By Somroutai Sapsomboon,
The government is facing a credibility crisis similar to an analogy drawn from one of Aesop's Fables - the Shepherd's Boy and the Wolf.
The anti-amnesty movement has grown by leaps and bounds since Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra made her televised speech on the amnesty bill last week.
Why? It can be attributed to Yingluck’s failure to show remorse.
The government relied on a deceitful ploy by revising the amnesty draft in order to absolve former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as well as grant clemency in corruption cases.
Yingluck made a murky rebuttal, accusing her opponents of spreading false allegations about the amnesty bill impacting on graft violations.
She also ignored the fact that the actual draft did specify clemency in cases such as those involving her brother Thaksin.
Although her comments on amnesty might signal a retreat by giving the green light for the Senate to defeat the bill, she ended up inflaming the opposition.
Faced with angry sentiment, the government mobilised its supporters to reaffirm it was backing down from the bill.
Pro-government senators such as Nikom Wairatpanij, Direk Teungfung and Prasit Pothasuthon pledged to reject the bill.
Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai confirmed the ruling party was abandoning the bill.
But neither Yingluck nor Phumtham spelled out clearly whether the coalition would rekindle the amnesty debate within the 180-day deadline.
The anti-amnesty protests persist as the government relies on wordplay rather than genuine action to pacify its opponents.
After the opposition movement intensified its calls for the ousting of the government, the chief coalition whip stepped forward to announce a full retreat by agreeing to withdraw all six amnesty-related bills.
Yingluck clarified her previous statement to mean there would be no more pushing for amnesty in the future.
On Saturday, Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan and coalition partners inked a ratification agreement against reviving the amnesty effort.
Protesters have carried on rallying despite the coalition attempts to appease them.
The opposition seems to have gained strength after the red shirts organised a series of rallies designed to shield the government.
Under the legislative procedures, the blanket amnesty would remain as a dormant agenda in the House, even though the Senate might have rejected its passing on its first reading.
The House would retain the discretion to debate the bill at a given time in future, as deemed appropriate.
Should this happen, the lawmakers can pass the bill by a simple majority without having to seek senatorial consent.
Therefore, amnesty opponents suspect the government is buying time before mounting the next push for the bill’s passage.
So long as the government does not remove the bill from the legislative agenda, the amnesty debate could be rekindled at any time.
With lingering doubts about the government’s true intention over amnesty, more and more people have been taking to the streets to protest what they see as an unacceptable push to whitewash graft offences.
The government is truly faced with the dilemma of lacking credibility to convince its opponents to stop protesting.
And prolonged protests could spell a doom scenario for the government, as well as put an end to the Thaksin regime, the populist brand championed by the former prime minister.