[Marxism] Thailandi socialist on rightist "second coup for the rich"
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Dec 3 06:50:59 MST 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Thailand- A Second "Coup for the Rich"
by Thai Socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Today the Constitutional Courts dissolved the democratically elected
governing party in Thailand for the second time, forcing the Government to
resign. This follows the refusal of the Armed Forces and the Police to
follow government instructions to clear the two international airports
blocked by armed PAD Fascists. The Royalist alliance against the government
are made up of the Fascist PAD, the Military, the Police, the Judiciary, the
mainstream Media, the "Democrat Party", most middle class academics and The
Queen. They are all behind this judicial coup. A leading "Democrat Party" MP
is one of the leaders of the illegal blockade of the two airports. The
Yellow-shirted PAD have "armed guards" which have repeatedly shot at
opponents. They constantly use violence and now demand "joint patrols" with
the Police. The PAD have constantly broken the law, and yet they are
"untouchable". On the rare occasion when PAD leaders are forced to attend
court, they are given bail and allowed to go back and commit the same crimes
over and over again.
The majority of the Thai population, who are poor, face a Double Whammy.
First, the elite Royalist are doing everything possible to take away their
basic democratic rights. Secondly, mass job-losses are occurring among
workers in the tourist industry as a result of the airport blockade. Jobs in
agriculture and electronics are also affected and of course we are faced
with the serious World Economic Crisis. The elites do not care if the Thai
economy is trashed and Thailand returns to a poor Third World nation. In
such nations the elites continue to live the same lives as the rich in the
Developed World. The PAD protestors are middle-class extremists who do not
have to go to work, hence their prolonged protests.
We are constantly told by the conservatives that the poor are "too stupid to
deserve the right to vote". The army staged a coup in 2006 and re-wrote the
Constitution in order to reduce the democratic space and also to absolve
themselves of any wrong-doing. The electorate have repeatedly voted in
overwhelming numbers for the government party, whether it be Thai Rak Thai
or Peoples Power Party. Now Peoples Power politicians are moving to the new
Pua Thai Party. Will fair election be held? Or will the elites engineer a
"fix" to make sure that their people win?
What is the root cause of this crisis?
The root cause of this crisis is not the corruption of the Thaksin
government in the past. It isn't about vote-buying, good governance, civil
rights or the Rule of Law. Politicians of all parties, including the
Democrats, are known to buy votes. The elites, whether Politicians, Civil
Servants or Military, have a history of gross corruption. Even when they
don't break the law, they have become rich on the backs of Thai workers and
small farmers. The Democrat Party is stuffed with such millionaires.
Ironically, the Thai Rak Thai party was helping to reduce the importance of
vote-buying because it was the first party in decades to have real policies
which were beneficial to the poor. They introduced a universal health care
scheme and Keynesian Village Funds. People voted on the basis of such
policies. The Democrats and the conservative elites hate the alliance
between Thaksin's business party and the poor. They hate the idea that a
government was using public funds to improve the lives of the poor. This is
why the anti-government alliance is against democracy. The PAD have
suggested reducing the number of elected MPs and a recipe to do away with
the principle of "one person one vote". So the root cause of the problem is
the conservative elite's contempt for the poor and their contempt for
democracy. They are prepared to break the law when it suits them.
What is the solution?
Business leaders and the Royalist elites are demanding an un-elected
National Government. The Democrat Party leader has "volunteered" to be the
Prime Minister! Such a National Government would complete the judicial coup
for the rich. It would be a victory for the PAD and a defeat for the
The Red Shirts, who are organised by government politicians, are the only
hope for Thai democracy. They have now become a genuine pro-democracy mass
movement of the poor. This is what is meant by "Civil Society", not the PAD
fascists. Thai academia fails to grasp this basic fact. But the Red Shirts
are not a "pure force". Many have illusion is ex-Prime Minister Thaksin.
They overlook his gross abuse of human rights in the South and the War on
Drugs. But these human rights issues are also totally ignored by the PAD and
Throughout this 3 year crisis, the majority of the Thai NGO movement
(especially the NGO-Coordinating Committee) has failed to support democracy.
Many welcomed the 2006 military coup. Many supported the military
Constitution. Now they are either silent or are echoing the demands of the
Army Chief, who said last week that the government should resign. At no
point have they attempted to build a pro-democracy social movement. Many
believe that the poor are "uneducated and lack enough information to vote".
The honourable examples are the Midnight University in Chiang-Mai, some
sections of the labour movement, groups of new generation NGO activists and
The economic crisis
Millions of jobs are being destroyed by the World Economic Crisis and the
unrest in Thai society. People are being driven back into poverty. Yet the
Democrat Party, the Military, the conservative elites and the mainstream NGO
movement do not have a clue or do not care one jot about the necessary
policies to defend the living standards of the poor. They make chants about
the King's Sufficiency Economy and the need for Fiscal Discipline. In other
words, the poor must trim their spending and learn to live with their
poverty while the rich continue to live in luxury.
We desperately need massive government spending on infrastructure, job
protection and a serious expansion of welfare. Value Added Tax should be
reduced or abolished and higher direct taxes should be levied on all the
rich elites without any exceptions. The bloated military budget should be
cut. Wages should be raised among workers. Poor farmers should be protected.
This will only happen in a climate of genuine democracy. This is why we must
oppose this second "Coup for the Rich".
-- Giles Ji UngpakornFaculty of Political ScienceChulalongkorn
UniversityBangkok 10330, Thailand+66-(0)813469481UK mobile:+44-(0)
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