Prime minister seemed like he'd been knocked out
Failure to make a good impression fuels concerns about his health
Having been forced onto the defensive and trying his best to limit the damage being caused by his opponents, caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is making himself more available to the media in the run-up to the election.
But whether he is causing himself more harm than good can be summarised by the views of three critics from diverse backgrounds. Judging by their general opinions, the prime minister's efforts at damage control are ineffectual
and not likely to ease political tensions.
On Friday night, Thaksin appeared on the popular "Thueng Luk Thueng Khon" show on channel 9 hosted by Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda, where he was expected to be grilled on the political crisis and allegations of corruption and abuse of power.
Pirongrong Ramasoota, lecturer of information and politics at Chulalongkorn University
"[After watching the show] I have developed a more negative view of Thaksin. He has lost it completely. He wasn't sincere and does not have any legitimacy left. He had the chance [to clear himself] but was unable to come clean.
It was as if Thaksin was speaking alone and not in a dialogue. There's an asymmetric power relationship [between host and interviewee]. In the big picture, an agenda was already set [for the programme], and Sorrayuth works well under pressure, but he wasn't as argumentative as he usually is.
"If the audience had not known about Thaksin, well, that might have been a plus for him, but we know the man well enough, so it made you feel that you could not trust him. He scratched his face and avoided eye contact, and his body language meant he was uneasy and lying. When he talked about elections being a popularity contest, one couldn't tell if he really believed it or was simply making propaganda."
Kitja Thaveekulkij, renowned political astrologer
"Judging from the stars, I predict that he won't even be around for the April 2 snap election.
His face on TV was very weary. His eyes spelt trouble. At times they floated aimlessly. I'm worried about his mental and physical health. Problems are mounting up in him.
"I wish he would let someone else take the helm. He's bringing the Thai Rak Thai Party down with him. He shouldn't listen to people around him, even his family. Thaksin was born in the Chinese year of the ox, and this year is the dog. They are antagonists, and this is a drought-dog year with fire as a presiding element. It's removing much of his aura.
"As for Sorrayuth, I feel sorry for him. It was as if the programme had been staged and Thaksin had his answers prepared in advance. I even wondered if it had been taped in advance. I think Sorrayuth emerged as a loser too."
Kangwan Buddhivanid, general manager, Toyota Motors (Thailand)
"I was surprised when Thaksin was asked about Ample Rich being registered in the British Virgin Islands. Despite the written records by the Thai Journalists' Association and the Law Society
of Thailand that Thaksin had
condemned Thais who registered there [to avoid paying tax] as unpatriotic, he now claims he
cannot remember having said so. I mean, he didn't have any
better answer. It was as if he
was knocked out on television: he didn't mention the real purpose of the snap election. It's here that it got lost. Sorrayuth may not have cornered him, but viewers can think for themselves.
"When [Thaksin] talks about not allowing mob rule to be above the rule of law, we must ask what we make of incidents like the October 14  revolt, remembered with a monument, and the May uprising [in 1992]. I think [Thaksin] doesn't underst
and [about direct democracy], and he's holding on to his position without considering the national interest."