if he was serious. His eccentricity records including the huge investment problem with Twitter had created a groundswell of excitement in the football world, which has seen an increasing dissatisfaction of a large section of Manchester United local and overseas fans with the current American owners.

Musk’s money and business acumen seemed to be the answer for those fans, who believe that anyone would be better than the unpopular Glazer family, accused of being responsible for a “toxic” environment at one of the world’s most famous football team. When Musk had earlier said that he was “also buying Manchester United” while discussing politics, the statement spread like wildfire, which ended shortly, though.

The Glazer family had seen vociferous and sometimes disruptive fan protests. How the Musk “disappointment” would do to more planned protests ahead of Manchester United’s next game at home to Liverpool on August 22 remains to be seen.

Musk’s first tweet, about purchasing Manchester United, was “no joke to fed-up fans”, a western news report was headlined.

August 16, 2022: With repercussions still on-going after Monday’s large boycott of a key parliamentary session shot down the controversial “Divided by 500” party-list calculation formula, the ruling party is dismissing a theory about a secret deal with the biggest opposition camp.

Palang Pracharath’s deputy leader Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, also minister of digital economy and society, said MPs who shunned Monday’s session were acting independently on an issue that directly affects them and their peers. Almost 90 MPs from his party stayed away from the crucial parliamentary meeting, fueling speculation about a “conspiracy” with the opposition Pheu Thai, not least because the revival of the “Divided by 100” formula would benefit both big parties more than the killed method.

“Electoral rules directly affect politicians and many must have thought it’d better end this way,” he said.

The prime minister was reported today to be avoiding reporters and their questions about the quorum collapse and relationship between him and Palang Pracharath leader Prawit Wongsuwan.

Conspiracy rumours have turned up the heat on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is also facing a Constitutional Court verdict on whether his prime ministerial tenure is ending. According to a leading politician, Nipit Intarasombat, Prayut might either resign or dissolve the House of Representatives before the verdict comes out, which could force the court to drop the case. That is just one of a few scenarios, of course, including one in which he is cleared by the court.

August 15, 2022: When there are not enough lawmakers to officially seal a legislative change, the advocates of such a change are in trouble, a lot more so if those advocates include the political status-quo.

Today, proponents of the “Divided by 500” party-list seat calculation formula are practically defeated. Long-term implications have to do with the Pheu Thai Party, which stands to benefit if the calculative method is killed. Immediate implications, however, may have to do with the future of the government coalition.

Quorum failures in the recent past may have many other reasons aside from government unity, like individual laziness or ignorance or little conflicts here and there. The importance of today, though, ruled out minor excuses and amplified the big one, which is the questionable unison of the ruling camp.

On the surface and amid looming suspicion, Prayut Chan-o-cha and Prawit Wongsuwan kept saying that there was nothing between them. Today’s events may suggest otherwise.

August 14, 2022: An opinion survey is showing how the public may be perceiving Thailand’s prime ministerial candidates _ their strong and weak points.

Incumbent Prayut Chan-o-cha did well in the “loyalty” department, with over 45% of 2,025 Thais surveyed by Super Poll thought his faith in the monarchy was his greatest asset. His “shouldering” of national burdens was named as his second strongest point (35%) and about the same number thought reopening what were previously “closed” like the Thai-Saudi relations was another key asset of his.

His “weak points” were his temperament, his long incumbency and his economic expertise. (Fifty-five per cent named his perceived testiness in public, 51.5% his long stay at the top, and 48.4% his handling of the economy.)

The strongest point of Paetongtarn Shinawatra of the Pheu Thai Party was her being a daughter of Thaksin Shinawatra (46.3%). Almost 40% thought being part of the new generation was her great asset. However, almost 43% believed her weakest point was lack of political experience.

Palang Pracharath leader and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s strongest point was perceived by 39.2% to be his connections. But his weakest point was said by 62.7% to be his age.

Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat’s strongest point was his new generation image (41.4%). His lack of experience and political achievement was said to be his weakest point (around 36%).

August 13, 2022: Piyabutr Saengkanokkul’s unorthodox proposal could all but wipe the House of Representatives clean once in a while, replacing its members with new faces every few years. There are both pros and cons, though.

In a Facebook post, the secretary-general of the Progressive Movement said the current system promotes and benefits “political dynasties” _ families that monopolise elections and seats in the chamber and thus whose actions are more motivated by maintaining that status quo rather than by independent serving of public interests.

He is probably right in saying that an MP seat is considered by many as a “family fortune” that shall not be given away to others. Having a constitutional cap on how long one can serve as an MP could reduce that kind of thinking and increase “independence” of lawmakers because “politicians will worry less about whether they will become MPs again and will not do everything necessary to be MPs one more time.”

The capping will make MPs’ job “truly belonging to voluntary and ideological spirits” not “one that must be acquired at all costs to strengthen an empire or passed from one family member to another.”

The statement can be right or wrong. It seems idealistically right, but, for starters, it may just quicken the tradition of passing “family fortunes” to the next generation. In other words, “a breath of fresh air” may happen, but political dynasties or political empires can also grow quicker.

August 12, 2022: Federal police were looking for highly-confidential nuclear-related documents former president Donald Trump was allegedly keeping in defiance of the law, according to latest reports.

Such claims cast new light on the FBI raid on Trump’s resort a few days ago. They may also drive government’s and Trump’s supporters further and further apart.

Both sides are fighting a war that could decide the political future of the superpower. Trump’s camp has been decrying tyrannical and undemocratic political persecution after the raid on his estate a few days ago, while the government, backed by media outlets that were much respected before but which have been seriously questioned since the ex-president came along, is building a case that the urgent manner of the search was extremely necessary, considering what he had in possession.

The Trump camp was apparently having the upper hand, politically, because the search could have been done in a more discreet and respectful way. That was until whispers began about nuclear data.

The plot is thickening. The Washington Post quoted sources familiar with the investigation as saying that federal agents were looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons, among other items, at Trump’s resort. The sources did not describe the documents in detail nor disclose whether they were related to nuclear arms belonging to the US or another nation. CNN, reporting what the Washington Post is saying, has not independently confirmed the nuclear claims.

No matter how this episode transpires, the grave political divide in America are expected to widen a lot more now. Already before the raid, important political issues like the Capitol Hill “riot” have drawn clashing perspectives from supporters of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Both sides have accused each other of being detrimental to democracy and have their own media backers galvanize their peoples.

Details of the search warrant may have to be publicised now, which will be another big development. The government side is threatening to do it, and the Trump camp is calling its bluff.

August 11, 2022: Political fights over how party-list numbers should be calculated might move to the Constitutional Court as early as early next week.

Parliament President Chuan Leekpai’s aides have said that the legislature’s job could come to an end on August 15 no matter what happens. A quorum collapse would automatically mean that the calculation would go back to the “Divided by 100” formula as originally advocated by the Cabinet.

Then it could lead to a constitutional fight in the Constitutional Court, with both the “Divided by 100” and Divided by 500” camps having strong arguments for their cases. The former would benefit big parties greatly while the latter would help small parties even if they lose at all constituencies, narrowly or else.

Chuan has officially called for a parliamentary meeting on August 15, which is practically the last day that the crucial matter remains in Parliament’s hands.

“If they can’t make the quorum again, it’s them (people involved) who will have to tell the public why,” said Issara Seriwattanawut, a Democrat MP assisting Chuan.

The calculation issue, which always fuels ideological emotions, has sparked resentment, reported back-stabbing, alleged flip-flop and claims of conspiracy. August 15, therefore, is a very interesting day of Thai politics.

August 10, 2022: Fans of Manchester United may face a moment of truth when Ryan Giggs’ trial reaches its conclusion.

