Archive for March 17th, 2006

14 March "the countdown for Thaksin has started"

by Sittha Lertphaiboonsiri
Asia-Europe Institute
University of Malaya

“When the golden sky shines, the brightness emerges, people will be great on the land”

The morning of 14 March 2006 that started the countdown for Thaksin’s resignation has been officially adjusted. The peaceful rally of the people power under the lead of People Alliance of Democracy that gathered and organized the demonstration since early February, has moved from Sanamluang to Government House. Tens of thousand of people have crystallized their aims and integrated intensively their solidarities that Thailand will not have Thaksin as the leader anymore.

The huge group of demonstrators were composed of various groups of Thai society, like the urban-based middle class, rural- based middle class, grassroots, students, activists, monks, elites, businessmen and including Thais abroad. This people’s movement has been considered as the most varied in composition and also the most peaceful one in Thai history. They have an aim of struggling by using non-violent strategies.

The conflict instigated by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra since he stepped into power is contributing to the political transformation process of Thailand. The basis of participated democracy which consists of the check and balance mechanisms, independent watchdogs, freedom of the media and the right to expression and information has been blocked and marginalized. The democratic ideals enshrined in the 1997 People Constitution are not anymore functioning as they intended to be. Democratization in Thailand has stagnated and fragmented when the populist leader has step into power and promoted the principle of divide and rule to govern the country. With his infamous pronouncement, “which province elects me, I will take care first” has caused rift and vulnerability to populist drive among the Thai society.

“Hitler spent 30 years to divide the people in Germany, 22 years in the case of Marcos or even 32 years under Soeharto. But for Thaksin, he fast tracked Thai’s society’s fragmentation in so short period of time.

Because of these conditions together with low level of morality in leadership of the PM that includes: corruption in policy-making level that favored associates and families; privatizing the national properties in order to accumulate higher profits for his owned business empire and the most unacceptable issue of Shin Corp’s stocks which were sold to Temasek Holdings of Singapore with total amount “7.3 Billion Baht” by paying no taxes; has increased the current of dissatisfaction among the mass that has spread throughout the country. The evidences to justify the immoral and corrupt practices of the PM has been gathered and collected. These massive and reliable information are reported by alternative and non-partisan media including unnamed reliable sources from the bureaucracy.

However, considering the consequences of democratization and economic development, it appears that Thai democracy has developed and progressed on as a capitalist economy. Various groups of capitalists have been gradually strengthened with the “growth of democracy” which provided them wider space of freedom but not the same exact freedom that ordinary people enjoyed.

The capitalists were on the edge of bureaucratic system during the 60’s-70’s military government. Then they turned to become business politicians in quasi-democracy during 80’s-90’s, and now they dominate at the core of the state’s mechanisms. They play a role as the main driver not the dependent driver like before.

The democratization processes that transformed Thailand since 14 Oct 1973 “People Uprising” to “Black May 1992” that reached its peak in 1997 establishing the “People Constitution of 1997”, seem to be stagnated if not further eroded by the “absolute capitalists” under the lead of Thaksin as if, “suddenly falling from the top to the bottom”.

Thai people who had thought that “businessmen or capitalists” could bring back the prosperity for all people in the nation and maintain the level of democratization after the Asian Financial Crisis, have totally changed their notion of them. They have realized that the rich man is different from the good man, businessmen who tend to monopolize is different from economists who tend to decentralize. Capitalists are likely to allocate their profits to their alliances rather than to benefit the whole nation.

Few days ago, some scholars in Thailand have explained Thaksin’s situation through the scene of Roman history. In the memory of The Great Empire of Europe, “The Ides of March” which has been recognized as “the day of end of Cesar”, the fateful day that the Emperor Cesar had been killed. Somehow, it may implies that some significant changes would occurr in Thai society since the “middle of March”. Thais should listen carefully whether or not the immortal sentence “Beware the Ides of March” is telling them that “the brightness of sky will shine again soon when the dark power has gone”.

Or, will the end of Thaksin be replayed like that of the classical history of Roman Empire?

“Although, history may somehow or actually happened, what the Thais have done since 14 March is for real and it actually happened! “

gpx source: The Manager Online


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