Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reform or Revolution?

"There is no guarantee of success for the revolutionary road in Thailand. It will be a long hard struggle. But I believe that there is no longer any room for reform in order to achieve democracy. The behaviour of the elites since the 2006 coup has proved this".
Giles Ji Ungpakorn

I have come to the same conclusion as Giles - it should not be that revolution is the only way, but unfortunately the elites have set the ground rules by their stubborn resistance to change.

I did not like many aspects of Thaksin's rule, and whilst firmly in the 'song mai ow' camp, I now regret accepting the 2006 coup as a chance to 'reset' democracy - it's embarrassing how foolish that viewpoint now looks.

If a country has to be ruled by a tyrant (or tyranny), then at least let it be by the tyrant the country votes for!

For decades, the elites have had all the knowledge, all the power, all the education, and they have used propaganda, censorship, draconian jail sentences etc to try to cower the people - yet with all their advantages & 'brilliance', the country is still a political mess with no sign of any improvement.

I'm with Giles:- if its a choice between trusting the old power, or the (new awakening) masses, then I say give the masses a try.
The old mob have had plenty of opportunity to change, plenty of hints & warnings, yet they still refuse to reform and insist they know what's best, and that everyone else is either 'ngoh' or doesn't understand 'thainess'.

Giles has some further views, however at this stage of my knowledge, I cannot make up my mind about them:
- its obvious the army needs to be cut down to size, but how it can be done?
- it must be very difficult for Giles to call for the monarchy to be abolished (and not merely reform), but I can understand his thinking:- it seems there is no way the army can be reformed until it only answers to the people (elected government), instead of some 'higher' authority.
At a minimum, IMO, the Privy Council should be abolished, and an LM charge should only be able to be instigated by the palace, and the accused should never be forced to endure closed trials.
- in my heart I agree with the Socialist principles Giles champions, but in practice I cannot see how it works, anywhere in the world - the local socialists in my area place great faith in Chavez's 'Bolivarian Revolution', however I am not comfortable with the way they brush aside the many criticisms of whats going on in Venezuela - in my view Giles would be better served turning towards his father's 'social democrat' outlook.


Joy said...

Thanks for the link and commentary.

hobby said...

Thanks - I was going to link to a revolutionary song, but chose this instead - for our friend Somsak/Plaadip if he ever finds this blog:)

hobby said...

Actually I prefer this version to the one above, even though the sound quality is not so good.

Joy said...

can i invite somsak/Plaadip here?

hobby said...

Well, I'm not sure it would be his kind of site, and I'm actually a shy type - not keen on the publicity:)

Also what if his family saw some of the music clips, like this one for instance?

Regular Reader said...

I am in Australia at present and have therefore been able to observe what is happening in Thailand in a different light.
I feel what you are writing here expresses your total frustration with the situation.
Further, it seems to me you are willing to compromise your standards, to a point where opinions such as from Giles (who you have openly disagreed with previously)are now accepatble to you.
Whilst this stalemate is dragging the coountry down to a point where it will soon look like a replay of the Philippines, I don't believe that people such as Giles can move things forward.
He is too distanced from those "prolatariat" Thais who are really the only ones who can bring about the oh, so, neccessary changes.
And until these people learn not to put all their trust in false idols such as Thaksin,and opportunist people such as the Red Shirt leaders, things will remain in this disasterous holding pattern.
As a "nonThai" who loves the country, I cannot but feel a great sense of sadness.

hobby said...

Regular Reader: I think Giles adherence to Marxism is the main thing I disagree with him on - he was always 'song mai ow' and was a vocal critic of Thaksin.

The people who have the power to change things are the old elite, but they have steadfastly refused to give an inch.

This is an old stuggle and started way before Thaksin & goes way beyond him.

I admit I took the coup as a relief that Thaksin was finally gone, but am now ashamed of how unthinking that view was.

Regular Reader said...

I write what I did before I read your comments over at Prachathai.
On readiing them, I stand even more by what I say.

hobby said...

also after I read Handley's TKNS I offered explanations for why the monarchy was like that, but in the light of events over the last few years, I am fast running out of excuses for them.

Giles has obviously moved way beyond the position of most of the reds - I think he's basically right that reform is not possible, but he's the only one saying it because it looks like he has given up on ever living there again - thats sad for him IMO.

Regular Reader said...

I wouold prefer the "song mai ow" stance to prevail, too.
But, perhaps that is a result of being Australian, where there was no revolution - a rarity.
I disagree the "elites" of both sides are the ones who must change.
It is the "common man and woman" who must change - elites don't.

hobby said...

