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  • Writer's pictureGeopolitics.Λsia

Information Space Versus Metageopolitics: A Discussion on Precision Assessment

In the aftermath of Thailand's election, the Prime Minister's appointment of Stretta Thavisin and the ensuing formation of his thirtieth cabinet have sparked discussions. The imprisonment of Thaksin has aroused perceptions of a 'double standard' in some quarters, and the future trajectory of the Democrat party after their most significant defeat in history remains uncertain. Simultaneously, across the Pacific, the impact of Trump's mug shot on American bounty hunting culture is a trending topic worth contemplation. In an unfortunate turn of events, the plane crash that claimed the life of Wagner's leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, will also be discussed. Following Prigozhin's failed attempt to march his troops to Moscow, the metageopolitical perspectives predicted a decisive action by Prigozhin—either a coup or a civil war. But this conflict never materialised, potentially hinting at Alexander Lukashenko's influence in averting such a disastrous event. Was Lukashenko's mediation intended to prevent Prigozhin from stoking the flames of conflict? The question merits consideration, though in hindsight, Prigozhin's tragic death rendered this line of inquiry somewhat futile. Currently, Russian authorities are attempting to manage an information space that contradicts our metageopolitical analysis. As we plunge into the details of these events, we strive to dissect complex realities with precision and nuance.

The Portfolio Arrangement

Today's dispatch from various Thai media sources confirms the finalisation of the 30th Prime Minister's cabinet led by Srettha Thavisin, who will also be taking up the position of Finance Minister. Cabinet posts have been apportioned among multiple parties to ensure comprehensive representation.

The Phue Thai Party (PTP) has landed key ministerial roles, holding office for Commerce, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Public Health, Defence, Digital Economy and Society, as well as Tourism and Sports.

Meanwhile, the Bhumijai Thai Party (BJT) is in charge of the Interior, Education, Labour, and Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation portfolios.

The Palang Pacharat Party (PPP) will take the reins of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

The United Thai Nation Party (UTNP) is set to oversee the Energy and Industry domains, whereas the Chart Thai Pattana Party (CTP) has been assigned the Social Development and Human Security portfolio.

Last but not least, the Prachachart Party (PP) procures the Ministry of Justice.

While the distribution of ministerial positions seems set in stone, negotiations over deputy positions continue, adding another dimension of dynamism to the Thai political landscape.

The Discourse of Double Standard

Meanwhile, former Thai leader Thaksin, currently serving an eight-year prison term, has found himself at the centre of a controversy. His hospitalisation in a suite room on the 14th floor of the Central Police Hospital is viewed by some as special treatment, invoking a narrative of double standards from various factions. While regular Thai citizens could scarcely hope for such relative luxury behind bars, Thaksin remains under stringent control by both the Department of Corrections and the police.

The situation has aroused anger among some of Thaksin's former adversaries, particularly in light of the 2010 Thai political protests. This was a tumultuous time that cost multiple lives, including that of then Major Romklao Tuwatham, a high-ranking army officer. It's noteworthy that the death of any such officer is a taboo subject among the elite. Back in March 1977, during a coup attempt, General Chalard Hiranyasiri executed counter-coup officer Major General Arun Tawatasin. After the coup's failure, Chalard himself was executed, making it clear just how grave the consequences of such actions can be.

Critics of Thaksin have hinted at his involvement with 'the black shirt', a special militant unit believed to have injured and killed several army officers deployed to manage the protest. This occurred under the administration of Abhisit Vejjajiva, who appointed Suthep Thaugsuban as his deputy prime minister and overseer of the operation to suppress the protest. To this day, allegations against Thaksin remain inconclusive. With Thaksin keeping a low profile, we do not expect this situation to spark widespread public protests.

However, recent news suggests that Thaksin's daughter, Paethongtarn Shinawatra, and his legal representatives are gearing up to issue a press release tomorrow.

The Democrat's Headache

Among Thaksin's formidable rivals is Chuan Leekpai, a veteran politician who served two terms as Thailand's Prime Minister and also previously presided as House Speaker. An enduring symbol of the Democrat Party (DP), his influence, along with that of Banyat Bantadtan and Abhisit Vejjajiva, remains strong within the party. Meanwhile, Jurin Laksanawisit, the party's interim head, has realigned himself with this influential triumvirate, seeking to fend off attempts by a faction led by secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on and Dej-is Khaothong to join forces with the Phue Thai Party (PTP).

