Anand’s change of mind

5 08 2010

The Bangkok Post recently reported that former appointed prime minister Anand Panyarachun has urged fellow Thais to embrace reform “by moving beyond debates on ‘good and evil’ and by accepting the voting rights of the majority.” He said: “We, therefore, have to respect their voting rights whether or not we may disapprove of their choices.” PPT has added the emphasis as the chair of the National Reform Commission appears to have changed his mind on elections.

Anand is reported to have “insisted the political rights of certain groups must firstly be respected by all, otherwise reform efforts were bound to fail.” He adds: “I believe people in rural areas have suffered inequalities and thus want political space…”. He was speaking at a dinner reception organised by the royalist-aligned Population and Community Development Association, so these changed views represent a liberal-royalist understanding.

In an attack on the yellow-shirted rightists associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy, Anand said “people had no right to control other people’s opinions, and those who oppose the political choices of this group [pro-Thaksin Shinawatra voters] might one day have to live with it.”

Why does PPT say he has changed his mind? Back in the days around the 2006 coup, Anand was a defender of intervention and questioned the notion held by “some Westerners” that equated democracy with voting. He said this at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand when launching a new edition of The King of Thailand in World Focus (p. 274). The point of this statement was to whitewash the trashing of Thai democracy by the PAD, the military and the palace.

That he now seems to accept that voting matters perhaps reflects a liberal-royalist recognition that electoral processes can be one way of moderating political demands from the lower classes and a way of disciplining the ruled. To do that, the ruling elite needs to make concessions. Will the army, now back in the driving seat, agree? Will the conservatives agree with Anand and seek to make the historic compromises necessary to maintain their class hegemony. So far they haven’t shown much willingness.


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5 08 2010
Anand on the Road to Damascus | Robert Amsterdam Thailand

[…] have to respect their voting rights whether or not we may disapprove of their choices.“  Political Prisoners in Thailand has a commentary on this change of opinion. Why does PPT say he has changed his mind? Back in the […]




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