Come November, the political temperature is likely to reach boiling point _ if not breaking point. The war drums which were earlier sounded by various political groups opposed to the revised amnesty bill will soon be replaced by real action - mass protests, as threatened.
Confrontations between the government and the red-shirt movement on the one side and their opponents on the other seem unavoidable, unless the former backs down from its plan for a blanket amnesty for political offences.
But there is no sign the government will take a step backward to spare itself an unnecessary showdown. It seems that the "boss" is ready to face any consequences. And if worst comes to worst, the government will just dissolve the parliament and call a snap election.
The Pheu Thai-dominated House panel vetting the amnesty bill remains as determined as ever to ram the revised bill through the second and third readings of the House early next month.
Democrat MPs who sit on the panel engaged in a heated debate with their Pheu Thai counterparts during the panel meeting on Friday.
Reports of a split in the ranks of Pheu Thai MPs, between the red shirts and non-red shirts, over the revised amnesty bill are misleading.
This reported split may be just a deception to fool the public and hardcore red shirts _ such as Payao Akkahad and other relatives of the victims of the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt protesters _ into thinking that there are, at least, some Pheu Thai MPs who are with them.
The tentative date for the "whistle-blowing" mass protest against the government was set for Nov 6 by the Democrats. But this day may be moved forward, depending on whether there is any abrupt political change.
If the protest drags on until Nov 11 when the International Court of Justice is scheduled to deliver its verdict on the Preah Vihear temple row, and if the ruling is in favour of Cambodia, then the anti-government forces will probably capitalise on it as the perfect justification to fan the flames against the government and to escalate their protest.
In anticipation of this possibility, the government has made preparations to deal with the situation, with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra making plans to go on nationwide TV to address the public.
The Internal Security Act will remain in force until Nov 30 to help the government deal with any mass protest. Concrete blocks may be brought in again to form a wall surrounding Government House _ in addition to the deployment of the police force which, this time, may number several tens of thousands if the number of protesters is high.
This time around, the protest may not be confined to Bangkok. Democrat MP and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he would return to his hometown in Surat Thani to lead a peaceful protest and siege of the provincial hall there. People in other provinces have been urged to do likewise in their respective provinces at the sound of a whistle blowing.
Mr Suthep said he had been in contact with other anti-government groups to join forces in the mass protest.
He insists this was his own decision and it had nothing to do with the party.
Once again, we will be back to square one _ reminiscent of the pre-2006 coup when the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy led a mass protest against the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. The protest, which was initially calm, eventually turned ugly after the protest leaders realised a peaceful demonstration would not be effective in dealing with the persistent regime. The protesters laid siege to Government House, parliament and Don Meuang and Suvarnabhumi airports, earning for themselves an unpleasant image, especially in the eyes of the international community.
The Uruphong protest has so far been peaceful, although it has deprived many residents in the neighbourhood of their peace of mind and caused them considerable inconvenience.
Motorists, too, have been affected by the blockade.
But if the crowd grows bigger _ which is likely once the whistle is blown after the passage of the final reading of the revised amnesty bill _ the question will become one of just how sustainable the protest will be and how long its leaders can keep the people calm in the knowledge that peaceful protests do not work with a persistent regime.
Veera Prateepchaikul is a former editor, Bangkok Post.
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