Self congratulations

25 04 2017

There’s very little scope for humility among the members of the junta and its minions which together constitute the military dictatorship.

The latest example of arrogance is in an “interview” with charter junkie and career anti-democrat Meechai Ruchupan by The Nation’s Suthichai Yoon.

A couple of decades ago, Suthichai portrayed himself as a journalist opposed to military dictatorship. Now he is an ardent supporter and his “interviews” and columns are propaganda pieces for anti-democrats.

Breathlessly, Suthichai asks how many times Meechai has been involved with writing constitutions. Of course, Meechai has been the rightists most important assets in opposing democratization, and this is why he claims roles in writing five charters, all military-backed constitutions. He also claims he “had parts in writing of the 1997 and 2007 charters.” He adds: “I did not help write them but I was in the Parliament and I helped checking and correcting. I also countersigned them after the royal endorsement.”

That’s quite a record of getting things wrong. Meechai’s task has been to ensure that royalist ideology is maintained and that popular sovereignty has been limited.

The aged Meechai complains that writing the military’s latest charter was exhausting for him: “It takes a lot of effort. Every day after work I always have to lay down very still. This is because it is not only the Constitution but also other legislation that is my job. This takes a lot of brainpower.”

We doubt the latter. Meechai essentially followed orders (orders he would have mostly agreed with). In fact, it was the military junta that dictated the terms of the charter, and with a puppet Constitution Drafting Committee and a puppet National Legislative Assembly, getting the required document approved was a doddle.

Suthichai then asks a seemingly rhetorical question that is is for the yellow audience. He asks if the new charter will keep those nasty “politicians” in line.

Yes, says Meechai.

He then asks if the military charter is durable. Meechai’s response is revealing:

Some said that when His Majesty the King presided over the ceremony to promulgate the Constitution it was the first time in 48 years. I thought to myself that this charter could be around for at least 48 years, too. I take it as a lucky number and think it is how long the charter will last.

He says this because the military makes it almost impossible to change the charter. Only a truly democratic revolution will change it, and the junta reckons they have seen this off.

Suthichai then allows Meechai to highlight his own greatness by asking how influential Meechai was in the process:

… I admit the wordings are mine because I was the one typing it for everyone to see in the screens. And we debated until we reached agreement. Also, we had to think about people outside the room, too. We tried to compromise.

Compromise and debate were actually missing from the process, along with any notion of public consultation. Debate was in a narrow circle of military and royalists.

Suthichai then allows Meechai to lie a bit when he asks, “Are you worried about criticism that you did this for the junta? Meechai’s response is a fairy tale:

No. We have treated the NCPO as everyone else. We sent letters to gather opinions from them. The Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) members had never seen PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. And the PM also left us alone.

We might believe that The Dictator stayed away, but only because he had a puppet drafter and puppet assemblies. But everyone knows that The Dictator is a meddler and there can be no doubt that he directed and coached, and the public record shows it. In fact, when Meechai states, “… there were no orders from the NCPO, I insist,” he is lying. He then adds:

… in the meeting we have Maj Gen Veera Rojanavas who is close to the PM. He only took notes and reported to the PM. I also told him to report to the PM too, assuring that the charter would be done in time.

Meechai then engages in considerable propaganda for the junta: no, the military won’t form a political party; the junta does not have a political base; the “election” will be held as soon as possible; The Dictator works hard and he does not want to stay on.

We can’t wait to see what further role the aged Meechai gets in a military-dominated future government.





Our “reform” is not your reform

14 08 2015

Chairman of the puppet National Reform Council Thienchay Kiranandana is reported by The Nation, from a publicity stunt chaired by the Nation Multimedia Group’s Suthichai Yoon, as saying that “he was never concerned the military would use him.”

In fact, this is what he was asked and how he replied:

When you first accepted the invitation to chair the NRC, did you think that there was a risk you would be used by the military?

It’s not a risk, but a must, as the country had no way out. As the time came, we knew that it was such a big bet because if we didn’t do it now, how would we be able to tell our children why we didn’t do it when we had had a chance to do it for them and the country?

That doesn’t sound anything like “he was never concerned the military would use him.” But this is a kind of fairy tale, creating an impression of a “reform” process that was not directed by a military junta. Confirming tutelage he says:

I cannot put it in words, but we at the NRC know how many “orders” we have torn up. Actually, I prefer to call them “requests”.

Thienchay tries to make the “reform” process something other than the military and royalist elite’s “reforms.”

