Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abhisit offers a solution???

I may have been a bit harsh on Abhisit - he appears to have offered an alternative solution (not the 9 months delay) and the Red leaders either missed, or ignored that offer.

Get the tapes out - Did Abhisit offer a referendum on dissolution?

If Abhisit did make the offer, Day 3 talks should centre on pinning him down on a quick timetable for a
combined referendum/election.

The process is simple - Thanks to the following comment by The truth is out there on Bangkok Pundit's excellent site.

"Two things come to my mind.

“make a decision based on a consensus from the entire country”

It reminds me about recall election in California. The process is quite straight forward and efficient. There are two question.
1. Do you want to recall a Governor (Do you want a new election?)
2. If majority vote for recall, who do you want to vote for?

So basically, you start by ask people if they want a new election. So problem of "hearing the the consensus of entire country is answered". If the answer is no, the second question is moot.

The nice thing is that if the answer is yes, you don't need to spend extra money for election.

Every body seem to miss one point that new election does not guarantee PT to win sufficient majority. Most likely, they will win big but probably not big enough to form government by themselves. IMO, the foot print of PT after election will be fairly similar to what it is now. It is highly possible that Dem and current coalition can win sufficient majority to form a stable government. And it will be very legit one.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 2 roundup: Is he afraid or is he under orders?

Red's say 15 days, Abhisit says 9 months

Some will think the reds are unreasonable for not accepting Abhisit's timetable, but would you be so patient in their circumstances?

For all the talk, accusations, bluster & delaying, doesn't it all come down to one question:

Do you believe in democracy or not?

Democracy is not perfect, but is anyone aware of a better system?

Like it or not, Abhisit's legitimacy
IS in doubt - does anyone seriously dispute that?

No amount of smooth talking can get away from the fact that PM Abhisit is the illegitimate child of a military & judicial coup, but, there is a clear way for him to gain legitimacy, and remove once and for all any doubts.

To resolve the obvious doubt on his legitimacy, all he need do is ask the people decide, and he needs to do it as soon as possible for the sake of the country.

The current government has been in place since Dec08, another 15 days will make it nearly
500 days too many for anyone who truly believes in democracy - does Abhisit seriously expect those who have had their votes stolen to wait patiently for another 300 days?
How insensitive can he be to the spirit of democracy?

All his excuses about needing to manage the economy, amend the constitution etc, are just that:

Is more, or less, economic damage likely if things are left to continue to fester?

Minor coalition parties concerns about the constitution seem insignificant when the country is in such an stalemate, and anyway, it's the Reds parties that have been punished most under the current military imposed constitution, yet they appear to be prepared to go to an election EVEN with the current rules stacked against them!

We need to ask ourselves, why doesn't Abhisit want to prove his legitimacy?
Does he believe in democracy ot not?
Is he afraid, or is he under orders?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Change without change


I've slept on it, read some more reports of the 'reconciliation talks' and offer the following additional thoughts (based on a comment response I made over at Bkk Dan's site):

I’d love to believe Abhisit and his backers were genuine, but I just cannot drink their Kool-Aid – cannot see their ‘concession to talk’ as anything more than trasformismo (change without change).

The people of Thailand are more informed now than ever – yesterday’s live tv talks were better than most leaders debates I’ve seen leading up to elections in western democracies.

Come on Abhisit, do the right thing for once – stop your delaying tactics, just dissolve the house, let the people decide who they want to govern the country, and who they want to be in control of its political reform process.

If you don’t do it, the only conclusions I can reach are that you are afraid of elections, afraid of democracy, afraid of the people, and afraid of your military/elite backers (or you are not the upstanding ‘Democrat’ you make youself out to be, and are only in it for your ego, and the vested interests of your backers)

The proof will be in the pudding:
Believing Abhisit is genuine in these ‘reconciliation talks’ is the ultimate in naivety IMO (as is believing he has any legitimacy with anywhere near the
majority of the Thai population – even Abhisit knows it, and thats why he will do whatever he can to delay & avoid elections – if he & his backers thought they could win an election they would jump at it, never mind the constitution & political reform

Style v's Substance (Smoke & Mirrors)

My quick thoughts on the talks between government (Abhisit) and Red Shirt leaders.

- Wow! I was out all day and got quite a shock to see the talks already happening when I got home.

- Initially I was hopeful, but seeing Abhisit in action I got that same old feeling
(he's trying to smooth things over with talk, but all the while having no intention of really following through!)

- Abhisit is clearly about 'appearing' reasonable, but delaying at all costs.
(hopefully the viewing public can see through his smoke & mirrors)

- For Abhisit and his backers this latest 'concession' is 'trasformismo' (change without change)

- Abhisit has the style, but Dr Weng & Veera have the substance
(that's my take, as a farang, but I expect various Thai groups will see it differently)

- Dr Weng scored the most points, but his lengthy speaking style is a handicap on public tv
(that said, only the most partisan would miss that he's clearly intelligent, knowledgeable, passionate and sincere)

What do I expect tomorrow?

Well, Thai politics is like a magic world to me, unfathomable! - so the only prediction I will make is that Abhisit will continue delaying, and any timetable he proposes will make sure the army reshuffle is bedded down before the ammart control is (seen to be) relinquished.

What comes first: Dissolution or Constitution changes?

