Glee over anarchy

3 01 2014

PPT almost never cites The Nation’s ASTV-like op-ed writer Thanong Khanthong, except when the point is to illustrate the extreme anti-democratic position. Reluctantly, we do it again, as his most recent gleeful scribbling tells the story of the next couple of weeks.

Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the people’s uprising [PPT: sic. he means the umpteenth attempt to throw out an elected government], has set January 13 as the day for a Bangkok shutdown. The momentum is in his favour. [PPT: just this once, we agree with him]

… Supporters from other provinces have been arriving in the capital since before New Year, joining Bangkokians in preparing for the shutdown. Whistles will be blown by the millions as the capital is shut down to force the removal of Yingluck. [PPT: notice the words used refer to a “removal”] We are about to witness a classic people’s revolution against a government that has lost all moral and political legitimacy. [PPT: it remains unclear how this is a “people’s movement” when the consensus is that the majority would still vote for Yingluck, if given a chance]

To stage a people’s revolution without ripping up the Constitution, the number of people on the streets does matter. [PPT: of course, the movement is entirely about another illegal and amoral removal of a popularly-elected government] And Suthep has millions from various walks of life behind him. An unprecedented number of more than a million anti-government protesters showed up on November 24. [PPT: recall that this movement denigrates numbers when they are associated with landslide election victories] But the record was broken again on December 9 – the day Yingluck Shinawatra caved in by declaring a House dissolution. [PPT: compromise is capitualtion in the eyes of the anti-democrats] The people [PPT: propgandists always claim to speak for “the people”] now want back the rights and power they had temporarily given to the government. They do not need a military coup. Unarmed and peaceful, they can reclaim sovereignty over the country from a tyrant government that has proved to be working against the interests of the people. The learning curve will be tough. But democracy will have to be earned the hard way. If the people want to change the country, they have to take action rather than praying for a miracle. [PPT: oddly, he is pessimistic about the military (or monarchy) stepping in. PPT reckons an intervention – military, judicial or palace – is increasingly likely, especially as the military brass is opposing an emergency decree; this is not that different to its failure to respond to airport occupations in 2008]

… If the Yingluck government were to be toppled, it would not only wipe out the political and business interests of the Shinawatras but would also upset the geopolitical interests of the US. [PPT: this indicates how the leadership of the anti-democracy movement and its propagandists have been swayed by the rants of extremists] It is an open secret that the US has already “handcuffed” the Thai government into allowing it to revive the U-tapao military base. Thailand is an important Asian ally in Washington’s campaign to contain China. Oil deals in the Gulf of Thailand are also on the table, not to mention security arrangements in the South China Sea, and the Trans Pacific Partnership free-trade area. That is why the US has openly intervened in Thai affairs by calling on the people to honour the February 2 election. The international media have also been parroting this line of pseudo-democracy, which would extend the tenure of the corrupt Shinawatra regime. [PPT: this again indicates how anti-democracy propagandists have been swayed by the rants of extremists]

[PPT: Thanong then sets out the scenario for the protesters] … Bangkok will be shut down for several days. Suthep has hinted that 10 or 20 days of uprising could finish off the caretaker government. This would pave the way to ending the Thaksin regime once and for all. The people plan to fall back on Article 3 of the Constitution to declare they have taken sovereign power back from Yingluck. There are strong legal and constitutional grounds for doing so: the Yingluck government lost its morality and legitimacy by introducing an amnesty bill to whitewash corruption and those with charged with serious criminal acts. [PPT: he refers to a bill that was defeated before it became law] It also attempted to amend the Constitution to consolidate its power over the Senate. [PPT: amending the constitution is entirely legal and aimed at implementing a long-held election promise to make the senate more democratic, as it was before the 2006 military-palace coup] When the Constitutional Court ruled against that amendment, the Yingluck government and members of the ruling party publicly declared they would not accept the ruling. This blatant challenge to judicial power rendered the government obsolete. [PPT: as far as we are aware, disagreeing with a court decision is not yet grounds for dissolving a government]

After the people invoke their sovereign power as per Article 3 of the Constitution, they will resort to the extraordinary measures afforded by Article 7 to seek royal endorsement for the appointment of an interim prime minister and government. [PPT: neither article of the constitution is considered appropriate for the current situation. However, we have no doubt that, should the anti-democracy lot get hold of government, no law will constrain them] A people’s council will then be formed to lay down foundations for comprehensive reform to end corruption and set Thailand back on the path of genuine democracy. [PPT: he means that the rules of politics will (again) be changed to allow the minority supporting the anti-democracy movement to retain power] This is how events will play out in the coming weeks. Nobody knows the outcome, but the scene could turn ugly. The certainty is that Yingluck and her supporters will not relinquish power easily. [PPT: in fact, the Yingluck government has made several compromises; it is the anti-democracy movement and its Democrat Party that have refused to compromise or accept the results of elections]

Contrast Thanong’s views with those of an entirely less gleeful editorial at the Jakarta Post:

Thailand is sliding into anarchy, which from experience has meant intervention.

Following a spell of military rule, elections will be called or, more likely, forced on the caretakers. A government could also be appointed via some constitutional artifice.

What follows has not varied much – dissatisfaction over blatant or exaggerated misrule brings the establishment class and the masses into open conflict again, to be resolved temporarily by applying a variation of the old formula. The polarisation in the stand-off between the Puea Thai government and the Democrat Party-inspired insurrection shows that the country is more divided than ever – but mind the attendant dangers.

Will Thailand ever get off the wearying cycle of self-flagellation? Its Asean partners admire the Thai insouciance and the nation’s immense gifts, but are dismayed the country is being torn apart by feudal notions of class distinction, demonstrated in an inability to acknowledge the existence and interests of the other.

The worry is that a Thailand that continues on this course would destroy itself, with Asean the loser. If the election called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra does not produce an outcome that is accepted by all Thais, are there alternatives?

Indefinite military rule is anathema to most Thais as it is unnatural, unwanted, and its past record has not been exemplary. A grand coalition, or a government of national unity, is an idea that could be explored, however far-fetched it may sound.

But Thailand’s party political tradition is not strong, and it lacks enough leaders of vision and unquestioned devotion to the idea of equal opportunity. As for rule by the unelected, it could never hold for lack of majority consent.

Would a return to an absolute monarchy be acceptable, as the royal house commands respect while past civilian and military choices have mostly been disappointing? But after the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej is over, how the Thais would regard such a scenario is unknown.

There is another unspeakable, remote possibility – civil war that could lead to a break-up of the kingdom. The present deadlock is different in that there is little room for compromise.

The elites insist on a right to rule, whichever form it takes. The pro-government red shirts, who have felt patronised and put upon, have spoken the first murmurs about secession if a re-elected Puea Thai party were cast aside, or an unelected claque [PPT: clique] were foisted on them. If the election is disrupted or put off, or results that favour the incumbents are voided, Thailand will have entered a fateful phase.



2 responses

4 01 2014
Decency and double standards | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] readers will be bored reading our comments on the Bangkok Post’s very Nation-like op-ed writer Veera Prateepchaikul, who has been a propagandist for the anti-democratic movement […]

4 01 2014
Decency and double standards | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] readers will be bored reading our comments on the Bangkok Post’s very Nation-like op-ed writer Veera Prateepchaikul, who has been a propagandist for the anti-democratic movement […]

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