He refers to “public hearings” as if there was an atmosphere where free expression was allowed. He tries to make it a part of a legal process by stating that the “reform blueprint is not isolated, but has been placed under the constitution.” That too is a draft document that has been established and tutored by the military dictatorship. He talks about the “heated debate” on reform and elections by saying this represents the “the beginning of true democracy.” In fact, the debate is limited by the military and is mainly a discussion between the military and right-wing “reform before election” ideologues.

The extent of junta control is illustrated when he is asked about the “referendum and voting on the charter”:

They are sensitive. I will not answer.

He demonstrates how his version of “reform” requires “special powers”:

We want to see every issue placed before us for reform. You don’t have to use absolute power under Article 44 for all issues, but you may have to start working on every issue with a different set of resolutions, so we can more toward a strong democracy. That’s our goal.

When asked if “reform” and those pushing it are “addicted” to special powers (i.e. martial law, Article 44, military coup), he says:

Sometimes we may need a mechanism to help us reset the system or fix long-standing issues. If you say that is an addiction, well, if it’s in small doses, I don’t think we will get addicted.

That’s a yes.

In fact, in a related story, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha tells the real story of how his junta’s “reforms” will be taken forward. The special powers will, in part, be a National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Commission (NSRRC) [that] … will ensure that the subsequent government continues with implementing reform plans…”. Prayuth “explained:

The future government must implement reforms and this panel would be responsible for making sure that happens. Do you think an elected government would do it voluntarily?… I don’t think they will…”. He will never trust a “politician” and most especially those who are the people’s choice.





The assault on elections and on the U.S. Embassy

15 12 2013

This video has been doing the rounds. It shows hardcore People’s Alliance for Democracy propagandist นิติธร ล้ำเหลือ / Nittithorn Lamlua speaking on 14 December on the anti-democratic movement stage. The video is longish, but at about 8:10 minutes, he states: “We have to have reform. We can’t have elections because elections are a reversal for democracy.” He then links this to a threat to occupy the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok for daring to declare that Thailand should sort out political differences through elections.

Of course, on things U.S., there is support for the anti-democratic movement from various scholars connected to royalists and Thailand’s right since the days of the CIA and the U.S. supporting and promoting anti-communist and authoritarian regimes fronted by the military. So it is that the royalists have wheeled out the relatively little-known American Stephen B. Young to support the anti-Thaksin and anti-democratic movement.Young

We have previously mentioned Young as a royalist commentator, and he heads up his own organization, the Caux Round Table – some wags call it the Faux Round Table. We’d say it is Young’s Round Table, for as the Wikipedia post shows, it is about shameless self-promotion, and pretty much unsuccessful at that. While the royalists like to say Young is a “scholar,” this is a misrepresentation. His major publication appears to have close connections to CIA-funded operations and drew CIA praise. His other publications are his own rants published in pretty meaningless places with limited credibility.

Young is pretty much a talking head for the nonsense party, invoking racism, old-fashioned and discredited semi-academic notions about power in Thailand and a plethora of other dopey claims about money politics, vote-buying, and about “farang” and their lack of understanding of Thailand and its politics.

We note that Young is also a farang, and is “interviewed” by the toady Suthichai Yoon, who accepts the racism and the false claims with considerable enthusiasm.

One remarkable exchange is on elections. Suthichai asks if elections – the will of the majority – proves anything about democracy. Young replies: “It proves nothing.” His next claim indicates that he is both a poor “academic” and a poor propagandist. He says Stalin had elections. He says Hitler had elections. But he makes no point about this. He does not talk of context and political systems. He is a propagandist with little knowledge of the politics of Hitler’s rise or of the nature of Communist regimes.

He then makes comparisons with populists in Latin America and their use of elections to get the support of the poor by attacking the rich. The result under Peron in Argentina, he says, was the pauperization of the country. But, this has no relevance for Thailand. Thaksin did not attack the rich when he came to power; he supported them. Generally economic growth, poverty reduction and reductions in GINIs have been associated with the so-called populism of Thaksin and pro-Thaksin governments.

In other words, Young is making stuff up and crafting a story that he knows is the royalist elite’s narrative. Even joke “academics” have a role in trying to turn Thailand back to the “good old days” of authoritarianism.

We have to be honest and say we couldn’t be bothered watching it all as it was so bad. Both propaganda videos indicate the significance attached to rolling back notions of electoral democracy in order to re-establish authoritarianism.





