- Posted November 30, 2013 by
It is Democracy…Darn it!
For those of you who listened to western media and wonder what is wrong with Thailand…It is democracy that creates the problem and I really mean that.
This is not to say I am against democracy. In fact, it is the best system in the world still. Democracy is the rule by a majority. It may not necessarily be the best system but it is the rule by a majority. If the majority is misled then it is too bad for the country I suppose… Let me talk in Thai boxing terms:
In the red corner sits the champion with dirty tricks, the red shirt factions which comprise 4 main sub factions:
First, Taksin loyalists. Don’t get me wrong. This former prime minister did a lot of good things for those poor rural folks who had been ignored by politicians in the past. Taksin knows he can rely on them for votes but, instead of promoting productivity, he poured money from either his pockets or the country budget, directly into the villages. Money is always money and it does not matter to the folks on the intention and whether they will benefit in the long run. The folks are forever grateful for the short-term money they received. Thais are not freeloaders and they will always return favors. In this case, they don’t really mind that the government is corrupt as the money is coming from taxes they hardly pay. So it is an easy decision to vote for the guy who pays them and does not take away money from them. A win-win for Taksin’s supporters and Taksin. Is there anything wrong with that? Nothing as long as we maintain our blind faith in democracy.
The second redshirt faction does not mind Taksin but used him as a tool for change. This underlines what has been wrong in Thai society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Does that ring the bell? We may say there is nothing new about that notion and it is matter of fact that they forgot that Taksin himself is an elite and he only promotes the campaign against the elite to his own benefits.
The third redshirt faction comprises the rural folks who vote for whoever their village leaders told them to do. They are simply followers and have no political views.
The final redshirt faction is the communist party of Thailand that has used the redshirt platform to overthrow the monarchy. Taksin also used them to rally to his benefits. A nice joint-venture between the capitalist and communist if you ask me but this can lead to disaster in the long run.
There you have it, the redshirt composition.
In the opposite corner sits the former aging champion, “the whistle blowers”. Now the opposition is also not a yellow shirt anymore. The airport closure a few years back was rallied against Taksin and the use of yellow shirts was to show loyalty to the King. There are a few groups within the opposition side.
First, the elite and royalists believe the redshirts are here to strip them of the benefits they have been enjoying. Most of them always vote “democrat”, the opposition party led by former PM Apisit. I am annoyed every time the western press called them “the elite” as Taksin and his friends are, by any definition, the elite as well. Trust me they need to share the wealth a bit more but Taksin regime is simply a shift from one elite group to another.
Another faction within the opposition comprises citizens who cannot stand Taksin’s corruptions and his exploitation of democracy. They don’t really like democrat either but see democrat as the lesser of the evils. They think Taksin will lead the country back to the time when Marcos led Philippines. Philippines was the most promising country in Asia to prosper after World War II and Marcos effectively brought the country down with his dictatorship democracy style. This faction of voters is mostly the middle class who understands how Taksin cheated the country. They do not want their kids to grow up thinking cheating is ok.
This is a tough act to pull on both sides. The redshirts and Piu Thai party (the government party) so far exploited democracy to try to bring Taksin back even though everyone knows he is corrupt. The fact that the majority of voters voted for PM Yingluck who is quite mentally-challenged and that fact that we have criminals sitting as ministers is quite appalling to begin with. The costly rice guarantee programs benefits the red shirt alliance greatly at the expenses of the country’s budget. Even IMF and Moody’s warned that the program is a disaster.
We have the mob and the opposition that took to the street to demand Prime Minister’s resignation or Parliament dissolution. Then I am not certain what we are going to get. The resignation will elect another Taksin’s puppet. The parliament dissolution can only lead to the new election that will bring Taksin’s party back as folks in the north and northeast love his money.
We do have a slight hope that the second groups of the opposition (no Taksin) and redshirts (Taksin optional but no democrat) do get together and talk their differences. Perhaps, we need totally new set of politicians to run the country?
Perhaps, if we could use the ancient Roman rule that those who do not pay taxes cannot vote, then we may have a chance to improve the quality of the votes there. Trust me I do believe every vote is the same and I do respect human rights but I also believe people who cannot afford paying taxes are similar to people on charities. Have you ever seen a charity forcing you to give them money? Ask nicely and you will have some.
Democracy is an honor system that works when everyone cares about how the country should be for the next generation. Democracy is therefore for honorable voters who do not abuse the system. Perhaps, there should be a set of questionnaires about democracy. You make mistakes and your vote does not count. I may sound naïve but Thailand (and a lot of emerging countries) needs their voters to be a bit more educated about democracy. They need to know what they are voting for..not just who…
Voting is very important and has to be taken seriously if you want the system to work.. England had tested democracy since King John and the Magna Carta and Thailand simply does not have that much time to test run democracy….