How the mighty have fallen, but will they get up again?

Their bails might have been denied (for now), but whether the leadership of the PDRC would suffer real jail time remains to be seen.

PAD leader Sondhi Limtongkul was imprisoned, so why not Suthep Thaugsuban? This is possible.

However, it would be unprecedented if the so-called “high-society Bangkok elites” (Nataphol Teepsuwan, his wife Taya, and Buddhipongse Puntakanta) will see real jail time. Wait for the appeal process.

The more intriguing question, however, is, why? If it weren’t for them, there would not be Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.

Their refusal to stand down even when Yingluck Shinawatra resigned and dissolved the parliament. Their wreaking chaos in general and obstructing the election in particular. They made the 2014 military coup possible. They led the applause for the tanks. This was why they received ministerial positions in return in the first place.

Here are the factors.

Public image.

Both the Education and Digital Economy and Society ministries are blue-chip portfolios. Both Natahopl and Buddhipongse have been making a mess of things. The former is vilified and crucified by students in general and the Bad Student group in particular. The latter is known only for the Computer Crime Act and the Anti-Fake News Center.

Simply put: In the public eye at large, both are unfit, even if conservative Bangkokians adore them. (Yes, yes, no one is worse for public image than the two generals themselves, but hypocrisy and the lack of self-awareness are incurable diseases.)

Internal politics.

Seasoned politicians (formerly Pheu Thai and other parties) in the Palang Pracharat Party want them out. The PDRC may get brownie points for making the coup possible. But like Somkid Jatusripitak, Uttama Savanayana, and others, the question became:

“What have you done to help win the 2019 election? You received fancy positions, and you are making a mess of things. It is our turn to get these lucrative portfolios.”

These politicians are in the patronage network of General Prawit. He has to answer to his people. That’s how patronage works.


It has been two years of Christmas for Nataphol, the number one Party List candidate for Palang Pracharat. He has been gifted so many presents for his PDRC actions. But the Bangkok Governorship is promised to the former police chief, General Chakthip Chaijinda. He is of General Prawit’s network.

However, Nataphol has been pushing hard for his wife, Taya. The patronage network of seasoned politicians and men in uniforms isn’t happy about this. These high-society Bangkok elites are just too entitled; not knowing enough is enough.

But, none of these reasons explain yesterday’s guilty verdicts and prison sentences. They are merely circumstances that “aren’t helping” the PDRC leadership.

We look at the chessboard and facade of justice:

On the same day of the verdict and sentencing, the four pro-democracy activists (Anon Nampa, Parit Siwarak, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Patiwat Saraiyaem) are denied bail for their Section 112 charges yet again.

Look at the sentencing of yellow-shirt PAD leaders Sondhi, Major General Chamlong Srimuang, and others. It justified the sweeping witchhunt and burning at the stakes of the red-shirt UDD leadership and the organization’s dismemberment.

The verdict and the PDRC leadership sentencing mean the “lawfare” against the pro-democracy movement is about to heat up even more. In fact, they are gearing up to bring the hammer down. The same goes for the leadership of the Progressive Movement.

Then General Prayut can stand behind the podium and mumble: “See? There’s no double standard in the law.”

This is how the generals believe they can achieve “reconciliation”: get rid of everybody. But it will only be a facade of justice and reconciliation. In truth, it’s the rule of fear through the threat of imprisonment, and no one is safe. Unless you have the right patron and/or have the army (lots of tanks and guns) as leverage.

Politics is a dog-eat-dog world. Coup-inviters get prison sentences. Coup-makers get whatever they want.

Does this mean the generals will lose the support of the Bangkok elites? Not necessarily. Behind-the-door grumbling aside, the generals are the only game in town. If you want to be a part of the power structure, you play their game and take the proverbial “one for the team” whenever needed.

Suthep and the Gang are taking “one for the team.” For now, they are sacrificial lambs, but they’ll be back. Just like Sondhi is back and serves as an influential voice against the pro-democracy movement.

That’s the game, the question then becomes: Will there be a game-changer?

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