Updated: Targeting Thaksin III

7 11 2012

There was a time when PPT considered the elite’s Bangkok Post to be somewhat better than The Nation. After all, the unprofessional “journalism” at The Nation even spawned a spoof known as Not The Nation. As a lapdog for the conservative elite the paper behaved like a lap dancer for the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. Even today, The Nation sinks to new lows, seeming more like a family blog than a newspaper, publishing a “story” on the U.S. election by a “licensed acupuncturist” that gets published because the scribbler is boss Suthichai Yoon’s daughter.

As bad as that rag is, in recent days, the Bangkok Post has spiraled down into something that seems only fit for composting. We have mentioned some of these dives in recent posts (here and here). Essentially, these articles were in anti-Thaksin Shinawatra and anti-red shirt campaign mode with barely a fact in sight.

Misleading and concocted “stories” are suddenly grist for the Post’s campaigns. A few days ago we pointed to such a headline. However, the Post’s latest story on the alleged Thaksin assassination plot takes the cake for concoction. Here’s the line taken:

The alleged assassination plot against ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is likely to have been manufactured to give the ex-premier a credible excuse not to visit Tachilek, intelligence analysts said yesterday…. According to a military intelligence source, Thaksin had no intention of visiting Tachilek, a border town opposite Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

Readers may recall that the assassination plots against Thaksin when he was premier were also dismissed by his opponents as “manufactured.” Nothing much has changed.

PPT has no idea whether this assassination plot was real. But what evidence is there for this newspaper’s claim that this supposed plot was faked?

First, the “source” is,as usual, an anonymous military source. That is the same military that threw Thaksin out and were allegedly involved in earlier assassination plots. So how much credibility is there in this? Zero.

Second, the motivation for “faking” a plot is that Thaksin is “a fugitive with an arrest warrant out on him, [and] his presence [in Burma] would increase pressure on the Yingluck administration.” It was only in April that an “estimated 50,000 of Mr Thaksin’s fans alighted in Siem Reap, in the north of Cambodia, during the weekend’s Thai New Year holiday to catch a glimpse of the one-time premier.” What has changed since then? In opinion polls, the current government is doing better now than back then. So how much credibility is there in this? Zero.

Third, the claim is that by “fabricating the death threat, Thaksin has a plausible excuse to ‘cancel’ his plan without upsetting thousands of red-shirt supporters who were preparing to meet him, the source said.” This fluff depends on the first and second items above being true and guess work. How much credibility is there in this? Zero.

The mystery “military source” adds that “the assassination story can also be used to incriminate the ammart, or elite, who oppose Thaksin.” Well, yes, it would, if that was the claim from the Thaksin camp. So far though this hasn’t been claimed and “drug barons” are blamed. Still no credibility.

Finally, in a related story, the yellow-hued senator Somchai Sawaengkarn proved less than sharp when his doubts about the plot are expressed as: “If someone [actually] wanted to kill Thaksin, the plot would not have been leaked…”. Yes, no plot is ever “leaked” and is a security operation, if there was one, a “leak”? We’re thinking Homer Simpson.

Update: It is difficult to see how The Nation could get any worse, but it has. In “commenting” on the Forbes interview with Thaksin, op-ed “writer” Tulsathit Taptim strikes a new low. He gets frothy about Thaksin’s criticism of his fish wrap and the Bangkok Post and says there are other “questions” that he proposes “in response to his criticism of The Nation and the Bangkok Post and some other things he said in the last interview. It’s entirely up to Forbes whether to ask him these questions which, no need to be said, can be used by other international media free of charge…”. We aren’t sure what to make of the latter comments, but let’s look at the “questions.” Just two examples that are about substance rather than the list of childish retorts.

First, question 2: “Do you have proof that The Nation or the Bangkok Post tricked you and your spouse into buying the Ratchadapisek land while you were in office?” In Tulsathit’s world, somehow this must seem relevant to the notion of bias his rag. In fact, if a conviction was a reason for bias, we’d expect to see the newspaper exhibiting bias against a range of politicians and business people. Yet, this isn’t the case as the paper’s political bias is endlessly directed against red shirts and Thaksin.

Second, the last mangled question: “25. Last but not least, we are a bit confused. Thailand’s English media are against you but you said you are free to go anywhere and everyone treats you well. On the other hand, you can’t return to your country, where the market for The Nation and Bangkok Post is relatively small. Which exactly is your “unlucky” situation – you being able to go wherever people read “biased” reports about you, or you being unable to return to Thailand where fewer than 1 per cent of the population reads the English press?” So, Tulsathit thinks his paper is irrelevant?

