Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Best thing I've seen written about the situation in Thailand

Two important statements about Thailand were released overnight.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn released his 'Red Siam' manifesto. Here's an extract:

It is not for one person to determine the common platform, which must of necessity be a collective decision. But as a staring point I offer the following ideas, the ideas of one red-shirted citizen.

1. We must have freedom of expression and the freedom to choose our own government without repression and fear.

2. We must have equality. We have to abolish the mentality of "big people-little people". We must abolish the practice of crawling to the royal family. Politicians must be accountable to the electorate, not to shadowy conniving figures beyond popular control. We need to build a culture where citizens respect each other. We must have freedom and equality of the sexes and among different ethnicities. We must respect women, gays and lesbians. We must respect Burmese, Laotians, Cambodians and the Muslim Malay people in the south. Women must have the right to choose safe abortions. Refugees should be treated with friendship and dignity as any civilised society would do.

3. Our country must be a welfare state. Taxes must be levied on the rich. The poor are not a burden, but are partners in developing the country. People should have dignity. The present exploitative society stifles individuals and destroys personal creativity.

4. In our country the king should honour his constitutional role and stop intervening in politics. But the ruling class in Thailand gain much from using the monarchy and they will not easily stop doing this. Therefore the best way to solve this problem is to build a republic where all public positions are elected and accountable.

5. For too long Thai society has been under the iron heel of the generals. We must cut the military budget and abolish the influence of the army in society ensuring that it can no long be an obstacle to democracy.

6. We must have justice. The judges should not claim power from the crown in order to stop people criticising their decisions. We must change the way that "contempt of court" laws are used to prevent accountability. We need to reform the justice system root and branch. We need a jury system. The police must serve the population, not extract bribes from the poor.

7. Citizens in towns and communities must take part in the management of all public institutions such as state enterprises, the media, schools and hospitals.

8. Our country must modernise. We need to develop the education system, transport and housing. We should create energy from wind and solar power to protect the environment.

9. Our country must be peace loving, not start disputes with neighbouring countries or support wars.

I fully support all but the last sentence of point #4 - instead I would seek the abolishment of the Privy Council, and an amendment to the lese majeste laws such that only the palace can make the charge.

I'm sure there will be much discussion of Ji's manifesto (even in Thailand), and kudos to him for sticking to his principles (unlike the current PM!)

Now, on to the BEST thing I have seen written about the Thai situation: it's here

Hat's off to the writer - I wish I could have written something like that.