With a major update: Suthep’s struggle

16 11 2013

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Democrat Party boss-cum-anti-government protester Suthep Thaugsuban hates Thaksin Shinawatra.

It is that fact that drives everything Suthep does. It colors his judgement, causes him to order the military to murder red shirts and causes him to expend his family wealth trying to attack the former prime minister. It causes his politics to be personal.Suthep blowing

As PPT noted a couple of days ago, the anti-government protests have lost their impetus and Suthep’s call for strikes and tax evasion fell flat.

So it is that the hateful Suthep and the boringly hopeless Democrat Party have rejigged Suthep’s protest to personalize the protests and directly attack Thaksin and his family. This will suit many of the radical yellow shirts who are similarly driven by personal hatreds (and personal love for the king). Talk with yellow leaders and true believers and the personal hatred for Thaksin is all too evident.

The Nation reports that Suthep, who begged people to show up for his campaign harangues, apparently wants supporters to boycott and attack Thaksin’s family, so-called cronies and those he thinks are the governments lackeys. The aim is to “get rid of the Thaksin regime from Thailand.”

A nasty example of this personalized politics is seen in social media attacks on Thaksin’s daughters, apparently facilitated by staff at Thai Airways.

Suthep has demanded that supporters boycott the “products and services relating to businesses run by the Shinawatra family and their cronies should be boycotted. These include mobile service, real estate and satellite TV.”

He charged that the Shinawatra family and its “cronies” threatened “democracy under constitutional monarchy for Thailand,” and called for the “Thaksin regime” to “be eradicated” before the end of November.

Other elements of his campaign include “a campaign to collect signatures for impeachment of the 310 coalition MPs who had voted in support of the bill for blanket amnesty.” Suthep refers to “slave MPs.”

We are not at all sure what legal grounds an impeachment can take, but then legalities have never bothered Suthep, except when they use the courts for political purposes.

Apparently Suthep also wants “social sanctions against senior public officials” he labels as “lackeys” of Thaksin. Attacking officials in this way is an interesting approach, and we guess he is referring to officials like the Department of Special Investigation’s elastic boss Tharit Pengdit, who politically served Suthep before back flipping and having Suthep and his “boss” Abhisit Vejjajiva charged with murder.

Suthep’s call for a boycott of Shinawatra family businesses seems to be erroneously based in the yellow-shirted belief that these businesses allow Thaksin to control money politics. This feeds the disbelief amongst Democrat Party leaders that the electorate repeatedly rejects them at the polls for any reason other than money.

Meanwhile, the Democrat Party has submitted an impeachment motion against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and two other ministers. Apparently, the Democrat Party believes that “the three ministers abused their authority and failed to comply with the law.”

The report provides no more details about the laws broken. Perhaps this is because this is just a political ruse with no basis in law but only in hatred of ministers said to be “inefficient, incompetent, immoral, irresponsible, hypocrites, lack intelligence and leadership and condone cronyism.”

As we said, hatred, but not much else.

Update: A reader drew our attention to a Khaosod report on Suthep’s pleadings, which includes material left out by many other mainstream media, perhaps because they are seriously embarrassing for Suthep who compared “Thaksin′s administration to Adolf Hitler′s subversion of the German Reichstag,” being quoted as stating:

“Thaksin′s Regime has destroyed morality and goodness,” said Mr. Suthep, “It turns the parliamentary system into a tyrannical Parliament, just like the German Parliament under Hitler, which led to the world war that killed millions of people”.

While we are not exactly sure which period of Hitler’s rise Suthep considers here, he probably means from 1930 or perhaps 1932 (a good year for Thailand, moving against the trend to Fascism elsewhere, at least for a few years). By 1933, Hitler effectively became dictator. Yet the comparison is specious. The fact is that Hitler wasn’t in exile and his party was never elected in multiple elections with consistent majorities. And nor was the Nazi party repeatedly thrown out by coups judicial and military or dissolved by the courts.

While reading the newspapers today, PPT was also a bit taken aback to suddenly come across a couple of pieces raising race as an issue. We have already posted the story from The Economist, and in that it is noted that: “… Thaksin, an ethnic-Chinese billionaire, is an odd leader for a group dominated by non-Chinese Thais from the north-east. But they like the populist economic policies, such as a rice-price support scheme attacked this week by the IMF, which he and his sister have pursued.” Well, they are also claimed to like the king, and he’s Sino-Thai too, as are almost all of Thailand’s big business people and major politicians. Northeasterners were particularly attracted to Chatichai Choonhavan, and he was also Sino-Thai.

But it is at the Bangkok Post that the ethnicity line is used more mischievously. In an editorial, the Post states at length that Yingluck’s decision-making in government is driven by her ethnicity:

the Thai-Chinese community champions the family unit. Whether in business or politics, the family is ever present. Never underestimate its cultural importance. As a younger sister – youngest in fact – of a Thai or Thai-Chinese family, obedience to elder family members, especially the patriarch, is the norm, the honourable, time-honoured, expected and righteous thing to do.

It hammers this line and concludes:

Leadership means one must be made of stern stuff. If one can’t stand up for oneself, how can one stand up for one’s country? Between the choice of family and country, as the prime minster, Ms Yingluck must choose the country first, in every single decision.

It does seem odd that suddenly ethnicity is made to matter.

Of course, they could have mentioned the king as an example of a Sino-Thai who has put country before family. But perhaps that example is a bit difficult to deal with as he isn’t the youngest daughter in the clan and his family has done very nicely indeed, with various members of the family doing pretty much what they like with the benefit of taxpayer funding.



2 responses

17 11 2013
Ethnicity, culture and political venom | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] we added this as an update on a vaguely related post that we have now decided to make a post by […]

17 11 2013
Ethnicity, culture and political venom | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] we added this as an update on a vaguely related post that we have now decided to make a post by […]

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