For certain groups of people, what lends weight to People Power Party leader Samak Sundaravej's allegation that the NGOs' Dec 12 protest against the National Legislative Assembly was an attempt to wreak havoc to prevent the general election is the NGO leaders' own track record. Some of them were part of the People's Alliance for Democracy and embraced the Sept 19 coup. Some even worked with the NLA or took part in the process of drafting the junta-sponsored charter. Many were quite OK with the coup, or at least did not come out against it-which I would like to call position A. What happened last Wednesday and is going to happen tomorrow can be called position C, at which point they have turned against the junta-installed NLA and questioned its legitimacy.
What is missing is position B, which is character development after the coup. It includes acceptance or even apologies to the public for their stance towards the junta that allows things to happen in the way that they now have to turn against one of the junta's creations in the last minute before the election.
I see only one person among them that has passed the point: Supinya Klangnarong who has come out to take a clear stand and show her regret that she might have played into the hands of the coup makers. But the rest of the anti-NLA leaders simply took a great leap from A to C.
As everybody knows, no one in the rubber-stamping body or the ‘shameless' assembly will bother to resign, except Assoc Prof Surichai Wan'kaew of Chulalongkorn's Political Science Faculty. Surichai tendered his resignation effective on Dec 12, explaining his dissent over the NLA's rush to pass several more laws despite the approaching general election. However, he never expressed his views regarding the NLA's legitimacy in the first place, and has never shown regret for taking NLA membership, which was quite a debate at the time.
More ironically, figures from the so-called civil sector like Surichai or Gothom Areeya who agreed to help ‘lubricate' the military regime will set a bad precedent for later intellectuals and activists, and assure future coup makers that there will always be people like them to lend their credibility. Surichai and Gothom have lost much of their credibility in the eyes of many including me. Surichai also leapt from A to C, but Gothom seems stuck at A.
A group of people including me have called on Surichai to return tax-payers' money worth over one million baht that he has received from serving in the NLA, and donate it for public benefit, but there has never been a response. Probably he does not feel compelled to respond, because the NLA is not supposed to be accountable to anyone in the first place.
Many people can just make a swift jump from A to C, so swift that it seems there is no memory of the recent past. The very people who have just cheered the junta in the past 12 months, abruptly come out against it, unabashed. After succeeding in halting the NLA session on last Wednesday, Jon Ungphakorn gave credit to Surichai for his resignation. Does this man really deserve credit? On that day, I met several NLA members who unashamedly insisted they would not resign. One member who was part of the anti-Thaksin PAD and used to tell other PAD members before the coup that they did not need to worry as the military would soon deliver the ‘knock-out blow', told me that all the bills would pass because ‘they' had already had the prescription, having already set the stage. "But do not quote me. Just quote a source," the source said.