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Monday, April 05, 2010
Has Thaksin-Hun Sen relationship turned sour?
The picture showing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva shaking hands with his Cambodian counterpart, Mr Hun Sen, and smiling at each other would be unthinkable almost two months ago when the two government leaders appeared to be at each other’s throat.
Shortly before the February 26 Judgement Day when the Supreme Court’s Criminal Department for Holders of Political Office was to deliver its verdict on ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s 76 billion baht worth of frozen assets, Mr Hun Sen unleashed a seething attack on Mr Abhisit, accusing the latter of being a thief for stealing power from Thaksin. He also challenged the Thai prime minister to dissolve the parliament and hold fresh elections.
But Mr Hun Sen was a completely different person in a face-off with Mr Abhisit Sunday night during a welcome dinner hosted for leaders of participating countries at the Mekong River Commission summit in Hua Hin. The Thai prime minister smilingly shook hands with his Cambodian counterpart and wished him a happy birthday. By appearance at least, there were no open signs of any animosity between them.
“Was Mr Hun Sen sincere?” asked curious reporters when they met Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban who made a courtesy call on Mr Hun Sen on the sideline of the Mekong summit on Sunday to wish the latter a happy birthday.
Mr Suthep said that Mr Hun Sen’s mood had changed. He also told the reporters that Mr Hun Sen had barred Thaksin from using Cambodia to attack the Abhisit government and that he looked forward to the restoration of normal relations between Thailand and Cambodia. He added that Mr Hun Sen had invited him for a meal in Phnom Penh whenever he is free.
Giving Mr Hun Sen the benefit of doubt, the Cambodian prime minister’s latest gesture and, more importantly, his pledge to deny Thaksin the use of Cambodian soil to attack the Thai government is indeed a welcome sign although it remains to be seen whether Mr Hun Sen’s words will be matched with his deeds.
A big question mark remains – that is what has made Mr Hun Sen a “changed” person from what he was over a month ago as far as his relationship with the Abhist government is concerned?
Something might have gone wrong in the relationship between Mr Hun Sen and Thaksin whom the former once described as an “eternal” friend.
By design or by coincidence, Thaksin has not visited Cambodia since his red-shirt supporters launched their latest round of anti-government protest on March 12 which has dragged on until today with no end in sight. Strategically, he should have been in Cambodia rather than hopping around from country to country such as from Dubai to Montenero, Sweden, Russia and back to Dubai like a drifter while directing the protest in Bangkok.
The loss of Cambodia as Thaksin’s launchpad to undermine the Abhisit government, if that is proven true, will represent yet another major setback for the fugitive.
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