Thai Crisis: Cato on Thailand’s cancerous Mussolini like movement & reverse revolution (Up-Date 2)

 

In a recent article by Doug Bandow (appeared in Forbes on February 3, 2014) the article on Suthep’s PDRC, headed, quote: “Yellow Shirt Protestors Act Like Mussolini’s Black Shirts.” Suthep relied on, says Dough, quote: “Storm Trooper Tactics.”

Suthep’s mobs seized public buildings, took over government ministries, blocked Bangkok streets, discussed occupying the stock exchange and shutting down the air traffic control system, and even threatened to kidnap the prime minister. The Thai Black Shirts met every failure by adopting more extreme tactics.
Doug says, quote: “Although the protestors wear yellow, associated with the Thai monarchy, they are the modern equivalent of Benito Mussolini’s Black Shirts, who seized power through the infamous 1922 march on Rome.”

The country faces extraordinary political turbulence. Wrote Nirmal Ghosh for the Straits Times: “Thailand’s conflict is complex and multilayered. It merges personality conflicts and revenge politics, class conflict, economic disparity and struggle over resources, and the fear of the urban middle class of a near future of rule by powerful corrupt politicians without the stabilizing presence of a morally strong and benevolent monarch.”

Doug says, quote: “ Suthep and his establishment friends insist on their right, and their right alone, to rule. His crowds evoke memories of fascist bullies in other nations cowing the majority and forcing their way into power. He claims to represent the nation but has only contempt for those who do not recognize his pretensions. On election day the Black Shirts even attacked Thais seeking to vote, throwing punches as well as water bottles and other objects. Four years ago Thaksin opponents demonstrated that they will rely on bullets if necessary.”

What Doug says, is similar to what many in Thailand have said, the Suthep’s PDRC movement is Fascist in nature. From the respected Nithirat Group, to the respected Jon Ungparkorn, to other democratic activist, all have long before Doug, branded Suthep’s PDRC movement as acting like Mussolini.
Back then, in February, Thailand has voted for the third time since the military staged a coup in 2006. The Thaksin’s populists won again. However, as Dough noted, the establishment thugs didn’t even compete and the country was headed toward more and more dangerous political turmoil.

Dough says, quote: “The opposition no longer believes in democracy.” Thailand’s misnamed Democrat Party and its ally, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), or so-called “Yellow Shirt” movement led by former DP deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, blocked Sunday’s vote.”

Since then, the Constitutional Court has thrown out that February election result.

(Up-Date 1) A grenade and gun attack on Suthep’s gathering, late at night, killed 3 and injured about 20. Total number of killed since Suthep went active is about 25, on all sides. Thailand’s army chief, Prayuth, after the USA says, will likely not stage a coup, has come out, to say, if the Thai crisis, continues to be violent, the army may use force (What-ever that means). Also, Thailand’s care taker Prime Minister, is trying to come to an agreement, with the well known, anti-democracy, Thai election unit to set an election date. Today, at one of the meeting between the two, Suthep protesters disrupted the meeting. The care taker prime minister, latest statement to Reuters, is that he doubt, the July 20th “Tentative General Election Date” is still possible (End).

(Up-Date 2) Reuters reports Thailand’s acting prime minister on Monday ruled out resigning as a way out of a protracted political crisis that is stunting economic growth, as anti-government protesters stepped up pressure to remove him and install a new administration. Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan has replaced Yingluck as caretaker prime minister, but the anti-government protesters say he has no legal standing and they want a “neutral” government to push through reforms. Niwatthamrong met members of the Senate, which is trying to come up with a way out of the deadlock, but he told them he would not resign. “The current cabinet is legal in every way … it must stay until a new cabinet of ministers is elected in. We cannot install another prime minister while we have an acting one in place,” Niwatthamrong said in statement following the meeting. Thailand has not had a functioning lower house of parliament since Yingluck dissolved parliament in December. Bangkok is the scene of a tense stand-off between government supporters loyal to Yingluck and her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and opposition demonstrators drawn from Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment. The upper house Senate, the country’s only remaining legislative body, says it could select an interim prime minister but it wants the caretaker government to step down first. That has incensed protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who wants the caretaker government removed right away. “We will take democratic power and hand it back to the people,” Suthep, a former deputy prime minister in a government run by the pro-establishment Democrat Party, told supporters late on Sunday (End).

And in what both NYT and WSJ called “Judicial Coup” threw out Yingluck from power, for re-placing Thailand’s intelligence chief, with her ally, a common practice globe over including Thailand. Doug noted:

“The opposition also may turn to the courts, long a reliable ally. The National Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating Yingluck’s role in a much-criticized rice subsidy program. Both the Supreme and Constitutional Court are hearing a number of highly political charges which could result in a ban of Yingluck, top Yingluck officials.”

