Chai-Anan Samudavanija and republicanism

5 08 2009

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, formerly a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, is a long-time ally of Sondhi Limthongkul. He was also a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra for a considerable time, and seemed to stay longer than Sondhi. Chai-Anan jumped ship when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in Sondhi’s hands. Chai-Anan is also close to the palace, as director of Vajiravudh College and a member of the Royal Institute.

Chai-Anan has been a regular commentator at ASTV and his columns have been rather incendiary whenever the political temperature has risen over the last couple of years.

In a recent issue (Manager Online, 2 August 2009: “สังคมไทยแบ่งเป็นสองฝ่าย”), Chai-Anan writes about the divisions in Thai politics and society.

Interestingly, he begins with a “former minister” who comes up with a different division: there are those who want the monarchy (ฝ่าย “เอาเจ้า”) and those who don’t (“ฝ่ายไม่เอาเจ้า”), the monarchists and the republicans. Here the “former minister” is referring to the people, not political leaders, for he says that Thaksin is largely irrelevant to this division, and whether he is around or not, the people are in these camps.

Chai-Anan says if this is the case, then people had better worry for the country, because the monarchy has always been there.

How did it come to this? He acknowledges Thaksin’s policies were welcome in the villages and increased his electoral stock, but wonders why republicans have emerged.

His answer is that there seem 4-5 groups: (i) those who dislike some privy councillors and this flows on to a disdain for the monarchy itself; (ii) those who mislead rural people and taxi drivers and pay for them to join the movement and demonstrations; (iii) a group in Chiang Mai who give rise to feelings about an old Lanna that had its own monarch and independence from Bangkok; (iv) others who feel that the current monarchy is remote from the people, unlike monarchs of the past; and later he adds (v) intellectuals who are closet republicans.

Chai-Anan is worried. He wonders why people don’t think about Thaksin’s bad deeds or blame him for the seeming acceptance of corruption amongst the younger generation. He asks rhetorically, was it Thaksin or Thaksin’s money that people liked?

Perhaps Chai-Anan should answer the question himself instead of pointing to others. He certainly benefited by holding several well-paid positions when Thaksin was premier. It seems pathetic and arrogant of Chai-Anan to seek to denigrate others when he was on the gravy train himself.

For Chai-Anan, Thaksin still has political influence because he has created a politics that operates like a marketplace.

He believes that the police are 100% for Thaksin and the red shirts. If Thaksin and the republicans grow in size and influence, it will be the fault of those police who refuse to do their duty.

Finally, Chai-Anan worries that if the republicans expand, the monarchists have little in their arsenal with which to counter-attack. He sees the monarchists arguments as only holding sway with the older generation, while the under 30s seem uninterested in nation and monarchy.

If all this is to be the fate of Thailand, the place will be ruined.



6 responses

6 08 2009
New: Controlling the police « Political Prisoners in Thailand

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