Parliament, Abhisit and his party

2 06 2012

Laying siege to parliament is not new. For example, the People’s Alliance for Democracy did it in 2008 and red shirts did it in 2008 and 2010. That it has become a kind of standard practice is not indicative of reasonable political positions, but then Thai politics is seemingly bent on the unreasonable.

That PAD is resurrected and does it again is not a surprise. PPT has argued that the Democrat Party and PAD are in alliance and are coordinating their actions, as seen in numerous emails and tweets from Democrat Party MPs. Again, though, that is not surprising as the two have cooperated many times in the past.

What has been most startling this week is the manner in which Democrat Party politicians have behaved in parliament. With physical attacks on other parliamentarians, extreme rancor, and several Nazi salutes, they have shown a disdain for parliament, parliamentary practice and process, and for the democratic politics of which parliament is a most significant institution.

Whatever one might feel about the so-called reconciliation or amnesty bills – and PPT has previously argued that they are ill-conceived, not least because they allow yet more impunity for the Army’s murderous ways – the actions of the Democrat Party are a travesty for Thailand.

For Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party, the events in parliament are yet another marker of his incapacity with the truth and principles. Because he is British born and educated at England’s elite schools and universities, some of the international media has thought of Abhisit as somehow naturally democratic. Indeed, especially when he was premier, Abhisit repeatedly claimed that parliament he upholds the importance of parliament as an institution. His recent statements demonstrate something quite different.

At The Nation Abhisit states that his party:

had no choice but to be rude [sic.] in order to block a dangerous legislative move that could bring the country to ruin…”.

He said: “Insolence [sic.] on the part of the Democrats was unavoidable because they were denied the right to speak on the House floor…”.

For a start, Abhisit seems unable to tell the difference between “insolence” and being “rude” and violent attacks by out of control members of his party.

Predictably, Abhisit blamed “the ruling coalition” for his party’s violence because it “refused to let the opposition air its dissenting opinions on the draft provisions for national reconciliation.”

This is untruthful. Even if it is Abhisit’s view that the legislation would be ruinous, parliament provides a rules-based forum for representatives to consider legislation. Abhisit, who once talked endlessly about the rule of law, not throws law and rules aside. It is not true that the opposition could not express views, and the legislation was (and is still) in parliament. The violence of the Democrat Party was caused by bringing on the debate (prioritizing it), not stifling it.

Plenty of opposition parties in democracies get upset with the rules and conventions of parliamentary systems, but one of the traits of functioning democracies is the acceptance of the rules. Dissent can be expressed in many ways, including walkouts, votes of no confidence, and so on, but the resort to violence is trashing rules and challenging the whole parliamentary system.

Abhisit is cited attacking the fundamentals of the parliamentary system. He says:

Certain academics reminded the Democrats to abide by the majority vote, but I think the majority rule does not apply to nor sanction the other side’s bullying the opposition to abuse the legislative process….

In fact, the side that wins the most votes and has most seats in parliament manages the flow of government business. Abhisit seems to want to throw this aside. But what is his alternative? It is that the legislation should not pass. If that is what he really wants, he needs to win elections. He can’t, but that aside, he can go to the Constitutional Court to challenge the bill(s).

He’s done this before, so the choice of not doing this now has to do with his perception that, by coordinating with PAD, he might be able to get rid of the government. Of course, Abhisit and those backing him and PAD naturally think of extra-parliamentary means to power.

Abhisit has specifically applauded the PAD rallies, declaring that “he hoped they would encourage the Parliament to resolve the differences.”

In all of this tawdry nonsense, Abhisit and the Democrat Party have shown a disdain for parliament, for the rules of parliament and for the voters of Thailand.


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3 06 2012
Constitutional Court affirms its politicization « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] a recent post, we noted that capacity for the Democrat Party to use the Constitutional Court in opposing […]

3 06 2012
Constitutional Court affirms its politicization « Political Prisoners of Thailand

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[…] a recent post, we noted that capacity for the Democrat Party to use the Constitutional Court in opposing […]

9 06 2012
The weekend joke is Abhisit « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is the same Abhisit who has recently defended his party’s MPs for their crude and physical attacks on other parliamentarians and the House […]

9 06 2012
The weekend joke is Abhisit « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] is the same Abhisit who has recently defended his party’s MPs for their crude and physical attacks on other parliamentarians and the House […]

31 08 2012
Democrat Party extremism « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] It wasn’t an “unruly” incident, it was a violent disruption of parliament that included an assault on the House Speaker while parading Nazi salutes. Abhisit, who goes on about the “rule of law,” defended his party by saying they didn’t break the law, so it was okay. At the time, in The Nation, Abhisit “explained” that his party: “had no choice but to be rude [sic.] in order to block a dangerous legislative move that could bring the country to ruin…”. He added: “Insolence [sic.] on the part of the Democrats was unavoidable because they were denied the right to speak on the House floor…”. Abhisit, by defending the thuggishness by his less than democratic party, showed no leadership or principles. Then, PPT commented: […]

31 08 2012
Democrat Party extremism « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] It wasn’t an “unruly” incident, it was a violent disruption of parliament that included an assault on the House Speaker while parading Nazi salutes. Abhisit, who goes on about the “rule of law,” defended his party by saying they didn’t break the law, so it was okay. At the time, in The Nation, Abhisit “explained” that his party: “had no choice but to be rude [sic.] in order to block a dangerous legislative move that could bring the country to ruin…”. He added: “Insolence [sic.] on the part of the Democrats was unavoidable because they were denied the right to speak on the House floor…”. Abhisit, by defending the thuggishness by his less than democratic party, showed no leadership or principles. Then, PPT commented: […]




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