YOU THINK THIS IS A GAME?

Bangkok Post - - 7 DAYS - By Alan Daw­son

>> The gen­eral prime min­is­ter went to Ja­pan and all we got is an­other lousy T-shirt that says “The Election Is Next Year”.

For his sixth se­ri­ous prom­ise of an im­mi­nent gen­eral election, Gen (Ret) Prayut turned again to the man he en­trusted to hear his very first prom­ise of an election next year. And Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe again took it with a straight face, just like he did the first time, on Feb 9, 2015.

Talk about deja vu. In 2015, the gen­eral prime min­is­ter was in Ja­pan on of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment busi­ness, just like last week. In 2015, he held bi­lat­eral talks with Mr Abe on the side­lines of the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence, just like last week. In 2015, he promised to hold an election for all of Thai­land next year, just like last week.

The only dif­fer­ence be­tween the 2015 event and last week was ... um, well, that is, erm... there re­ally wasn’t one. Both men were three and a half years older, does that count as a dif­fer­ence? They even talked about the bright fu­ture of the Eastern Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor again.

Of course since the 2015 prom­ise to Mr Abe and Thai peo­ple of an election next year, Gen (Ret) Prayut has also made that prom­ise sev­eral other promi­nent times. In 2016, he promised the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly there would be an election in 2017. In 2017, he swore in writ­ing at the White House with The Don­ald there would be an election in 2018 for sure.

One starts to think about that sign one sees in the oc­ca­sional pub: “Free beer to­mor­row”. The gullible come the next day tot­ing their thirst, and lo and be­hold, that same darned sign is still there.

To the gen­eral prime min­is­ter, all of this is deadly se­ri­ous. Do not, in his pres­ence, ever em­ploy the com­mon sports cliches to pol­i­tics.

“I don’t see pol­i­tics as a game,” he stated.

That sub­ject arose be­cause he and oth­ers be­lieve the Pheu Thai Party may see pol­i­tics as a game. If not — and this is se­ri­ously pos­si­ble — Pheu Thai peo­ple see pol­i­tics as an ac­tiv­ity to be gamed, which is dif­fer­ent.

The PTP has two cur­rent prob­lems in ad­di­tion to hav­ing no le­gal leader and an in­ter­nal old peo­ple-young peo­ple bat­tle. One is that the multi-ten­ta­cled regime is bent on mak­ing the party il­le­gal by claim­ing that it is un­der the con­trol of Lord Volde­mort na Dubai. This is an im­pos­si­ble claim to prove, bar­ring im­mense stu­pid­ity by the Evil One him­self, since it would re­quire both mind-read­ing and 23rd cen­tury-level wire­tap­ping abil­ity. So the game, erm, that is, the le­gal pur­suit of Pheu Thai re­quires that the date of dis­solv­ing that party will be close enough to the election to real­is­ti­cally make le­gal ap­peals im­pos­si­ble.

The se­cond prob­lem arises mostly from the first, and it’s where gam­ing oc­curs. In or­der to de­fend against dis­so­lu­tion of Pheu Thai, imp­ish PTP el­ders have con­sti­tu­tion­ally, very legally formed two other po­lit­i­cal par­ties, Pheu Tham and Pheu Chart. Deny it as much as they want, th­ese are back-up par­ties to re­sort to if (English trans­la­tion: when) Pheu Thai is dis­solved.

If you were to see pol­i­tics as a game, you’d re­fer to this ma­noeu­vre as Pheu Thai hav­ing two strong play­ers on the bench in case of in­jury.

And if you were to con­sider it as a sport, you would look to the match af­ter the Pheu Thai match, and scout the op­po­nent thor­oughly for weak­ness.

If you did that, you then would see the Fu­ture For­ward Party and Thanathorn Juan­groon­gru­angkit and you would set about think­ing up ways to weaken Anakot Mai or make it take its eye off the ball.

By amaz­ing co­in­ci­dence, the new Election Com­mis­sion, ap­pointed by Gen (Ret) Prayut’s NCPO, found last week that Mr Thanathorn’s surg­ing party was ac­cept­ing il­le­gal do­na­tions. Be­cause any do­na­tion is il­le­gal, how about that?

Were you the kind of per­son, un­like the gen­eral prime min­is­ter, who deals in game cliches, you would also ex­ploit play­ers in the ju­nior leagues. And by an­other amaz­ing co­in­ci­dence that oc­curred last week. The cur­rent and two wannabe lead­ers of the Demo­crat Party ex­pressed strong wishes to be el­e­vated to the ma­jor league, per­haps by com­bin­ing their team with the mil­i­tary’s team.

What could pos­si­bly have made them do that? It’s a mys­tery.

That is truly no game. But in se­ri­ous pol­i­tics, just as in se­ri­ous games, win­ning is not the im­por­tant thing. It’s the only thing.

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