- Posted June 15, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Thai military declares coup
Should Thailand be proud of Beijing praise
Any sensible 'free-country' government, undoubtedly, must feel a little ticklish when it's politics are praised by Beijing.
The distinction of belonging to a group that China's Communist Party is proud of should bring on some soul searching.
Last Monday, the country’s leading newspaper and mouthpiece of the Communist Party, the People’s Daily, used Thailand as one of the example, in a controversial opinion article denouncing democracy. Thailand’s political turmoil, the article suggested, could be blamed on the political freedoms associated with the country’s democratic institutions.
"Over the past few months, from Kiev to Bangkok, the politics of the street and public clashes have caused deep sorrow," the newspaper claimed. "Many countries have slipped into the confused madness of 'Western democracy', which has neither brought happiness nor stability."
There is ample evidence that Beijing, particularly under the guidance of President Xi Jinping, will seize on any rationale to justify authoritarian rule and restrictions on political liberties.
The country is still in the throes of a massive clampdown on activism and political expression coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.
Mr Xi is himself on record warning that political models such as a multi-party system could have “catastrophic consequences”.
We should be very careful before we take that advice from the head of a single-party system of government.
Still, there are some truth in the People's Daily article. It is true that political systems cannot be implanted wholesale from abroad, but that they must develop institutions that are responsive to each society.
Thailand has suffered from political turmoil in recent years, although the country is thankfully far removed from situations such as that found in Ukraine, which teeters on the brink of civil war and was also cited by the People's Daily as an example of the dangers of democracy.
It is important to note that the criticism of Thailand does not refer to the May 22 coup, but instead to the protests and sporadic violence that preceded it. If anything, there has been a quiet approval of the military's move and, fortunately, a willingness to do business with the National Council for Peace and Order.
The fundamental fallacy of the People's Daily article is the assumption that Beijing's path of political development is more effective at securing social stability.
While Thailand has endured much-publicized disruption as a result of protests and occasional flashes of violence, China at the same time has seen an ethnic minority insurrection catch fire in the country's west.
An oppressive censorship campaign had to be implemented to quell all demands for reform.
Countless number of citizen riots and clashes with police over environmental issues and social freedoms.
The “Western Democracy” castigated in the article is just a bogeyman to be blamed and to justify Beijing authoritarian ruling.
There is no single set of political institutions that defines the various democracies of the West (or anywhere else, for that matter).
Simply look at the differences between the US and UK parliamentary systems.
The governing system refers to a core set of political and civil liberties -- including freedom of expression and freedom of association -- that are in fact universal values.
As in China, these values are, we hope temporarily, not guaranteed in Thailand.
The crucial difference, between China and Thailand, is that it is acknowledged by all sides in Thailand that the coup is an interim measure with only one possible outcome -- the return to an elected government.
The problems that justified the coup stemmed not from too much democracy, but from the breakdown of poorly developed democratic institutions.
The ineffectiveness of anti-corruption efforts, the persistence of patronage politics and the failure of the political system to reconcile competing interests reflect a need for more democracy, not less.
In Thailand, the demand for greater social and political freedom means that military rule and the restrictions that it brings must be only a short-term phenomena.
Chinese citizens share those same demands and the same drive for political self-determination, a fact that Beijing clearly recognizes in its very public anti-corruption campaigns and attempts to make the Communist Party more responsive to local communities.
Peaceful Dictatorship is an oxymoron for the fact that every human has a yearning to be dignified and freed. That was why, when pressured, Beijing's had to mercilessly respond as seen 25 years ago in Tiananmen Square.
Even in the context of a coup, the solution to Thailand's impasse is political, not military.
The process of political reconciliation will be long and difficult but not at all impossible.
There was an old saying that has been proved true countless number of times ---- “Democracy is the worse form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried”.