And Suthep, after the Constitutional Court’s “Judicial Coup” that ousted Yingluck, is now trying to outs the new acting prime minister, and is working with various groups in Thailand, such as “Selected Senators” to usher in, an “Appointed Prime Minister” through various legal means, called “Illegal” by most.
What Thaksin, Yingluck and the nerw interim Prime Minister face is nothing new.

Before the 2006 coup, with crisis gripping Thailand, Thaksin called for an election and Thaksin won another big victory in 2005. But the following year the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy launched demonstrations to bring down his government. The military then ousted him in a coup. After rewriting the constitution to strengthen rule by establishment elites, the military held a new election in 2007, which was won by Thaksin’s successor party (though he remained in exile abroad).
The following year, in what has been described as the 1 percent rebelling against the 99 percent, PAD launched a series of protests to shut down the government — taking over Bangkok’s international airport and besieging parliament, for instance — and the security agencies refused to intervene. The courts stretched the law to oust Thaksin ally Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej as prime minister because he was paid to host a television cooking show.

Then establishment pressure on the government’s coalition partners caused them to shift to make the DP’s Abhisit Vejjajiva prime minister even though his party had not won even a plurality of the vote since 1992. In response angry Thaksin supporters, called “Red Shirts” — dominated by the rural poor and middle-class — flooded into Bangkok, filling the financial district and disrupting an international summit. The police and army rediscovered their commitment to public order and in 2009 cleared the streets, killing about 100 protestors and injuring thousands of others. Opposition leaders were prosecuted and imprisoned.

After that killing, Abhisit went to amend the constitution and approved US$ billions in special last hour type budget to buy political allegiances, to make his chances of winning the next election certain.

However, Abhisit was overwhelmingly defeated in 2011 by Yingluck, Thaksin’s sister, and her Pheu Thai party. Last fall PAD relaunched itself as the PDRC and mounted large demonstrations after her government proposed an amnesty which would have allowed Thaksin, convicted in absentia of corruption charges, to return to Thailand. Massive protest occurred because of that amnesty, to which Yingluck quickly reversed course and called for a stop to it. But it was too late, “The Spark” had been ignited, on top of what Suthep’s says, had been his “Carefully Lay Plans” already for years against the Thaksin camp.

And agsin, ss before, with Sondhi of the Yellow Shirts tactics against Thaksin, Suthep relied on, says Dough, quote: “Storm Trooper Tactics.”

Suthep’s mobs seized public buildings, took over government ministries, blocked Bangkok streets, discussed occupying the stock exchange and shutting down the air traffic control system, and even threatened to kidnap the prime minister. The Thai Black Shirts met every failure by adopting more extreme tactics.
Yingluck responded, much the same as Thaksin, by calling an election. So the Black Shirts proceeded to block candidate registrations, early voting and on the general voting date, making a normal election impossible.

With that, “Incomplete General Election” because of the Black Shirts, the February 2014 election results nullified by the Constitution Court, citing that, a total 100% of elections must be held on the same day.

Currently, a new election date s being “Hotly Debated” with many academics, saying, with Suthep, stopping just one polling station, from being able to vote, on the general election voting day, the Constitutional Court, will likely throw out the election result again.

PRDC leader Anchalee Paireerak told the New York Times: an election “is not our objective.” The DP’s Theptai Seanapong, who resigned from parliament and refused to contest the new poll, admitted “We cannot beat them.” Sathit Wongongtoey, another protestor, complained: “they will return to power. We cannot allow that to happen.”

As for Yingluck, complained journalist Wasant Techawongtham: “This is no democratic regime, and it is clear from all its past actions that it is using its power not for the nation’s interests but for the interests of its de facto leader Thaksin Shinawatra and his cronies in government.” Perhaps true, but that sounds a lot like most democracies. As H.L. Mencken observed, “every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” The operation and outcomes of democracy can be ugly, inefficient, unfair, even immoral. There is no better system, however.

Yet Suthep and his establishment friends insist on their right, and their right alone, to rule. Doug says, quoye: “His crowds evoke memories of fascist bullies in other nations cowing the majority and forcing their way into power. He claims to represent the nation but has only contempt for those who do not recognize his pretensions. On election day the Black Shirts even attacked Thais seeking to vote, throwing punches as well as water bottles and other objects. Four years ago Thaksin opponents demonstrated that they will rely on bullets if necessary.”

