(possibly my last rant, as the lack of logic in the Thai political debate has finally worn me down, and there are better things I can spend my time on - I might post the odd comment here and there, but I really do need a new hobby!)
Suwicha Thakhor says:
“Thais are starting to think new things, have new ideas,” he said. “I don’t belong in jail. If we disagree about politics, we must talk to find a solution.”
That's the problem - too many people are not interested in talking - they wish to stubbornly stick to their own preconceived ideas, and either ignore (or crush) any opposing viewpoints.
Obviously, not all Thai's are stubbornly ignorant, but there are enough of them to make any progress on political reform, and human rights issues, excruciatingly slow.
This wilful ignorance can be seen on both sides of the fence, but it is far worse on the 'yellow' side, than on the 'red' side.
On the 'red' side the most blatant ignorance relates to the way they wear their rose colored glasses regarding Thaksin - they either don't know, or don't care, or simply choose to overlook Thaksin's obvious ethical and moral wrongdoings and manipulations:
-tax avoidance through the use of nominees and tax havens, human rights issues such as the war on drugs, Tak Bai etc, media intimidation, manipulation of various institutions to his ends and general policy corruption.....
At least the 'reds' have some excuse for their ignorance - firstly they have less access to quality education, and secondly they genuinely appreciated the efforts that Thaksin (Thai Rak Thai) made to improve their lot, such as the 30 baht health scheme initiative and the village revolving credit initiative.
*Here I am talking about the old Thaksin loving 'reds' - I'm not holding my breath, but there is a slight sliver of a chance that the new 'reds' will move beyond Thaksin and become a genuine democratic movement, instead of operating under the old client-patron model.
A lot will depend on it's leadership, but IMO if people like Jakrapob still hang on to Thaksin's coattails, then that transformation will take a long time to happen (if at all).
Giles shows quite a lot of promise, but he too, IMO, shows wilful ignorance - mainly due to his habit of interpreting or twisting things, or events, to suit his preconceived ideas (from his Marxist view of the world). He and the democracy movement would be better served by being more open and accepting to other viewpoints and possible explanations of events.
On the other hand, the 'yellows' have very little excuse for their ignorance (other than decades of propaganda!)
Here, I am referring specifically to the current, remaining 'yellows' as, IMO, the original PAD supporters of 3 years ago had genuine grievances against Thaksin, and many were sincere in wanting a better (democratic) government.
Many 'yellows' have had access to much better education than the poor masses, and most of them, especially the PAD leaders, should know better than the hate talk they have been spewing for the last several months.
I'm not even sure whether it is ignorance in their case, or rather something much more sinister - in addition to nationalistic rants and personal vilification, they have also been disingenuous in bringing up many of Thaksin's wrongdoings, when in reality they seem to find those things quite acceptable, as long as the ones doing it are part of their old club, and not some new demagogue like Thaksin.
The political parties continue to be a major obstacle to genuine democracy - the old, Banharm style, patron led, parties are hopeless.
The Democrats, whilst they are more 'presentable', are still a major disappointment, and they owe way too much to a certain (banned from politics for 5 years) kingmaker who just happens to be sitting in the box seat for possible musical chairs in the future.
That leaves Puea Thai Party (PTP) - it's probably still operating under the patron model judging by the close involvement of the Shinawatra clan. If Chalerm as likely leader isn't enough to put you off, just have a look at the seven impeachment/censure points against Abhisit to give you an idea of their potential:
- Being involved in calling for royal intervention to appoint a prime minister as per Article 7 of the suspended 1997 charter, "proof" of anti-democracy and a link to the People's Alliance for Democracy, which sought changes via non-parliamentary means.
- Grabbing power by illegitimate means with the support of certain leading figures, so a minority usurped power from the majority.
- Acting like a mastermind or an accomplice for the PAD - even though its activities have been illegal - and obstructing democracy under the King as head of state.
- Intentional evasion of the organic law on political parties, by involvement in the cover-up of financial contributions made by a listed public company, and by failing to properly spend the party subsidy received from the Election Commission.
- Failure to uphold territorial integrity, as enshrined in Article 1 of the Constitution, evidenced by a neighbouring country constructing a road inside Thai territory to access Preah Vihear Temple.
- Falsifying a Democrat membership for Thanin Jaisamut, as per the document sent to Satun electoral office on April 20, 2008, even though Thanin was banned by the Election Commission and hence not qualified for party membership.
- Graft violation by instructing Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij to organise a campaign for SMS messaging via mobile phone operators. This cost millions of baht, but operators waived the charges, tantamount to demanding and accepting undue benefits, a graft offence as per Article 103 of the anti-graft law.
The picture is even worse when you take into account the partisan nature of many NGO's, and judging by the frequent calls for Buddhism to be named as the state religion we cannot even rely upon the Buddhist establishment for some sanity.
The picture is already bleak enough, so I will even not bother commenting on the military or the police, or the thing that might one day blow everyone out of the water, the southern insurgency.
In closing, here is an exchange from the recent Oxford event with Giles - it went something like this:
(it is around the 50 minute mark if you would like to listen for yourselves)
Question from the floor: 'When you said about the Crown Prince and his wife and you said everyone in Thailand has access to a computer, I myself was in Thailand before and I had access to a computer and I haven't see that picture. And the fact that you mentioned about that picture is no proof you didn't even see it for yourself....'
Giles: 'Give me your email and I'll send it to you'
Response back from the questioner: 'Well I don't wish to see it!'
Giles: 'Yeah, right'
I rest my case.