Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Abhisit/Democrats have had their chance - what's next?


Have I been too hasty to judge the Democrats, and could they be slowly working to improve things (walking a tightrope or in a minefield)?
PAD leaders might be charged soon, and here is a quote from Harry Nicolaides lawyer after his release:

Nicolaides's lawyer, Mark Dean, SC, said his client was locked up as part of a ploy by the former Thai government to appear tough on critics of the country's monarchy.

"I think it's fair to say that Harry was a political prisoner, and that the reasons for the commencement of this case against him were inextricably linked to the political crisis in Thailand in August 2008," Mr Dean said. "But since then, conditions have changed in Thailand, there has been a change of government, and the current Thai Government has done everything it can to support Harry's case.

If they progress the political reform consultative process, and propose an amendment to the Lese Majeste law so that only the palace can make the charge, then they will have shown they are at least better than their predecessors.
IMO, proposing such an amendment would be a great way for them to show their respect for the monarchy, and it would help to stop the monarchy from being continually dragged into politics.

Tavivoot over at Thai Intelligent News has pointed out that conservatives only see encouragement to do the right thing as a sign of weakness.

That's a very good point, but I disagree that it only applies to conservatives - to me it seems to be a very common trait amongst politicians of all political persuasions, and not only in Thailand!

It may be worse in Thailand due to the fear of 'loss of face' being a factor in addition to the usual political considerations.

As an aside, perhaps that helps explain why Thaksin still has not shown any sign of remorse for things that went wrong (or were wrong!) under his watch.

Just like the PPP led government failed to act in a reasonable and competent manner, this current Democrat led government is doing the same.

Abhisit appears reasonable with his smooth talking, but it's actions that count in the long run.

The handling of the Rohingya issue looks bad from an outsiders perspective, but I could imagine it would have been handled even worse by a Samak or Thaksin PM.
(It should also be remembered that the initial boat people incident happened in December when the new government had just taken over, so it could hardly be Democrat policy that caused the scandal)

There are, however, other things that the Democrat led government has had more control over, and it is the handling of those matters that has shown that they are hardly any better than their predecessors:

- Kasit as FM
(his past words mean he has to go, and they have missed their opportunity to do it quietly in the interests of reconciliation)

- PAD leaders to be held accountable
(even if the airport occupation charges are still being investigated, surely there are still outstanding charges from the government house occupation that can be acted upon in the meantime - IMO, getting Sondhi L in jail will go a long way towards moving the country forward)

- Lese Majeste & Internet crackdown
(looked at on it's own, without consideration of the political realities, the Democrats handling of this matter has been disgraceful - IMO, they should be setting a positive example and leading the debate on how to have the LM laws changed so that the monarchy can be kept out of politics)

- Reconciliation, Political/Constitutional reform
(on this matter, the Democrats have again let political considerations get in the way of simply doing what's right - IMO, they should work with the opposition to get a satisfactory amnesty bill and to get a consultative process going for constitutional reform)

This is what I said when Samak was removed:
"Samak is gone - even though the cooking show trigger for his demise was nonsensical, I wont be shedding a tear for him - had his chances to be reasonable, he wasn't, so I say good riddance!"

It is not hard to foresee a day when I will be saying something similar for Abhisit.