Pridi and 1932

22 06 2021

Pridi on PridiWith that date approaching again, royalists are on alert.

As part of celebrating 24 June 1932, over the next couple of days, PPT is going to list some English-language sources that are available. One resource we consider indispensable is Pridi on Pridi, translated and edited some 20 years ago by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit.

Pridi on Pridi can be downloaded from Openbase in Thailand and from Library Genesis.

As writings by Pridi, some in new translation and some new translations, these contributions reveal much about Pridi, 1932, and his life.





Updated: Down with Feudalism, Long Live Citizens!

20 10 2020

Rallies today were not as high-profile as over the last few days. Despite a call from Free Youth for supporters to save their energy, large groups rallied in provincial cities and at a couple of sites in Bangkok.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

At the same time, the police look ed silly as they assembled in places where there were few protesters.

Supporters were urged to go to BTS stations and “flash a three-fingered salute after the national anthem ends at 6pm…”. They were also to shout “the protest’s slogan ‘Down with Feudalism, Long Live Citizens’!”

A Free Youth social media post declared:

Let’s rest for the day. For a week, we fought bravely together. But the government is not aware feudalism is about to collapse. Since they ignore out calls, they’d better wait for a big announcement on Wednesday….

On the topic of the regime’s political hearing impairment, readers are encouraged to peruse “The future of Thailand hangs in the balance,” an opinion piece by well-known academics Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker. We think the title slightly misrepresents the content, which really says that the future of Thailand is in the hands of the protesters rater than with the political dinosaurs.

On the topic of feudalism, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the Progressive Movement, has called for “the House of Representatives to set up a committee on reform of the monarchy…”.

Piyabutr said:

“Like it or not. Agree with it or not. Until today, nobody can deny the fact that a large number of people have raised a proposal – for the reform of the monarchy.

“But since Gen Prayut (Chan-o-cha) said at a press briefing that he, as the head of government, is duty-bound to protect the monarchy, how can we find a common way out?

“I would like the House of Representatives to pass a resolution to set up a committee on the reform of the monarchy and make it a safe zone for discussing this matter. It is where the people’s proposal can be pushed for implementation to enable the monarchical institution to co-exist with democracy. This is the only way to protect the monarchy in this era.

“The protection of the monarchy does not mean coercion, suppression or intentional evasion of the issue.”

The challenge to the regime is clear.

Update: The Nation reports that “1,118 academics have signed the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights’ petition demanding that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha step down.” More, they demanded that “the Constitution to be rewritten so it is more democratic and for the monarchy to be reformed.”





Corruption, nepotism and impunity

4 02 2017

In an op-ed at the Bangkok Post, Thitinan Pongsudhirak says this of corruption:

The reason corruption is not forcefully addressed in Thailand is because we don’t know where to start with the powerful few involved. Those at the top who are supposed to eliminate corruption must be clean and willing to confront and prosecute culprits in a networked society where the degrees of social separation are very small. Going after corruption means going after crooks you and your friends and family may know.

We could read this as suggesting there’s a cultural element to corruption, but we’d prefer to think of it as suggestive of nepotism.

PPT is sure that nepotism plays a role. Indeed, the royalist elite and Sino-Thai tycoons are a relatively small ruling class and there are plenty of kinship links. The military and royalist state has also spent a considerable time seeking to make and reinforce such links.

Tucked away in an academic book (Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, eds, Unequal Thailand: Aspects of Income, Wealth and Power, Singapore: NUS Press, 2016) is a chapter by Nualnoi Treerat and Parkpume Vanichaka on elite networking through “special executive courses.” As one reviewer explains:

The interviews with course attendees are of great value for understanding how it is that specific policies benefiting the oligarchy come to fruition. The inclusion of members of “billion families” into the courses brings to light some of the behind-the-scene mechanics of how an oligarch can connect with those in the parliament, military, bureaucracy, university sector, or the media.

Public-sector courses have been offered by the National Security Academy for Government and Private Sector (Po Ro Or), the Office of the Judiciary, the King Prajadhipok Institute, and the Election Commission. Two private-sector courses include the Capital Market Academy by the Stock Exchange of Thailand one by the Chamber of Commerce….

Throw in marriage, sucking up to the monarchy, elite schooling and all of the other things covered by Thailand Tatler and a coherent and connected ruling class is constructed and maintained.

