Academic confusion

16 02 2014

When elements of the elite get mobilized, making their usual claims about the need for (false) compromise, appointed prime ministers and “national governments,” often they have a gaggle of “academic” handmaidens ready to support them.

In the past, “academics” have often been the elite’s minions, providing “advice,” acting as “spokesmen,” or simply providing “credibility” to some nasty regimes.

So it is that another bunch of anti-democratic academics have been putting forth old and tired “solutions” for new conflicts.

At The Nation it is reported that[a]cademics are divided over whether the country should opt for an appointed PM to resolve the political deadlock…”.  That isn’t really the gist of the report, but this should be a non-question.

Any academic is is not simply beholden to the elite or a propagandist should agree with the only serious researcher amongst them,  Thammasat University political scientist Prajak Kongkiarti.

He pointed out that the “only way out is to follow democratic rules…”. He was supported by “Chulalongkorn University lecturer and constitutional expert Pornsan Liangbunlertchai” who pointed out that the rules established by the military junta-backed regime in 2007 do not allow for a non-elected or appointed premier. Of course, many on the royalist side simply ignore all rules.

Another academic pointed out: “If you don’t want elected Cabinet, the only way is to tear up the charter…”. That may not be bad thing, as it is undemocratic. However, at the moment it remains the basic law.

The “division” seems to be only the yellow-shirted ideologue and “National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) former rector Sombat Thamrongthanyawong [who] supported the PDRC’s push for use of Article 3 and 7 to pave the way for an appointed PM.” Of course he does. He’s been on the anti-democrat stage!

His illogical argument is: “The charter writers put these articles in case a political vacuum takes place – otherwise they would not have written them…”. But there is no political vacuum, just an angry elite who want all voting to be only for their Democrat Party. If that can’t be the case, they want other anti-democratic “solutions.”

Meanwhile, at the Bangkok Post, a so-called “peace expert,” who just happened to be a “former member of the [2006 military] coup-installed National Legislative Assembly,” droned on about the “legitimacy challenges that the ruling party is facing and [which are] dragging down the whole nation…”.

Chulalongkorn University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies director Surichai Wun’gaeo said Yingluck Shinawatra should “reach out to veteran politicians _ such as former Democrat Party leader Pichai Rattakul and former House speaker Uthai Pimchaichon _ rather than those within her own circle for support in creating a meaningful step towards negotiations.” Of course he would say that, but the Democrat Party leadership has rejected Bichai several times.

And this yellow-shirted “academic” wants elite-level political solutions. This is the way it has always been done, but that road should be abandoned along with other unconstitutional frameworks.

Suthachai Yimprasert, an assistant history professor at Chulalongkorn University pointed out “the impasse continues as the rival groups have not been able to overthrow her administration via the ‘traditional’ way [a coup] and a new administrative body has not emerged or been formed and state mechanisms cannot function.”

Ekachai Chainuvati, who is a Siam University law lecturer, “said it was a pity that the people had been held hostage for several months as judicial collusion with other independent agencies was complementing the PDRC’s efforts to unconstitutionally bring down the ruling party.”

The “divide” amongst academics seems between democrats and anti-democrats, with the latter simply at the beck-and-call of the anti-democratic elite.

Democrat Party or Party Abhisit?

28 04 2013

It is telling that Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva is opposing widespread calls for the reform of his party. That might be expected as calls for reform are usually attached to quieter grumbles that Abhisit is politically tainted by his term as leader, association with the military and his murderous attempts to crush the red shirts in 2009 and 2010. At the same time, his resistance and his control of the party via a few elite, English-educated cronies is indicative of his authoritarian streak and his pompous stubbornness when in government.

Oddly, in one report at the Bangkok Post, Abhisit is declared to have “backed proposals by his deputy to reform the party’s structure ahead of the next general election.” The most recent calls for change have come from deputy party leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot and party stalwart Bhichai Rattakul.