Unfortunately for Jurin and the party's inner circle, Dej-is controls a significant portion of the party's parliamentary representation, holding sway over at least 16 of the 25 MPs. This deadlock has forced the party into hiatus and indefinitely postponed the election of a new leader. Abhisit and Dej-is are widely expected to clash in this upcoming contest, causing a probable bifurcation within the DP along factional lines.

Chuan and Thaksin have continually locked horns, with the former often accusing the latter of fostering unequal infrastructure development in the Southern provinces, the Democrats' stronghold, during Thaksin's tenure. Incidentally, Chuan once invited Thaksin to join the Democrat Party, an offer which was rebuffed due to Thaksin's view of the Democrats as mired in antiquated bureaucratic culture. Instead, he chose to join the Palang Dhamma Party (PDP) – the Democrat's nemesis at the time – before establishing the highly successful Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT).

With the leadership challenge looming, Abhisit's road to success appears onerous, hindered by a meagre fraction of MPs, negligible parliamentary influence, and heavy reliance on Jurin's performance in the parliament. Reinventing the Democrats may prove just as daunting a task as when Louis V. Gerstner Jr. took the helm of the faltering IBM, breathing new life into the tech giant and recounting the difficult journey in his book, "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround."

Trump's Mug Shot

Across the Atlantic, in a rather unprecedented event, President Donald J. Trump, the 45th U.S. President, voluntarily surrendered to the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia. His surrender, documented by Fulton County Jail Booking Photo #2313827, came in response to a state indictment that included him among 18 individuals charged with racketeering and related offences. This makes it an historic occasion: the first police booking photograph taken of a U.S. President.

In what seems to be an unexpected pivot, Trump returned to the microblogging platform Twitter (now known as 'X') to post the inaugural tweet about his mugshot. In the aftermath, media reports shot up with news of Trump's campaign raking in $7.1 million, spurred by this extraordinary mugshot.

For the uninitiated, a 'mugshot' is a photographic record taken after one's arrest, typically featuring a frontal and profile view of the individual's face. The purpose is to aid law enforcement in identifying the individual and help victims and investigators alike. The term 'mug' is slang for one's face, hence 'mug shot'—a shot of one's face.

While U.S. presidents do possess the power to pardon federal crimes, state crimes fall outside their jurisdiction. Given that the charges levelled against Trump are in Georgia—a state jurisdiction—a federal pardon wouldn't apply. Still, state governors, depending on state laws, may still exercise some pardon powers.

Information Space Drama Over Prigozhin's Death

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin's death in a plane crash was officially confirmed last week by Russian authorities after genetic tests. As previously reported, Prigozhin, charged by President Vladimir Putin of attempting a 'mutiny' with the orchestration of Wagner troops towards Moscow aimed to dismiss Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, found unexpected mediation by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. This intervention, offering de facto exile for Prigozhin in Belarus, effectively debunked our initial prediction of an ensuing internal Russian coup d'etat or even civil war.

Given Russia's unverified history of politically motivated assassinations, Prigozhin's remarkable change of stance, which ultimately cost his life, was a surprise to many observers. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) closely tracked the unfolding situation and noted the Russian authority's 'control' over its 'information space'. Despite his controversial position, Prigozhin retained considerable respect - especially amidst Russian right-wing entities disgruntled over the impasse in the Ukrainian war. While ISW has yet to openly attribute the assassination attempt on Prigozhin to any specific entity, it subtly alludes to the possible involvement of Russian apparatus.

London-based LBC reports that relatives of 39-year-old Kristina Raspopova, a flight attendant on board the ill-fated flight, disclosed that the aircraft's departure was delayed due to 'maintenance or some urgent repairs'. Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele suggested to Sky News that a 'bomb in a wine crate' might have caused the explosion that led to the crash, adding an ironic twist to the narrative.

Contrastingly, this situation highlights the dissonance between managing Russia's so-called 'information space' and our metageopolitical predictions. While metageopolitical forecasting offers sharper precision, it often struggles to attract public attention due to its lack of sensationalist narratives. As such, manoeuvring within the 'information space', even with far-fetched theories—such as a prearranged mutiny by Putin and Prigozhin, or positioning the Wagner Group in Belarus for an impending Ukraine war—imparts a level of intrigue that captures the popular imagination.


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