All this lubricates and normalizes elite corruption as part of the process of entitlement. These people believe that they are Thailand.

At the same time, there’s a lot more than nepotism and entitlement at work. At least two other elements of corruption deserve attention. They are impunity and the nature of the “corruption system.”

Ruling class corruption and “unusual wealth” – in some cases, stupendous wealth – these people are also immensely powerful. This means they can literally get away with murder (the “connections” that display power are visible). The ruling class share impunity among themselves and their flunkies.

That’s why no one investigates the “unusual wealth” of those associated with the military junta. That’s why “both the chief of Bangkok police and the nation’s largest beverage company failed to respond to a state watchdog’s demand they clarify their financial relationship.” This refers to Police Lt Gen Sanit Mahathavorn and ThaiBev controlled by the Sirivadhanabhakdi family and the “adviser’s” allowance paid by the company to the cop.

(By the way, we think Khaosod is misreading the documents it links to on the General’s monthly salary; we think his annual salary is 1,425,600 baht, not his monthly salary.)

In addition to nepotism, entitlement and impunity, the mainstay of corruption is that it is a system. Business people, politicians, military and police and bureaucrats know what the system is, and they all benefit from it. The system channels corrupt funds from every level of the organizational hierarchies to the top.

That’s why, for example, cops and military brass are willing to literally pay for positions that see the greatest flows of funds. Think here of being permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport and chairman of the State Railways of Thailand or police chief in Pattaya; the money flows like a giant river. Of course, shares taken at lower levels are the cement that holds the corruption system.





Political networks

14 05 2016

Readers may be interested in a special issue of the University of Kyoto’s latest number of Journal of Southeast Asian Studies on political networks in Asia. All papers can be freely downloaded.

SEAS

There are two articles on Thailand:

Very Distinguished Alumni: Thai Political Networking by Pasuk Phongpaichit, Nualnoi Treerat and Chris Baker. The abstract states:

The creation of elite networks can be explicit and deliberate, especially as a strategy to sustain an oligarchic political system. In Thailand, because of rapid economic and social change, there are few of the established, seemingly natural frameworks for networking found in more settled societies. Those hopeful of joining the power elite come from widely differing backgrounds. Paths through education are very fragmented. There are no clubs and associations that can serve as meeting places. Alumni associations have been brought into existence as one major way to meet the demand for a framework for power networking. This particular associational form is familiar and comfortable because it draws on aspects of collegiate life that most of the participants have experienced. The military pioneered this strategy in the 1960s. When the military’s power and prestige waned in the 1990s, several other institutions emerged to fill the gap. One of the most successful was the Stock Exchange of Thailand, which created the Capital Market Academy (CMA) in 2006. CMA offers academic courses, but its main purpose is to create an alumni association that serves as a network hub linking the main centers of power—bureaucracy, military, judiciary, big business, politicians, and select civil society. Such networks are critical to the rent-seeking activity that is one feature of oligarchic politics.

Contending Political Networks: A Study of the “Yellow Shirts” and “Red Shirts” in Thailand’s Politics by Naruemon Thabchumpon. The abstract is:

This essay investigates two bitter antagonists in the turbulent politics of contemporary Thailand: the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), with its members labeled the “Yellow Shirts,” and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), or the “Red Shirts.” Each of the two foes, typically regarded only as a social movement, actually has a vast network connecting supporters from many quarters. The Yellow Shirt network is associated with the monarchy, military, judiciary, and bureaucracy. The Red Shirt network, organizationally manifest in a series of electorally triumphant parties, is linked to exiled ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his “proxies,” and groups and individuals who opposed the military coup that ousted Thaksin in 2006. The significance of the two antagonistic networks can be gauged from their different influences on democratic processes over several years. Using concepts of political networks to examine the PAD and UDD within the socio-political context in which they arose, the essay focuses on several aspects of the networks: their political conception and perspectives, their organizational structures (for decision making and networking), and the strategies and activities of their members. The essay critically analyzes key and affiliated characters within the PAD and UDD, as well as the functional mechanisms of the networks, in order to evaluate the positions of the two networks in contemporary Thai politics.