Abhisit downplayed Alongkorn’s suggestions lumping them in with “different ideas for party reform” put forward by “several party MPs.” He has been even more dismissive of Bhichai, having others claim that the senior figure is in bed with the party’s “enemies.”Abhisit

Abhisit demands that reform “remain an internal affair at this stage” and arguing that such change and debate “could be exploited by the party’s opponents to create conflict among members and confusion among the public…”. In other words, Abhisit is trying to squash reform and in doing so threatens his own tenuous position and risks a party split. He is supported by several party members clustered around former leader Chuan Leekpai, who has no track record of reform or change in the royalist party.

Abhisit’s line is that “party members should focus on their role as the opposition to monitor the government…”, suggesting to PPT that he is content to have his party stay in opposition with no new ideas and stifling any alternative voices.

The negativity associated with Abhisit’s stonewalling is highlighted in another report at the Bangkok Post that refers to the Democrat Party having “been pounded from all sides to undergo reform and become more appealing to voters, [but] the Democrat Party is finding that any efforts it makes to instigate change are meeting with resistance.” The resistance from the Party Abhisit cronies.

This report refers to the calls for change being attacked by Chuan, using the same language as Abhisit as he “insists the party’s internal affairs should not be laundered in public.” Heaven forbid that the royalist party should engage in public debate! It seems that the party that provided no democracy in government can not allow democracy in its own structures.

The report states that many in the party:

want party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to listen to members who are not in his inner circle…. Mr Abhisit’s inner circle consists of young, foreign-educated MPs such as Songkhla’s Sirichoke Sopha and party list-MP Chavanond Intarakomalyasut. Other stalwarts with close ties to Mr Abhisit are members of the so-called ”Gang of Four” _ MP for Trang Sathit Wongnongtoey, party list-MPs Anchalee Wanich Theppabutr and Siriwan Prasajaksatru and MP for Phitsanulok Juti Krairiksh.

This group is the one that stood behind Abhisit in his kowtowing to the military and his government’s murderous attacks on red shirts, demanding that there be no compromise with the “enemy.” This group seems to be the one arguing that:

Only Mr Abhisit, Mr Chuan and former party secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban know what the Democrats’ key problems requiring reform are.

Given that these are the opponents of reform, this claim is nothing more than recognition that the Democrat Party, which abandoned democratic ideas, is essentially owned by a coterie of elitists and royalists who run it as a fiefdom.

Abhisit: damaged political goods

25 02 2013

PPT hasn’t commented on the Bangkok gubernatorial election to date but a story at The Nation causes us to change that to focus on former prime minister and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Puea Thai Party chairman Chaturon Chaisang has criticized Abhisit and the Democrat Party for accusing the Puea Thai Party and its Bangkok governor of “setting fire to the city.” This is a reference to the burning of Central World and other places (see PPT’s most recent post) and is the same tactic used by the Democrat Party in its failed July 2011 election campaign. Abhisit

Chaturon claimed that Abhisit increasingly desperate: “Abhisit fears that he might be removed as party leader if MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra fails to win re-election.”

Chaturon seemed to be referring to an attack on Abhisit by former Democrat Party leader Bhichai Rattakul who opined that “Abhisit had failed to seek senior party members’ help with the Bangkok election campaign, and that he should step down if Sukhumbhand is defeated.”

While Democrat Party functionaries and Abhisit allies like Ongart Klampaiboon might have “confidence that Sukhumbhand would finally take a lead in the governor race…”, Abhisit remains damaged political goods.

Sending out troops to shoot down demonstrators is a black stain on Abhisit’s political resume that can never be erased.

Democrat Party extremism

31 08 2012

Veera Prateepchaikul had an interesting op-ed at the Bangkok Post a few days ago. It indicates how the Democrat Party, while always royalist, has moved to a more radical ultra-royalist position in recent years, most notably under the “leadership” of Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Bhichai Rattakul has been one of the Democrat Party’s patrician leaders for many years. He knew Khuang Aphaiwong, one of the founders of the party, and claims that Khuang, also a member of the 1932 People’s Party and who claimed royal lineage in Cambodia. A bit like Abhisit much later, Khuang became prime minister for a third time in 1947 following a military coup, and it was the military and royalists who hoisted him to the position. Bhichai claims Khuang encouraged him into politics, and from 1969, served 9 terms in parliament. He was head of the Democrat Party for 9 years and served as parliamentary president and House speaker. He held several ministerial appointments over the time he was in parliament.

