Thaksin’s gift to his opponents

29 10 2013

The politically daft decision by Thaksin Shinawatra and the Puea Thai Party hierarchy to support a ludicrous amnesty bill does nothing for the “Thaksin revolution.” A week or so ago, while not using this description, PPT commented:

… the combination of economic crisis, new constitution and the resulting advance of electoral politics saw Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai Party “sleepwalking into history,” [clicking opens a PDF] offering national political-electoral platforms that came to be seen as a challenge to the royalist status quo. Voting for a party that promised and delivered opened people’s eyes to the possibilities offered by electoral politics that far exceeded the old “money politics” model.

… this is not an outcome we expected at the time Thaksin was first elected. We’re pretty sure that Thaksin didn’t expect it either…. Nor did Thaksin imagine that the palace and associated elements of the capitalist and royal hangers-on elite would find his politics such a challenge. That opposition pushed Thaksin even further to so-called populism and a political alliance with voters in rural and working class electorates.

Puea Thai logoThat has been the Thaksin revolution: whether he wanted to or not, his election and all that followed has pushed Thailand in directions that cause the royalist elite deep concern. Yet even they have had to accommodate the “new Thailand” of electoral representation and challenges to the hierarchical and feudal institutions that the royalists say they cherish.

But by supporting this amnesty Thaksin and Puea Thai are betraying those who have supported Thaksin and his parties.

Worse, Thaksin and Puea Thai Party are handing their opposition a chance for a political victory that they could not have conjured themselves. They can then set about (again) turning back the political clock.

Look at the list of those lining up to oppose amnesty. Of course, the Democrat Party opposes it as does it allied factions of People’s Alliance for Democracy-associated ginger groups. They are organizing street-based opposition that will be funded by the same business, military and old elite money of the earlier iterations of the yellow shirt rallies.

Then there is the royalist-dominated Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) that is said to include:

finance and business organisations such as the Board of Trade, Federation of Thai Industries, Thai Bankers Association, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Thai Institute of Directors, Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, the Thai Listed Companies Association, and the Association of Thai Securities Companies.

While we might question the anti-corruption credentials of this group – think of all the corrupt deals of these businesses! – that isn’t the point.

The army brass is also now opposed:

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has insisted he and his soldiers do not want a reprieve under the amnesty bill….

Gen Prayuth said he had talked to his soldiers to hear their views on the amnesty bill offering a blanket reprieve and they insisted they did not want an amnesty.

He said the army was not a party to the political conflict and soldiers are officials of the state who perform their duties under the law.

Gen Prayuth said he himself did not want an amnesty either.

As ever, the Army brass expects its usual impunity when it kills citizens, but the stated opposition is a significant political statement by Prayuth.

This opposition also allows the Bangkok Post, in the same article, to repeat the “men in black” claims:

“Men in black” were accused of firing bullets and grenades at soldiers in April and May 2010, leading to a score of injuries and deaths among troops. They were believed to have received military training.

The opposition may look weaker than it has been for several years, yet we think that gifting the opposition an issue that will unite the opposition and help it to grow is not just politically foolish but demeans the “Thaksin revolution.”


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18 03 2014
“Moral people” or democracy | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The change came with what PPT has designated the “Thaksin revolution.” […]

18 03 2014
“Moral people” or democracy | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] The change came with what PPT has designated the “Thaksin revolution.” […]

8 04 2014
A Chinese perspective on political crisis | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] It is a bit odd to see parts of the bourgeois class identified with the left, but Mao was wont to talk of the “national bourgeoisie” as kind of “progressive.” We are not convinced that the red-shirt supporting capitalists are doing more than seeking to back a democratic transition. Even Thaksin Shinawatra wasn’t a “populist” from the get-go. […]

8 04 2014
A Chinese perspective on political crisis | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] It is a bit odd to see parts of the bourgeois class identified with the left, but Mao was wont to talk of the “national bourgeoisie” as kind of “progressive.” We are not convinced that the red-shirt supporting capitalists are doing more than seeking to back a democratic transition. Even Thaksin Shinawatra wasn’t a “populist” from the get-go. […]




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