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Tuesday, October 06, 2009
An old soldier who refuses to fade away
General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is the classic opposite case of the famous old saying: “Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Fade Away.” The one-time prime minister and retired army chief simply refuses to fade away but occasionally keeps re-emerging to claim a place in public limelight.
After having “chickened out” of the previous government of then prime minister Somchai Wongsawat over a bungled government’s decision to forcefully crack down on the yellow-shirted protesters on October 7 last year, the general was last week plucked out of political oblivion and is back in politics, possibly as the chief advisor of the opposition Puea Thai party.
General Chavalit’s rejoining the Puea Thai may give a boost to the opposition party which is practically without a strong leader ever since its de facto leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, has taken refuge abroad. The incumbent leader, Thawat Vichaidit, is merely a reluctant stand-in who does not have a say in the party. The only figure who has been keeping the party in public limelight and not to be forgotten appears to be the party spokesman, Prompong Thepparit, aka Det Pee.
Whether General Chavalit will eventually be made the Puea Thai party leader remains an unanswered question. This will depend on the decision of the man in exile, Thaksin, who still controls the party although the general himself is known to aspire to lead the party but lacks the clout to do so.
Although Chavalit’s political comeback to the Puea Thai party was welcomed by most party members, there are those in the party who have doubt in the retired general. Among them is Chaiya Promma, an MP of Nong Bua Lamphu, who appeared to be still disappointed with Chavalit’s abrupt “jumping ship” from the Somchai administration following the October 7 infamous incident last year.
“I really want someone who come to us to stay with us and share our destiny, not someone who run away alone and don’t care at all of the consequences of a problem,” said Chaiya.
This time around, General Chavalit who is wellknown as a compromising figure will offer himself as a “middle-ring chain” to forge reconciliation with all the political rival groups – an uphill task which noone with a common sense believes will ever be achieved under the present circumstances when political conflicts seem to be unbridgeable.
While welcoming General Chavalit’s political comeback, Democrat party leader and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has shunned any attempt to seek amnesty for Thaksin as a means towards national reconciliation.
With such a stance from Abhisit, what new propositions that General Chavalit may have under his sleeves which will pave the way for reconciliation while several others before him have failed to deliver.
At 76 this year which should be the time for him to take a rest and to tend to his grand children, I hate to see him fail again and become a clown in the eyes of those who are familiar with his past failings.
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