A Puea Thai government is not to be permitted

29 06 2011

A few days ago in The Nation, Chaiwat Satha-ananda, a respected political scientist from Thammasat University, asked: “What can we do to make the powers outside the electoral system reconcile with the power within the electoral system and make the powers outside the electoral system accept the electoral result?”

According to a reader and correspondent who was at a well-attended event at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on the night of 28 June, the well-quoted pundit Thitinan Phongsudhirak pleaded for the “powers-that-be” to accept the election result. He was sure the Puea Thai Party would win. A Puea Thai Party representative who was added to the panel at the last moment – sorry, didn’t catch the name – was confident also.

Banned former Thai Rak Thai Party minister Chaturon Chaisaeng reckoned that Puea Thai would have a thumping victory, but predicted that the establishment would not allow Puea Thai to rule for very long. Indeed, Thitinan expressed the same pessimism on the likelihood that a Puea Thai election victory would be unacceptable to the elite.

The forum at the FCCT suggested plenty of reasons for the pessimism. The following is not a summary of the long night of presentations and questions.

Just over a week ago PPT wrote: “Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn is reported to have said that ‘he was a government official and not a member of any political party.’ PPT has never expected that this unscrupulous person was anything less than a Privy Council and Army-connected toady. He’s paid to be a professional sycophant. But who pays him? If he is a government official, why is he shadowing Abhisit Vejjajiva on the campaign trail?”

Well, he was at it again. He began by stating that he “did not represent any party.” This was met with chuckles from the audience. He then went on to take shots at journalists and pundits who had criticized the Democrat Party-led coalition government and talked of the bright future for democracy in the country. He rambled and didn’t say much more than this apart from defending the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s record. Essentially, “we did well and better than you ever expected” was the message.

More interesting was Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks, who has a long record of unfounded claims and accusations. His message was crystal clear. He stated that if Puea Thai formed the government – and he seemed to thinks his lot still had a chance – then it would be a government that would face all kinds of problems. He focused on Thaksin Shinawatra, the Democrat Party’s only campaign “policy.” If a Puea Thai government did anything for Thaksin or attempted to amend the constitution, then Buranaj threatened protests in the streets.

Buranaj demonstrated how much of the Democrat Party has adopted the People’s Alliance for Democracy agenda: hate Thaksin and oppose the “Thaksin regime” and its proxies.

Add in Abhisit’s support for the withdrawal from UNESCO’s World Heritage Commission and the two agendas are pretty much aligned, at least for PAD up to the end of 2008.

He went on to draw a distinction between “majoritarianism” and the “rule of law.” Majoritarianism has several meanings, but it seemed that Buranaj simply meant that winning elections and having millions support a party’s policies and platforms counts for nothing if there is no “rule of law.” He essentially explained that rule of law referred to any action that “whitewashed” Thaksin.

Buranaj’s comments made it clear that a Puea Thai government is still absolutely unacceptable because of the Thaksin connection. Thaksin and his proxy parties can get elected as often as they like, but the elite is not prepared to accept anything short of their own rule. As Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda observed more than two years ago, “… Thaksin was a very dangerous man and should be jailed…”. Nothing much has changed and an election won’t change the minds of the stubborn, uncompromising establishment.