As more signs of violence keep emerging in the political clash between the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and the administration of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, members of the diplomatic corps are hoping for a miracle of peaceful reconciliation.
For them, Thailand cannot afford to hurt its core, income-generating sectors that are intricately linked to the outside world, such as the tourism industry and foreign direct investment (FDI).
A Nordic ambassador said it was still too early to draw conclusions regarding the medium- and long-term impact on the FDI. For now, foreign investors are following Thailand’s political situation very closely and will in due course make up their minds whether Thailand is still a good country for them to invest in.
Since the ouster of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, there have been no really dangerous signs until the past few days, when clashes between police and demonstrators took place. According to the ambassador, the latest disturbances were the two bomb blasts in the protest vicinity that are starting to shatter the fragile confidence of the tourism sector.
Inevitably, Thailand depends largely on the revenue from this sector. If there are more incidents of violence and more bombs go off on either side, both the tourists and foreign investors will unfortunately be scared away, the diplomat said.
The division in Thai society is so deep, the Nordic ambassador observed. It was supposed to become less but has instead become more pronounced. Differing views are not being taken into account and it seems there is not much room for compromise in this stand-off.
The Nordic ambassador added that in other countries it would be unimaginable for demonstrators to seize Government House and for the governing administration to allow such an incident to take place, either.
Still, he hoped there would be some peaceful way to iron out the differences. The basic principle to start with is to respect the court process and the rule of law.
If the former or present premier is accused of being corrupt, the public should work to ensure that they are punished by the courts.
“It should be like that, shouldn’t it?” the ambassador asked.
But before talking about the legalities, he suggested that a commission be established to defuse the situation and bring the country back from the brink and from potentially violent clashes.
However, the idea of a mediator or mediating committee will only work if both sides accept the person or persons chosen for the task, he said.
“Unless the PAD gives up or the premier agrees to step down, both sides will remain locked in an impasse. But if one agrees to slip away from that point and allow parliament to choose a new leader from the ruling or coalition parties, will that be acceptable for the Thais?” he asked.