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Thailand: Class war for democracy

Pro-democracy protesters wear red in a Bangkok stadium, December 13, 2008.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

March 21, 2009 -- The current dispensation in Thailand is based on a political reaction to stem and reverse some of the populist measures of the deposed prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who himself was a neoliberal with a few pro-poor schemes. Even this was unacceptable to the elites who used the courts, the military and the monarchy to depose him and institute an anti-democratic constitution which protects their privileges. But now that Thaksin is gone, a grassroots movement of the poor is emerging to challenge the hold of the elites, the military and the monarchy over Thailand.

Today, the Thai government, and its elite supporters, are once again using the language of the Cold War and the era of military dictatorships in order to throttle free speech and democracy. Everything in Thailand is not as it seems. The so-called Democrat Party is in government, but not because of support from the majority of the electorate. In fact, the Democrat Party has never won anything approaching a majority and this is why the party welcomed the military coup in 2006. The Peoples' Alliance for Democracy (PAD), those yellow-shirted royalists who seized the two international airports last year, are neither an alliance of the people nor are they for democracy.

Its membership base is among the extremist middle classes who believe that the Thaksin Shinawatra government spent “too much” money on welfare and populist policies for the poor. The PAD believes that only is it true guardian of the monarchy and that the majority of the Thai electorate, who are poor, should not have the right to vote. The PAD has an armed “guard” and has used violent tactics on the streets of Bangkok to destabilise elected governments. It proposes a “New Order” in Thai politics where only 30% of the parliament is elected. It wants members of parliament to be elected by “professional groups” rather than through a one-person one-vote system. This would ensure that doctors and professionals have much more voting power than poor agriculturalists or factory workers. Tragically, most socalled “liberal” academics supported the 2006 coup and the PAD. Amazingly, so did half the Thai non-governmental organisation (NGO) movement. The PAD works hand in glove with the army and it has received endorsement from the queen.

The assault on democracy

Five years ago, under the elected Thaksin government, Thailand had a thriving and developing democracy with freedom of expression, a relatively free press and an active civil society where social movements campaigned to protect the interests of the poor. This was not, however, the work of the Thaksin administration, since there were serious problems of human rights abuses. Thaksin's government used murderous repression in the predominantly Muslim southern provinces of Malay and killed more than 3000 people in the so-called “war on drugs”. The situation, though, has become much worse since the 2006 coup which overthrew his government. Today, the country is creeping towards totalitarianism. The present government, led by the Democrat Party, is only in power because of the military which staged a coup in 2006. Despite the grave economic crisis, its priority is just to crack down on free speech and dissent, claiming the need to protect “national security”.

The Thai political crisis started with mass demonstrations led by the PAD in early 2005. The PAD began as an “alliance from hell” between disgruntled royalist media tycoon Sonti Limtongkul and a handful of NGO and social movement leaders.

They attacked Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai government for corruption. Interestingly, they never showed any interest in criticising his human rights abuses. Thaksin responded to the growing crisis by dissolving parliament and calling fresh elections. The opposition boycotted these elections and “liberal” academics “explained” that calling fresh elections was “undemocratic”. The courts then annulled the election. The anti-democratic forces knew that Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party was immensely popular and would win any vote. Rather than accepting that the electoral support for Thaksin was because of the government's first-ever universal healthcare scheme and many other pro-poor measures, they claimed that the poor did not understand democracy and were just “bought” by Thaksin. The Democrat Party spent most of its time attacking these pro-poor policies as being a waste of money and against “fiscal discipline”. Little wonder then that ordinary Thais would not want to vote for them!

The NGO and social movement leaders of the PAD moved sharply to the right, becoming fanatical royalists and calling on the monarch to sack Thaksin's elected government. This the king refused to do, but the PAD's demands were seen as a green light for a military coup and the military obliged in September 2006. PAD leaders and military junta leaders were seen celebrating their victory at a New Year's party in 2007. At that time, the Democrat Party also welcomed the coup.