A court has heard dramatic and jaw-dropping allegations hurled against him by the plaintiff, portraying one of the planet’s best-known and most-loved ex-footballers as a man whose public face is shockingly different from the one his ex-girlfriend allegedly saw and had to endure.

Allegedly and on separate occasions spanning three years, he head-butted her, kicked her in the back, threw her out and left her naked outside a hotel room, and subjected her to news of his affairs, constant threats, blackmails and hence psychological abuses.

The Manchester Crown Court was told that his adored on-field football talent shall never be used as an excuse for “sinister” acts she had had to go through. He denied all allegations, which were all over the internet over the past two days, and cross-examination can draw attention that may rival the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp saga.

Sexual and domestic violence or harassment is often linked improperly with social, sporting or political status of the ones accused. Wealth and fame also play a big part. Victims always risk being accused of hungering for spotlight or lucrative compensation.

Manchester United fans reacted honorably months ago when a much-loved young player, Mason Greenwood, was alleged by his girlfriend to have abused her physically. His fame and supporters’ adoration, however, are far outstripped by those enjoyed by Giggs, who is considered one of Manchester United legends.

August 9, 2022: The federal police force raiding the estate of the sitting president’s key political opponent does not sound good for America’s democracy, no matter what lies beneath.

It doesn’t matter if it was what needed to be done. Politics, especially a badly-divided one, can turn “honest” enforcement of the law into something sinister. If the raid had happened anywhere else, protests would have been heard left and right, from other governments to so-called “human rights” organisations.

Donald Trump was suspected of mishandling certain official records from the time he was president. But funny things about democracy is that it quite often clashes with the laws, and enforcement of the latter, while necessary, can generate awkward results when “justice” is concerned.

Trump is giving many a taste of their own medicine.  “These are dark times for our nation,” Trump said. House of Representatives Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy echoed him: “I’ve seen enough. The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponised politicisation.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, tweeted: “Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships.

Trump said his “cooperation” with all relevant government agencies made the “unannounced raid on my home not necessary or appropriate”.

He called it “prosecutorial misconduct” and “the weaponisation of the justice system” to prevent him from running for the White House again.

“Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World countries,” he said. “Sadly, America has now become one of those countries, corrupt at a level not seen before.

“They even broke into my safe!”

August 8, 2022: One woman is about to face the defense lawyers on Tuesday who seek to get the man who was allegedly responsible for her little daughter’s death off the hook.

It will be one of the biggest moments in the modern Thai history of “justice”. Savitree Wongsricha was once alleged to be the villain herself, an accusation amplified enormously by the social media who turned the eventual suspect into some kind of a superstar. Chaiyaphol Wipa, better known as “Loong (Uncle) Phol”, was invited to sing before large, shrieking crowds at concerts, appeared on catwalks, drew millions of viewers to his YouTube clips, and _ from someone whose bathroom had no walls _ becomes a millionaire overnight.

Savitree will tell the court about events of the day her three-year-old daughter disappeared and how she felt after the girl was found dead and naked up on a mountain near their home in Mukdahan. The defense will seek to establish a case that “Nong Chompoo” wandered and got lost while playing with a dog.

Loong Phol’s narrative is changing from his assumption that a girl that young could not climb such a high mountain to the defense-promoted theory that she might have been lost by herself and starved to death. There is some scientific evidence against Loong Phol which will be questioned by the defense lawyers.

Savitree had few sympathizers until Loong Phol was officially implicated. The woman, if there’s time left after her testimony, is likely to be cross-examined heavily, especially on her possible claims that there were many things that her daughter could not have done by herself, like walking high up a rough mountain or removing her own clothes. Without established signs of physical abuses, the defense team will try to convince the court that the little girl could have removed her clothes by herself due to hot weather or delirium.

No matter how it ends or whatever the truth is, what looks like a normal rural case in fact has everything _ positive and negative influences of the social media, alleged manipulation of social thoughts on a grand scale as well as how far “playing victim” can go and serve the wrong people.

