วันที่ พฤหัสบดี มิถุนายน 2550

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It's just a dirty ploy: don't fall for the 'chaos theory'


Strange but true: to be a real, credible contrarian these days, you must debunk all the predictions of bad tidings concerning the local political scene.


The month of May has come and gone without any major incidents of unrest despite public utterances along those alarmist lines by almost every member of the government, the Council for National Security (CNS) and the now-dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party. And don't be surprised if they start scaring you again with all sorts of rumours to explain why things will really become chaotic before the end of the month.


Even what happened in front of Army headquarters late Saturday evening wasn't the kind of a "chaotic scene" they are talking about. It was, in effect, a one-sided show staged to project the image of chaos rather than the type of "real" confrontation that all of the astrologers were referring to. In other words, the noisy gathering and crude behaviour shown by certain protesters was nothing but a one-act affair that failed to spark the intended "conflagration".


Who has been spinning these horrible yarns that try to throw a pall on our collective consciousness, which has been bombarded with bad news day in, day out about "another coup" or the return of "Thaksin, the Come-Back Kid"? It seems it's a dirty game they all play with impunity. But if you look closer, the protagonists on both sides didn't start forecasting their gloom and doom scenarios until several well-known astrologers managed to hoodwink some newspapers into putting their scary predictions on their front pages. Soon, they all began to be scared by their own scarecrows.


They will be wrong again, of course. The reason is very simple: nobody has been able to come up with a clear answer to a very relevant question - who is going to benefit if these predictions of violence should come to pass?


Certainly not the CNS leader who has already come under the suspicion that he might stage violent acts to justify a second coup. Not the prime minister who has publicly gunned for an earlier election date. And yes, you guessed it, not even Thaksin the ex-prime minister who in fact would stand to lose the most if things get out of control on the streets in Bangkok. Daily rumours about "financial conduits from abroad" being used to stir up trouble on his behalf have put him on the spot.


What then is the source of the persistent speculation bandied about by doomsayers about "bloody clashes" that will plunge the country into unprecedented trouble? While on my desperate search for the source of this particularly curious turn of events, I happened to run into a well-known scholar, claiming total political objectivity, and who shall remain unnamed for now, who told me that he had the answer to my question: all parties concerned in the confrontation were somehow fooled by certain astrologers masquerading as academics into believing the existence of what amounts to a so-called "chaos theory" in politics.


According to my very own academic expert, that famous "chaos theory", which has its origins in science, attempts to explain the fact that complex and unpredictable results can and will occur in systems that are sensitive to their initial conditions. It's closely related to the so-called "Butterfly Effect" which states that, in theory at least, the flutter of a butterfly's wings in China could, in fact, actually affect weather patterns in New York City, thousands of miles away.


In other words, the theory goes that it is possible that a very small occurrence can produce unpredictable and sometimes drastic results by triggering a series of increasingly significant events.


The bogus academics who fed this theory to both the pro-Thaksin camp and General Sonthi Boonyaratglin loyalists were comparing Thaksin to a "butterfly", fluttering his wings from outside the country. The "butterfly effect" could then shake up the whole military establishment and the interim government, according to this theory. Now the coup-leaders weren't all that naive. But they were more than ready to exploit that story by joining the charade and turning in into a massive wild-goose chase to clip the "butterfly's wings".


The political "heat" on the surface comes mostly from the noise being made by groups who need to make their presence felt one way or the other to justify their close ties, financially or otherwise, with the ex-premier. Thaksin, because of the anti-corruption investigators' noose tightening around him, needs all of the local exposure he can get to slow down the probe.


That's why, ironically, Thaksin and General Sonthi share one strange common feeling: they both wouldn't mind, for the time being at least, pretending there was some substance to the "chaos theory". After all, the "butterfly effect" gives both of them an excuse to claim that the other side is the real villain. The real victim, though, is the confused and fragile and increasingly disillusioned public. But for once, let's not be hoodwinked. Let's get wiser to the ploys of the rich, the powerful and the greedy.

Suthichai Yoon

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