BANGKOK, Jan 15, 2010 (IPS) – A year after coming into office, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is finding some parallels between the challenges of governing this divided South-east Asian kingdom and one of his favourite books, the ‘Myth of Sisyphus’ by French existential novelist Albert Camus.
“Yes, it feels like that in trying to get work done,” the 45-year-old leader of a coalition government told IPS on Thursday night, shortly after delivering a speech to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. “It is like having to push the rock up the hill and see it roll down and then do it again, to go on.”
The reference was to Camus’ use of Sisyphus, a figure from Greek mythology, in the final chapter of the book. Sisyphus is reduced to having to push a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down, and then repeat the process.
Yet while Sisyphus’ struggle served as a metaphor for the ordinariness of modern life – but where the struggle of labouring against odds should make Sisyphus happy, according to Camus – the Thai prime minister’s challenges are far from drab, dull toil.
Dealing with the country’s poor economic performance and social divisions has been among them. So, too, corruption involving members of his cabinet. A raging insurgency in the southern provinces, where close to 4,000 people have died since early 2004, has barely ebbed.
But his most daunting task is the quest to reconcile Thailand’s deep political divisions, made worse by the manner in which the Abhisit-led coalition came to office. It was product of the triumph of backroom deals involving reportedly large sums of money and a lead role played by the country’s powerful military – rather than a popular mandate.
The Abhisit administration, which won a slim majority in a parliamentary vote in December 2008, replaced an administration allied to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra that had been elected at a poll the previous year. Continue reading “THAILAND: For PM, Leading A Divided Nation is a Sisyphean Struggle By Marwaan Macan-Markar”