Democratic oranges and anti-democratic apples

8 07 2013

At the Bangkok Post there is yet another anti-democratic op-ed, as pointed out by several of PPT’s readers. One of the odd elements in this particular op-ed, by Ploenpote Atthakor, a Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Post, is the bizarre equation of Thailand’s small white masks group and “anti-government movements around the world,” including the protesters “at Taksim Square in Turkey to Tahrir Square in Egypt, with the Cairo movement eventually ending with a coup.”

That the “V for Thailand … group” might be compared with demonstrators in Egypt calling for a military coup makes some sense, but in terms of scale and complexity, there is simply no comparison. It is comparing oranges with apples.

That the white masked ones are described as “a gathering of people who simply want to maintain their anonymity” is odd too, for the group is just one more in a long line of activists opposing pro-Thaksin Shinawatra elected governments.

But the point for Ploenpote is to oppose parliamentary politics with a royalist propaganda claim of “dirty and corrupt politicians.” In Thailand, she assert, “it’s rampant corruption that drove people into the streets.” She adds that  “their concerns are more than valid.”

On the face of it, anti-corruption claims are motherhood/fatherhood statements, and there is no doubt that Thailand is riddled with corruption. But this particular “concern” can be shown to be just another restatement of a royalist mantra that is anti-politician and part of the anti-democratic movement to bring down yet another elected government. The use of “corruption” as a moral claim is also a political tool that has been used by both military and monarchy to justify “Thai-style democracy.”

If these “masked men and women” were really dedicated anti-corruption activists, would they be parading pictures of the monarchy and demanding that anyone who doesn’t love the king should leave Thailand? Wouldn’t they actually be interested in corruption? And if they were, where were they when the military has its dirty hands in the till? Where were they when the military-backed Democrat Party-led government was doling out funds to their political allies through the Thai khemkaeng projects?

Obviously, for these “anti-corruption” protesters, there is good corruption (theirs) and bad corruption (Thaksin-related).

This becomes all too obvious when Ploenpote slips from the anti-corruption message to one damning elected politicians for majoritarianism: “When a government is overly confident with its majority and wields the ‘we are democratically elected’ mantra to do whatever it wants, it’s not much different to a dictator.” She then makes the claim, “don’t get me wrong, I know a military dictatorship is much worse” than corrupt politicians, but heads off on an anti-elections rant, saying “[l]et me give some examples of why we are frustrated with our democracy.” While we don’t know who “we” really is, we can assume it is royalist yellow shirts, for the claims are their anti-democratic rhetoric:

Over 80 years since the country became a constitutional democracy in 1932, we have often witnessed the bad side of majority rule….

Thailand has only ever had majority rule in parliament from 2001 to 2006 and 2007 to 2008 and since mid-2011.In the latter two periods, voters have been steadfast in supporting the governments thrown out by unelected military thugs and unelected royalist judges.

… this thing called democracy has not helped us much in getting rid of unscrupulous politicians. The bad guys keep making parliamentary comebacks, and _ more often than not _ to the Norasingha mansion [Government House].

And so on…. to this:

We know it’s a case of democracy going wrong if a government, which claims to attach high importance to reconciliation, regards and treats those with different ideas as “enemies” and instead supports other groups, like red shirts, to counter and confront opposition and sometimes resort to intimidating acts.

This is an old theme for Ploenpote. PPT has only posted once previously on Ploenpote’s musings, when we noted that she attacked red shirts as undemocratic, and stated that she still had a long way to go before she understood the struggle for democracy in Thailand. Her musings, we said, amounted to an ignorant and pompous piece of self-delusional nonsense, made worse by a concocted attempt to appear tolerant when she simply hates red shirts. We added:

This is one of the worst pieces of  “journalism” we have seen for a couple of years. Her claim that “we have not gone anywhere” since 1973 is infantile, hypocritical and ahistorical dribble.

In the current op-ed, she concludes with a lamentable longing for a military coup like that seen in Egypt. She reckons the military is in the government’s pocket, but warns the government should watch out as “those in the silent majority lose their patience.”

Government should listen to the people, during elections and after, yet having the military or judiciary conspire to bring down an elected government is neanderthal nonsense. Maybe the Post needs to publish an edition chipped into stone.



2 responses

11 07 2013
Coups and their justification | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bangkok Post has an editorial that is about coups. This follows a recent op-ed that appeared to be a paean for a military coup. The editorial states: “Few nations have […]

11 07 2013
Coups and their justification | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Bangkok Post has an editorial that is about coups. This follows a recent op-ed that appeared to be a paean for a military coup. The editorial states: “Few nations have watched […]

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