Thailand crisis: Scholars warn of civil war — An alliance of senior scholars and activists voiced their concerns over the political crisis in Thailand on Friday, calling for an election as well as reforms, and warning of the risk of civil war.
The group calls itself “Two Yes, Two No”, is opposed to a coup and violence, and supports adhering to the constitution, electoral rights, and democratic reforms.
Composed of 10 civil society organisations and 70 individuals from various backgrounds, the group stated their concerns at a news conference at Thammasat University on Friday.
Thammasat University political scientist Kasian Tejapira had three messages for the leaders involved in the conflict, according to a Bangkok Post report.
For Suthep Thaugsuban (anti-government protest leader): Stop blowing your whistle and respect people’s voting rights.
For caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Thaksin Shinawatra: Be willing to embark on reforms through proper democratic channels – the government’s reform proposal is not a participatory format.
For army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha: Speak less, and don’t make ambiguous comments about the prospects of a coup.
Well, it’s nice to see some people are being reasonable with so many one-sided and rather extreme views being flung around.
Somkiat Tangkitvanij, president of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), noted that whatever the crisis situation, Thai people still had to live together.
“We cannot just get rid of the other side from the arena. Elections alone cannot reduce violence. Democracy does not mean majority rule only, but the respect of minority voices,” he said.
He urged the current anti-government protesters to understand the red-shirts group’s grievances about injustice, and for the red-shirts to understand the Bangkok protesters’ grievances on the government’s “abuse of power”.
The point here is that democracy is largely about showing tolerance for people with views different from your own.
As long as people are locked into the illusion that “I’m 100% right, and you’re 100% wrong”, conflict will continue.
Both sides need to realize that there are millions of Thais who disagree with them, and neither side is 100% right or 100% wrong.
Both sides have some valid points, and both have some extreme voices among them that refuse to acknowledge this.
Neither side will get 100% of everything they want – the other side simply will not allow it.
The situation is sliding dangerously close to more violence and even a possible civil war, which would be the worst thing that could possibly happen.
But there are some voices of reason and compromise speaking out. Listen to those voices, before things get worse.