Sunday, January 13, 2008

In Thailand: the people Vs the powerful

So far, the New Year in Thailand has seen powers behind the interim, junta-appointed government take every opportunity to whittle down the electoral advantage of the anti-coup party. The main instrument (so far) of their intentions is the Election Commission. The EC has issued a number of so-called "red-cards" and "yellow cards" mostly to PPP party candidates, effectively disqualifying these elected candidates on the grounds of various alleged infractions.

Well, it turns out that some rural voters of northern Thailand -- the people who elected the disqualified candidates -- are not amused. And they are taking to the streets. In what may well be the most honest editorial published by a Thai paper since the coup of September 2006, Bangkok Post (via Bangkok Pundit) sums up the predicament faced by the Thai government:
In response to the protest in Buri Ram province last week, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said: ''Thailand cannot use mob rule over the law. To do so would bring the country to a halt.''

He is right. But unfortunately his words carry little weight, coming from a man who took power after the military used tanks to subvert the will of the people. This is why coups don't rescue democracy; violence begets violence. And it will take time, patience and a lot of restraint from all sides to break away from the consequences of the many radical events that have happened during the past few years.

Think about the situation: the generals tore up the 1997 Constitution and now expect villagers to respect both a constitution drafted by the military and new laws passed in a non-elected Parliament. It is certainly understandable that the rural masses who supported deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra no longer trust the ''rule of law'' . . .
And the unrest continue. The Nation reported Sunday (also via Bangkok Pundit): "Two disqualified Chart Thai Party candidates led about 200 villagers from Chainart to protest at the Election Commission head office Sunday morning."

Stay tuned.

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