Why is everyone conspiring to prevent Thaksin Shinawatra from returning home a free man? Of course, we know the Democrats and anti-Thaksin groups don't want him back _ or to be more precise, they want him back, but in jail.
But why are both the Pheu Thai Party and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) _ along with every red Somchai and Somying on the streets and all red internet bloggers and Twitter users _ also complicit in keeping the big boss from returning?
Here's the story of what could have been. Picture this scenario: Two years of Pheu Thai leadership brings peace and prosperity to Thailand.
The first-time car buyer scheme not only pacifies Japanese manufacturers who saw their plants drowned in the 2011 floods, it also wins the favour of middle-class urbanites. The rice-pledging scheme not only puts money into the pockets of the Pheu Thai's base of farmers, it also allows Thailand to sell rice competitively in the world market (remember, this is what might have been). The 300 baht minimum wage policy proves to be another all-round winner.
The Pheu Thai government, staffed with honest and capable individuals, fights corruption and works for the greater good of the country. The only Guy Fawkes mask in sight is the one on the covers of pirated V for Vendetta DVDs on Silom Road. There is no reason to organise and protest against Pheu Thai, as there is little corruption, only honesty, transparency and prosperity.
The red shirts have retired from the streets, taken off their colours and become just regular Thai people. No red schools. No red villages. No beating up other people. No protests against Constitution Court judges, and no gatherings at Ratchaprasong. There's no reason to protest because democracy has won and brought balance to everything from management of the country to bringing terrorists and murderers to justice.
In the past two years, there have been no Skype meetings from Dubai; none are needed as the government is doing a wonderful job. The bridge across the political divide is paved with roses. Yingluck Shinawatra is a leader the nation rallies around.
So when an amnesty bill, which would lead to exonerating Thaksin of all crimes, is pushed through parliament, there might still be a lot of people crying foul, but Pheu Thai has the absolute majority in parliament.
As the bill jumps through the hurdles and finally lands in front of the Constitution Court for a decision on whether it's legal or not, there are things to consider. Of course, the invisible hand would still be at work, and perhaps the invisible foot too. Naturally, the Democrats would agitate, as would the anti-Thaksin groups.
But the basic facts of everyday life would be peace in the streets and prosperity for the nation, the poor getting richer, corruption down and national leaders proving their exceptional abilities and honesty with hard, effective work. What's more, the people no longer agitate against each other and the gap between the haves and have-nots is closing rather than widening.
This is what we call a favourable climate, an environment that is conducive to getting what you want. This, of course, doesn't automatically translate to the return and exoneration of Thaksin, but it is a few steps forward rather than a few steps back.
But instead of this lovely scenario of well-conceived and well-received policies, what we have are policies that have garnered constant scandal and controversy. Of course, we should support schemes to help the poor, but instead of honest and capable people implementing them, we have incapable, loud-mouthed cronies. For this, Thaksin has no one to blame but himself _ after all he signed off on the policies and appointed the people.
Perhaps the latest cabinet shake-up might improve things.
As for the mood of the populace, things are looking worse and worse. Politicians don't have to do much as the people themselves are doing a brilliant job of tearing the country apart and preventing common sense and progress from prevailing _ as well as the return and exoneration of Thaksin.
For Thai society at large the political divide has become less and less about Thaksin, Abhisit Vejjajiva, corruption, the old establishment, the new elite, the military and whatnot. The two sides have used rhetoric as propaganda tools with which they can slice and dice each other up.
Today, it's all about what side you are on. If you're not with us, you are against us. If you wear a red shirt or a Guy Fawkes mask, nothing else about you matters. The only thing that matters is you're the enemy.
You can donate half your monthly salary to help poverty-stricken families. You can spend every weekend volunteering at an orphanage. You might even help old ladies across the street. But if you wear a red shirt, or a Guy Fawkes mask, none of it matters _ not even if you both support Man Utd.
The only thing that matters is this: you're either a mindless buffalo who wants to sell the country to Dubai or a fascist pig who wants a military coup.
One doesn't even have to take a side. If an ordinary person happens to have an unfavourable opinion of Pheu Thai and the UDD, he is immediately branded as a hater of democracy. If another person has a favourable opinion of Pheu Thai and UDD, he is immediately marked as betraying time-honoured institutions.
And so people on concrete pavements and random dudes on the internet howl and bark because tearing Thailand apart gives meaning to their banal existences. While probably unwittingly, all they do is foster a climate of mistrust, hate, anger and downright stupidity. The result is that, not only is the country unable to move forward, the return and exoneration of Thaksin is not possible in the foreseeable future.
And for the red-shirt UDD, this is where things get tricky.
The old establishment can't sit easy seeing tens of thousands of protesters descending on Bangkok annually. They can't sit easy hearing the combative rhetoric from the stage and seeing the degrading writing on the banners _ as to whom and what is being degraded, we shall let your imagination run free. Also, they can't sit easy reading news stories of how a certain red faction beats people up, while another tries to dismiss the Constitution Court judges.
Basically, people in power simply can't sit easy while the populace runs amok, as it undermines their power and control _ unless, of course, the populace is running amok on their behalf (see the People's Alliance for Democracy).
As such, any behind the scenes conciliatory talk with Thaksin would invariably involve this question: "Thaksin, baby, what are you going to do with the red shirts?" With this, Thaksin is again caught between a rock and a hard place. His return and exoneration requires certain concessions from the old establishment, for them to say, "OK, we can work with you." The political game is one of give and take, nothing is free.
What then is the big boss to do? To effectively reel in the red shirts might please the old establishment, but it would also risk alienating the very people who brought Pheu Thai into power, as well as risk the loss of one of his most powerful bargaining tools. But letting the red shirts roam free guarantees that the old establishment won't budge.
So here we have a fragile status quo. Pheu Thai runs the government and the red shirts rule the streets. The old establishment and the military hold unofficial power and the allegiance of the bulk of bureaucrats and civil servants, with the Democrats in opposition.Upsetting this fragile status quo is the poor performance of the Pheu Thai government and the growth of the white mask movement. Meanwhile, supporters on both sides contribute in every way they can to driving the country further apart.
Altogether, it makes for a political and social climate that has the Thaksin political machine wary of bringing the big boss home any time soon, as things could turn ugly real quick.
Hence, we come back to the question: Why is everyone, including Thaksin himself, conspiring against Thaksin?
Contact Voranai Vanijaka via email at email@example.com
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Writer: Voranai Vanijaka