This all means that Bhichai is Democrat Party through and through. He’s now 87 years old and remains the deputy chair of the Democrat Party’s policy advisory group. Hence, it is easy to imagine the surprise in the party when Bhichai appears on the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra VoiceTV to criticize his own party.

One of Bhichai’s criticisms was that “he was frustrated by the colour-coded political impasse of the last few years and tried to do something about it – but his own party blocked his efforts.” He went on to criticize the Democrat Party over what Veera mistakenly calls “an unruly incident involving Democrat MPs in the House of Representatives on May 30.”

It wasn’t an “unruly” incident, it was a violent disruption of parliament that included an assault on the House Speaker while parading Nazi salutes. Abhisit, who goes on about the “rule of law,” defended his party by saying they didn’t break the law, so it was okay. At the time, in The Nation, Abhisit “explained” that his party: “had no choice but to be rude [sic.] in order to block a dangerous legislative move that could bring the country to ruin…”. He added: “Insolence [sic.] on the part of the Democrats was unavoidable because they were denied the right to speak on the House floor…”. Abhisit, by defending the thuggishness by his less than democratic party, showed no leadership or principles. Then, PPT commented:

What has been most startling this week is the manner in which Democrat Party politicians have behaved in parliament. With physical attacks on other parliamentarians, extreme rancor, and several Nazi salutes, they have shown a disdain for parliament, parliamentary practice and process, and for the democratic politics of which parliament is a most significant institution.

It is this behavior that caused Bhichai to criticize his party and demanded that it “make an apology.” The response from the so-called Democrat Party and its supporters was intense:

Shortly after the interview was broadcast and posted on the social media, the savage criticism began. He was accused of having been bought by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, of betraying the party and of being a chameleon.

Veera says that the aged politician “appears unperturbed by the offensive remarks” and that he went on to be interviewed in Matichon. While he claimed Abhisit did have some principles – PPT hasn’t seen them – he was also critical. Essentially, Bhichai seems to say that Abhisit is ignoring the older, more liberal, members of the party. Essentially Abhisit has thrown his lot in with the extremists in the party who support the ultra-royalists.

Explaining how Abhisit rejected reconciliation, Bhichai explained a plan “about it two years ago” when he had consulted a few “higher ups” about bringing Thaksin back to Thailand. This deserves citing in full:

Then he elaborated on his plan, which he claimed Thaksin accepted, which was as follows: He would fly there to meet Thaksin and would convince him to accept the two-year jail term imposed by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions and they would then both fly back to Thailand together.

Upon arrival in Thailand, they would travel together to Siriraj Hospital for an audience with HM the King, in Thaksin’s capacity as a former prime minister, and seek a royal pardon. If an audience was not granted, Mr Bhichai would have promised to ask senior palace officials to accept a bouquet of flowers from Thaksin as well as his petition for a royal pardon.

After that, both would travel by car to Bang Kwang maximum-security prison. Mr Bhichai said he would have spent time in prison with Thaksin, but in another cell, until a royal pardon was granted. This was a guarantee to the ex-premier that his days in prison would be limited, not the full two years of the sentence imposed by the court.

He felt the deal was a win-win solution to Thailand’s protracted political conflict.

Bhichai says that this was acceptable to Thaksin, but then Prime Minister Abhisit rejected it. Abhisit said that there could be no pardon and that Thaksin’s “conviction must stand.” The result, according to Bhichai, is that the Democrat Party gave Thaksin no “way out.” And, with a no compromise position, Abhisit and the Democrat Party left themselves no “way out” either.

Bhichai’s approach to political compromise is seen as anachronistic by the now extremist Democrat Party and the criticism of his “revelations” has been unending.