Doug says also, quote: “The opposition also may turn to the courts, long a reliable ally. The National Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating Yingluck’s role in a much-criticized rice subsidy program. Both the Supreme and Constitutional Court are hearing a number of highly political charges which could result in a ban of Yingluck, top Yingluck officials, and her entire party. However, Red Shirt activists, who so far have avoided violently challenging the Black Shirts, are unlikely to peacefully accept a judicial coup. There already have been isolated gun shots and bombings, though no one has taken responsibility.”

If all else fails, the Black Shirts are likely to take more radical steps to overthrow the new government. Chaos in Bangkok, and especially violent clashes with Yingluck supporters, might cause the military to stage another coup, though the armed forces leadership so far has remained neutral. The 2006 coup leader, Sonthi Boonyaratglin, opposes such a takeover: “If you love the country and the king, you better stop thinking about it.” He warned that the military likely would face violent resistance from not just the Red Shirts but the “mass” of people.

Doug concluded, quote: “Thaksin may be a blight upon Thai politics, but Suthep and his allies are a cancer. Unfortunately, in Thailand democracy does not guarantee good government. However, authoritarian, undemocratic rule would be far worse. There is no easy answer to Thailand’s problems. But Suthep’s Black Shirts will bear the primary blame if their nation descends further into violence and disorder.

The Following is from Cato at Liberty (Source)

May 14, 2014 10:07AM

Thailand’s Reverse Revolution: Angry Elites Target Democracy

By Doug Bandow

Thailand continues its slow motion political implosion. The prime minister has been ousted and a new election has been scheduled for July 20, but the latter will settle nothing unless traditional ruling elites are willing to accept a government run by their opponents. If not, the country risks a violent explosion.
Bangkok’s politics long leaned authoritarian. However, in 2001 telecommunications executive Thaksin Shinawatra campaigned as a populist, winning the votes of Thailand’s neglected rural poor to become prime minister.

Instead of figuring out how to better appeal to the popular majority, his opponents organized the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy which launched protests to topple his government. The military ousted the traveling Thaksin in 2006 and tried him in absentia for alleged corruption. The generals then rewrote the constitution and called new elections.

However, Thaksin’s successor party won a plurality and dominated the resulting coalition. Thaksin’s opponents then launched a wave of demonstrations and the courts ousted the prime minister on dubious grounds.

When so-called Red Shirt Thaksin supporters flooded into Bangkok to protest the de facto coup, Democrat Party Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government, backed by the military, killed scores and injured thousands of demonstrators, and imprisoned numerous opposition leaders.

Then Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s sister, and her Pheu Thai party won an absolute majority in the 2011 election. So PAD morphed into the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by former DP deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, one of those responsible for the 2010 killings. Channeling Benito Mussolini and his infamous Black Shirts, Suthep organized mobs to drive her from office and called on the military to stage a coup.

In response, Prime Minister Yingluck called new elections, further angering the opposition which knew it would lose. Suthep’s forces blocked many Thais from voting in February. His attacks left enough constituencies unfilled to prevent the new parliament from taking office.

Then, in March, the opposition-controlled Constitutional Court invalidated the entire election because the government’s opponents had prevented Thais from voting. Yingluck remained caretaker prime minister with only limited power to govern. Now the Constitutional Court has ousted her over the attempted reassignment of a government official. Suthep and his allies hope to install a compliant unelected prime minister.

But leaders of the United Front for Democracy, or Red Shirts, promised to respond violently to any judicial coup. In the past, the widely respected king was able to transcend party factions, but he is aged and largely disengaged while other members of the court back Suthep.

As I point out in my new article on National Interest online: “Thaksin has been justifiably criticized, but his opponents generate more heat than light. For instance, his corruption conviction, in absentia by a compliant court under a military regime, proves little. One can criticize Thaksin’s populist approach, but political parties around the world commonly adopt a “tax and tax, spend and spend” election strategy.”

Suthep denounced Yingluck as a tool of her brother, but many Thais supported her because they believe she represents his views. Ultimately, Suthep and his supporters are most interested in gaining power for themselves.

So far Thailand’s generals have demonstrated no interest in taking control again. The only real solution can come from the political process.

For instance, a Thaksin family withdrawal from politics would help ease political tensions. However, that would be more likely if he did not fear, with good cause, being targeted by his enemies. It is even more essential to exclude those who have been employing violence for their own political ends, most notably Suthep and Abhisit.

Constitutional reform also might ease social conflict. Reducing the central government’s reach and devolving authority to provinces would reduce the winner-take-all character of Thai politics.

Putative authoritarians like Suthep most risk plunging Thai society into violence. Establishment elites must pull their country back from the brink.

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