The conspiracy theorists are having a field day. They now see Somkid Jatusripitak's public retreat last week from his post as Premier Surayud Chulanont's "international economics spokesman" as a major strategic move to set up a new political grouping on behalf of the September 19 coup leaders to retain power.
While you could almost certainly count General Surayud out of the political equation after the new election is held, probably before the end of the year, the same can't be said of coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who is officially retiring from his top Army spot on October 1 this year. The Council for National Security under his leadership will have to be dissolved one way or other when the new government is installed following the election. But his political battle with the man he overthrew on September 19 of last year, Thaksin Shinawatra, won't be over until it's really over.
One of his trusted "heirs" - General Saprang Kalayanamitr or General Anupong Paochinda, who both hold the post of assistant Army commander-in-chief - will probably take over the top post to ensure the coup leaders' continue to hold power. However, cynics are already pointing to the close bonds between Sonthi and some of Thaksin's former Thai Rak Thai associates led by Somsak Thepsuthin, who has set up the "Matchima" (The Middle Path) political grouping, which is ready to make any shift deemed necessary by the political winds.
Somkid may not have debunked "Thaksinomics" - of which he was undeniably one of the key architects - in his public announcement to resign from being the premier's "envoy" in international economic affairs. However, most of his supporters subsequently pointed to the fact that Somkid did specifically make it clear that, for all practical purposes, he had broken away from Thaksin.
Granted, it wasn't an apology for political sins committed. Nor was it a mea culpa in any real sense. But conspiracy theory advocates insisted that the speech could arguably be labelled a "declaration of independence" from Thaksin by Somkid. If that public forum served to officially establish the fact that Somkid is no longer in Thaksin's shadow and if things reach a critical mass, Somkid could even be convinced to form a political group that will bury "Thaksinomics" once and for all.
Remember what Premier Surayud said the day before Somkid made that tear-jerking "confession"?
Who would be in a better position to explain the merits of the "Sufficiency Theory" in comparison to "Thaksinomics" to the outside world than someone from Thaksin's own inner circle? Somkid fitted the bill perfectly.
Cynics are inclined to believe that now that Somkid is ready to play ball, the coup leaders will embrace any positive gesture from the Matchima group, while publicly fanning speculation that it's back to the same old political vicious circle once again.
The members of Matchima are now ready to dump Thaksin to pursue their own agenda and have courted Somkid to lead the group. They have the money and the head count. Somkid possesses the "good guy" image. They have tried to hook up with the coup-makers. And some members of the CNS are known to have held unofficial talks with Matchima to form some sort of an alliance although they are at pains to avoid being seen together or even talking the same language.
Somkid has his own "Thammathipathai" think-tank, which comprises some of his personal scholarly associates. But he certainly has no qualms being linked to Matchima although he doesn't want to be seen at such an early stage as a figure-head, if not a stooge, of veteran politicos.
In simple terms, whether you think it's too wild to ponder or too cynical to contemplate, the conspiracy theory goes like this:
The coup leaders can't step down without being sure of a political base. The faction leaders who have split from Thaksin after the coup are scared of being wiped out by the military's influence. Both sides are equally afraid of the more liberal clauses and more intensified checks and balances in the new constitution. They have therefore come together to form the not unthinkable but highly controversial "forbidden alliance" to ensure their own positions in the new scheme of things.
Somkid, despite his "not-so-easily-explainable" close ties with Thaksin in the past, happens to be considered by both sides, under the circumstances, the "most presentable face" to the Thai public. If they are desperate enough, the conspiracy theorists won't hesitate to name Somkid as "the guy who happens to be there when we need him".
And, all of a sudden, as if on the conspiracy theorists' cue, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula called it quits. He blamed the Somkid affair for being one of the reasons behind his decision.
That's a perfect plot for the conspiracy theorists, by any standard.