By The Nation
Published on June 28, 2009

Whether it's Thaksin or his rivals behind it, it's the nation as a whole that suffers

Thaksin Shinawatra can't stay quiet for very long. Or does it largely have to do with his opponents? The conspicuous discovery of the "Taksin 2" plan, surreptitiously named after King Taksin the Great, has raised as much scepticism as alarm. The Thai public, as usual, is caught in a dilemma. What should we believe? Is this the latest blatant scheme by the man or something created by his enemies to keep him alive?

That the plot was "uncovered" and leaked to the press just as the red-shirt movement was about to hold its first rally since Black Songkran is obviously not a coincidence.

If it was real, it must have been intended to send a message to Thaksin's supporters that he was still up to it, that they would not be fighting for nothing and that "real objectives" and means had been drawn up into some sort of a clandestine manifesto.

If it was indeed cooked up, it was from ill intention on the part of his opponents.

Neither case bodes well for Thailand. In other words, evil is in either the plot's details or the minds of those who faked the plot. If Taksin 2 is real, Saturday's rally of Thaksin supporters must have been an unwilling part of a dark scheme intended to prolong the nation's woes. If it is not, the protesters are victims on the receiving end of an equally heinous agenda.

We can't choose the lesser evil, as they are equally bad. We are given to understand that intelligence authorities stumbled upon some papers which unveil plans to create fresh trouble, stir new violence, take captive political leaders, reduce the highest institution to symbolic importance and curb the powers of the judiciary, which is currently beyond the control of politicians.

News reports said the plot was aimed at sparking new confrontation that would make what happened during Songkran look benign. As a result the government went into high alert prior to the planned gathering of the red shirts, although the movement had not made any threat of trouble.

As expected, the Thaksin camp has denied that he is involved in or responsible for any such plot. Rally organiser Natthawut Saikua said the ex-prime minister had called him on the issue. The "disclosure", Natthawut claimed, was a ploy to divert public attention from problems besetting the Abhisit government.

Painful experience has taught the Thai public not to be gullible. There have been many political mysteries since the showdown between Thaksin and his rivals began. We have had an alleged plane-sabotage plan, a "car bomb" found in the middle of the city, the alleged attempt on the life of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjavajiva during Songkran, the assault on Sondhi Limthongkul, the so-called Finland declaration and the linkage between an attack on one of the city's most revered shrines and national politics, to name but a few.

With each new mystery, we believe less in the proclaimed patriotism of the warring parties and more in the theory that it's all just about power, not love of country. While this internecine conflict may have started off ideologically, it has degenerated badly, and we have come to the point where, when we have an incident like the Taksin 2 "plot", we could not care less either way. Such an incident simply demonstrates the power of hatred and black ambition to achieve a goal at all costs.

Nothing can be discounted, including a third, and arguably less likely, scenario of the Thaksin camp faking the plot itself in the hope that the public won't believe anything so blatant and thus will conclude that it was its enemies who made up the scheme. This scenario may sound less devious than the other two, but only because the motive is less bloodthirsty.

Whichever scenario is real, it just confirms how far off the track we as a nation still are. It's not unusual for ideological fights to turn nasty, but in Thailand's case, it seems a lot of people are doing their best to prevent the crisis from getting any closer to a peaceful solution.

It appears that when many ideological activists have gone home, hoping that with the country having pulled back from the brink there will be a greater chance of a peaceful ending, someone wants to get them back to the battle zone. The exhausted fighters still hear voices whispering in their ears that it's not going to be over until there's more blood spilt.