Former Thai PM Yingluck changes strategies with the political seasons

"I AM not in a position to demand anything - even justice - because everything goes according to what this government wants. The government must decide what the public stands to gain from ordering me to pay civil liability.''

These are the strongest remarks Yingluck Shinawatra has made since May, 2014, when the military staged a coup to bring down her government.

Reading between the lines, the former prime minister is trying to say that if she is found guilty, it will not be in accordance with the justice system, but rather what the government wants. She made the claim despite her own observations that the government wanted to avoid a hefty court fee by pushing her to petition the court to appeal the tentative order to make her pay compensation for civil liability over the rice pledging scheme.

Yingluck had been keeping a low profile, even when travelling to the court for a criminal trial for gross negligence over the rice subsidy scheme that allegedly resulted in massive damage to the state.

Yingluck chose a softer approach by pleading for justice - but she changed her stance after the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha opted to issue an administrative order to make her pay for civil liability incurred from the rice-pledging scheme, which is said to be up to Bt500 billion (S$19.7 billion).

From then on, Yingluck has fought tooth and nail by having her legal team argue via the media that resorting to civil liability was not fair because the Supreme Court had just started the criminal trial and she was not yet convicted of any offences.

What interests the public now is what political manoeuvres Yingluck will resort to from now on. She has created a high profile by keeping herself in the media spotlight daily, but then she realised that making newspaper headlines and sparking front-page stories did not change the negative force she was facing.

But she also knows that keeping "cool under pressure" will not stop people in power from "going after her" because they believe her actions caused massive damage to the country, which gave them legitimacy to press for her speedy prosecution.

Some top politicians had earlier thought they could negotiate with people in power to be lenient with Yingluck in the name of reconciliation. This notion has proven to be just too dim a hope.

The Pheu Thai camp has realised they are dealing with a government with absolute control, which means it can exercise its power to block all political movements and order all state officials to toe the government line.

Political leaders have been summoned to have their "attitudes adjusted" if they cry foul.

What Yingluck supporters can do now in this battle is to win the hearts of the masses, which is difficult because no politicians have stood up to 'fight for the people" or "side with the people" since the coup was staged.

What Yingluck's camp can do is to claim that the rice-pledging scheme was implemented to help poor farmers. A case in point is red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikua's call for the people to write essays entitled "The day that there is no rice-pledging scheme".

Last but not least is Yingluck's remark: "This is a historic case that is imprinted in her heart and in the people's hearts as this will be the norm that is used against future PMs who implement policies to help people.''

Not yielding to negotiation with people in power - but winning the hearts of the masses is Yingluck 's strategy to survive the political storm. But critics may wonder if "her pleading for the public support is too late".