Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reform or Perish

Its all been said before, back & forth we go about Prem, Thaksin, uneducated masses, corrupt, selfish, manipulative, greedy elites & military, police, politicians, third hands, thainess, aversion to loss of face etc etc etc.

Hopefully I have the self control to make this my final comment on Thai politics:

Now is the time for Abhisit to decide how he wants to go down in history - it's his choice whether he is seen as another in a long line of elite manipulators, or a true reformer.

Whichever route he chooses, he is unlikely to win a fair election in the short term, but if he chooses reform he at least will eventually be fondly remembered by the majority
(and he is actually young enough that he might one day win an election fair & square, once the masses realize that no one is semi-divine, not HMK nor Thaksin)

Choose wrongly, and blowback is inevitable.

Obviously, there are quite a few others who also could make a difference, but I still think the most important players are still Thaksin, Prem & Abhisit.

Thaksin & Prem have already had ample opportunities to change and have shown no sign of doing so - time is not on Prem's side and his successor is unlikely to have nearly as much clout, so unless they are bloodyminded & stupid enough to go the Burma route, change is inevitable.

Thaksin is in a lot of hot water now, but I dont think it is too late for him to change - if he started to show some remorse and humility, he could be back sooner than expected - and I don't mean grovelling to Prem, rather he needs to be honest about the good and the bad of his own past actions - if he can do that there is probably no need for the yellow shirts to even exist.

Whether the red shirts need to exist will depend on what Abhisit does, but he has had enough warning from events over this Songkran, that if he chooses wrongly then the next uprising will be much bigger and harder to quell (especially if the reds have dropped the blind allegiance to Thaksin by then)

It's up to the Thais to sort the mechanics of the reform, but obviously the constitution rewrite needs to be an inclusive consultative process, and any remaining contentious items will have to go to a fair referendum, with all sides having an equal opportunity to present their arguments.

Before that reform can even happen, the first obstacle to be tackled is whether to prosecute all leaders on both the yellow and red sides, or to grant amnesties all round - whatever they choose, both sides need to be treated equally, otherwise there will be blowback one way or the other.

I wish them good luck in sorting this political mess out, so they can then move on to resolving the Southern Thailand insurgency.
Make the wrong moves and the south wont be the only place where there is an insurgency.

Thailand needs change, the genie is out of the bottle, and the old ways to put it back in will no longer work - heed the warnings!