Newly ordered constitution

The army ripped up the best constitution Thailand has ever had and replaced it with one of its own. A referendum was held to approve the military constitution. Many provinces were under martial law, campaigning for a “no” vote in the referendum was deemed illegal and full-page advertisements in the press urged people to vote “yes”. The referendum result was extremely close, a small majority being in favour. Half the NGOs, the PAD, most academics, the mainstream media and the Democrat Party all supported the new constitution. The military constitution allowed for half the senate to be appointed by the military, rather than elected. It decreased the role of political parties and installed a crony system where members of the elite appointed themselves to the senate, the judiciary and to so-called “independent bodies”.

The constitution laid down that neoliberal free market policies must be used in the interests of fiscal discipline, but also imposed a huge increase in the military budget. The final clause in the constitution, which previously gave citizens the right to oppose military coups, was changed to legitimise the 2006 coup and any future seizures of power. The courts in Thailand have never been truly independent or just. The military used the courts to dissolve the Thai Rak Thai party and then held the elections. Despite this, Thaksin's party won a majority. So the courts were used for a second time to dissolve the new party which had evolved from Thai Rak Thai. It is clear that the aim was to cripple the most popular party and not allow it to form a stable government.

At the same time the PAD launched its deliberate “campaign of chaos” in order to achieve its “New Order”. It used violence to take over Government House, wrecking the interior. It staged violent actions to try and prevent the elected parliament from convening and subsequently it seized the two international airports in 2008 with the support of the military and the Democrat Party. The PAD cared little about the damage to the country's economy and jobs, on the assumption that it, as the elites, would not be hurt and the poor could just suffer. No one from the PAD has been punished for these violent actions.

After the 2006 coup, the PAD descended into a fascist-type of organisation. It took on ultra-royalist and ultra-nationalist politics. Its supporters wore royal yellow shirts. It nearly caused a war with Cambodia over an ancient hilltop ruin. It built up its own armed guard which openly carried and used weapons on the streets of Bangkok. The present Thai foreign minister is a PAD supporter who took part in the illegal occupation of the airports. The PAD's media outlet, Manager Group, have started witch-hunts against academics and social activists who question the deterioration of democracy and question the use of the lese majeste law. It encourages people to commit acts of violence against those who think differently or oppose them.

Finally, at the end of 2008, the army bullied and bribed some of the most corrupt elements in Thaksin's party to change sides and support the Democrat Party. So Eaton- and Oxford-educated Abhisit is now the prime minister. His name sums it all up. It means “privilege”. It is the privileged of Thai society that united against the modernising policies of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party. For the first time in decades, a party was gaining mass support from the poor because it believed that the poor were not a burden. They argued that the poor should be “stakeholders” rather than serfs. The Thai Rak Thai was no socialist party, but a party of big business committed to free-market policies at a macro and global level and Keynesian policies at the village level.

Use of lese majeste law

The present government appears vicious and paranoid. Its priority seems to be to stifle dissent by using the lese majeste law. Anyone who criticises the government or the army is deemed to have “insulted the king”. They are censoring the electronic media and community radio stations and encouraging citizens to inform on each other. People are being arrested for posting comments on the internet by tracing their computer IP numbers and they are thrown in jail, even before a trial. Recently, the manager of Prachatai, a respected independent online newspaper, was arrested. The mainstream TV and print media are already working hand in glove with the military. The courts have been used as an instrument of dictatorship. Judges protect themselves by threatening anyone who dares to criticise them with a jail sentence for “contempt of court”. They claim that anyone who criticises the courts is criticising the monarch. Lese majeste trials are given little publicity and people cannot find out what actions are deemed to have insulted the monarch. There is no transparency and accountability, no justice, no freedom of speech and no academic freedom.

One worrying question is why most academics support the military and the PAD. Equally worrying is the question why decent NGO activists and some trade unionists did so too. As far as the academics are concerned, even those claiming to be “liberal” were always elitist. Most believed that the problem of Thai democracy was that the poor lacked education. But the education system that these academics have promoted is one where students learn everything by rote. The idea that an essay in politics might discuss arguments, rather than be merely descriptive, is met with surprise. The NGO movement has a different problem. It is a movement which turned its back on politics and concentrated on single issues and on lobbying governments of any shade and colour. It swung from admiration of the Thaksin government to supporting the military coup. In a nutshell then, the old groups in civil society have helped to create the monster of the “New Order” that is now strangling Thai democracy.

