Boonlert and his mission impossible

Emotions are running high as Pitak Siam's anti-government rally draws near, with pro and anti-government leaders stepping up their rhetoric. For those still undecided about joining the rally, they should ask themselves whether they are willing to be led by a leader with outlandish political ideas.

The much-publicised Pitak Siam rally against the government is only four days away and emotions are already running high to the point of paranoia among red-shirt leaders as they order their people to be on “standby in their barracks”. 

Even the “Man in Dubai” is so jumpy about the Pitak Siam protest that he can no longer hide his deep-seated mistrust of the amataya (elite) whom he suspects of being behind the protest and the conspiracy to overthrow the government. Addressing a red-shirt rally in Samut Prakan last weekend in a video phone-in from Dubai, he questioned why Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, president of the Privy Council, didn’t stop his former aide, Adm Jun Tamprateep, from joining the protest.

By the same token, opponents of Thaksin might ask the same question. Why didn’t he stop the Palang Prachachon Party (predecessor of the Pheu Thai Party) executive members, including former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, from joining the red-shirt protest at Ratchaprasong shopping district two years ago?

My answer is that they are all grown-up men and mature enough to make their own decisions about whether to join or not to join a protest. After all, it is their constitutional right to free expression.

Besides those who hate Thaksin and the government and who are expected to join Saturday's rally, I believe that there are many others who, despite their opposition to the fugitive former prime minister and the government, are hesitant to join for different reasons.

Gen Boonlert "Seh Ai" Kaewprasit (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

First of all is the leadership quality of Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit, aka Seh Ai, leader of Pitak Siam. As far as I am concerned, if I am to join a protest I must first be convinced that the protest leader must be credible and smart enough and be able to lead the protest toward success or its set target.

In this regard, it appears that Gen Boonlert has failed miserably from the outset with his outlandish hard talk of putting democracy in a deep freeze for five years during which Thailand would be governed by honest technocrats.

Would any sane man float such a crazy idea while he is about to lead a crucial protest? The idea has not only allowed the red shirts and the government to take full advantage of it to attack Pitak Siam and its allies as being pro-dictatorship and political dinosaurs but it appears to have also driven away many non-coloured people from joining the protest. Not to mention the prospect of Thailand being branded as a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community.

Gen Boonlert appears to be inconsistent about the planned protest. Originally he said that if the crowd turnout is less than a million, the protest will be called off. Of late, he said that if only 40,000-50,000 people show up at the rally, he will end the protest. If the turnout is much more, he said he would consider what the next move should be, but he assured that he had a “last solution” for the government.

But the red shirts and the government suspect that Gen Boonlert is just a front man or a puppet of some people pulling the strings from behind the scene. However, my question is: Are the puppeteers being smart to make use of a man like Gen Boonlert to pull off such an important mission as overthrowing the government? Or are they just as ignorant as the retired general because the mission is impossible from the outset?

About the author

columnist
Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
Position: Former Editor