The surreal world of the Democrat Party

5 07 2011

PPT hasn’t looked at the Thai-language media yet this morning, but it not a surprise that the Bangkok Post and The Nation have barely paused for a moment before attacking the still-unformed Puea Thai Party coalition government, mostly on its campaign promises regarding amnesty.

It is as if they confirm a point made at Bloomberg by Thailand scholar Kevin Hewison on the residual abhorrence for and fear of Thaksin Shinawatra and the anathema felt for any amnesty: “These people continue to hate Thaksin and they don’t want him back…. If there is any move that looks like he’s closer to coming back or if there’s anything they interpret as a whitewash, they will be up for the fight.”

Both Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban have shown that there is neither grace nor any reconsideration based on the voice of the people.

Suthep has been on television this morning (Tuesday) attacking Thaksin as if there had not been an election where his party virtually made anti-Thaksinism its only call to the electorate and was firmly rejected. He also attacked and “blamed” red shirts for his party’s loss. His comments appear in the next linked story, although the press account misses the deep hatred displayed in his television interview.

Characteristically, Abhisit first big-noted himself by stating: “I think that a good leader of an organisation must take responsibility…”. It is still about Teflon Mark and me, me, me. At present it seems that Abhisit’s resignation is nominal, and he seems to feel that he is set to be re-elected leader. Abhisit stated that “he would fight tooth and nail against any attempts to dismantle the rule of law and national principles.”

That may sound okay as a statement if it wasn’t Abhisitspeak for rejecting the electorate’s voice. Rule of law meant repression under his government and denoted opposition to red shirts and Thaksin. Rule of law is now the discourse for opposing a Puea Thai government. Presumably when that opposition descends into lawlessness, it can be justified, as it was in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

The points made by Suthep and Abhisit are repeated by Pichai Chuensuksawadi, Editor-in-Chief of Post Publishing, a media outlet that did much to support the Democrat Party. As one of the elite’s media, it inflated public support, boosted its campaign, gave extra space to Abhisit and wrote op-eds that were blatantly anti-Puea Thai. In the face of a crushing electoral defeat, Pichai tries to sound just a tad reasonable in searching for meaning and messages in the emphatic rejection of the royalist Democrat Party.

One message is that the “overwhelming support for Pheu Thai indicates that rural Thailand wants former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra himself back home. Indeed there is no doubt that many do. How else can you explain the repeated electoral success of Thai Rak Thai and its various reincarnations?”

While we agree in general terms, the emphasis on “rural Thailand” is a yellowish political tone. PPT would note that it is not just “rural Thailand” that voted for Puea Thai. And, we’d add that amnesty was indeed near the top of the party’s platform that they took to the electorate (as was constitutional amendment when People’s Power Party won a less emphatic victory in 2007).

Pichai then adds the good point that “Thais who supported Pheu Thai, Khun Yingluck or Thaksin did so because they believe they would be better cared for. They feel empowered, that their vote and voice can, and do, make a difference. They feel they can have a better life and that it will be easier for them to make a living. They want a fairer system, opportunity and access to better education, health and justice. They are calling for and demanding these changes.”

He is right to note that this vote was also one that said: “we don’t want a military coup d’etat to change our choice of leaders.”

For the “established elite” he says that they should “accept and adjust to these changes. Embrace it and help guide the changes, making it a constructive force for the future.” This sounds like a plea for the historical compromise that the Thai ruling class has been unwilling to make. PPT doesn’t see it coming.

Pichai, like many others in the anti-Puea Thai camp also have a message for any new administration that is not theirs: “Despite its overwhelming numbers…. There are a significant number of Thais who want a sincere effort at reconciliation but not at the expense of discarding the rule of law for the benefit of the one or the few.”

That’s Abhisit’s message and it is to be the lead battle cry going forward. Don’t do what you promised; forget the campaign platform and ignore your supporters. If you don’t, this will “lead to further political turmoil.” Puea Thai is warned, again and again.

Pichai refers to the “fact that the Democrats still retained a significant hold in Bangkok – despite the exit polls – is a clear message that the red shirt leaders were responsible for the intimidating tactics of mass protests which not only infringed on the rights of others but led to violence. These Thais voted for the Democrats in Bangkok because they do not want to see a repetition of the rioting of April 2009 and Ratchaprasong last year.”

Pichai ignores the fact that the Democrat Party lost seats in Bangkok, and that’s why he refers to exit polls rather than the 2007 result. The result in Bangkok showed that the Puea Thai message was strong and so they gained support in Bangkok.

Pichai points to the second battle cry for those opposed to the election result: “Pheu Thai cannot say that it has nothing to do with the red shirts. In the eyes of many they were – and now officially are, with the inclusion of key leaders on the Pheu Thai party list – one and the same.” In other words, opposition to the red shirts will continue. If this is sounding like the failed Democrat Party election strategy that’s because it is. Rejection by the electorate counts for nothing.

He blames the People’s Alliance for Democracy No vote campaign for “diluting support for the Democrats,” neglecting the fact that this vote was well down on 2007.

Like many in his circle, Pichai still adores Abhisit: “The decision by Khun Abhisit to step down as party leader and assume responsibility for the election result is the kind of gumption we expect of our political leaders, even though it is a pity to see such a political resource limited to the back benches.” Damned voters….

But, reluctantly, “The people have made a choice and that choice must be respected.” But that “respect” is tempered by the notion that the fight continues. The third battle cry is that the ballot is just one element of the ongoing fight. It is a setback, but, eventually, can be ignored as the fight by the high and mighty for control of “their Thailand” continues.



3 responses

7 12 2012
One dimensional politics « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] during the election campaign, as moves began to unsettle the Puea Thai Party and Yingluck, and from the attacks in the yellow-shirted mainstream media, from royalists and from the sore losers at the Democrat […]

7 12 2012
One dimensional politics « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] during the election campaign, as moves began to unsettle the Puea Thai Party and Yingluck, and from the attacks in the yellow-shirted mainstream media, from royalists and from the sore losers at the Democrat […]

13 07 2014
The elite hates electoral democracy | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] also a propagandist for the elite and its politics. Back when the 2011 election campaign was on, we mentioned his strong support for the Democrat Party, acting as a royalist mouthpiece. He works for a news organization that is deeply royalist and a […]

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