Thailand: Anti-democratic thugs unleash violence around Bangkok’s voting stations

Anti-democratic protesters attempt to disrupt pre-poll voting, January 26, 2013.

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By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 27, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On January 26, the Democrat Party’s mad dogs unleashed violence around Bangkok’s voting stations. Voting stations throughout the country were supposed to be open for people to cast their votes in advance on the February 2 general election. Advanced voting is a required service since it is compulsory for people to cast their ballot.

In many areas of Bangkok, angry residents argued with the anti-democratic protesters. They also protested against local election commissioners who closed voting stations whether or not they were surrounded by Sutep Tuaksuban’s Democrat Party thugs. At some stations the thugs physically attacked citizens who wanted to vote. What happened on the day shows that significant sections of the Bangkok population are opposed to the Democrat Party’s attempts to wreck the election. This will only come as a surprise to those commentators who claim that the Thai crisis is a “rural vs Bangkok” dispute. At the last election almost half of the Bangkok electorate voted for Pheu Thai.

Despite the roving gangs of thugs in Bangkok, 597 constituencies nationwide, or 91% of constituencies, managed to hold advanced voting. In the Muslim Malay south, village officials stood in line around voting stations to stop the Democrats intimidating voters. The head of the Department of Special Investigation is also looking to prosecute election commissioners who failed to do their duty to ensure that the elections took place where there were no anti-government protests.

The antics of the Election Commission, the Democrat Party thugs and the Constitutional Court are like a game of football. Sutep’s thugs want the government to resign and the elections to be scrapped. They want the constitution to be changed so that democracy is abolished. The thugs cause disturbances to try to wreck candidate registration, the Election Commission takes the “ball” and uses this as an excuse to call for the election to be postponed. They then pass the “ball” to the Constitutional Court to rule that the election can in fact be postponed. The “ball” now passes back to the thugs who cause more violence outside voting stations. The Election Commission jumps at the chance to point to this violence as an excuse to close polling stations and call on the government to call off the election. All the while these agents of dictatorship are cheered on by the university vice-chancellors, sexist doctors, NGOs, the mainstream press and the mis-named National Human Rights Commission.

The academics, NGOs, backward middle classes and other despicable creatures of the elites, bear a great responsibility for the growing destruction of democracy in Thailand. During the last months of Thaksin’s Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai (TRT) government, they insulted the majority of the electorate by claiming that they were “too ignorant” to have the right to vote. Before that they belittled pro-poor policies, such as universal health care, as being “mere vote-buying”. They are the ones who called for the army to stage a coup d'état against the elected TRT government in 2006. They then cooperated with the military junta. They are the ones who supported the blocking of the international airports in 2008 in order to urge the judiciary to stage another coup against the elected PPP government. It is they who gave tacit support to the killing of 90 Red Shirt protesters by the military in 2010. Today, they make hypocritical calls for “both sides to refrain from violence” and to “meet each other half way”. This is the same as saying that Sutep’s mob who want to destroy democracy, have the same legitimacy as the elected government which is supported by 70% of the population.

If this ragbag of middle-class detritus cared one iota about creating peace and democracy in Thailand, they would join with those who have been lighting candles and urging Sutep to take his mob home. Instead, every time they open their mouths, they give confidence to the thugs.

I and my comrades have been discussing five urgent reforms that need to take place in order to increase the democratic space in Thailand. You can read the details here: or here:

In summary they are:

1. The need to address gross economic inequality by introducing a wealth tax and a welfare state.

2. The need to abolish lèse majesté, the computer crimes law and the contempt of court law, which protects judges from criticism. Prisoners of conscience like Somyot Prueksakasemsuk should be released from prison. The entire judicial system should be overhauled.

3. The elite-appointed “independent bodies”, which are only independent from any democratic process, and which misuse their power by over-ruling parliament, must be abolished. The worst offenders are the Election Commission, the Constitutional Court and the appointed half of the Senate. The whole despicable idea behind such bodies is that the general population cannot be trusted to elect the “right” people to parliament. If parliament and the government need accountability and transparency, it should be done through democratic processes.

4. The need to reduce the power and influence of the military in politics and society.

5. The need to punish those who commit gross violations of human rights, including military generals, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Sutep and Thaksin. This is in order that real standards of human rights can be established. The pro-elite National Human Rights Commission needs to be abolished.

We in no way claim a monopoly on ideas for political reform. Other groups, such as the Nitirat group of progressive law academics, have many interesting proposals. There are also many other long-term reforms that are needed.

But it is safe to say that if anyone talks about political reform without mentioning our five main points above, they are merely rebranding “reaction” and “dictatorship”.

[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]