Regular Reader: Which comments in particular at Prachatai did you take offence at? - surely you are not Trep, or agree with him?
(that would be very disappointing, as I usually believe in dialogue to increase understanding, but that seems impossible with someone like Trep)

hobby said...

It is the "common man and woman" who must change - elites don't

They are changing (after being kept in the dark for so long).
They have an excuse, but what excuse does the elite have?

Regular Reader said...

I didn't take offence to any of your comments. I think that thread has been quite interesting.
No I am not Trep - nor do I find much to recommend about his/her comments.
But, being away I have seemed to have a diffrent perspective.
Thailand has so far to go, and I am no longer sure I want, or can afford to wait around for that day to come.

hobby said...

btw, I know they are still subject to manipulation, but dont you agree its much better to at least have them manipulated by someone they can eventually vote out?

- Judiciary
- Police
- Military
- Monarchy
thats just the start of a list of areas that need reform.

It a fucking mess whichever way we look at it, and will be very hard to get to what I consider the barely acceptable two party media driven political nonsense we have in Australia.

Regular Reader said...

The "elites" are on both sides- don't forget.
It is a nuch abused term to describe the "controlling" people in Thailand.
And, until the "common men and women" are able to stand up for themselves and not be conned by either side, things will not change.
Yes, they have been "awoken" - that's a start.
But it could be a long and violent road ahead, before thing really change

hobby said...

I basically agree.

I suppose we should be thankful that we can move away if the nonsense gets too much - most Thai's dont have that option.

Regular Reader said...

Yes, from a personal perspective that is true.
But it is not a "preferred option"

antipadshist said...


"I have come to the same conclusion... I now regret accepting the 2006 coup as a chance to 'reset' democracy... "

what can I say? congratulations, and as Morpheus said to Neo : "welcome to the desert of REAL" ! :)

you've awaken me from slumber and inspired to write an answer-post to your comment (on my blog)

Cheers !

oh, BTW - as I recall according Marx that's the definition of "revolutionary situation": when those in power can no longer rule in old ways, and those down bottom can no longer accept / tolerate such rule. so, in this sense I guess using term "revolution" may be justified. however at present time there are a lot of more other powers at play, therefore who can actually know- what is revolution and what is not, but merely a well designed plot of same usual mass manipulation. and masses ? yeah, you're right: masses always suffered, suffer and will suffer. nothing much to be changed about it. sure, I pity them too - but honestly, what substantial can we do about it, even Giles ? (he had no choice but run away, as his father before - coz even his brother John told him that the way he is heading will make him lose all the friends and whatever support)

hobby said...

Welcome back AntiPADshist - the PAD have been a bit quiet (like you), however their fingers have been in the Police chief saga, and I see they have recently re-iterated their opposition to constitution amendments - seems like a good time for you take off the gloves and get those nuckle dusters out again:)

antipadshist said...

I think PAD are finished. even they themselves realize that already. they've been used, and then "owned" ("had" :) ).

yeah, some of them as Sondhi or Suriyasai may continue talking... but the latest news is that Sondhi has been finally sentenced to REAL jail term? I bet it was continuation of the "assassination plot" saga which was actually merely a warning for him to watch his foul mouth. so, now this is sort of another warning, in a different way, but the message is still the same: WATCH YOUR MOUTH. doesn't matter who is plaintiff (although on other hand - it does, since Pridiyathorn is not an ordinary person, but one with some high title in front of his name ! ;) )

so, sooner or later Sondhi and other PAD will realize that fully, that they are something ONLY as long as they dance to the tune and filter their speeches.

however I doubt that they'll actually join forces with "reds" - too much antagonism.

but they are innovative and techy - they always employ new technologies, techniques, methods, etc.

despite all that, many or most of them remain a bunch of foul-mouth intolerant mobsters with strong fascist inclinations !

there .... :D

antipadshist said...

