The Pitak Siam group appears to have imploded on its own failures. This is almost entirely the best outcome for this mistimed, misconceived and miscalculated political group. While there is always room for provocative ideas and speech, Pitak Siam wasn't it. Leader Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit did the right thing to call off last Saturday's rally, and "kill" the movement, which had no worthy goals and no expectation of achieving anything of note.
Gen Boonlert's decision to halt his protest has not _ and should not _ let the government off the hook. Within a month, by its own timetable, it intends to restart efforts to pass two bills in parliament. The reconciliation law and the proposed rewrite of the constitution are ticking political time-bombs. There will be consequences if the government fails again to explain these bills to the country in a rational and convincing manner.
The government, specifically Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, has cited the 2011 election results as a mandate to pass these two items through a compliant parliament.
The opponents of the current versions of these laws, however, have made it clear they have a duty to oppose the measures. They describe the proposals as a formal whitewash of the former prime minister and legal fugitive, Thaksin Shinawatra.
Ms Yingluck has been nothing if not reliably persistent. She ran her election campaign on the promise to press for a law for reconciliation and she has never wavered. She intends to try again next month. What the prime minister has failed to do, however, is to explain how national reconciliation can be enforced as a law. Reconciliation and unity are a state of mind.
If the public awards Ms Yingluck full understanding _ which it will not _ the fact remains that she has failed to address objections to this measure. Introducing the bill to parliament again seems likely to inflame sores and rub salt into wounds. Her reconciliation payments to the victims of political violence earlier this year only spurred resentment and further demands from those who were not covered. The same is certain to happen with the forgiveness clauses of the reconciliation bill.
The proposed amendments to the constitution are destined to draw similar objections. Boiled down, opponents once again fear that charter change is a self-serving tactic to bring Thaksin back to Thailand as if he were a hero, and incidentally to make it much easier for the Pheu Thai Party to stay in power.
This is unfortunate, since the constitution pushed down the nation's collective throat by the military coup junta is clearly deficient and even undemocratic. The document needs amendments. But the popular issue of re-enabling Thaksin could torpedo even the best efforts to bring about needed rewrites.
In both these cases, Ms Yingluck's government has failed to take even minimum steps to explain the issues and win over opponents. If the prime minister and Pheu Thai MPs continue to resist taking the twin proposals to the grassroots, major opposition is certain. Both issues are political tinderboxes, certain to cause serious political opposition.
The government is touting its "victory" over Pitak Siam. But really, it was a sideshow. Gen Boonlert's call for a military coup and violent overthrow of the government never was going to get serious support.
But the government can make things worse if it ignores public opinion and tries to bulldoze highly controversial legislation through parliament.