Academics on post-coup Thailand

8 05 2016

PPT has snipped this post from the Journal of Contemporary Asia. We have previously posted on a couple of these articles. Most are behind a paywall, with two articles being free:

RJOC_COVER_46-02.inddIssue 3 of Volume 46 (2016) has gone to print and the issue is available electronically at the publisher’s site (with two articles available for free download). This is a Special Issue titled: Military, Monarchy and Repression: Assessing Thailand’s Authoritarian Turn. The details are:

Introduction: Understanding Thailand’s Politics” by Veerayooth Kanchoochat & Kevin Hewison (free download).

The 2014 Thai Coup and Some Roots of Authoritarianism by Chris Baker.

Inequality, Wealth and Thailand’s Politics by Pasuk Phongpaichit.

The Resilience of Monarchised Military in Thailand by Paul Chambers & Napisa Waitoolkiat.

Thailand’s Deep State, Royal Power and the Constitutional Court (1997–2015) by Eugénie Mérieau (free download)

Thailand’s Failed 2014 Election: The Anti-Election Movement, Violence and Democratic Breakdown by Prajak Kongkirati.

Rural Transformations and Democracy in Northeast Thailand by Somchai Phatharathananunth.

Redefining Democratic Discourse in Thailand’s Civil Society by Thorn Pitidol.

The issue includes five book reviews.





2014 and the (further) rise of authoritarianism

6 03 2016

A reader points out that PPT has neglected a couple of academic articles at the Journal of Contemporary Asia. We have now looked at the papers, apparently the first to come out in a special issue of the journal. The issue is to be titled: “Military, Monarchy and Repression: Assessing Thailand’s Authoritarian Turn,” edited by Veerayooth Kanchoochat and Kevin Hewison. Both articles at the publisher’s website are of great interest.

The first is available for free download. Eugénie Mérieau contributes “Thailand’s Deep State, Royal Power and the Constitutional Court (1997–2015),” which the JCA blog says “is an important article assessing the way in which a conservative elite has ruled Thailand and how it seeks to manage succession.”

The abstract for the article is as follows:

This article challenges the network monarchy approach and advocates for the use of the concept of Deep State. The Deep State also has the monarchy as its keystone, but is far more institutionalised than the network monarchy accounts for. The institutionalised character of the anti-democratic alliance is best demonstrated by the recent use of courts to hamper the rise of electoral politics in a process called judicialisation of politics. This article uses exclusive material from the minutes of the 1997 and 2007 constitution-drafting assemblies to substantiate the claim that the Deep State used royalists’ attempts to make the Constitutional Court a surrogate king for purposes of its own self-interested hegemonic preservation.

The second paper is by Chris Baker, titled “The 2014 Thai Coup and Some Roots of Authoritarianism.” Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall. His abstract states:

Thailand is the only country currently ruled by a coup-installed military government. The 2014 coup aimed not only to abolish the influence of Thaksin Shinawatra but also to shift Thailand’s politics in an authoritarian direction. While the army authored the coup, the professional and official elite played a prominent role in engineering the coup and shaping political reforms. This article examines some historical antecedents of this authoritarian turn, first in the broad trends of Thailand’s modern political history, and second in the emergence and political evolution of the Bangkok middle class.





Unequal Thailand

2 12 2015

Readers may not have noticed the publication of a new book called Unequal Thailand. Aspects of Income, Wealth and Power. Published by NUS Press, this book is a collection edited by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker.

The blurb states:Unequal_Thailand

Extreme inequalities in income,wealth and power lie behind Thailand’s political turmoil. What are the sources of this inequality?  Why does it persist, or even increase when the economy grows? How can it be addressed?

The contributors to this important study—Thai scholars, reformers and civil servants—shed light on the many dimensions of inequality in Thailand, looking beyond simple income measures to consider land ownership, education, finance, business structures and politics. The contributors propose a series of reforms in taxation, spending and institutional reform that can address growing inequality.

Inequality is among the biggest threats to social stability in Southeast Asia, and this close study of a key Southeast Asian country will be relevant to regional policy-makers, economists and business decision-makers, as well as students of oligarchy and inequality more generally.

There are chapters on land, education, wages, capital markets, tax, networking and local power.





The throwback

17 04 2015

Reuters tells us that “[w]hen the army took over last May, most observers expected something similar to previous coups: a brief interregnum, and then a transfer to civilian government. That hasn’t happened.”

We’d point out that PPT was not one of the “most observers.” This military dictatorship has always seen the need to “avoid the mistakes” of 2006-7.

