So Thailand has missed the US-imposed deadline for an answer to the request by US space agency Nasa to use the U-tapao airbase for a climate study project known as the Southeast Asia Composition, Cloud, Climate Coupling Regional Study.
The cabinet on Tuesday declined to make a decision and passed the buck to parliament instead.
But by the time parliament convenes to debate the issue, it will already be too late for Nasa and it is very likely that the project in Thailand will be cancelled.
Nasa's project coordinator Hal Maring earlier said: "After that date [June 26], we will not have time for the extensive logistical preparations required for a flight campaign of this magnitude".
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told the media after the cabinet's decision on Tuesday that all government agencies concerned and even the military were fully aware of the benefits to be gained from the Nasa project.
But because of the suspicion raised by the opposition that the project might put national security at risk, the government decided to refer the matter to parliament for consideration for the sake of transparency.
The prime minister said Thailand would lose the opportunity to develop weather forecasting capability if the project was cancelled, which is a pity.
Many other people are just as disappointed about the lost opportunity which the decision represents, among them scientists and climate experts.
The public in general may not feel disappointed because most of them know few details of the project.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said ministers concerned, such as Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat and Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, informed the public of the issues involved.
What the two ministers did was tell the media about the benefits of the Nasa project. But there has never been a proper explanation of the project and its consequences for weather forecasting or climate matters from the experts.
The government and the opposition appear to be fully aware of the benefits that Thailand stood to gain from the project. So how come they could not agree to put aside their petty politicking and allow the project to go through, even just this once?
It the Democrats really appreciate the benefits of the project for the country, they should have made it clear to the government that the project could go ahead and that they would not find fault with the government later on. Any doubts about whether the project has implications for national security or sovereignty could be settled in parliament later on.
The decision represents not only a lost opportunity for the country. It was also a chance for the prime minister to demonstrate her leadership, but she failed.
If state agencies and the military agreed the project would help the country, why didn't Ms Yingluck press ahead first and confront the opposition in parliament later on?
In so doing, she would be able to rely on public support as shown in a recent Abac poll which found a majority of respondents wanted the project to proceed.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung told the cabinet that it was the fate of the country to sacrifice the Nasa project to spare the government from possible opposition criticism. But the big question is how much more the country will be made to sacrifice or suffer, for the sake of the politicians?
28 June 2012