In early 2007, I published a book called A Coup for the Rich.[1] This short academic book was written as a protest against the shrinking democratic space in Thailand. I tried to analyse what exactly was happening to Thai democracy. I criticised the gross human rights abuses of the democratically elected Thaksin government. But I also argued that a military coup was not the answer to this.

Because my book opposed the military coup “solution”, I was charged with lese majeste or insulting the monarch. How can there be academic freedom when my own university, Chulalongkorn University, gave my book to the police? How can there be academic standards if political scientists like myself are not allowed to discuss what the monarch, the army and the elites do? And through all this, most Thai academics remained silent, some supporting the destruction of democracy, others censoring themselves because of fear.

Class war for democracy

The civil war which is developing in Thailand is a class war between the rich and the poor. But it expresses itself in a very distorted and complicated manner. Those yellow shirts who backed the coup and the subsequent undemocratic measures hate the fact that Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai government won huge support for providing universal healthcare and public projects to lift people out of poverty. Since the overthrow of the Thaksin government and as a result of the prolonged crisis, a grassroots “red shirt” movement has developed. It is being built up by ordinary citizens who want democracy and freedom. They are moving beyond Thaksin. What is also amazing is that this is becoming a republican movement because of the dragging of the monarchy into politics by the military and the PAD.

The monarch has never once spoken out against the destruction of democratic rights and allows people to crawl on the ground in front of him. Traffic is stopped in the streets of Bangkok for the royal family to pass, yet emergency ambulances never get the same treatment. The conservative elites want us to believe that the monarch loves and cares for the people and that they love him back.

But the Thai population are quite capable of looking after themselves. All that is beautiful and honourable about Thai society has been created by its working people. The current monarch grew in stature under the corrupt military dictators: Sarit Dhanarajata, Tanom and Prapass. He allowed executions of people who were accused of killing his elder brother, when there were strong reasons to doubt the truth of these accusations. He supported the bloodbath at Thammasart University on October 6, 1976, where scores of students were tortured and killed, because he felt that Thailand had “too much democracy”. At the time he was also the patron of the violent gang that was collectively called the “village scouts”.

The monarch allowed the army to stage a coup in September 2006. Furthermore he allowed his name to be used by the army, the PAD protesters and the Democrat Party, in the destruction of democracy. He has been an advocate of economic views which reveal his opposition to state-sponsored social welfare for the poor and to income redistribution. But what is worse, as one of the richest men in the world, the king has the arrogance to lecture the poor to be sufficient in their poverty through the notion of “sufficiency economy”. This is nothing more than a reactionary ideology which argues that the poor must know their place. Finally, this king allows his supporters to proclaim that he is “the father of the nation”, and yet his own son is not respected by anyone in Thai society! For the millions of Thais who know all this to be true, it is only fear and intimidation that prevents speaking this truth about the monarchy.

The anti-democracy elites in Thailand, who claim legitimacy from the monarch, only do so because they have no other legitimacy. The monarch is weak, but these powerful elites create an illusion of his power to frighten people. The army, the conservative elites and the Democrat Party are scared that this royal legitimacy is rapidly evaporating, specially at a time when the monarch is getting very old. His son is held in contempt by the population because he is known as a thug who parades his wife naked for video snap shots. Most Thais have seen these videos and photographs and it does nothing for their respect for the institution of monarchy.

A new civil society is emerging from the “red shirt” movement. Many will feel uncomfortable that this is a movement of ordinary citizens and not the educated middle class. But this is what is surely required to build a democratic society based on social justice. The need is to cut down the military's influence in society, reform the judiciary and the police and to expand freedom and democracy through this grassroots movement.

