Thailand and Democracy

We have good news coming from Thailand. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced last week that he will dissolve Parliament in May to pave way for national election to be held in late June or early July. Ever since the announcement, Thai politicians and civil society activists are having heated debates within political parties, and social groups, and out in the open in the newspapers, television and the social media. I would be quite happy if the arguments and debates are about how to conduct a clean and fair national election, or how to stop corruptions and vote-buying, but instead the debate focused on whether election should be postponed for four or five years to allow an appointed-government by the King to run the country. Many don’t think Thailand is ready to have an elected government coming from either the red or yellow shirts. Those who are against the next election come from the People Alliance for Democracy (PAD), a coalition of several groups formed in the last couple of years in a nation-wide campaign to get rid of the former Prime Minister Thaksin and his “corrupted government”. They called themselves “yellow shirts” in support of the monarchy. They want to use Article 7 of the Thai constitution to have the government of “good” people to be appointed by the King. They don’t think that holding election at this time will solve the country’s problems of corruptions and divisions among people in the country. No matter which side wins. Despite having “democracy” in naming their group, in reality, many PAD leaders are authoritarians. One of the leaders made a recent public statement saying that during the 79 years since 1932 revolution, Thailand had been more ruined under elected governments than under military juntas or appointed governments. This view is widely disseminated through newspapers articles under a heading such as “Thailand doesn’t need democracy”. If election is going to be held in two-three months, the PAD leaders said that they would boycott it by casting a “no vote” on the ballot. They encouraged the people to follow them in this act of defiance. I think that the PAD leaders should stop being so arrogant as to tell Thai citizens how to vote in the next election. By doing so, they insult the intelligence of Thai voters. Everybody has a right to make his or her decision on who should be elected to form a new government. It is not possible to have unelected government in a democracy. Thailand has a constitution that is based on a democratic principle, recognizing equality of all citizen to have a say in all decisions that affect their lives. Respecting the rule of laws, of human rights, and of freedom of thoughts are important ingredients of Thai democracy for more than two decades. The country has been lucky to have recent past and present government leaders who believe in democratic principle. That is why I think that it is ridiculous for PAD leaders in this day and age to attempt to pull the country backward politically. But I don’t think that they will succeed in getting much support in the “no vote” campaign. After a long wait, the majority of people in Thailand want to use their voting power in this coming election to make a change, to have a government of their own choice, and to move the country forward to a better future.

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