Sunday, August 31, 2008

PAD v's Samak (Rebellion or needed for Democracy to evolve?)

I am of the opinion that if either side is seen to ‘win’ completely, then that will be bad for democracy in Thailand.

There is no need for me to comment on what it would mean if PAD has a complete victory, but would a complete victory by Samak/PPP be the best outcome?

The stakes are so high now, that such a victory would basically say the government only needs to win elections - there is no need to be concerned with minority viewpoints - as long as the majority vote for us we can do what do what we like!

In most western countries we can live with election outcomes because there are functioning checks and balances to overcome the tyranny of the majority, but we all have seen how those checks and balances are continually manipulated in Thailand
(by all sides).

Also in most western democracies, we know the majority of the voters have a reasonable standard of education, and know that if the government acts badly, firstly the checks and balances will keep them under control, and if that fails the people will - at the next election.

(That’s the theory anyway, although lets wait until the next US election result to see if it still works that way, or has western democracy evolved to something else again?)

In Thailand, it has not even reached the ‘in theory’ stage because the level of education of the masses is relatively low, and they are also relatively poor.
Lets leave whose fault that is to another post, but IMO that leaves too much opportunity for slick operators to manipulate the masses.

Whether they are hoodwinked, seduced or co-erced becomes irrelevant, and all that counts is who won the election, and without functioning checks and balances that becomes bad democracy.

So whilst I would hate to see PAD have a complete victory, I think it is in the best interests of Thai democracy that Samak/PPP at least be seen to be acknowledging and addressing the legitimate concerns of the PAD rank & file, at the same time as they dismiss and ridicule the more outlandish claims of some of the PAD leadership.

Of course, I recognise that the country has gotten into this mess mainly because the elites over a long period of time have failed to acknowledge and address the legitimate concerns of the poor masses.

The only glimmer of hope I have is that over a long time (probably decades), the electoral masses might come to the realisation that they need politicians with integrity (not just handouts!).

In any case the time for the PAD protesters to leave government house is long overdue - go home, have a shower & sleep, let Samak govern, and if he has not learned the right lessons from this week, then there will always be other, more appropriate, times to resume the protests.