And it is necessary to abolish the monarchy too for it has now become an obstacle to freedom and human dignity. Thais need to create a culture of citizenship rather than being merely “royal subjects”.

Note

1 Giles Ji Ungpakorn (2007), A Coup for the Rich (London: WD Press). This book can be downloaded free at: http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/


[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/. This article first appeared in the March 21, 2009, edition of the India-based Economic and Political Weekly. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission.]

Comments

Thailand political crisis

A very succinct and straightforward accounting of the crisis into which we foreigners living in Thailand are witnessing incrementally day by day.
Personally, I was never a fan of Thaksin as I believe, and still do, that he is not much more of a thug than those he has replaced. Witness his heavy-handed approach in the Deep South; his ridiculous war on drugs in which literally hundreds of innocents were killed, as well as hundreds of minor drug users and dealers; witness the crowning glory of his sale of his Telco business to Singapore, without paying a baht in tax.
That said, I agree with Giles that this country is veering further and further to the right. Perhaps if he is correct, the UDD will indeed develop along its own lines and may, in time, be able to operate without Thaksin and his cronies and possibly bring about a great political upheaval in Thailand that will make this nation politically and democratically stronger.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn fights case from UK

Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn fights case from UK

 

I have not “run away” from my case. I am making a stand to deny the charges from the U.K. because it is not possible to do this in the atmosphere of dictatorship and lack of justice in Thailand. Today, an arrest warrant was issued for me because of  lese majeste charges arising from 8 paragraphs in Chapter 1 of my book “A Coup for the Rich”. The paragraphs are listed below.

 

These 8 paragraphs contain the truth about the 2006 coup. I deny all charges of lese majeste. These charges are designed to stop freedom of speech.

 

I challenge the judges, the army and the government to prove in public that these 8 paragraphs are an insult to the Monarchy. I challenge the Thai media to publish my statement alongside any response from the government. If this does not happen, it will prove that Thailand has no justice or democracy.

 

Paragraphs deemed to have “insulted the Monarchy”

(1)               “The major forces behind the 19th September coup were anti-democratic groups in the military and civilian elite, disgruntled business leaders and neo-liberal intellectuals and politicians. The coup was also supported by the Monarchy. What all these groups have in common is contempt and hatred for the poor. For them, “too much democracy” gives “too much” power to the poor electorate and encourages governments to “over-spend” on welfare. For them, Thailand is divided between the “enlightened middle-classes who understand democracy” and the “ignorant rural and urban poor”. In fact, the reverse is the case. It is the poor who understand and are committed to democracy while the so-called middle classes are determined to hang on to their privileges by any means possible”.

(2)                    “The junta claimed that they had appointed a “civilian” Prime Minister. Commentators rushed to suck up to the new Prime Minister, General Surayud, by saying that he was a “good and moral man”. In fact, Surayud, while he was serving in the armed forces in 1992, was partly responsible for the blood bath against unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators[1]. He personally led a group of 16 soldiers into the Royal Hotel which was a temporary field hospital. Here, his soldiers beat and kicked people [2]. News reports from the BBC and CNN at the time show soldiers walking on top of those who were made to lie on the floor. Three months after the 2006 coup, on the 4th December, the King praised Prime Minister Surayud in his annual birthday speech”.

(3)                    “The members of the military appointed parliament received monthly salaries and benefits of almost 140,000 baht while workers on the minimum wage receive under 5000 baht per month and many poor farmers in villages live on even less. These parliamentarians often drew on multiple salaries. The government claimed to be following the King’s philosophy of “Sufficiency” and the importance of not being greedy. Apparently everyone must be content with their own level of Sufficiency, but as Orwell might have put it, some are more “Sufficient” than others. For the Palace, “Sufficiency” means owning a string of palaces and large capitalist conglomerates like the Siam Commercial Bank. For the military junta it means receiving multiple fat cat salaries and for a poor farmer it means scratching a living without modern investment in agriculture. The Finance Minister explained that Sufficiency Economics meant “not too much and not too little”: in other words, getting it just right. No wonder Paul Handley described Sufficiency Economics as “pseudo-economics”[3]! In addition to this, the junta closed the Taksin government’s Poverty Reduction Centre, transferring it to the office of the Internal Security Operations Command and transforming it into a rural development agency using Sufficiency Economics[4]”.

