In a recent interview with Post Today newspaper, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that as a businessman, he understands give-and-take as part and parcel of negotiations.
When pushed into a battle, however, the former police officer said he was like a car that is equipped with no reverse gear. "I don't know defeat. As long as I am not dead yet, the game is not over," Thaksin said.
The interview took place in Singapore late last month. It was as close to a confirmation as could be that "Big Brother" is sending his vehicle, the Pheu Thai Party with its majority vote in parliament, into full-throttle forward drive with the amnesty bill on board.
He said the legislation, with a scope and implications that are not yet fully understood, will set back to zero many years of Thai political wrangles.
The "new beginning" that has unfolded since the bill passed the third and final reading in the House in the small hours on Friday is probably not what the former leader, hailed by many as a visionary despite his many flaws, had in mind, however.
As it turns out, Thaksin's ambitious amnesty push, set to whitewash basically any legal cases associated with politics over the course of nine years from 2004 up to four months ago, could end up being the pivot that his belligerent opponents have searched for in vain during the past many years.
It marks another remarkable development in the twists and turns of recent Thai political history that the conservative Democrat Party, the pro-poor red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the ultra-royalist yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) _ arch enemies who would prefer to walk on separate paths under normal circumstances _ found themselves agreeing in their opposition to the blanket amnesty.
It's true that this common standpoint, an uneasy one forged out of shared dislike of the bill rather than wider shared goals or ideologies, has no potential to be developed into a future partnership.
The red shirts would prefer to dissolve themselves than join hands with the Democrat Party, for example. Still, the coming together of these disparate groups, fighting the amnesty but for different reasons, is an astonishing one for groups that until recently have stood so far apart on the political spectrum.
Should resistance to the bill, rising from basically every corner of Thai society except probably at Pheu Thai's headquarters, be a cause for Thaksin to worry?
Not really, I think.
Thaksin still has a few moves up his sleeve. If he pushes on with the same confidence and velocity as he has over the past month, the onus will be on the Democrat Party and its temporary coalition to first find a way to sustain their protests, then bring the leaderships together despite their differences and inherent dislike of each other.
If the Senate starts deliberating the bill next week, we will be looking at the possibility that the anti-Thaksin groups might have to keep their protests going for at least two months while it is before the legislators. Thaksin must know that this would be no mean feat.
The upcoming ruling by the World Court on areas surrounding the Preah Vihear temple _ no matter which way it goes _ set for Nov 11 will be a major test of the uncomfortable anti-Thaksin alliance. The Democrats and PAD have dramatically different stances on the issue and will surely bicker about it.
Besides, without the possibility of a military coup to tip the situation, the government under Thaksin's control will remain in power even though its popularity could suffer.
Do not forget that if he gives the amnesty law one last push and it could indeed become law, Thaksin will reap the most benefits while the cost is borne by the Pheu Thai Party, red-shirt leaders and his token prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. These "vehicles" will be damaged but Thaksin must have calculated that all of them are disposable.
If the rallies do spread and threaten to become a popular uprising, he can tell his people to lobby the Senate to stall the bill and buy a few more months. He could even up the ante further and call for a new election.
If there is anything that Thaksin has made clear in his audacious move for a blanket amnesty, it's that his popularity base is larger and stronger than that of the red shirts. His winning a new election is assured, in his opinion.
Some people may hope that Thaksin will beat a retreat over the increasingly controversial bill. The former prime minister, however, is known to be a winner-takes-all kind of guy.
Atiya Achakulwisut is Deputy Editor, Bangkok Post.