Regular Reader

"being Australian ..."
(well, forgive me Hobby if I start ...)

what does that mean?
oh, yeah : "where there was no revolution ..."

but of course - Australia was just a sort of big "Gulag" for British where they used to send all their criminals and whores (I was told that by one my Aussie friend himself - and as I read other reliable sources that's true).

further more - it has systematically eradicated (and "diluted") the actual local aboriginal population (well, yeah, Howard "apologized" to them eventually) - at least Kidman has played in that movie showing just a GLIMPSE of that whole massive racial genocide.

so, but of course - no revolution ! what revolution can we talk about there - when it still remains basically a ... COLONY with a strong pro-british (aka white race) stance :)

sure, nice colony, greeny, well fed, with plenty of social benefits (no wonder all the ME and S Asians trying hard to get the by hook or by crook). but REVOLUTION ? no way !

however Thailand is entirely different story, although British empire has had a long and strong influence here as well - "officially" Thailand has never been colonized...

anyway getting back to Thailand - I think there will be neither Reform nor Revolution. because ordinary people who are able to raise up just a little bit from the social bottom to at least middle class - they eagerly embrace the mentality of that middle class (aka "muddle class"). and middle class is being played by that very elite they ASPIRE to be one day (sort of "next level').

and so it goes on and on...

that's why bolsheviks (and as I recall Mao and even Pol Pot) has methodically and thoroughly undertaken the "class cleansing" - including that very middle class. and I guess THAT'S why the local Thai elite are so scared sh1tless for any real Revolution to happen. and that's why they make some pretense show of so called "Reforms". but then eventually their own greed and corruption gets better of them, and everything starts all over again ...

my guess is :

Thailand may simply seize to exist as a sovereign state eventually. because all the local Thai Chinese will simply make it a province/ protectorate/ colony of a Greater China. (or isn't it already ? ;) )

Regular Reader said...

Have you ever been to Australia ?
Anitpadist grow up.
Learn to stop playing the man.
You woke me up to that on forums/blogs when I belittled (or so you thought) your name a few months ago.
But, I guess showing your superior knowledge over this poor little Australian from "inferior" stock - especially to your "superior" background, probably makes you happy.

If so, what a pathetic person you must be.
I've got more interesting things to do than debate such a person.

hobby said...

Regular Reader: I'm Aussie too, but i just let AntiPADshist's comment about ouur country just slide by - we know the good & bad about our country, and we also have to accept that we are a small player on the world stage, and like it or not, there will be inaccuracies/misconceptions said about us.

I actually had a quiet chuckle to myself when AntiPADshist mentioned the "Howard apology" - if only he knew:)

Regular Reader said...

Hobby, I have a thick skin and don't take comments like his too seriously - as you say "if only he knew".
I was going to ignore his "mis-information",but having been there over the past couple of weeks on business and pleasure, I think a rush of VB (or was it Coopers?)must have given me a "patriotic glow".
More, I recalled "Anitpadist" abusing me severly on another blog, for making a reference to his chosen identity....people in glass houses and all that.
Thick skins are required in the "blogosphere" !!

antipadshist said...


honestly speaking - I don't even remember you at all on any other blogs, or what you said, or what I might have replied. (may be I have a short memory, or may be I don't keep in mind such insignificant sh1t )

honestly, I don't give a fart about Aus as a country - apart from it being one of the most racist countries in the human history and therefore hardly in position to lecture anyone how to live. sure, you can think whatever you want about me. that doesn't change the facts about Aus.

so yeah - let's just drop the arguments and as Hobby said : after all, Aus is a "small player ..." - if to put it mildly. (in reality though: WHO gives a fart about Aus? except all those ME and S. Asians, and may be some Indons - who flock there by hook or crook, even swimming)

but PHLEEEZZZZE! no more comments like "being an Australian ... " - alright ? ;)

well, first of all (if Hobby would allow) because after all all of us here sort of uprooted fellas, expats, "farangs" in entirely another different land, which doesn't really cares about our views or our "being someone ..."; second - this is a blog, which is sort of a part of global community of "netizens", a group of people who has supposedly TRANSCENDED the geopolitical boundaries of countries and cultures.

even these 2 I think would already suffice to explain why comments like "being an Australian..." annoys me a bit .
even without going into other things.

so, if you don't grasp these points - I guess it is you who needs to grow up. Ok?
(forgive Hobby my rant - but somehow I do believe Hobby does know what I'm talking about)

anyway - I don't care about what you think about me at all. but remarks like "being an Australian ... " are too silly and in fact ARE childish in the modern age of "virtual migration" and people "living in twitter-verse". so, it is up to you - "grow up", or perhaps rather "die out" (as some obsolete relic thinking in nation/ country/ race/ categories) - your pick.

Cheers ! :D

Regular Reader said...

Antipadhist, you must lead a miserable life judging by the bile and vitriole you sprout forth.
I almost feel sorry for you - but I don't.