One cannot deny Thaksin’s wisdom even while he remains in exile.
The policy of cancelling the compulsory draft will give grass-roots voters, especially in Isaan, one more reason to stick with the Pheu Thai Party. Apart from the notorious corruption in the conscription system, parents would obviously be delighted that their sons would not face the kind of physical abuse reported in several high-profile cases, nor will they have to worry about them ending up as servants in the houses of the generals.
Meanwhile Pheu Thai’s plan to sell submarines to fund hospitals will not only appeal to voters, but is also a shot at the current military regime. The 6-million-dollar question is why Thailand needs submarines when we are not a sea power? The aircraft carrier bought by the Navy that is docked in Sattahip most of the time can, at least, be used to educate students boarding the vessel, whereas the submarines cannot conduct deep-sea tours since, to my knowledge, they lack windows.
Yet while Thaksin is making some interesting proposals, the recent high-profile visit by his confidant, Police Captain Chalerm, to the Police Department raised eyebrows. By going there and also offering moral support to his children over a recent public brawl, he reminds us of the old days when Chalerm charged into Soi Thonglor Police Station in a similar incident.
Still-fresh memories of political violence and abuse of power may overshadow Thaksin’s grand ideas when voters make their decisions in the coming election.