(4)                    “It should not be taken for granted that the anti-Taksin military-bureaucratic network is a network led by or under the control of the Monarchy, despite any Royal connections that it might have. Paul Handley argues that the Monarchy is all powerful in Thai society and that its aim is to be a just (Thammaracha) and Absolute Monarch [5]. For Handley, Taksin was challenging the Monarchy and seeking to establish himself as “president”. There is little evidence to support the suggestion that Taksin is a republican. There is also ample evidence in Handley’s own book that there are limitations to the Monarchy’s power. Never the less, Handley’s suggestion that the 19th September coup was a Royal Coup, reflects a substantial body of opinion in Thai society”.

(5)                    “The Monarchy over the last 150 years has shown itself to be remarkably adaptable to all circumstances and able to gain in stature by making alliances with all sorts of groups, whether they be military dictatorships or elected governments. The Monarchy may have made mild criticisms of the Taksin government, but this did not stop the Siam Commercial Bank, which is the Royal bank, from providing funds for the sale of Taksin’s Shin Corporation to Temasek holdings[6]. Nor should it be assumed that Taksin and Thai Rak Thai were somehow “anti-Royalist”. For over 300 years the capitalist classes in many countries have learnt that conservative Constitutional Monarchies help protect the status quo under capitalism and hence their class interests. However, it is also clear that the Thai King is more comfortable with military dictatorships than with elected governments. This explains why the Monarchy backed the 19 September coup”.

(6)                    “In April 2006 the present Thai Monarch stated on the issue of the use of Section 7[7] that: “I wish to reaffirm that section 7 does not mean giving unlimited power to the Monarch to do as he wishes… Section 7 does not state that the Monarch can make decisions on everything… if that was done people would say that the Monarch had exceeded his duties. I have never asked for this nor exceeded my duties. If this was done it would not be Democracy.” [8] However, by September and certainly by December, the King publicly supported the coup”.

(7)                    “For this reason there is a very important question to ask about the 19th September 2006 coup. Did the Thai Head of State try to defend Democracy from the military coup which destroyed the 1997 Constitution on the 19th September? Was the Head of State forced to support the military junta? Did he willingly support those who staged the coup? Did he even plan it himself, as some believe? These are important questions because the military junta who staged the coup and destroyed Democracy have constantly claimed legitimacy from the Head of State. Starting in the early days of the coup they showed pictures of the Monarchy on TV, they tied yellow Royalist ribbons on their guns and uniforms and asked the Head of State to send his representative to open their military appointed parliament. Later in his annual birthday speech in December, the King praised the military Prime Minister. We need the truth in order to have transparency and in order that Civil Society can make all public institutions accountable. What we must never forget is that any institution or organisation which refuses to build transparency can only have conflicts of interest which it wishes to hide”.

(8)                    “In the early part of his reign the Monarch was young and unprepared for the job. He only became King because of an accident which happened to his elder brother. More than that, the Thai government at the time was headed by General Pibun who was an anti-Royalist. Therefore the Monarchy faced many problems in performing its duties as Head of State. This helps perhaps to explain why the Monarchy supported the military dictatorship of Field Marshall Sarit. It is Sarit who was partly responsible for promoting and increasing respect for the Monarchy [9]. But many years have passed. The status and experience of the Thai Head of State have changed. The Monarch has much political experience, more than any politician, due to the length of time on the Throne. Therefore the Monarch today exhibits the confidence of one who has now gained much experience. For example, he chastised elected governments, like that of Prime Minister Taksin. The important question for today therefore is: if the Monarch can chastise the Taksin government over the human rights abuses in the War on Drugs[10], why cannot the Monarch chastise the military for staging a coup and abusing all democratic rights?”