The Reuters story is correct to observe, as PPT has several times, that this regime “is a throwback to the kind of sustained military dictatorship last experienced by Thailand in the depths of the Cold War…”. These are reported as the words of commentator and scholar Chris Baker. He adds:

Prayuth has got this opinion of himself and his power which has become more and more evident in the last couple of months, really, that he thinks he can do anything….

There’s much in this. A Bangkok Post of Prayuth’s “report” to the nation indicates that Prayuth’s opinion of himself is high indeed.

As if we didn’t know, he considers that his hard work – repressing political opponents, arresting hundreds, “fixing” politics for the royalist elite, using the draconian lese majeste law and more – is under-appreciated. Clearly, he reckons he’s a star.

He’s apparently convinced that his orders are just the thing for Thailand:

I just ordered the production of electric train cars. It’s easy. We came up with several prototypes but few have been put into use. I’ll see to that. From now on, research projects must be done only in pre-determined fields and they will be financed until they’re successful….

Megalomania is always a problem for the people when a dictator is in control.

He also warned  – that was at all necessary – that: “[t]he more you criticise me, the more I do and the stricter I am with laws. I’ve been well rested after the long holiday and I’m ready for anything…”. He threatened increased use of Article 44.

A throwback indeed.





Elections, shooters and pretenders

7 02 2014

This is a bit of a news roundup from PPT, of things we’d like to say more on but just don’t have time.

We just saw a report by Kocha Olarn who is CNN International’s producer in Bangkok. He was caught in the shooting at Laksi last Saturday, and contrary to what General Prayuth Chan-ocha has said, he was initially with pro-election/red shirt marchers. His account is of how they were attacked and shot by anti-democrat shooters. The shooters he saw seem like well-trained military types, apparently using snipers and two-man teams of shooters, with the latter shown in the video. They have body armor and other pictures have shown radios. They really look like military. Little wonder that Prayuth has been so voluble in denial and antagonistic.

At New Mandala, Nick Nostitz has just posted his account of the Laksi events, with his usual graphic photos.

After the anti-democrat shooting, there was the 2014 election. Chris Baker has an analysis of the voting at New Mandala and Bangkok Pundit has another.

Failed ministerOld prince Mom Ratchawong Pridiyathorn Devakula caused a kerfuffle yesterday calling on the government to resign via an open letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

(Actually, we should say “young” as the wealthy prince – he an his wife were worth 1 billion baht back in 2009 – is only in his late 60s, and most of the old duffers who think they should be running the country are a lot older than this!)

He’s been praised by the anti-democrats, but given that he is one of them, this is no surprise (see his “patriotic” pocket square in the picture). Opponents accused Pridiyathorn of wanting to be an appointed premier if Yingluck’s government could be ditched. In fact, Pridiyathorn has a longish history of craving high position and was talked about as a possible premier immediately after the 2006 military coup. Instead that position went to someone even closer to the king.

Pridiyathorn became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, and this saw one of the most spectacular failures ever in Thailand’s modern political history. He lasted just a few months, with his most disastrous decision being his decision on capital controls. We quote Wikipedia:

Pridiyathorn instituted capital controls to attempt to reverse a strengthening of the baht, but reversed the measure after the Thai stock market crashed, destroying US$20 billion of market value in one day. Pridiyathorn later noted that “This was not a mistake…”.

He obviously believes in himself and his ability to provide “advice” despite this catastrophic crash-and-burn failure. The old elite has nothing if not unshakable confidence in their own greatness. And, he is taken seriously by those on the anti-democrat side.

And on pretending, the Constitutional Court has been at it again. Official red shirt Weng Tojirakarn has criticised the Courts “verdict that anti-government protesters are merely exercising constitutional rights of assembly.” He says: “The verdict of the court contradicts with reality…”. That’s true of most of the court’s politicized decisions. He also points out that court:

insisted that the PCAD is simply exercising the rights of peaceful assembly – which is protected under the Constitution – in response to the government′s pursuit of a legislation that would have absolved the corruption conviction of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Weng asked: “I′m curious whether the court is in league with Mr. Suthep…”. That would seem a rhetorical question.





Pandering to the minority?

