My dad just emailed me and asked about the political crisis in Thailand: Have things quieted down in Bangkok? I haven’t seen anything about the confrontations lately. Was anything accomplished for either side?
I answered, trying to get him to grasp the situation here:
Ha! Thais put on great dramas – complete with a delicious cast of characters.
One day the protesters are fighting with police and getting tear-gassed, the next they’re hugging each other after Prime Minister Yingluck went to the Chief of Police and gave him 2 million baht in cash to hand out to the officers guarding government buildings, telling him she didn’t want anyone to get hurt or killed, and to let the protesters into Police Headquarters and Government House!
And so the police helped the protesters dismantle the barricades and barbed-wire and they all had a great big hugging session! And no, I’m not even exaggerating any of this. One doesn’t need to exaggerate in this country – it’s bizarre enough as it is.
Thai police are the best that money can buy. They’ll quickly throw out all their principles for a few baht. Clearly, Yingluck understood this. (The police are as pro-Thaksin as the military is anti-Thaksin).
That’s one reason why foreigners love living here – everything is just so freakin’ bizarre.
That was last week. Actually, they wanted no violence on the King’s birthday, which was Thursday. So they hugged and cleaned up the streets, and then celebrated on Thursday, all the while protest leaders declaring it would be back to overthrowing the government on Friday.
So the protest leaders announced Monday was D-Day, the “Final Battle” day to overthrow the “Thaksin regime”. He said Monday will determine whether they win or lose. If a large number of people turn out, they will win. If not, they will end the protests and the leaders will turn themselves in to police on rebellion charges and fight in court.
The leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, is a bit of a loose cannon, but I must admit I admired him for this one. Well, huge numbers turned out Monday and the Prime Minister dissolved the House of Representatives – after all the opposition Democrat Party MPs resigned en masse on Sunday.
But the protests went on anyway (a Thai in my building who was there claimed there were 5 million protesters at Government House – surely an exaggeration). Suthep declared victory, elections are set for Feb 2.
Problem for Suthep is, they can’t win an election – or at least haven’t in the past 13 years. Thaksin-parties have won them all. That’s why these protests are really for LESS democracy. They want to reform the political system so the uneducated rural hordes will stop winning all the elections! Who needs democracy anyway? It doesn’t even work in a nation where the majority is poorly educated and clueless about what’s going on! (Not to mention easily bought-out by billionaire business tycoons-turned politicians.)
So Suthep and Co. want a royally-appointed interim prime minister and a “people’s council” (really getting loose with our terms now) to reform the system BEFORE the next election. Otherwise, it’ll just be the same old story – Thaksin party will win and form yet another government. And the anti-Thaksin groups will have to figure out yet another way to get rid of the new democratically-elected government.
Whew! What to do? Especially when the “international community” just doesn’t understand that Western-style democracy is not a cure-all for every country on the planet.