Tulsathit’s “column” suggests to us that having a “licensed acupuncturist” write political reports for The Nation might actually improve it.

 





Politicizing a national disaster I

27 10 2011

Pavin Chachavalpongpun seems to have a ready comment on just about everything happening in Thailand. In this article in The Nation, however, he seems to have something substantive to say and that deserves some attention.

Pavin begins with the rather nasty and personalized emails and social media posts about Yingluck Shinawatra that have been doing the rounds

Such a stupid bitch, she is!

As dim as a buffalo! She’s a bimbo, a brainless Barbie doll. The first female prime minister – who has brought all this bad luck upon the country!

This is what Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is now called and labelled by her upper-class critics….

Yingluck is about to drown in the political floods. This is no longer just an issue of natural disaster. It has become a ferocious political game.

Interestingly, this language of dullness and stupidity is exactly the same language that was used to describe red shirts protesters in 2009 and 2010 and was the dominant discourse about rural voters within the yellow shirt movement. It seems that only rich, aristocratic Thais are intelligent.

Pavin comments that the “discourse of ‘stupidity’ is being used … to discredit her [Yingluck] and belittle her endeavours to find solutions to the problem.”

He defends her, noting that no previous leader has solved the flooding problem and that while she has been “weak” in her leadership, there are plenty of others who deserve blame.

PPT is not convinced Yingluck has been “weak.” What we see is a 50 or 100 year flood that began months ago, testing a brand new administration with a civil and military bureaucracy that is both politicized and has probably made some significant errors in managing this year’s water flows and long-term failures of water management (Readers might look at the report of an official assessment of failures of water management in 2005-09 by previous governments).

What we also see is an elite not just determined to cut Yingluck down but as petrified by this year’s flood as they were when red shirts descended on the capital in 2009 and 2010 and their expression of this is not much different. Their media have worked hard to blame the enemy for the hopelessness of their own model of development and politics.

We didn’t see too much criticism of Abhisit Vejjajiva last year when floods hit rural areas and people were under water in some places for a considerable time. That much smaller flood didn’t impact Bangkok.

Pavin observes:

Rumours, lies and false statements regarding the flood situation have been found on social networking sites. A picture of Yingluck, taken before the July election, which shows her taking a photo from her hand-phone on a helicopter, has been circulated on Facebook, with captions such as: “The nation is in crisis but this bitch is having a good time.” Another picture of a Yingluck lookalike partying and drinking whisky from a bottle was also shared in cyberspace.

News of His Majesty the King mentioning that if the floods approach Bangkok, then let the water pass and do not block the Chitralada Palace, was found to be bogus*. A photo of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, taken in 2010, offering bags of commodities, was also intentionally released to mislead some Thais.

*It seems that the king has now said pretty much this, if Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha is believed.

In an earlier post of a Le Monde article on Thailand’s “water coup,” we saw suggestions of a broad political campaign. Pavin sees it too:

Could this be a part of a coordinated attack against Yingluck with the aim of destroying confidence in the government? Certainly, the opposition Democrat Party has been busy contesting the legitimacy of the Yingluck regime. Its leader, former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, absurdly suggested the declaration of an emergency decree to fight the floods. Through this, the military would be granted full authority to operate in almost any way it likes…. Yet, Abhisit did not elaborate on whether the military could handle the problem better than the Yingluck government.

Abhisit has also worked closely with MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Bangkok governor, to compete, not cooperate, with the government. While many brand Yingluck as stupid, Sukhumbhand showed his superstitious faith in a Khmer ritual of “chasing water” in his search for a solution to the threat of floods in the city. He was intensely protective about his turf.

Meanwhile, footage of the military going into affected areas to aid flood victims is impressive. But the military, like the Bangkok governor, has functioned almost independently from the government. There is clearly a sense of competition between the government and its rivals. Some of the fiercest critics of the government have called for Yingluck to resign. Yingluck’s supporters interpret such competition and the pressure to remove her from power as part of a plot to stage a “water coup”.

Like so many others, Pavin sees this political competition as reflective of:

a deeply fragmented society in which political ideologies have overshadowed public responsibility and the urgency for national survival. It is no longer a country where its members are willing to forge ahead and leave their differences behind. Eliminating political adversaries, at the expense of a national catastrophe, is seemingly acceptable today.

