PAD, constitutions and the military boss

26 11 2010

The Bangkok Post has an editorial on the People’s Alliance for Democracy that has been the subject of a post by Bangkok Pundit. The editorial is representative of the difficult relationship PAD has with the establishment.

The editorial begins: “The leaders and followers of the People’s Alliance for Democracy have some positive achievements in their five-year history.” Here the newspaper is applauding PAD’s role in prompting an alliance between the palace and military and the 2006 coup that got rid of arch-enemy Thaksin Shinawatra and  then the pro-Thaksin government in 2008 via PAD’s long Government House and airports occupations.

But now they are “terribly wrong, [by opposing] in such stubborn fashion, as they are now, in their campaign against changing the constitution.” The opposition to constitutional amendment is “so illogical that it defies logical examination.”

The claim that anti-Thaksin protests involved “crowds of up to half a million” is an exaggeration.” But the Post does admit that “[m]any credit the street demonstrations with motivating a small group of senior army officers into seizing power from Thaksin and putting national power in the hands of a military junta.”

They don’t dare add that it was Privy Councilor General Prem Tinsulanonda who took over from PAD in getting the coup in place. At least the Post see the coup as an “unfortunate reversion…” and sees the 2007 constitution as “highly flawed,” and “badly written,” to include “unacceptable, hastily drafted sections that not even the authors truly understood. The half-appointed Senate is bad for the country. The multi-MP constituencies have left voters confused and poorly represented” and so on.

The Post thinks “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is correct to press for amending such harmful and foolish sections of the constitution.” Of course, this has not always been the position of the Post, Abhisit or the Democrat Party. The idea that Abhisit’s amendments are not meant to support coalition partners is simply wrong. Then this rather odd point from the Post:

The PAD should realise _ as most of the country accepted long ago _ that the 2007 constitution is a sorry step back from the excellent “people’s constitution” of 1997.

Of course, the red shirts and the opposition Puea Thai Party have long argued this position and have long been rejected, including in the last couple of days.

At Prachatai there is also evidence of the curious dualism that emerges as the establishment deals with the populist PAD. It cites “Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said that the PAD had the legal right to hold rallies during Parliament’s consideration of charter amendments as long as they did not use violence. The Emergency Decree has to be kept in force until the situation returns to normal. He insisted that there were never double standards regarding enforcement of the decree, and all groups had been treated equally, according to an ASTV-Manager report on 24 Nov.”

This statement comes as “PAD leader Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang told ASTV … that PAD supporters were coming from Lampang to join others in front of Parliament. Those who came from the provinces and could not stay overnight with relatives or friends in Bangkok would be welcome to stay at the office of the New Politics Party where air conditioned rooms and toilets were available, and also at Santi Asoke.”

Chamlong claimed support from senators, “[t]he wife of a former regional police commander and recently retired army generals…”. Further PAD rallies were planned for 11 December when Chamlong expected “a number of military officers, both in active service and retired, will join their rally, because it is about the protection of territory.”

A New Politics Party member “told the crowd that their rally was unlike those of the red shirts. The red shirts had come out in numbers, but it was not clear whether they had acted out of their own conscience or whether they were organized and recruited by politicians and canvassers. PAD supporters acted out of conscience.”

False consciousness according to the Bangkok Post.

At MCOT News army boss Prayuthhas stated that “the country’s security agencies and related authorities have never practiced a double standard in enforcing the government’s emergency decree against protest groups, but asserted that every group has been treated equally in order to maintain law and order.” PAD could rally “under the [emergency] law, but the demonstration must be free of violence.”

No double standards? How many yellow shirts are in prison? That aside, the curious love-fear relationship with right-wing political mobilization continues.




2 responses

26 11 2010
Tweets that mention PAD, constitutions and the military boss | Political Prisoners in Thailand --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by อิสระภาพ แห่งข่าวสาร, NEWSpace. NEWSpace said: PAD, constitutions and the military boss: The Bangkok Post has an editorial on the People’s Alliance for Democra… […]

3 12 2010
More PAD criticism of Abhisit | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] criticism of PAD and its leaders, notably from Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. The government supporters in the mainstream media have also been critical of PAD. In the latter post, PPT commented on the “evidence of the […]