Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The underlying problem

From Wikipedia:
Meritocracy is a system of a government or another organization wherein appointments are made and responsibilities are given based on demonstrated talent and ability (merit), rather than by wealth (plutocracy), family connections (nepotism), class privilege (oligarchy), cronyism, tenurocracy (based in seniority), popularity (as in democracy) or other historical determinants of social position and political power. In a meritocracy, society rewards (by wealth, position, and social status) those who demonstrated talent and competence, demonstrated through past actions or by competition.

IMO, Thailand needs Meritocracy more than Democracy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Bangkok Pundit has made a feature of The Economist articles, but overall I think Crispin's piece is more on the money (despite some nitpicking regarding the voting number discrepancies being used as a way to try to undermine the general thrust of his piece).

I also think Fonzi is wrong when he agrees with The Economist that this mess is all about the monarchy - they are certainly a factor, but Thaksin is still the main cause of the disruption - if only he had moderated his actions (or been moderated by those around him), he would still be in power.

Whilst most mainstream reports portay the dispute as between 2 sides 'reds' and yellows', pro and anti- Thaksin, I think it is more than that and there are 4 main groups, as follows:

YELLOW 'side' is split into 2 major factions:

(a) OLD ORDER: Established business and military elites who want to keep their disproportionate share of the pie (Thaksin was eating into it for himself, his cronies and to a lesser extent, the poor)

(b) IDEALISTIC: Lower/Middle class, educated and moralistic people who cannot stand Thaksin's greedy, tax dodging, authoritarian personality flaws which in most western countries would make him unelectable, but are repeatedly overlooked by the electoral masses

RED 'side' is also split into 2 main factions:

(c) ANTI MONARCHISTS - they have been on the losing side since the 1970's and see Thaksin as a way to start winning some battles in the long running war

(d) DEMOCRACY: Activists, rural poor, taxi drivers etc - includes people who choose to overlook Thaksins flaws and those who love Thaksin simply because he was the first one to give something back

That's still a simplification, because each group has its own 'warlords' using the other members as cannon fodder.

Personally I have sympathy for groups (b), (c) and (d).

I think the IDEALISTIC and DEMOCRACY groups are ideologically not that far apart - they just need to recognize and accept the other side's point of view.
If the DEMOCRACY group dropped Thaksin, then the IDEALISTIC group would probably disband.

That would leave the battle to ANTI MONARCHISTS and the OLD ELITE - the simple solution for this battle is for the palace to change it's ways, dismantle the patronage system and rein in the old elite, in which case all but the hard core anti-monarchists would disappear.

As an added bonus, succession would no longer be such a big issue if the palace changed it's ways.

That's my 2 cents worth from my poor, idealistic perspective - but I'm a farang so I don't understand Thailand anyway!