And it is Bangkok that is again the “symbol of contentious politics…. [and the] great disparity between the people residing in the rural and urban areas. For PPT, a major problem is that the “intelligent” life that is clustered in Bangkok simply doesn’t recognize the rest of the country except in terms of the right of the “intelligent” – the rich – to lord it over the rest, to exploit them and even to submerge them in order to keep the expensive cars and gaudy mansions dry. The inability to acknowledge a national interest beyond the protection of the elite is breathtaking.

As a footnote to this story, it is interesting to see the comments of Robert Horn – we assume not the one who writes for TIME on Thailand – who takes up the yellow-shirted complaints of red shirts monopolizing the aid action and of politicians taking credit (something they have always done and we have seen the Democrat Party doing it too). He says the evidence is available of this and refers readers to… Suthichai Yoon’s blog…. There readers find “evidence” that Thaksin is involved. That is, one photo of a truck with a sign saying the assistance it is bringing is from Thaksin (well, is it?) and another photo of a guy in a red shirt with Thaksin on it. What truly remarkable evidence…. but of what?





Further updated: Innovation missing in plagiarized policy making

28 12 2010

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij felt moved to write to the Bangkok Post to defend the Abhisiti Vejjajiva government’s Pracha Wiwat scheme as “not populist”! Readers will recall that PPT commented on this scheme and an avalanche of other pay increases, handouts and so on, when we asked what had happened to all of the academic and political critics of “populism.”

A bit of innovation and then a cuppa

There has now been some relatively muted criticism, and Korn is commenting on an editorial in the Bangkok Post that was published a couple of days after PPT’s post. It stated: “No one disputes the need to help the needy. But what is needed are long-term, sustainable strategies to close the country’s social and economic divide, not stopgap measures that smack of political expediency.” It pointed out that Pracha Wiwat alone impacts more than half of the population. The Post states:

One may be forgiven for feeling a sense of dejavu. Ten years ago, Thaksin Shinawatra swept to power under the Thai Rak Thai banner with promises such as a debt moratorium for farmers and low-interest microfinance programmes for the poor. During the Thaksin administration, Mr Abhisit and his finance minister, Korn Chatikavanij, were vituperous critics of such schemes, labelling them as little more than well-marketed, populist programmes that traded off financial prudence for political pandering to special interest groups. The Democrat Party, then in opposition, also fiercely attacked the financing of such policies through state-owned banks as poor public governance by bypassing the parliamentary budget system.

Strange then to see Mr Abhisit and Mr Korn today tapping similar tactics and effectively putting old wine in a new bottle. It is hard to understand what has changed to make what was once populist, undemocratic and poor policies become sound development strategies today.

Korn’s response is interesting for a number of reasons. The first is in his definition of “populist policies” as “policies that are largely created by politicians, designed chiefly to win votes but are unsustainable and cause a heavy budgetary burden.” He rejects this account of his policies by referring to “process” that would also exempt Thaksin and the Thai Rak Thai Party from claims that it was “populist.”

Oddly, though, his comments bear little relationship with his own definition of populist, when he says: “It is new and is designed to created a ”total government” policy-making process that overcomes the age-old problems of departmental and ministerial compartmental approach. Most public issues require the involvement of a number of government agencies. Traditionally, these agencies will work independently from each other, sometimes at cross-purposes and often using different sets of data and assumptions.”

He then says that the “prime minister conceived of the Pracha Wiwat process where, upon his command, all relevant agencies were brought under one roof, literally, to work until a credible proposal was found. The Pracha Wiwat process started with the government listening to the needs of the people, prioritising their needs and posing them as problems requiring solutions.”Apart from making Abhisit appear king-like in issuing commands, the process still sounds remarkably similar to that employed by TRT prior to its election and then when in government.

Korn adds: “The government then ‘invited’ around 80 officials and academics from 30 agencies to work full time on these problems.” PPT wonders if there is any significance to “invited” being in quotation marks – was it another semi-royal command? These 80 were “provided with full facilities at the Government Centre, Chaeng Watthana and were encouraged to talk directly with the target groups. The prime minister empowered them to think out of the box and to address these problems in a practical and sustainable manner.”

Korn then assures us: “So far, nothing ‘populist’ in this.” Perhaps not, but then this comment would also apply to TRT’s focus groups and surveys in the period when the party developed its policies. For PPT, Korn is simply dissembling or just demonstrating that he has no idea about the nature of TRT’s political innovations.

Then he makes what is for PPT a remarkable claim. He says that the  “civil servants, academics and other interested parties, suddenly given this freedom and power, found a level of creativity that surprised themselves and certainly surprised us.” Apart from sounding like David Cameron, he again shows little knowledge of the TRT innovations that made the party so popular. And, he wants us to see plagiarized processes that produce essentially plagiarized results as innovative.

