Opinion: Tony Woodsome and the (not so) secret deal

If my two years of sojourn into politics confirm one thing, all deals start off as a secret. Anything public is just for show, to keep up a “good face.”

If a secret deal doesn’t prove true, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a deal, only that somebody backed out of the deal.

The date is set, August 10 shall see the return of Tony Woodsome. This confirms a deal that’s “not much of a secret,” Move Forward will not be part of the government.

Who will be the prime minister? Well, that depends on the deal.

The number one goal for any political party is power, which leads to “economic opportunities.” For example, the deal with Bhumjaitai Party is simple. At the minimum, give me the Health Ministry and Transport Ministry, and you’ll have my 71 votes.

They don’t have to be shy about it. After all, as long as they chant “Nation, Religion, King,” they are on the side of righteousness.

The deal for Pheu Thai Party is more complicated since they did not achieve the landslide electoral victory as intended. If they have up to 270 seats as once ambitiously projected, they would be sitting pretty.

But 141? They must get down and dirty if they want Tony to return (with a wrist-slap rather than a hefty prison term) and have their candidate as prime minister. Hence, ditching Move Forward and embracing the old regime is part of the deal.

But why must Move Forward be kept out of power? That’s because they would upset the power. Imagine… reforming the military, the police, the bureaucracy, the capitalist system, in fact, the entire country. That would upset the power and stifle the “economic opportunities” of big generals, big capitalists, big bureaucrats, big politicians, and everyone else considered “big.”

That just won’t do. Even Tony never went that far, not even close.

So the price for Pheu Thai is to join the old regime club openly. Forget “democratic legitimacy,” Move Forward already owns that. Time for a different strategy.

Because you see, all political parties are mere players. But there’s the dealer. The dealer may not control the votes, hence the Move Forward victory. But the dealer controls the game, which is this:

The next general election will be decided between Move Forward (or something else, if they get banned) and Pheu Thai. A true showdown between conservative and liberal ideologies, not the convoluted mess it has been in the past.

To stem the tide of the “Orange Menace,” the dealer must consolidate. Bring Pheu Thai into the fold. Make them an offer they can’t refuse: Tony’s return, with only a wrist-slap.

Depending on the bargain, a scenario may be frustrating, yet expected: a Pheu Thai candidate as prime minister and an alliance with parties representing the old regime, including Palang Pracharat and perhaps even Ruam Thai Sang Chart. With ministries dealing out to all players accordingly.

With Tony back, plus sound economic management, multiplied by populist policies, Pheu Thai expects to maintain the support of the working class, even if not as much as before. But they would also have the alliance of all other large and medium parties, most of who are former Thai Rak Thai anyway, to battle in the next election against Move Forward.

Or, the deal may be something that would send a shockwave through the streets. But it would be what the dealer ultimately wants. Peerapan Salirathavigbhanga as prime minister, Pheu Thai as part of the coalition, with ministries dealing out to all players accordingly.

The streets would, of course, erupt in protests.

To which one veteran political player told me: So what? First, the water gun. Then, the tear gas, Then, the rubber bullets, if need be, real bullets. All the while, criminal charges, treason charges, and prison terms.

All is under control. Ugly, but under control.

The international community would condemn. But these are just noises. Boycotts? Sanctions? There’s too much money to be made in Thailand.

These are the two scenarios developing. Whichever one proves true, or something in between, depends on the bargain. After all, you play the game not to be morally right or wrong but to win or lose. It’s a power game, not a moral one.

Of course, all of the above may prove false. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a deal. It just means that someone backed out of the deal.

But really, it’s the sort of deal one would hope will fall apart.


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