Epic Battle of the 3 Generals, the Most Followed Lakorn in the Country 

Epic Battle of the 3 Generals, the Most Followed Lakorn in the Country 
Image Courtesy - Thai Rath.

Epic battle of the 3 generals, the most followed lakorn in the country 

Since the censure debate that took place in early September, Thailand has been glued to the unfolding “lakorn” or drama played out by our top favorite political actors.

If last year, students’ protests dominated the political scene by their creative way of protesting and their use of social media, themes and nimbleness of mind and movement to fool and “curry” the authorities, the protests this year has taken a backseat to the unfolding drama produced and directed by the “3Ps” a collective nickname given by the Thai public for Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha, Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit “Pom” Wongsuwan and Interior Minister General Anupong “Pok” Paochinda, who are sworn brothers in arms.

It all started when this year’s censure debate was touted as the one that would be most damaging to the government, the toughest where the government would have no answers for allegations ranging from COVID-19 pandemic mismanagement to graft and corruption. 
Opposition and anti-government elements were warning MPs of core and coalition parties that to vote in favor of PM Prayuth in the face of such mismanagement would mean they were betraying the will of the people and would pay for it dearly in the next election. 
Opposition were banking on the media to amplify the issues presented in the censure debate and majority of the public would have learnt about the gross inefficiencies and inadequacies of PM Prayuth’s led government. This is the result they wanted most because it’s a known fact that the chances of a Prime Minister being knocked out in a no-confidence motion was close to nil. 

However, a day into the censure debate, there were rumors doing the rounds that a rebellion headed by Deputy Minister of Agriculture Thammanat Prompow, the secretary-general of the coalition-core, Palang Pacharath was in the making and the likelihood that his group of MPs, loyal to him, would vote against PM Prayuth in the censure debate.

From that moment on, the public including media, hardly followed what was happening in parliament and all eyes were on movements outside parliament.
Opposition and anti-PM Prayuth groups watched gleefully to see whether General Prawit, the leader of Palang Pracharath would side up with his right hand man Thammanat to overthrow PM Prayuth, his so-called beloved younger brother.
Discussions in mainstream and social media were held on how close the “3Ps” generals were from their youth, throughout their careers in the military and questions were asked about whether they would stand by their commitment to each other or are they showing signs of cracks in their relationship.
The night before the last day of the censure debate, the conflict between PM Prayuth and General Prawit was miraculously resolved and PM Prayuth survived the no-confidence motion, albeit by the skin of his teeth.   

The PM received the highest no-confidence vote and second-lowest approval vote among six Cabinet members target in the censure debate.

Was there really an epic battle or just good old lakorn played out by veteran actors who have had over seven years experience in solid political maneuverings that bought them to power in the first place?

PM Prayuth survived the no-confidence motion while the public remains clueless on case studies painstakingly put together by opposition presenting various evidences of mismanagement and corruption. The issues were buried as the public were distracted by the more sensational story unfolding and still unfolding.
General Prawit and Thammanat came out looking stronger and in control of Palang Pracharath party. Furthermore, anti-Prayuth groups were rooting for them to uproot PM Prayuth and in a strange twist, they became the main actors who were fighting for the will of the people who wished to see the end of PM Prayuth’s reign. 
Palang Pracharath MPs were able to distance themselves from the mismanagement of the government and PM Prayuth, showing solidarity with the people and giving themselves some credibility to fight the next election. 

Looks like a win-win for all players and actors from the military-backed government side.

 Still, many insist there are cracks between the generals and within the Palang Pracharath party citing events that have occurred since then such as :
a.PM Prayuth firing the rebellion leaders Thamanat from the position of Deputy Agriculture Minister and Narumon Pinyosinwat from the position of Deputy Labor Minister, close aides of General Prawit without his prior consent, while he defiantly kept them on as party general secretary and treasurer.
b.General Prawit hiring a new chief strategist, General Vitch Devahasdin Na Ayudhya a former army rival of PM Prayuth, presumably to keep the PM out of the affairs of the party.

c. Both PM Prayuth and General Prawit took to visiting flooded regions at different locations on the same day in a contest of popularity. 9 MPs turned out for the PM while 50 MPs turned up for General Prawit .
d.There are rumors that friends and supporters of PM Prayuth are starting another party, that will poach MPs from other parties, mainly from Palang Pracharath and will field PM Prayuth as their PM candidate in the next elections. General Anupong has given his support for the formation of this party.

 Amidst all this, the generals have denied that their relationship is anything but solid, and while critics say it is just a facade, maybe, the generals should be believed.

The main question to ask is, if it’s clear that General Prawit could not possibly have been ignorant of the planned coup against PM Prayuth by his close aide Thammanat and must therefore have been part and party of it, then why did he get cold feet at the last minute? They say his love for younger brother PM Prayuth prevailed just before the kill. 

These are 3 generals who have plotted and planned together for over decades to ensure their eventual positions at the top of the political echelon. To get to this level, there is no room for emotions, just cold politics and meticulous planning.

Those who see PM Prayuth as not-so- intelligent, General Prawit as a foggy old man and General Anupong as someone who lurks insignificantly in the background are grossly underestimating them.

Their bond and story is not one of “Love and Betrayal” as some would like to believe but one of “Power & Ambition”. This type of bond is not easily broken, cracks may appear once in a while and they may even decide to walk on different paths temporarily but ultimately their goal and destination is the same and remains unchanged. All roads lead to Rome.
This lakorn was being produced when Suthep Thaugsuban first took to the stage to bring down the government of then PM Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. Season 1 was aired soon after that and now the series is in it’s 7th season. Expect to see more seasons on how the “3Ps” and the military-backed government ramp up their popularity in 2022, a year before elections and how they will romp back to power after next elections.

By - Patra Manas.