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What would Abhisit and Thaksin say on the phone?

DEPUTY Premier Suthep Thaugsuban says he has tried calling Thaksin Shinawatra, but the line has been busy. Thaksin's personal spokesman Pongthep Thepjanachana says he has just talked the former premier on the phone - and the line was clear. Thaksin told Pongthep that Suthep hadn't called at all.

Suthep then claimed that he didn't make contact with Thaksin through Pongthep. It was another line of communication.

That's pretty bizarre, to put it mildly. If Suthep really wanted to talk to Thaksin, there was no reason why he couldn't get through.

Thaksin, I am sure, must have been waiting for calls from Bangkok all day long over the past few weeks. It wouldn't matter whether the call was from a friend or foe - as long as it showed that he hasn't been forgotten or sidelined from the domestic political game. He would then at least feel thankful.

The real issue, though, isn't whether the line has been busy. The main question, to my mind, is what does Suthep want to talk to Thaksin about?

Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva insists that this isn't a negotiation between his government and the fugitive ex-premier to let the latter off the legal hook.

"We simply want to tell Khun Thaksin to stop creating trouble on the political scene."

If that's the case, you could be certain that the conversation, if it ever materialises, would be a non-starter. Thaksin would certainly react with a puzzled response: "What trouble? All I have done is to express my opinion about the country's state of affairs. It's your government that has been creating trouble for me."

If Premier Abhisit could chime in on a phone conversation between Suthep and Thaksin, he might ask Thaksin to stop inciting the red-shirted protestors who have vowed to fight against the new government while calling for Thaksin's return.

Thaksin wouldn't take that lying down, of course. He would certainly hit back with something like: "The red-shirts? They represent the will of the people. If they support me, it's only because they believe I can save the country. Don't forget, Mr Prime Minister, it was the yellow-shirted people who instigated all the recent problems for the country. When are you going to charge them for seizing the Government House and the airports?"

You can see that they would go nowhere with that kind of talk. Thaksin might ask Abhisit whether he could come home - and the answer would naturally be: "Of course, you are welcome home at any time. In fact, you are supposed to be serving a two-year jail term at home right now."

Thaksin would spring no surprise if he said: "You know as well as I know, sir, that I was the victim of political persecution. That's why I am staying abroad. Can you guarantee that I will be treated justly if I come home?"

Abhisit wouldn't be his own self if he didn't respond with a prompt assurance: "Of course, I can guarantee that my government won't interfere with the due process of justice."

Thaksin would surprise me tremendously if he didn't come back with a cold, high-pitched response: "Come on, Khun Abhisit, do you really expect me to believe that?"

And before the two got down to discussing the Democrat Party's alleged hijacking of Newin Chidchob's faction from Thaksin's side so that the Democrats could form the current coalition government, the conversation would have been cut off at one end of the line or the other. Suthep could then step out of his office to tell the Government House press corps: "The prime minister just had a phone conversation with Khun Thaksin. It was a frank and productive discussion about the general situation of the country. If need be, further discussion of this type will resume in the near future."

Now, you know why that much-publicised, high-level "negotiation" over the phone will never actually take place. Both sides know it's a non-starter from the very outset.

They just want to talk about the talk that won't take place, so that neither side has to concede or admit defeat.


(Share your views on hot topics of the day in my blog at http://blog.nationmultimedia.com/ThaiTalk or www.suthichaiyoon.blogspot.com.)

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