August 7, 2022: A NIDA survey, indicative of future election results, has found that bad news for the prime minister is not going away and will likely intensify in the weeks or months to come.

The opinion poll sampling 1,312 Thais showed that 64.25% want his constitutional eight-year tenure to end on August 24 this year as his coup-installed premiership should also be included. Almost 33% said the Constitutional Court should have the final say and about 2.8% were not interested.

The survey results are also overwhelmingly against Prayut and his allies known as “the three Ps” having influences in forming the next government. More than 80% do not want the three Ps to play such a role, whereas more than 55% do not believe they will be able to play such a role.

The findings tell a lot. They show the road will only get increasingly bumpier for the prime minister. If the car does not stop at the next bump, that is.

August 6, 2022: In the mid-1990s, Taiwan’s late leader Lee Teng-hui visited America, sparking a major international controversy. China, sounding very familiar, staged live-fire military drills, issued stern warnings to Taipei and launched missiles into waters near Taiwan.

But, at the time, the US military responded with one of the largest shows of force since the Vietnam War, sending an array of warships to the area, including two aircraft carrier groups. That, capped by a statement by the then defense secretary that “Beijing should know the strongest military power in the western Pacific is the United States,” drove home the idea of America’s military dominance.

According to all military analysts in America, China’s military, which could do nothing about it then and was still shocked at that time by America’s Gulf War display, has undergone a staggering transformation from a low-tech, slow-moving ground force backed by lackluster naval and air fleets. One top American defense official, echoing several counterparts and former officials, reportedly described the fast and furious improvement of China’s military might as a “strategic earthquake.”

China’s weaponry precision, improved lengths of formidable attacks, and state-of-the-art detection system have changed the game. Beijing’s ship-killing missiles and a lot more advanced and massive navy and air force make the current tension a lot scarier than the past and the military strengths of both countries anything but lopsided, American analysts say.

This week, China has launched large-scale, live-fire military exercises located in waters surrounding Taiwan to the north, east and south, including ballistic missile launches. The scale of the whole thing is said have surpassed the drills carried out in the 1995-96 standoff, with some of the drills within about 10 miles of Taiwan’s coast. Experts noted that China once lacked the capability to conduct a major exercise in waters east of Taiwan.

On Thursday, China fired at least 11 ballistic missiles near Taiwan, with one flying over the island, according to officials in Taipei, and Japan apparently it was offended, too.

This time, Washington has made no announcements about warships moving through the Taiwan Strait. “Biden could try to do that, but China could put them on the bottom of the strait. That’s something they (the Chinese) couldn’t do in 1995,” one American expert on China was quoted as saying.

August 5, 2022: A huge concrete beam fatally fell on commuters. Rival young gangsters clashed with firearms for a long period in a crowded public place. Fire killed many at a pub whose structure and safety standards reportedly had a tragedy written all over it.

To add to the sad sequence, which spanned just days, the rates at which each incident disappeared from public and political attention because newer horrors were always on the horizon were both alarming and reflective of why the nightmare continues to recur.

Officials have been removed. Political rhetoric abounds. Yet Parliament has been obsessed with something else. The authorities have been distracted by how the political wind is blowing. Another big weak point of Thailand is that a sizeable portion of society makes noises according to political stances while many issues don’t require ideological partisanship.

More or less, each of the aforementioned has contributed to preventable tragedies.

A tougher gun law and better and fairer implementation would have made anyone think twice before wielding firepower in public. Construction or building catastrophes would have been a lot fewer had the legislative and administrative arms worked swifter and more in unison and paid right attention to the right issue.

August 4, 2022: In light of the Nancy Pelosi tension, the Bangkok government has reiterated its commitment to the “One China” policy and called on all parties involved to exercise restraint.

The statement by Tanee Sangrat, spokesman of the Thai Foreign Ministry sounds respectful to all sides but is strong at the same time in confirming Thailand’s adherence to the One China principle.

