Discover more from Asia Sentinel
The real threat to Thai democracy: Abhisit Vejjajiva
“It’s Thaksin”, the Democrats wail. Over and over and over and over and over again, neatly forgetting that their party has been acting in this same anti-democratic fashion since their inception and since that dreadful moment when they drove Thailand’s most gifted post-war political leader – Pridi Banomyong – out of the country.
The foreign commentators and journalists join in the tiresome refrain “Thaksin, Thaksin, Thaksin”. But if these commentators still haven’t worked out that Thailand’s struggle is really to do with “democracy, democracy, democracy” and the opposition by Thailand’s elites to sharing power with its population, then what have they been doing all this time? Enjoying their luxury hotel visits, penthouse flats and endless and vacuous FCCT panel discussions? Why are they even bothering to put a word down on screen or paper if they fail to get the basics right? This is nothing to do with Thaksin and all to do with Thailand’s “Abhisit-class” loathing democracy, fearing their own population and believing that they, and they alone, have the correct karmic attributes to rule. The coups, the massacres and the suppression of Thailand’s democracy started a long long time before Thaksin arrived on the scene. That is self-evident.
Maybe, if Thailand’s democratic will had been allowed to run its course in 2006, Thaksin might’ve been an historical footnote by now. So anti-democratic has the opposition to Thaksin been, so willing to align itself with coup-makers, murderers and neo-fascism, that it achieved the impossible and turned the former Thai PM into a symbol of democracy.
And what now? Well, the Democrats, piling petty court case upon petty court case (where are the policies though?), exhibit a reckless and dangerous disregard for Thailand’s burgeoning democracy in their eagerness to remove the democratically mandated Yingluck Shinawatra government. Flush with their “success” in the Bangkok governor election, where the Democrat’s candidate clung on by his fingernails in a city where millions of Thais are denied the right to vote in what would be deemed a gerrymandered election in any other democracy (many long-term Bangkok residents are denied the right to register to vote there – another simple, obvious fact missed by the pampered FCCT commentariat), Abhisit’s party are becoming bolder and more strident. Rest assured – when the Democrats start to play these games it is never good for democracy.
Part one of the Democrat’s game plan is this – remove Pheu Thai’s biggest electoral asset, Yingluck. Not democratically, of course, but via the politicised judicial system. As she is not actually a member of the Pheu Thai Party – a move which was designed to give Yingluck cover should Pheu Thai suddenly be “dissolved” by the courts – she is now a relatively easy target. There doesn’t even need to be any genuine case against her as the “constitutional” court’s actions regarding former Thai PM Samak proved.
The biggest threat to Thai democracy isn’t Thaksin - it’s Abhisit and his cohort of malicious nobodies who know that in a free and fair vote they are always going to lose. And why do they lose? Hubris and stupidity are usually a terminal concoction.
Given that Abhisit is a proven electoral deficit why does he stay in post? The shadowy elites that demand unchecked power in Thailand don’t seem to have anyone else with the necessary attributes to curtail democracy. Abhisit has also proved his credentials in the brutality game – sending battlefield equipped Thai Army snipers to slaughter medical workers and school children – whilst his well-groomed image still seems to have transfixed the grubbier elements of Bangkok’s foreign media corps.
So game plan this: Yingluck is “banned”, Pheu Thai are “dissolved” and Abhisit takes power. Does anyone think for one single second Thailand’s population are going to accept that? Does anyone think that given Abhisit’s murderous brutality after he undemocratically took power last time that he will be greeted with the relative passivity of the 2010 Red Shirt protests?
Already there are murmurings of worst disorder waiting around the corner should the Democrats get their way and subvert, once again, the obvious, clear and apparent will of Thailand’s population.
Who is going to destroy Thailand? Well, the man in Dubai’s power derives almost entirely from the ballot box. Thaksin is very far from the model of a principled democrat but his power can be checked via democratic means – if he lost an election he’d be finished as a political force. The power Abhisit seeks is unchecked, unaccountable and without mandate and that’s why the only way he can secure it is via the most brutal anti-democratic means.
The only solution to Thailand’s problems is more democracy, not less – and that is why those seeking a democrat and stable Thailand must remain deeply suspicious of Abhisit’s Democrat Party and the elites they represent.