Honestly? Things don't look so good at present, and I have a feeling we have gone beyond Thaksin now.
Let's just take a step back.
We are talking of Thailand ("The Land of Smiles"), where behind the serenity of those smiles and the softly spoken greetings lies a complex culture. Many learned books have been written on the subject of the culture and customs of Thailand, and to even attempt an in-depth comment by way of background would be futile. I will therefore restrict my comments here to some personal observations, garnered over 30 years and which may surprise some.
I have recognised the power of the monarchy in Thailand. In how many cases over the years have there been incidents in the present day Capital and elsewhere, which have been resolved not by the elected Government, but by the King? Pictures showing the various factions sitting, or kneeling, on the floor at the monarch's feet, followed by an announcement that matters have been resolved and that everything is returning to some degree of normality. That is, until now.
The recent development of Thailand politically and economically has not always been smooth. Who can forget the Asian crisis of 1997, with its origins in Thailand? (At least it gave a bored media attending the uneventful Hong Kong handover in June 1997 a new vigour!)
And the more recent ascent of Thaksin Shinawatra to power. A savvy, wealthy businessman who harnessed the support of the rural masses to succeed in becoming the 23rd Prime Minster of Thailand in 2001. Elected on the back of his relatively newly founded (1998) political party "Thai Rak Thai" - or effectively Thailand for the Thais. A businessman who understood that the fortunes of Thailand were likely to rest on goodwill towards, and encouragement of foreign investors, but who knew that he was unlikely to gain the needed support for election if he espoused embracing a foreign "invasion".
And here is where one of the "hidden" difficulties for Thailand exists. Remember one critical fact; Thailand has never been colonised, and is therefore the only country in Asia never to have suffered that fate. As a result the Thais are proud of their history their heritage and their independence - fiercely proud! Leading perhaps to a well-hidden, but nonetheless present, xenophobia.
So, as we approach today's situation we have a chain of events spanning a little over 10 years that has led us to today. And as an aside, I don't want to skirt over the last couple of years but to do it justice would defeat the purpose of trying to create a general picture of where we seem to be today. It would be a large volume.
We commenced with an Asian economic crisis that started in Thailand in 1997, the formation by Thaksin of a new political party in 1998 (dissolved for electoral fraud around 2006) which met a pent-up nationalistic demand mainly from the majority rural areas, and the subsequent election in 2001 of Thaksin. He was ousted in 2006 in a bloodless coup, but has been keen (some say desperate) to return to power. His huge rural support base, to whom he still appeals and who he reportedly assists financially, have become part of a new organisation - characterised by the "red shirts" - to put pressure on the Government to hold elections that might bring him back. Meanwhile he has himself been convicted of fraud and sentenced, as a result of which he remains out of the country.
Today, we are faced with the "red-shirts" having created mayhem, death and bloodshed in the streets of Bangkok. In the past this would have been dealt with already by the Monarch calling in the main parties and striking a deal, but the King is ill, and has been for some time. He is the world's longest reigning monarch (June 1946), but the issue of his succession is also one that occupies the minds of many in Thailand. It is still the case in Thailand, I believe, that anyone who writes about the Monarch is deemed to have broken a law - so heaven knows what might happen the next time I go down there - but this succession issue is difficult. Once again, I can only rely on the information I get from respected colleagues and friends who are much closer than I am to what goes on but the Crown Prince, by many accounts, is not popular, and does not enjoy the reverence with which his Father is treated.
The Government with the support, currently, of the armed forces, is standing firm against the demands of the demonstrators and refusing to bow to pressure which is the sort of stand you would expect from an elected Government. But my worries go beyond the current situation. I think we need to keep a close eye on what happens with the Monarchy and the power that it previously held. Also, I have a feeling that the "red shirts" - once (still?) under the patronage and support of Thaksin have developed a "people power" strength of their own and may be out of control. The role of the army is looking increasingly important and, as has happened before, we may just end up with a military government in Thailand. Not ideal, but perhaps it is the only way to restore some semblance of peace and order.
But one thing is starkly clear. The neatly "bundled" entity that was Thailand, with the clear roles played by the Monarch, the military, the Government and the people, has become untied. Putting it back is a little like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube - which you can do if you start from the bottom!!