By Frank, this blog political journalist
Dictators in all but Name
Therayuth and Saksan are perhaps the best example of what had happened to Democracy in Thailand.
In 1974, they and group of students at Thamasart University led a successful up-rising against a military dictator, where a great many students were killed. In their escape of the military, many Thais went to hid in the palace. The palace then told the military dictators to step down.
Fast forward to 2006, the military staged a coup and the palace approved the power grab and Therayuth supported the coup. A year latter, the coup allowed for an election, but it is today still a coup government in all but name.
What went wrong?
What went wrong according to some academic is that the Amart system in Thailand, which is what every coup in Thailand is about, never really disappeared.
The Amart system basically is the control of Thailand by the net-work of upper-crust. Take the military drawn current Thai constitution as an example. It gives judges the ability to appoint Senators, the voting system dominated by old money and the privy council, in control of who becomes the Thai king.
Therefore Democratic principles suffer. In Thailand today, new blood politicians have little chance of gaining power, the Thai judiciary system and politics have become deeply intertwined, and the question of Royalty to the King and Nationalism, more important than concerns for Democracy.
But people like Thereabout are not ignorant by any means. They see the choice between Democracy and the Amart system, and yet they choose Amart.
Why is that?
The problem is that very few in Thailand know of which way to take-and so people like Therayuth revert back to the past of the Amart system.
That reverting is an attempt to counter Thailand’s experiment with a “People’s Democracy.” The highly Democratic 2002 constitution, or the so called people’s constitution, resulted in one party rule of Thailand for the longest time in Thailand’s political history.
While the level of abuse under that constitution, is clearly, now, less severe than under the current military constitution, what occurred during that one party long rule was very much what Jai Ungparkorn talked about-and that is the interest of the upper-crust was hurt.
Meaning, Democracy was acceptable by the upper-crust, ruling Thais, as long as the political system was weak and ensured this ruling class’s interest can be protected. But the moment, it became clear, that Thailand’s Democratic principles had advance, it was time to protect the Amart class again. And this is why so many Thais, such as Therayuth, have gone to support the Amart.
Saksan, meanwhile, did not joined the Amart of Taksin, but just simply taught and wrote about Democracy in Thailand.
But Thailand is in a crisis and its people divided. So can there not be a compromise?
Well, since the election of 2008, Thailand had been living a state of compromise, where both opposing side exerted the maximum damage on the other. The Yellow Shirt has demanded nothing but the Amart system with an Amart government, and the Red Shirt, now demanding, the opposite.
And peace talks have failed miserably.
As some academic are now saying, Thailand will be living in a state of flux and political development, for a long time. The consensus is, Democracy will be met by Amart, and the Amart be met by Democracy, long into the future.
As some key students leaders against the 1974 up-rising have showed-such as Therayugh and his final choice to protect the Amart system, and another leader Saksan who choose to teach about Democracy proves-Thailand is now in for a long-hull lesson in Democracy.
And until that lesson is learned, there will never be peace and order in Thailand.