So far the Samak government has shown remarkable restraint in its dealings with the PAD protesters. The motivations for this restraint (and the behind the scenes manoeuvring that may have produced it) can be dissected in due course. But for now it is worth noting that arrests and minor police skirmishes represent a modest response by what some like to portray as an authoritarian government.

Imagine what would happen if this had occurred in Australia. Imagine if a group seeking to overthrow the Australian government had seized the offices of the ABC (the national broadcaster) in Canberra, occupied key government offices and blocked the road to Sydney. They wouldn’t last more than a few hours. The police response would be rapid, firm and, if necessary, forceful.

Over the past 24 hours, Samak’s government has not been drawn into the PAD’s dangerous strategy of confrontation. This ongoing restraint cannot be assumed. Samak has form. Sonthi is mad. The protesters have been warned. They should go home.