Why not do both in the one stroke?
At the election, give the people a chance to choose between the 1997 or 2007 constitutions.
(whichever is chosen can be amended later anyway, through the parliamentary process)
I'm a lazy philistine when it comes to legal procedures, but am wondering why couldn't the negotiations agree that Parliament propose the 1997 constitution as the amendments to the current constitution, and seek a referendum to ratify it?
Update: Yes, I know thats unrealistic, so how about we just make the main theme of the election: 'Which political parties do the people want to be in control of leading the political reform process?' - basically let the people choose the make up of the parliament as the country embarks on another political reform process - seems fair, reasonable, sensible & logical to me (unfortunately none of those things are usually seen as desirable qualities when it comes to the Thai political system, especially on the non-red side:)

What's the minimum reds should accept before ending protests?

I'd say their bottom line should be a firm commitment that parliament will be dissolved within 2 weeks, and an election within 3 months.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bloody Thailand - Exit Strategy/Tactical Retreat

Message to red protestors:

To continue now means adopting PAD type escalation tactics aimed to provoke, but you do not have the 'protection' from above that your yellow counterparts have.
Their treatment was an aberration in Thailand, you will not be treated so kindly, and you can expect the typical iron fist, not the kid gloves with which they were dealt - please save your blood for another day.

It's time to go home - you have already proven Abhisit is still afraid of elections, and prefers your blood over going to the people to test if he can truly be a legitimate PM.

Continue raising issues of double standard in the country, don't put all your faith in any leader, and try to to listen to, and understand the concerns of those who see things differently than you do.


I'm pleased they didn't go home before Saturday's wonderful convoy through the streets of Bangkok - and I admit I'm a poor tactician:)


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Less violent, but otherwise it's the same old story

I'm pleased that there has been no real violence to date, and it seems both the government and protesters have learned from the past.
(also more people have camera's at hand now so hopefully any actions by agent provocateur's will quickly be able to be seen as such).

My biggest complaint regarding the media coverage (including many bloggers) is that most are taking a very short term view and cannot see the wood for the trees.
Concentrating on one red herring after another misses the big picture, and plays right into the hands of those who comprise the real power in Thailand.

Most overlook how the current government came into power – no amount of spin can get away from the fact that this government is only in power because of a military & judicial coup.
The lead coalition partner, Abhisit’s (not so) Democrats, refused to participate in elections before the coup, and even after having things rigged in its favour and competitors removed, its still afraid to face the people in an election.

They also fail to look at the history of miltary coups in Thailand, where its always some military General or other deciding a group of ‘corrupt’ politicians need to be removed – the first act of those generals is always to change the constitution to exonerate themselves, and then they move on to enriching themselves and whichever network they are aligned with.
A push then comes for democracy from the people, sometimes elections are held, and sometimes another coup occurs, or even a ’self coup’.

The people are never given the chance to remove governments – The old saying: ‘The rural masses elect the governments and the Bangkok elite removes them’ is a cycle being repeated endlessly.
Like it or not Thaksin's TRT was the only government to win consecutive elections – it should have been left to the people to decide when they want to remove that government.

No lasting good will ever come from a military coup, because two wrongs will never make a right.

If anyone is interested in the background of HOW its been possible for the masses to be continually disenfranchised, they could start with books by Paul Handley & Federico Ferrara.


In some private contacts it's become apparent that the point I'm trying to make above has again been missed.

For clarification: My point is that democracy has never been ALLOWED to develop in Thailand - since the change from absolute monarchy in 1932, individual players have come and gone (although some have stuck around longer than others:)

Whilst prominent individual politicians have many flaws, the real issue is the system and how military coups have not been delegitimized - ask yourself why is that so? (if you answer that it's because of corrupt politicians, then you are missing the point again:)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why protest?

For those who, like me, have an aversion to Facebook, I'm posting this here as a quick reference of the Red/UDD aims.
(I found it on Teakdoor.com and it apparently comes from Sean Boonpracong/UDD's facebook site)


Thailand has existed as a democracy in name but not substance for too long. We have stood by as our elected governments were brought down by the might of vested interests. We have endured the hijacking of our media and our judicial system. We have remained silent as those who would lead us failed time and time again to address our legitimate concerns. But a turning point is about to be reached in Thai history.

We, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) are determined to see Thailand become a nation where the principles of democracy, human rights, and equal justice are not only espoused but upheld. As such, we stand opposed to the illegitimate government of Abhisit Vejjajiva and the aristocracy that backs him. In the coming months, we will launch a campaign aimed at uniting the Thai people in opposition to this junta and bringing about free and fair elections. This campaign is based upon 6 principles:

1) Achieving the goal of establishing a genuine democracy that has the King as our Head of State, with political power belonging exclusively to the people. We reject any attempt, past or future, at using the monarchy to silence dissent or advance a particular agenda.

2) Dissolving the 2007 Constitution and restoring the 1997 Constitution, which may then be amended through a transparent, consultative and democratic process.

3) Bringing Thais together in an effort to solve our political and socio-economic problems, recognizing that such efforts must stem from the power of the people.

4) Implementing the rule of law, due process and a system of equal justice for all, free of any obstructions or double-standards.

5) Uniting all Thais who love democracy, equality, and equal justice within all facets of society, in an effort to deconstruct and move beyond the Amartyatippatai (Aristocracy) system.

6 ) Using exclusively non-violent means to achieve these objectives. We are a peaceful movement, whereas the aristocracy maintains its power through the barrel of a gun. We know that the coming struggle will be as long as it is painful. But our cause is virtuous, just as the status quo is unacceptable. In the coming months, the establishment will use every means at its disposal in its efforts to counter us, including lies and propaganda, legal wrangling, intimidation and violence. This is an opponent that supported the hijacking of our airports and the use of military force to bring down an elected government and suppress the dissenting public. But whatever they throw at us, we will endure it, and we will succeed.