30 12 2013

The Bangkok Post has joined The Nation in apparently pandering to the anti-democratic movement by naming it as the “People of the Year.” It refers to the “great mass uprising” or “muan maha prachachon” as a kind of middle class revolution that could “go down as a major political landmark and point of progress in Thai history.” The Post adds: “Whether the newly emerged force … will grow into a positive movement that brings about political progress remains to be seen.”

In other words, the selection is, like that of The Nation, either a bit of anti-democratic campaigning, pandering and hope or it is a bit like TIME magazine choosing Hitler as Man of the Year in 1938 which appears as fascination with a demagogue. We don’t know, but we do wonder about the Post’s pitch on this “landmark.”

Let’s look more closely at the claims made in this campaign by the Post (the indented bits are from the newspaper’s story):

Discontent, it is said, is the first necessity of progress.It’s discontent that lies at the hearts of the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to Bangkok streets since last month to protest against the amnesty law that sought to absolve all crimes and corruption cases from 2006 onwards without any clear justifiable reasons.

It’s discontent against the flagrant abuse of power by a majority of democratically elected representatives who not only voted to pass a law that would have rendered the justice process meaningless but did so at 4:25am _ unbecoming conduct by parliamentarians for such highly questionable legislation.

This is true, as far as it goes. There is no doubt that the ill-conceived amnesty bill was a disaster for all involved. It is true that the amnesty bill motivated many who have demonstrated. However, it is also true that red shirts, both official and others, were also opposed to the amnesty bill. They are not demonstrating.

As the story later states, the bill has since been withdrawn. It might have been added that it never became law.

It is also true that the opposition movement is not primarily about this bill. The anti-democracy movement is primarily interested in destroying what it identifies as the “Thaksin regime” and prevent an election before the rules of elections can again be changed to allow minority interests to control politics.

The almost spontaneous uprising against the draft law started with tens of thousands who joined then Democrat MP and former party secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban at a rally on Samsen Road, and grew into hundreds of thousands within weeks.

It is important to recognize that this anti-democratic movement was formed in 2005 and has been active ever since, seeing various levels of support. The opposition to the “Thaksin regime,” as Thongchai Winichakul points out in an excellent op-ed,  may have begun in late November, but this is “only one battle in Thailand’s protracted political struggle since the violent protests of 2006 that ended with a military coup.”

In fact, the lineage and allies is: People’s Alliance for Democracy (since 2005), Democrat Party (since 2005), Dhamma Army and Santi Asoke (since 2005), Group of 40 Senators (since 2005), palace and military (2006), judiciary (since 2006), No Colors/Multi Colors (from about 2010), Green Politics Group (since 2007), Thai Patriot Network (since 2008), Siam Samakkhi (since 2011), Network of Citizen Volunteers to Protect the Land (2012), Pitak Siam (which began its demonstrations in the same month in 2012), Sayam Prachapiwat (2012), the White Mask group, People’s Army Against the Thaksin Regime (2013), and now the misleadingly monikered People’s Democratic Reform Committee (2013). Each of these groups -and we are sure we have missed some of them – has had overlapping membership and leadership. Essentially, a small group of rightist leaders have worked from 2005 to mobilize and bring down elected governments.

The spirit of the 2013 uprising, the will to mass together to challenge injustice and the force for change it engendered, has earned the mass uprising, or muan maha prachachon as it has become known, the Bangkok Post’s 2013 People of the Year distinction.

PPT can’t help thinking about the injustice heaped upon every single elector who has voted again and again for the governments the majority wants, only to see them overturned by unelected minorities. We can’t recall, but were red shirts the Post’s Persons of the Year in 2010 for their campaign for an election?

It is the first time that white-collar working-class people and business entrepreneurs have spoken up and demanded they be treated as informed citizens who are willing to engage in participatory democracy, in activities that go beyond casting their ballot on voting days.

When Sondhi Limthongkul formed the People’s Alliance for Democracy six years ago, only a few thousand people in these classes joined him as the so-called yellow-shirt demonstrators….

This is far from factual. Business people have been funding PAD’s demonstrations since 2005 and have been involved in demonstrations previously – recall the 1992 “mobile phone mob.” The “white-collar working class” is an odd term and seems little more than an attempt to identify middle-class protesters who have come out time and again to oppose elections and pro-Thaksin governments. We have to say we are seriously confused by the claim about Sondhi and PAD. The Bangkok Post’s archives tell a different story.

Indeed, the … movement … is not without flaws.

