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Thailand: Seize it all! The palaces, the shares, the diamonds, all the ill-gotten gains!

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

March 1, 2010 -- I don’t shed any tears about former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s billions being seized by order of the Thai Supreme Court on February 26. I advocate that the billions of ill-gotten gains in the hands of the entire Thai rich: the politicians in this government, the generals, the businessmen and businesswomen, and of course the entire royal family and all their hangers-on, should be seized in the future. The rich do not have the right to accumulate wealth on the backs of the majority of hard-working Thais.

No public figures, including the king and the generals, or politicians, should hold shares or have special interests in business. This always leads to corruption. Just think about the corrupt benefits which the politicians around former US President George Bush enjoyed as a result of the illegal war in Iraq.

So if Thaksin gained from the policies of his government (and that has to be proved in a real court, not a Thai kangaroo court), then he is no different from George Bush or the other business-oriented politicians in the West. Conservative politicians who shackle trade union rights and force the public to face spending cuts and job losses because of what their mates in the banks did, are also acting in their own interests. If guilty, should they be punished?

Yes!, certainly. All of them. But is it OK to stage a military coup against them so that another faction of the corrupt rich take power?

There is one difference between the corruption of politicians and that of kings and generals. In a democracy we can throw the politicians out at election time and this is an even better standard of public scrutiny than leaving it to biased judges. The kings and generals are not subject to such public scrutiny, however. So, let's get rid of all private business interests in society and tax the rich until they are no longer richer than the general public. And let's have all public positions subject to election and instant recall.

King Pumipon has just left hospital for his palace. In my view it was timed to try to turn the public interest and media away from the Thaksin case and promote the king instead. The bombs outside Bangkok Bank were also the work of those wishing to libel the [red shirts [democracy movement].

Pumipon has deteriorations in his brain function, like most elderly people, and his hospital stay was genuine. His pneumonia and fevers were likely to be a result of infections from not being able to swallow food properly. His lungs got infected. He cannot sit up straight or walk properly even now. His speech is even more slurred and incoherent than before. As such he has become a more useful tool of the army and the conservatives. He was “urged” to be seen to talk to the Supreme Court judges, so that the conservatives could pretend that the king “ordered” their verdict. He was “asked” to leave hospital on a day when it would suit the conservatives. He was photographed in September 2006 with the junta generals. But who was telling whom what to do?

There are of course a number of questions about Pumipon’s hospital stay. Who paid for it? He is the richest man in Thailand. Did he pay out of his own pocket? Why did he stay so long? Remember that the conservative royalists kept saying that poor villagers went to the doctor “more than was necessary” after Thakin's Thai Rak Thai party's 30-baht health care scheme was introduced? Was Pumipon in hospital at the expense of the nation for longer than was necessary? He left hospital with his dog leading the way. Is it against health regulations to allow a dog into a public hospital? Or is the dog “semi-divine” too?

I say....Seize it all!! The palaces, the shares, the diamonds, all the ill-gotten gains!

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn worked in the faculty of political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He was forced to leave Thailand after being charged under Thailand's anti-democratic les majeste laws. He is an activist with the socialist Turn Left Thailand group. Visit http://www.pcpthai.org/ and http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/.]

Comments

Right on the money!

Excellent! I'd love to post this one all across the Thai blogging community, but then I think that I'd have to come and join you in exile shortly afterward.

UDD: A MESSAGE TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF BANGKOK

A MESSAGE TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF BANGKOK AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES

On Friday the 12th of March, a campaign aimed at ending the age of the Thai military dictatorship and restoring freedom, democracy and justice to our beautiful nation will begin. At this very moment, hundreds of thousands of people from all across our country not already in Bangkok are preparing to make their way to the capital, in defiance of a regime that has proven its willingness to commit violence and strip away the human rights of those who speak against it.

These people have peace in their hearts, but change also. Some wear red shirts, and some do not. Some of them march in support of a democratically elected leader who, for good or evil, was brought down by design of the military, not the will of the people. And yet others come too, some of whom used to wear yellow, who marched against what they perceived to be an authoritarian regime but have since witnessed far worse injustices.

These people are united by a few key beliefs. The belief in our constitutional monarchy. The belief in the power of non-violent change. The belief in double-standards-free justice. And the belief that, as Thai citizens, they deserve to have their voices heard and their concerns addressed. These people are united under the banner of the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship, or the UDD. And they are not to be feared- because if you believe in these things, then you are one of them as well.

This campaign will be the largest ever seen in Thai history. It is aimed at forcing the Abhisit regime (and the shadow government that supports it) to recognise what they are doing to our country and respond by dissolving parliament and calling for free and fair, internationally monitored elections- nothing more, nothing less. You might be forgiven for your scepticism that a non-violent campaign could achieve what we are seeking, but I would ask you to consider how the Indian nation was born. It was thanks to a peaceful struggle led by a man called Mahatma Gandhi, and was successful in liberating the Indian nation from the rule of the British Empire.

We are convinced that for the coming struggle we need no guns, bullets or blades, but only solidarity and sincerity in our hearts. We have learned from the mistakes of the past, and will allow no repeat of them. We will stand together, we will remain vigilant against troublemakers, and we will take care to ensure that no foreigner is harmed or intimidated. We will stare defiantly down the barrels of the guns of the soldiers who remain loyal to the men who wish us to remain silent and submissive, and we will embrace with open arms those who wish to put down their weapons and join us. We will make the Abhisit government make a final choice between democracy and dictatorship.

The junta knows that it will not survive a fair election, and it fears our demands, and wants you to fear us too. It wants you to ignore us, prevent us, or worse- stand by as we are arrested or cut down for exercising our democratic rights. But you should not. Because beneath every red shirt is a Thai citizen, and within their chests beats a heart that, like every other Thai, wants prosperity, wants freedom, wants respect and wants to see Thailand become the nation its citizens deserve.

On the 12th of March, the peaceful struggle for Thailand’s future will begin. The UDD calls for every person in Bangkok who has realised what our nation is in danger of becoming to welcome us as friends, to come onto the street and to join us in our call for change in Thailand.

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