The old “liberal” warhorse for palace and military, former unelected premier Anand Panyarachun, has been wheeled out again. How many times this fake “liberal” can be put in front of audiences after he has been gung ho on anti-democrats, hot for royalism and a faithful servant of the military is anyone’s guess, but the junta must still see some value in the old fake.
Wikileaks tells us that Anand supported the 2006 coup and the ousting of Samak Sundaravej. In 2014 he (repeatedly) supported anti-democrats, including boosting Suthep Thaugsuban. This was in a context where he also rejected Yingluck Shinawatra and here earlier attempts at reconciliation and repeatedly attacked her government. We have little doubt that, based on his record, Anand had a role in encouraging the most recent coup.
It is in this context of anti-liberalism and anti-democrat support that it is not just bizarre, but sickening that Anand should be making a speech to remember Nelson Mandela.
Anand, who understands nothing about the values of the great man, chooses to bleat about “freedom, equality, justice and dignity, and the path to democratic governance.” Anand and his royalist cronies trample on such values. Based on their track record, if transported to South Africa in the 1960s, they’d have cheered Mandela’s jailing, would have damned him as a terrorist and supported white elite supremacy.
Of course, Anand the royalist stresses Mandela having been “born of royal lineage.” If royalty is about tribes and chiefs, then this is accurate, but Anand is simply claiming Mandela as one of those Anand serves.
There’s nothing of Mandela the socialist or revolutionary in Anand’s telling. There’s nothing of the ANC as a national liberation movement. There’s no mention of the military wing of the ANC, which under Mandela’s leadership launched “a campaign of sabotage against government and economic installations.” It is a tepid Mandela that Anand sees.
Anand declares that Mandela “shunned aggressive and divisive policies, revenge and punishment.” He’s speaking of Thailand when he says this. What he neglects is that it is his royalists who are divisive and who punish. It is they who refuse reconciliation and who reject democratic politics if they can’t control it.
Mandela is said to have chosen “justice, while offering a hand to former foes for the sake of peace and unity.” In Thailand, it is the royalists who are partisan and prejudiced. It is they who have destroyed the rule of law and practiced double standards.
Anand then blathers an anti-democrat line: “We know there is no single, absolute model of democracy…. Its progression may not necessarily be linear in progression.” That’s exactly what the military dictatorship says. His anti-democratic history of democracy seems to suggest that Thailand requires many centuries “to gestate”something like “full-fledged democracy.”
Anand’s anti-democracy is explicit:
The mere act of holding an election, by no means, guarantees democracy, particularly in the absence of a multiparty political system or where there is a tendency towards monopoly of power. Proper mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that elections are free and fair, and conducted in an open and transparent environment….
An election does not give a mandate to oppress or sideline those who voted against the winning party. If we prescribed to the notion of “winner-takes-all”, we would seriously impede the development of a democratic society.
Therefore, majoritarian rule has to be respectful of the rights and interests of both the majority and the minority. What the winner earns is an ongoing duty to strike a balanced consensus in society.
Of course, Anand is reaching to the military junta and to the anti-democrats, re-telling their ridiculous claims. There was no “majoritarianism” by the Yingluck government. Indeed, many commentators, PPT included, pointed out the compromises Yingluck was prepared to make in accommodating the monarchy, military, royalists, including an acceptance of ridiculously biased judicial rulings.
One point we agree with in Anand’s manipulative anti-democrat speech is this:
Democracy starts with the wisdom of the voting public, however that wisdom is acquired. The voting public must understand its responsibilities in a democracy and have access to the means to exercise choice in the democratic process.
Much depends on an educational setting to open the mind and avoid dogma and prejudice….
Naturally enough for the patrician Anand, he is criticizing those who voted again and again for pro-Thaksin parties. But how wrong he is. It is his class that has not learned a thing about electoral democracy. Where is the wisdom in supporting a military coup when your class can’t get its (electoral) way? Where is the recognition of the responsibility to accept an electoral loss and to respect the voice of the people? Of course, the “education” of the elite is about how to reject the “unwashed,” exploit and use the lower, darker classes, and about being “born to rule.” There is only (royalist) dogma, closed minds and deep prejudice.
Anand is right to quote Mandela: “Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: Between those who cherish democracy and those who do not! “
Anand is no democrat and he is no liberal. He is on the side of those who hate democracy. It is the side that has opposed democracy since the first attempt to bring it to Thailand in 1932.