Anti-democrat promotes “reform”

15 10 2014

What do you get when anti-democrats shout about reform? Pretty much what would be expected. You get all kinds of proposals that limit democracy and deliver power to unelected elites.

At Khaosod it is reported that the verbose and arrogant royalist ideologue Chai-Anan Samudavanija has blabbed about the anti-democrat desires on “reform.” We concentrate on that report. Bangkok Pundit has also blogged on these comments as reported in The Nation.

Chai-Anan wants just 77 MPs. In the parliament that the illegal military junta threw out, there were 500.

Chai-Anan’s thinking, if that is what it is called, is “to limit the influence of political parties.” He claims: “If there are many MPs, there’s more chance of corruption…”.

Given that there would only be one MP for each province, with vast disparities in the “representation” this would provide, Chai-Anan’s claim that there would be more local oversight of the MP election process seems bizarre. The idea that it would “decrease the influence of political parties” is closer to the mark.

Harking back to the era of Prem Tinsulanonda’s unelected premiership, which Chai-Anan helped bring to an end, he suggested that parliament should not have the “power to elect a Prime Minister,” claiming that this would reduce “conflict of interests.” He didn’t specify “who would have the authority to name a Prime Minister,” but Chai-Anan’s preference would be for the great and good – a.k.a. the network monarchy – to select a “moral” person.

He says that “correct democratic governance needs to have quality people…. Therefore, the solution is to create quality people who are not easily fooled, who value rights more than money, who do not easily believe in rumours or blindly follow their leaders.”

Kahosod rightly points out:

Chai-anad is considered a prominent thinker in Thailand’s Yellowshirt faction, which consists mostly of urban conservatives who view rural pro-Thaksin voters as “uneducated” country folk whose votes have been purchased by politicians.

As has been the case for decades royalists like Chai-Anan, who once touted themselves as “liberals,” are now promoting ideas that are in line with 1950s conceptions of “Thai-style democracy.”

To understand the position of Chai-Anan in the development of ideas about “Thai governance,” some academics have produced accounts worth considering. On the failures of this “liberalism,” Michael Connors is useful. Also see his article in Journal of Contemporary Asia, available for free download. On Thai-style democracy and its genesis in royalist and military dictatorship, click this link for a PDF of a chapter by Kevin Hewison and Kengkij Kitirianglarp.

PPT reckons that Thai-style democracy is the model for an anti-liberal, anti-democratic politics that the military dictatorship wants its puppet National Reform Council to adopt.


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