PPT doesn’t doubt that some good policy might come of repackaging and reconsidering the TRT innovations. Nor do we doubt that there isn’t continuing need for good policy that addresses real needs. But to claim innovation and difference when there is none demonstrated is sounding like the marketing men at work rather than anything else. They are the ones who must sell faux innovation to voters and hope that they ignore guns, censorship, repression and government mendacity.

Update 1: Suthichai Yoon at The Nation is critical of the Pracha Wiwat policies for several reasons, including this yellow-tinged epithet: “Don’t ask me what happened to the ‘sufficiency economy’ policy that the Democrats claimed as one of their top priorities. Don’t ask why they were saying that populism under somebody else was bad because it created grassroots dependency on the powers-that-be, and that it could be so addictive that the withdrawal symptoms could be fatal.”

Update 2: Readers will be interested in the interview in The Nation with Sungsidh Piriyarangsan, “who previously advised former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Now, Sungsidh is chairman of Chandrakasem Rajabhat University’s PhD programme in good governance. Earlier this year, the academic was approached by Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij to help formulate measures that work for the grassroots population.”






General Prayuth, the Chinese and democracy

11 11 2010

Reasons to fret about Thailand’s political future:

1) Prayuth Chan-ocha is quoted by Suthichai Yoon as saying this: “Let me pose a question. Who wants to stage a coup right now? Thailand has a democratic system under the Monarchy. This is the best system in the world. We are different from other countries. They only have a democratic system. Why do we want to go in search of another system then? That won’t solve our problems….”.

The best system in the world? Perhaps it has been for those in the elite who benefit from the power of hierarchical institutions to repress the subaltern classes. PPT would hope that this system’s days are numbered.

2) Xinhua reports on “China and Thailand [having] … underlined their commitment to deepen parliamentary ties.” Top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), “said the NPC would like to seek closer ties with the Thai Senate in all fields, step up experience sharing on democracy, legal system, legislation and supervision, and keep consultation and cooperation in international parliamentary organizations.” Wu was a guest of the President of the National Assembly of Thailand Chai Chidchob.

There have been some scuttlebutt regarding discussions amongst the business elite in Bangkok about the feasibility of a Chinese system – authoritarian politics with a capitalist economy. Is this what is meant by discussions of “democracy”? Chinese-style democracy meets Thai-style democracy?





Royalists claim democracy is “undermined”

17 09 2009

Also available as  พวกคลั่งเจ้าตีโพยตีพายว่าประชาธิปไตย “ถูกทำลาย”

As the anniversary of the 19 September 2006 coup approaches and the red shirts claim to be determined to rally, conservative commentators like the thick-skinned Pornpimol Kanchanalak are worried that this is indicative of a phenomenon that will see the sky falling. All that is good is being undermined by grasping, self-serving politicians.

The Nation’s Suthichai Yoon (17 September 2009: “From delusion to loss of faith in ‘democracy’ “) frets that a “significant number of those who responded to [a recent] questionnaire are apparently growing disillusioned with the prevailing political system – and it doesn’t matter what you call it.” Suthichai doesn’t have a new take on this or ask why it is that so many are disillusioned except to blame politicians. This refrain is the current royalist chorus, as it was in 1992-97.

And, like all good royalists, he worries about unity: “The prevailing divisiveness could deteriorate into another round of open confrontation…”. Indeed, this “menacing scenario seems unavoidable…”. And  Suthichai laments that the “promise of democracy has turned into a free-for-all among the political vested interest groups rather than a process through which differences can be settled based on the rule of law and moral values. Instead of a campaign to raise the awareness of the public, we have witnessed the victory of money politics, a steady erosion of political ethics, tyranny of the majority, and mob rule.”

All of this is to oppose constitutional amendment by politicians, disparage them as potential representatives and to deny the value of elections. If this sounds familiar, thinl of PAD’s critiques of the Thaksin regime and electoral politics.

It is no surprise to see PAD suppporter Senator Rosana Tositrakul saying (Bangkok Post, 17 September 2009: ” ‘Self-serving’ charter changes draw fire”)that the “constitutional changes proposed by the Senate-House joint committee on national reconciliation and constitutional amendments were intended only to protect the interests of politicians in power.”

All of this makes Thitinan Pongsudhirak’s article worth considering (Bangkok Post, 16 September 2009: “Lessons from the tragedy of 1997 charter”).