 

I believe that anyone reading through these paragraphs will conclude that this lese majeste charge is really about preventing any discussion about the relationship between the military junta and the Monarchy. This is in order to protect the military’s sole claim to legitimacy: that it acted in the interests of the Monarchy by destroying democracy.

Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn

25 March 2009

 



[1] See Kevin Hewison (2006) “Genral Surayud Chulanon: a man and his contradictions”. Carolina Asia Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel   Hill.

[2] Surayud admitted this to Thai Post 22 June 2000.

[3] Paul Handley (2006) The King Never Smiles. Yale University Press, page 415.

[4] Bangkok Post 4 January 2007.

[5] Paul Handley (2006) already quoted.

[6] Bangkok Post 24/01/06.

[7] Section 7 of the 1997 Constitution stated that in time of crisis the King could appoint a Prime Minister. But although this was a demand of the P.A.D. in 2006, there was much debate about whether the period before and after the 2 nd April 2006 elections was an appropriate time to use Section 7.

[8] Matichon daily newspaper 26 April 2006. In Thai.

[9] Thak Chaloemtiarana (1979) Thailand: the politics of despotic paternalism. Social Science Association of Thailand and Thai Khadi Institute,

     Thammasat University. P. 309.

[10] In December 2003 the King called on the government to carry out an investigation into the killings of the 2,245 people.


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Giles Ji Ungpakorn

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Giles Ji Ungpakorn: Suwichai Takor gets 10 years in prison!

Suwichai Takor gets 10 years in prison!

Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn

 

What kind of country and society imprisons someone for making comments on the internet? What kind of Foreign Minister encourages armed conflict with neighbouring countries in order to distract attention from internal problems? What kind of government comes to power by a combination of a military coup, two judicial coups together with street violence, bribery and threats? What kind of Prime Minister tells lies to the foreign press and Oxford academics about the state of democracy and the use of the draconian lese majeste laws? What kind of ruling class uses “the love of the King” to justify a military coup, terrorist acts by its supporters at international airports and severe censorship? Yes, Thailand is now firmly among the ranks of tin-pot despotic regimes around the world.

 

That the Thai ruling elite, the military and the fascist PAD yellow shirts, together with the mis-named Democrat Party, should lock up people like Suwichai Takor for 10 years is not surprising. All that Suwichai did was to post a comment about the Monarchy on the internet. The fascist PAD leaders who used street violence and blocked the airports are still free and unlikely to be put in jail. The Generals who abused their power in a coup are still racking in the money. No one should be surprised that there is no justice in Thai courts. There is no transparency and accountability of any major public institutions, including the Monarchy, the Judiciary, the Government and the Army. The judges have their own version of the lese majeste law to stifle any criticism.

 

What should surprise and worry us is that almost the entire Thai NGO movement, almost the entirety of Thai academia and all the mainstream media have kept silent, or worse, supported this destruction of free speech and democracy. And what should anger us also, is that Amnesty International has refused to do anything of substance to defend prisoners of conscience in Thailand.

 

The NGO movement turned its back on “politics” and the primacy of mass movements in the 1980s. Instead they embraced “lobby politics”. First they loved-up to the Thai Rak Thai government. Then, when they were wrong-footed by the government’s pro-poor policies that proved that the NGOs had only been “playing” at development, they rushed over to love-up to the conservative Royalists. Such an about face was only possible by ignoring politics, international lessons and any theory. NGO leaders argued that they were the true activists, not book worms or theoreticians. This is explains why they can justify to themselves the support for the 2006 coup and why they have failed to defend democracy since. Instead of bothering to analyse the political situation, they beat a path to lobby generals, governments of every shade and anyone who has power.

 

The academics are even worse. For decades they have shunned political debate, preferring personal squabbles to principled arguments. No one is ever forced to justify or argue for their beliefs. On the occasion when papers are written, they are descriptive and ignore work by those who pose awkward questions. So when they defended their Middle-Class interests and supported the 2006 coup, they felt no need for a serious explanation other than to say that the poor “did not understand democracy”. This un-academic behaviour has rich rewards. Many have extra earnings from collaborating with the ruling elites.

