- By Ranger, Thai Intel’s political journalist
Thailand is heading into an election, a time to decide between much of the same or to change!
The same means a general drift into the far extreme right/ To change means returning to a more open democracy.
It is an important time, that have raised many questions. Perhaps, looking at it from a “Strategic Management Concepts” such as mission, goals and tactics-can be useful.
- Democrat Party Mission: Serving the Establishment?
Abhisit, Thailand’s current prime minister, is from the Democratic Party, which for most of the party’s long history of existence, have been mainly about protecting the establishment’s interest, with a long known reputation of being cutting edge in politics, but just plain awful at managing the country. And it makes sense, how can the Democrat Party manage the country, when its main interest is simply serving the establishment. Even its populus policies are mainly the pacify the Thais for the establishment rule.
- Taksin’s Mission: Disfranchised Thais?
Taksin, Thailand’s former prime minister, who won consecutive landslide election but was kicked out by a coup, leads a series of political parties, that fundamentally changed Thailand. The target of all of Taksin’s political parties, have always been the interest of the majority of Thais. In Thailand, that means the lower middle class downward to the grass-roots. And it makes sense, from a political point of view since this is the majority of Thais and it also makes sense, economically, since the lower middle class downward, can be considered the “Blue Ocean” of Thailand-meaning, new agents of growth and prosperity for all.
- The Thai Military Mission: Religion, King & Country?
The Thai military, as always, have been the vanguard for the “Nation, King and Country” and thus have always been politicized, existing, as another dimension with its own thread and momentum, intersecting with Thai politics and influencing it. Here, the interest of the Thai people is mostly non-existence. The people, is only accorded attention, according to the level of their unity towards a goal-for example, in times of great liberalization mood in Thailand, the military will lie dormant and in times of great dis-unity of the Thais, the military becomes active.
But apart from the above over-riding philosophy or mission, the current election is also about “Goals.”
- Abhisit’s Goals: Bring Closure?
For Abhisit, since the Thai crisis, that take roots in the 2006 coup and exploding in climax in last year’s bloody crackdown, Abhisit is seeking “Closure” from the election. Meaning, if he wins the election, he can claim that the Thais supports his crackdown and thus legitimized the killings. That would mean, Abhisit can move forward, leaving the past behind.
- Taksin’s Goals: Gain Acceptance?
For Taksin, since the Thai crisis that started with the 2006 coup, it had been nothing but a long running battle to re-gain his acceptance back into Thailand. The middle class up-ward, have rejected Taksin and in that rejection, anything, no matter how wrong the action is, anything and everything was legitimized to destroy Taksin. The in-justice done, in the name of destroying Taksin, have very much destroyed Thailand itself-as everything about the Thai establishment bacame corrupted. Thus Taksin is all out in winning the next election, as so many Thai political analysts have said, “Taksin have turned off the engine and is on a head-on collusion with the democrat Party.”
- Prayuth’s Goals: Safety from A Military in Command?
For The Thai army chief, Prayuth, who lead the hardline on the crackdown of the Red Shirts last year-all the faults and blame for the killing of about 100 protesters clearly lies on his shoulders. Yet Prayuth, who “Hates” the Red Shirts to the maximum and see them as the enemy of Thailand, it is not the killing that concerns him, but the next government. Prayuth, having re-shuffle the Thai military internal workings so that most of the force commanders are his people, is secure in his position to a certain extent-meaning, he can always stage a coup in an instant if his position becomes threatened. But what is at stake is the general mood of Thailand-meaning, liberalism against the far extreme right. The mood of Thailand in the future, is something that can undermine, not just Prayuth, but the Thai military’s as a whole.
So in conclusion here, Abhisit seek “closure”, Taksin “acceptance” and Prayuth “safety” in the next election.
The Risk Factors: Non-Synergistic & Opposing Forces?
The risk involved is clear, in the tactic of the election itself-as already, much have been written about all the illegitimate tactic of the establishment that have now very much means the next Thai election will not be free or fair. Thus one core risk already, is that the election, is on the verge of being not-respected. With a few more examples of the establishment’s illegitimate tactics-the whole election will not be respected by many Thais-a people who are not very united as a country already.
But there are other risks-the risk of conflicting goals, personalities, and future arrangements:
In Thailand’s case, the goals themselves, of “Closure”, “Acceptance” and “Safety” do not spell a great recipe for a future smooth running Thailand.
Take if Taksin wins the election for example, the Red Shirts will press their case on the killing of protesters, on press freedom on amending the constitution back to the “People’s Constitution” to have it accepted. That means, a clear and direct assault of Abhisit’s goal of “Closure.” Or if Abhisit wins the election, his goal of “Closure” again runs directly against Taksin’s goal of being “Accepted.”
And in the meanwhile, as noted before, the Thai military, with little accountability to anyone, operates in Thailand with its own reality and lines drawn-meaning, anything is possible from the Thai military.
- And yet, there is another risk-in personality clashes.
Tactic wise, in the next election-it is Taksin taking the helm of the Pheu Thai Party and the Red Shirts. As for the establishment, there is a host of internal conflict in itself-ranging from Abhisit assentions vs Prayuth’s control and the Yellow Shirts election boycott. Then the coalition parties themselves, is in a great turmoil-in who will align with who and who will get the grade “A” cabinet posts? Then lastly, tactic wise, the election itself, is pitching messages that can further polarized Thailand. Such as “Vote for the Monarchy” message against the “Vote for Democracy” message.
A Plausible Conclusion?
In conclusion, fundamentally, closure, acceptance and safety can co-exists in peace and order. However, in Thailand’s case, the momentum is highly scattered and multi-directional, pitching major mission and goals differences into the melting pot. And with the election loosing whatever respect it has gained as to the solution to Thailand, the Thai situation is still open for speculation.
- Political Analysis: Wall Street Journal’s Taksin interview “Taksin still as positive as ever” (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- News & Analysis: Top Thai echelons to hold “Anti-Taksin” strategy meet & a proposel to “Shut Off” Thailand (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Political Intelligence: Bangkok up-for-grabs in next election as turmoil hits every party (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Social Psychology Analysis: “Anchalee the Foul Mouth” & the career of a typical Thai mainstream journalist (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Corruption Series (3): Abhisit “Fixing” the next general election (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)
- Political Analysis: Why did the Thai prime minister call for a general election? (thaiintelligentnews.wordpress.com)