Donate to Links


Click on Links masthead to clear previous query from search box

GLW Radio on 3CR



Recent comments



Syndicate

Syndicate content

Thailand: February 2 election has solved nothing; unity of democratic forces needed

Anti-democratic thugs opened fire on those wanting to vote.

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

February 3, 2014 -- Ugly Truth Thailand -- The February 2 general election cannot solve the Thai political crisis because those lined up against the government and the holding of democratic elections are fundamentally opposed to democracy.

The election was marred by violence from Democrat Party thugs who were determined to prevent the election taking place. Armed thugs fired automatic weapons into crowds of people who were expressing their wish to vote. These thugs have been enjoying total impunity for over a month while intimidating voters and candidates.

Democrat Party leaders such as Sutep Tuaksuban and Abhisit Vejjajiva want the electoral process to be changed so that the middle class and the elites can have an absolute veto over the views of the majority of the electorate. Democracy doesn’t work for them because they only have support from less than 30% of the population. They are supported in their thuggery by the Constitutional Court, the top civil service, the mainstream media, sections of the Electoral Commission and the NGOs. The military is happy to stand by and watch Yingluck Shinawatra and Pheu Thai party’s discomfort. They may not want to stage a coup right now, but they will not lift a finger to defend democracy and the election. They want Yingluck to make more concessions to those who are opposed to democracy.

Despite the violence and intimidation, voting took place in most provinces and 20.4 million people cast their votes. This compares to 35 million in 2011. Given that the Democrat Party has in the past won no more than 14 million votes, and that in this election it called for a boycott, the turnout was not too bad. It can be assumed that more than 20 million people wish to preserve democracy and many of those support Pheu Thai.

No amount of compromise or negotiations with the anti-democratic thugs will solve the crisis. The only short-term result would be shrinkage of the democratic space and the further empowerment of those who view the majority of the electorate with contempt.

No amount of outrage at the violence and impunity of the thugs will push Yingluck or Pheu Thai or the authorities into a crackdown on those committing criminal acts. As I mentioned in a previous article, Yingluck would rather do a dirty deal with Sutep than to mobilise the pro-democracy Red Shirts and the general population to fight for democracy.

This means that pro-democracy activists, whether they be progressive Red Shirts, pro-democracy trade unionists, White Shirts, Nitirat supporters, socialists or members of the Forum for the Defence of Democracy, all have to work together to prevent the destruction of the democratic space. They should also push forward with real reform proposals which will increase rights and the empowerment of the majority. The future of Thai democracy lies in their hands.

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. He is a member of Left Turn Thailand, a socialist organisation. His book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy, will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who watch Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs. His website is at http://redthaisocialist.com/.]

Powered by Drupal - Design by Artinet