August 6, 2001
It is quite unfortunate that the Thai people will never have a chance to see the Phantom of Government House. Had the Constitution Court ruled that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was guilty over his asset-concealment case, history would have been written otherwise.
For Thaksin would have been forced to leave his premiership post, never again - at least for up to five years - to show his face to the Thai public. He would have slipped down from high office to the basement of the Thai Khu Fa Building, living among the bats, the spiders and the rats.
Thaksin would have been condemned to become the Phantom of Government House - neither living, nor dying.
But to remain in control, he would have appointed Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak as his nominee prime minister. By doing so, Thaksin would still have been pulling the strings as the shadow prime minister.
Somkid might have been the one doing the talking, but it would have been Thaksin's voice that the Thai people would have heard.
Here is an operatic version, believed to have been created in the grand tradition of Andrew Lloyd Webber by Pansak Winyaratn - the chief adviser to the prime minister - of what could have happened to the melodramatic life of Thaksin if he had lost the case in the Constitution Court.
Act I: After the court's fateful verdict, Thaksin's wife, Khunying Pojamarn, arrives quietly after midnight on the scene to try to console the dejected Thaksin, who is now the Phantom of Government House. They are holding hands together in the darkness of the Government House basement.
After reaching a reconciliation, Pojamarn and the Phantom sing a duet in beautiful lyrics. Outside, a blue moon is shining.
Pojamarn: No more talk of darkness, forget these wide-eyed fears, I'm here, nothing can harm you, my words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom, let daylight dry your tears, I'm here with you, beside you, to guide you and to guard your assets.
Phantom: All I ask is every waking moment, turn my head with talk of Shin stocks. Say you need me with you now and always, promise me that all you say is true, that's all I ask of you.
Pojamarn: Let me be your shelter, let me be your light; your money is safe, no one will find it, your fears are far behind you.
Phantom: All I want is freedom, a world with no more night, and you, always beside me, to hold me and to hide my money.
Pojamarn: Then say you'll share with me one love, one bank account; let me lead you from your solitude. Say you need me with you, here beside you, anywhere you go, let me go too.
After the Phantom has regained his psychological strength, he tries to continue to run Thailand Inc from the dark corners, or behind the pink curtains, of Government House. With his management flair, the Phantom coaches Somkid to become a prime minister in his own CEO image.
Somkid is never his own man. But he is willing to come under the spell of the Phantom of Government House in return for an opportunity to be nominee prime minister and a chance to study the art of political marketing.
They prove to be a strange duet.
Act II: Alone in the prime minister's office, Somkid, unsure of his sudden political fortune, sings the lyrics of the Phantom of Government House from the depths of his nervous soul.
Somkid: In sleep he sang to me, in dreams he came, that voice which calls to me and speaks my name. And do I dream again? For now I find the Phantom of Government House is there inside my mind.
Suddenly, the Phantom appears from nowhere to confront his disciple.
Phantom: Sing once again with me our strange duet; my power over you grows stronger yet. And though you turn from me to glance behind, the Phantom of Government House is there inside your mind.
Somkid: Those who have seen your face draw back in fear. I am the mask you wear, -
Phantom: It's me they hear.
Somkid and Phantom: Our spirit and populist programme in one combined; the Phantom of Government House is there inside your mind.
Phantom: In all your fantasies, you always knew that power and money -
Somkid: Were both in you.
Somkid and Phantom: And in this labyrinth where night is blind, the Phantom of Government House is there inside your mind.
As we all know, the Constitution Court on Friday ruled in favour of Thaksin over his asset-concealment case. So "The Phantom of Government House" will never be staged. Pansak is believed to have decided to bury his opera score, to be lost forever, in the darkness of the Government House basement.