Thursday, 14 May 2009

ASEAN Summit rescheduled - no risk from PM

Ten days or so ago I wrote about the rescheduled ASEAN conference and it's importance to the Prime Minister who is in a tough spot at the moment.

[To refresh your mind] PM Abhisit finds himself stuck in the middle of the struggle between the PAD (Yellows) and UDD (Reds). The polarised position of these two rivals combined with his objective position, independent of both camps, is beginning to isolate him. Neither group sees him as being 'on their side'.  

Abhisit's cabinet, close staff and the man himself have confidently told the media that there will be no problems with ASEAN, thereby completing the necessary preparation for a fall from grace should there be trouble.

Not a big surprise then that, with speculation/inevitability of fresh UDD (and even PAD) protests at ASEAN Phuket, the government has decided to postpone the summit until October. The official reason is that 'government leaders of several countries found the June schedule to be inconvenient' - draw your own conclusions.

By my reckoning, this is the third time the summit has been rescheduled. Who'd bet against further delays and it rolling into 2010 when, by rights, another ASEAN member should host the 2010 meeting.

The uncertainty, dilly-dallying and loss of face around the summit is costing Thailand's regional reputation dearly. Abhisit and his government (including the PAD-supporting foreign minister, Kasat) will have their work cut out convincing its neighbours (yet again) that Thailand has 'still got it'.

Perhaps PM Marky Mark read my blog and decided that, with the risk of another Pattaya, rescheduling and hoping for increased political stability is the better option. 

I'd like to think I've played a part.


Ben Shingleton said...

What a mess eh. Will be interesting to watch what materialises, and hopefully some kind of middle way can be found so Thailand can get back to rebuilding it's damaged rep. Incidentally, with all the goings on in UK, it's fair to say that Thai politics isn't alone in being corrupt.

Jon said...

Hey Ben. Great point re UK politics and in particular Gordon Brown's position as PM.

I had some interesting conversation with Thais who assured me that, as everyone in the UK is happy with Brown's "rise" to PM, Thailand should be content with Abhisit's path to power.

My answer...both need a direct electoral mandate, i.e. public vote, rather than indirect appointment from PMs who 'represent' the people.

Thailand "as corrupt as the UK" - good tag-line, right?