September 2, 2008 at 7:00am PM Samak Sundaravej declared a State of Emergency for Bangkok.
IF, by declaring a state of emergency on Tuesday morning, Premier Samak Sundaravej thought he could use Army chief General Anupong Paochinda to disperse protesters at Government House, he had badly miscalculated.
The Army commander-in-chief refused to swallow the bait. In fact, he obviously knew what Samak was up to. He might even share the widespread suspicion that the government was behind the violent confrontation between the pro-government Nor Por Chor group and members of the People's Alliance for Democracy early on Tuesday; that it had in fact been staged by the authorities.
(What the media at scene condemned)
The fact that the prime minister didn't show any interest in investigating the instigators behind the attacks before imposing a state of emergency in Bangkok convinced many a critic that Samak was perhaps implicated in the "plot".
The "plot" did not come as a surprise. In fact, it had always been speculated that the Samak government might have encouraged Nor Por Chor to initiate a violent showdown against PAD protesters to provide the excuse for the premier to roll out the emergency decree.
The decree will empower the prime minister to wield almost absolute power to evict protesters from the Government House compound. But instead of heading the task force to exercise the special power himself, Samak chose to name the Army chief to head the team. That way he doesn't have to do the "killing" himself. But General Anupong, of course, knows better.
Anupong immediately tossed the hot potato back to Samak.
The contrast between Samak's and Anupong's style and substance was clear for everyone to see.
While Samak minced no words in saying that the imposition of the emergency decree was in order to put an end to the anti-government protest, Anupong made it a point to stress that he would avoid the use of violence at all cost.
His emphasis on the use of "negotiations" instead of confrontation was unmistakably clear.
Whilst Samak's tough talk on Tuesday morning plunged the whole country into a state of high tension, a few hours later Anupong's soft, measured responses to reporters' questions, some of them extremely direct and even provocative, offered the nation a sigh of relief.
There was little doubt that the Army chief was distancing himself from a premier under siege because of his own actions. Political conflicts, Anupong said, would have to be resolved in Parliament, following the principle of the rule of law of the land.
In other words, Anupong's message to Samak was clear: the Army chief isn't there to be exploited by a prime minister in pursuit of a selfish political agenda.
Short of telling Samak to quit or dissolve Parliament to bring an end to the prolonged political conflict, Anupong was also sending out signals to Samak's arch-rivals, the PAD, that the Army wasn't contemplating staging a coup to oust the Samak government to get rid of Thaksin Shinawatra's proxy. That scenario, he indicated, would only make things worse.
Anupong didn't respond directly to a reporter's question on whether he was playing the role of an "honest broker", but he gave ample hints that he was his own man - and that he wasn't dancing to Samak's tune.
While the Army chief expressed his concern about preventing further bloodshed and the need to probe into the plotting behind Tuesday night's bloody clashes, Samak again showed himself to be a cold-blooded politician convinced that the end justifies the means.
When a reporter reminded him that one person had been killed in the early-morning clash, Samak shot back, almost instinctively: "Whose side was he on?"
With that remark, isn't it clear that Samak has lost all moral authority to rule?
(by Keerathi www.panthamitr.com)
On Sepember 14, 2008, after the decree lasted only 12 days and nothing was done to any protestors either yellow or red, acting PM Somchai Wongsawat lifted the State of Emergency, saying that it was not necessary whereas seriously damaging the country.