As the uprising against the political amnesty law grew under Mr Suthep’s leadership, it morphed into a demonstration to oust the Yingluck Shinawatra government and so-called “Thaksin regime” _ a term used to refer to the influence of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on politics and more loosely to the tyranny of the majority.

It is revealing that the Post uses the term “tyranny of the majority” with no interrogation. The term is usually used to refer to a situation where decisions made by a majority mean its interests are so central that those of an individual or minority are ignored in a manner that constitutes oppression. The anti-democrats, however, use this terminology to refer to the Shinawatra clan and associates getting all that they want. They also use it to complain that legislation the Democrat Party doesn’t like gets passed in parliament.  In reality, the Yingluck government has repeatedly backed down on its electoral promises in order to reduce opposition. Recall what political scientists were saying 6-12 months ago: the Yingluck strategy has been, according to Duncan McCargo, to cool political tensions. Kevin Hewison made similar claims in a 2012 article at Political Insight. None of this sounds either tyrannical or despotic.

While its demand seems to resonate with many people _ hundreds of thousands rose up every time Mr Suthep called on them to march _ it is questionable whether the movement is for a “less flawed democracy” as many demonstrators have claimed, or simply “less democracy” as Mr Suthep’s proposal seems to suggest.

Political analyst Chris Baker is cited by the Post:

He said the movement’s rejection of the one-person, one-vote basic principle of political equality is clear.

“Some supporters have clearly said they think Bangkok people should have more weight in the elections than non-Bangkok people. This is important. We outside observers now know what this movement stands for…”.

Thammasat political scientist Kasian Tejapira is also quoted:

He said what is going on is not different from a putsch. It’s just being done with support from the masses instead of military tanks and weapons. “The muan maha prachachon is a capitalist movement that will lead to the tyranny of the minority…”.

Despite this clarity, the Post still it is fascinated by the anti-democratic movement. Part of the reason for this is explained by Democrat Party stalwart and former ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan:

He said the rural electorate was awakened and made aware of its political power and potency in an open political process over a decade ago.

Now, the other end of the political spectrum including people who were politically passive have become agitated by the ways things are going.

“Deep grievances are being articulated against a rampant and unprecedented level of corruption, abuse of power, cronyism in business, nepotism in the bureaucracy, intervention in the check-and-balance mechanisms, control of government media and intimidation of free and independent news agencies.

“[They are also upset about] pervasive and systematic violations of human and civil rights, impunity for law enforcement personnel, ruinous populist programmes and ill-conceived government projects. All of these lead to a profile of anger, frustration, bitterness, emotional pain and political divide on the streets of Bangkok,” Mr Surin said.

It is a bit difficult to know where to begin with Surin’s position. We do agree on the political awakening of a decade or so ago. However, as we have shown above, the claim that “the other end of the political spectrum including people who were politically passive” is false. It would only be true if there hadn’t been a 1992, a PAD or a coup. The POst adds to this:

There are those who attend rallies because they want “good people” to govern the country, university students who want to rid the country of conflicts of interest, and those critical of the government’s environmental policies.

A common theme of the protests is the crowd’s opposition to corruption.

“It’s the corruption, stupid!” former finance minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala wrote on Facebook.

He was referring to former United States president Bill Clinton’s phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid!” which alerted American voters that the key issue during the 1992 US election was not the war against Iraq but the poor economy.

To be factual, the phrase was not Clinton’s but of one of his campaign strategists. That aside, it is fair to observe that none of these desires are absent from the majority who support pro-Thaksin parties. At the same time, each of these claims has been made since PAD came into existence and the double standards are breathtaking: Suthep has a long history of nepotism and cronyism, not to mention corruption claims; Sondhi Limthongkul has an equally long history of corrupt practices; the Democrat Party had to leave office in 1995 over corruption claims; and when Abhisit was in power, the claims of corruption were from red shirt opponents.

Political commentator Anek Laothamatas is also cited:

The Pheu Thai Party, which has focused on winning votes from the rural base and believed _ falsely _ that electoral victory would silence the minority middle class, must rethink their strategy to regain its support….

He’s right on that. The majority has been repeatedly told by the minority – the middle classes and elite – that electoral victories mean nothing. In democracies that take hold, these classes usually make compromises that allow the poorer majority a say in politics. It seems Thailand’s minority wants another path.