“Thailand remains committed to the One China principle (but) we don’t want to see any act that would increase tension and undermine stability in the region,” he said. “We hope all parties concerned would display tolerance, observe international laws, respect sovereignty and support peaceful solutions.”

August 3, 2022: A legal case that transcends political differences has reared its ugly head yet again, this time with the expiry of a drug charge when a proper test should have sufficed wherever the suspect is.

When Vorayuth Yoovidhya crashed his supercar into a motorcycle, killing a police officer, Yingluck Shinawatra was Thailand’s prime minister and few people heard of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. Many Thais would at the time say “Prayut who?”. The coronavirus was still inside an animal or a lab somewhere. A lot of today’s ideological protesters must have just entered elementary schools. The youngest member of the all-girl BNK48 generation was seven years old.

Yet here we are, watching helplessly as the authorities said there was nothing they could do about the alleged cocaine intake. The justice (or lack thereof) process has straddled all political environments _ from when democracy was supposed to be blooming to when all was taken away to when everyone is demanding ideological perfection.

What looked then like a simple fatal hit-and-run incident that took place under alleged influences of alcohol and/or drugs remains unsettled as of today, with everyone blaming everyone for how justice appears to be fading unbelievably and pathetically away.

August 2, 2022: The prime minister has suggested that he will stick with the Palang Pracharath Party, despite its problems with him and within itself.

But “for now” appear to be the unspoken words. In addition, Prayut Chan-o-cha remains elusive on the question which has been famous from Day One: Will he take over from Prawit Wongsuwan?

During an interview at Government House after a Cabinet meeting, he was asked if he had chosen any political party to be with. “The last time I checked, I was with the Palang Pracharath Party (according to you the media). Where else do you want me to be? What kind of decision do I have to make?

On reports that the new Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party wanted to name him its leader and has also vowed to nominate him as the next prime minister, Prayut said: “Each party has its own policy. As for me, I can only hope the policy would promote law, order and progress. I support every party.”

He admitted that the name “Ruam Thai Sang Chart” had come from his off-the-cuff remarks that Thais needed to “ruam palang” (come together) to push the country forward. “And they named the party after that, without my influence whatsoever,” he said.

Asked if he will “remain with Palang Pracharath in the next election”, he said: Haven’t I just answered that? What’s your problem?”

Here comes one of the most important questions of them all: Would you someday become the Palang Pracharath Party’s leader?

His answer: “I’m not talking about that. Why do you always want me to keep moving? If you ask me this kind of question, I’m not answering. I can work wherever I am.”

August 1, 2022: Signs are that the US House speaker, in Singapore now, would not visit Taiwan, but if she does, it could be a real dynamite affecting world and domestic politics.

Singapore is her first stop, and her delegation also plans to visit Malaysia, South Korean and Japan. High-level meetings are scheduled everywhere along the way.

Her official itinerary does not include Taiwan. Taiwanese officials have not confirmed she would visit. Reports of White House lobbying against such a trip have intensified. China has warned the US President not to play with fire. Western media are downgrading it from “could” to “might.” These point to Nancy Pelosi returning home without a major diplomatic mess for Joe Biden to sort out. Both are members of the Democratic Party after all.

But those signs will make the whole thing more explosive than initially if she remains determined. Visiting Taiwan in spite of all of the aforementioned would be considered by Beijing as a real provocation and cheekiness at the highest level. Washington can claim “We are a free country so she can go anywhere”, but China will have the right to think that all the lobbying and White House anxiety were a façade and get even angrier.

Will a “vacation” claim work in case she pops in? No, considering all the fuss and everyone’s attention. Besides, beautiful, sunny beaches are all over Asia. What about visiting friends or relatives? Surely they can be given free trips to America so the whole world can be spared a huge superpower showdown.



Daily updates of significant local and international events by Tulsathit Taptim