 

The Thai conservative elite are playing a dangerous game. They have started a civil war between the people (now represented by the Red Shirts) and the Yellow-shirted Royalists. Early in 2006 they decided that they would use extra-Constitutional means to get rid of an elected government. Their justification was the “corruption” and “abuse of power” by the Thai Rak Thai Prime Minister Taksin Shinawat. While there is much to criticise in the actions of Taksin and Thai Rak Thai, it must also be said that the conservative elites, including the Monarchy, have always been corrupt and abused their power. What they didn’t like was that someone else might be getting more powerful than them through the democratic process.

 

These elites have for decades ruled Thailand from behind the scenes as if it were their own personal fiefdom. A poisonous patron client network draws in new recruits to this “elite feeding trough” where fortunes are to be made at the expense of the hard-working poor. This vast parasitic organism maintains its legitimacy by claiming that Thailand has an Absolute Monarchy, where the King is an all-powerful god. Yet the King is weak and has no “character” and his power is a fiction. .Army generals, politicians, businessmen and privy councillors prostrate themselves on the ground and pay homage to the “powerful” king, while exercising the real power in the land and racking in the profits. But the King is very old and his son is hated, feared or viewed with contempt. Where will the elite’s new meal ticket come from when the King dies?

 

Like the story of “the Emperor’s New Clothes”, the elites relied on telling the Thai population (and maybe even the King), a pack of lies in order to promote their own agenda. The King is a God! The King is all powerful! We serve the King! And the lese majeste law and other authoritarian measures are used to back up these lies. But the boy has already spoken! Most people in Thailand can see that the Emperor has no clothes! The King hasn’t “held together Thai society”. He hasn’t created justice and equality and he has sided in public with the military and the anti-democrats throughout his reign.

 

But the process of destroying the corrupt, privileged and authoritarian network around the Monarchy will take time. People like Suwichai Thakor, Da torpido, Boonyuen Prasertying and many others will suffer in jail. The Red Shirts will have to mobilise and organise on a long-term basis. Meanwhile, politicians like Taksin, and many others, are still clinging to Royalist ideas, claiming to be “loyal subjects” of the King, while attacking privy councillors for planning the coup. Many Red Shirts are restless and want to go much further in order to build Democracy and Social Justice.

 

We must not be afraid anymore. But that is easier for me to say from the safety of Britain! We must all be the little boy who says what he sees as the Emperor walks past naked. Why should we, the Thai people, be “loyal subjects of the King”? In a democratic and equal society the King should be loyal to us. If he or any future Monarch is not prepared to listen to the people, respect the people as his master, and defend democracy, then we definitely need a republic.

3 April 2009

Something missing...

Sorry, but I must object a few of your claims.I've been living in Chiang Mai for several years now and I can provide some evidence that the RED SHIRTS as much assuming as the YELLOW ones. Have you heard of RAK CHIANG MAI 51, if not you should start a little research. Go to The Bangkok Post website or browse the thai internet. Whatever the yellows are guilty of or not, I can't hardly see any difference in using the very same means regarding the reds. Both sides try to surpress their real agenda and playing publicly all those russian-puppets-hidden-purposes-games helped by big cash from various backers, including Thaksin and yellow Bangkok's elite. Interestingly, I mean this is left-wing site, and I can't find any hard hitting mentioning of all those many human rights abuses, even some atrocities, done by Thaksin's administration during his reign. There are 3000 Thais killed at times of so called drug wars. Amnesty International claims over 2/3 of them were innocent and for what reason ever put on that black list of Thaksin's government. About 2500 killed in the deep south thanks to reckless politics of Thaksin. And what's about those 700 evironmentalists killed also by para-military forces or suddenly have vanished until this very day. The complete information mess which led deliberatlly to no public warnings whatsoever, despite the fact they had been alarmed, before the tsunami struck thailand's coast. At least 13.000 people died. I wonder how all of those dark facts will fit in your socialist renewal opinions of Thaskin's asserted good governing and his dubious poor people's movement??!!

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