Second verse, same as the first
Commentary by Atiya Achakulwisut
(Atiya Achakulwisut is Editorial Pages Editor, Bangkok Post.)

Mr Samak should be thankful the PAD is sticking around. Who else could he blame when things get worse?

If the Samak government could be granted a single wish, it probably would ask the genie to wipe away the tenacious PAD protest. But do we believe such a disappearing act would save the day for the cabinet and solve all the Groundhog Day political problems we are currently facing?

Remember the film? Bill Murray? The weather guy who was forced to relive the same day over and over again, until he learned to give up his selfishness and become a better, kinder person?

Aren't we all feeling a bit like that Bill Murray character? I mean, in terms of waking up in the morning and wondering: are we reliving the past? That events of today are actually so like those almost two years ago, before the Sept 19 coup?

We have a government which can't seem to do anything right. We have the same group of protesters that may swell up or down at times but never leaves the scene. We have different ideas on how to do things which apparently can't be reconciled.

We had the Shin/Temasek deal back then that tipped the tumult. We have the humongous Khao Phra Viharn/Preah Vihear dispute now. And we are holding our collective breath in expectation of what might come next.

The thing is, however, that anything that may happen next - a cabinet reshuffle, House dissolution, party dissolution, even another coup - won't effect a change in the repeating pattern.

Kick out embattled Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama? The PAD would still be there. Disband the PPP? You'll have the same faces lining up under a new banner tomorrow. Bring down the House? The PPP or its reincarnation would storm back into parliament with a majority again. I won't even waste space with the prospect of another coup.

Good morning, people! Once again it's Groundhog Day!

Back to the question: Would the political tension be relieved if the PAD were to disappear from the political stage? My answer is: No. The Samak government is now rotting from within. It will continue to stink, with or without people telling other people so.

The irony is that the months-old cabinet has had a fair share of windows of opportunity but wasted them all because of its incredible ineptitude. Not only does it have little skill but it is also helplessly low on style. You may have access to the best brand names but you would still pick the wrong products anyway - that is one way of explaining how clumsy and out of touch this government is.

Take any important issue. Do you see one that has been handled well?

How about the Interior Minister's clownish babbling? His pathetic effort to paint a monster out of people who disagree with him? That the protesters are Mon or Burmese? That those who laid siege around his hotel in Krabi were drunks?

I thought we had grown past these cheap, old and stupid tricks, but guess what - it's still Groundhog Day!

The trail of wreckage that is this government's performance inarguably tipped with the Preah Vihear deal. Foreign Minister Noppadon did not have the foresight to understand how sensitive the whole thing is. He did not have the modesty to leave his personal grandeur out of the matter, either. His parroting that the Paris deal, from which came the problematic joint communique pledging Thailand's "active support" to Cambodia's unilateral proposal for the temple's World Heritage inscription, was an astounding success and he himself was a hero for saving the country's territory, was plain wrong.

His announcement that he would sacrifice his own ministerial position if the deal proved to be bad for the country, was even more wrong. The minister, the PM, as well as the whole PPP pack actually, seems to have the illusion that a majority of votes means instant immunity - a licence to stare, scold or sign things as they please. But, of course, the reality is not like that. The reality is that people don't actually care if Noppadon Pattama remains the country's foreign minister or not. They want, however, to be informed of the important deal that he took the liberty of inking on their behalf before he did it, not after the fact. They demand to be consulted. And they are angry that they weren't. They don't need the PAD to remind them of this. They would have worked up a protest anyway.

The thing is, we are heading towards a more difficult time economically and the Samak government is so lame it would cause more damage if it tried to do some work. In this sense, Mr Samak should be thankful the PAD is sticking around. Otherwise, who else can he blame when things get worse?