Uncertainty grist for the rumour mill

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2006, 12:00am

A senior Thai political figure considers a long-planned trip, suddenly it's 'exile'; Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is stepping down. Or maybe he's calling in the military. Or becoming a monk.

Welcome to the Thai rumour mill.

Uncertainty surrounding Thailand's political future is fuelling an active trade in intrigue. Any snippet of news is devoured and spat out before being fully digested, often helped along its passage by a little wishful thinking. Mobile phone SMS, agents provocateurs and good old-fashioned gossips are the transmitters.

Mr Thaksin, naturally, is the main target. He has not helped himself, keeping up a steady stream of cryptic sound-bites.

Soon after casting his vote at Sunday's polls, he declared that it was time for 'law and order'. Suddenly, according to an array of 'informed' sources, a crackdown was looming. The streets would be running with blood by midnight. Yet yesterday dawned calm and clear.

The big rumour involves Mr Thaksin temporarily stepping down. It has been around for weeks, but yesterday it was gaining new currency.

Again, he ruled nothing out - but nothing actually in, either. 'It is not necessary for me to be prime minister, but we need national reconciliation,' the prime minister said, enigmatically.