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A Democratic Movement That's Not So Democratic (Thailand)

GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
edited August 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/08/26/thailand.protests/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7581565.stm

I've been residing in Bangkok for a few years now making a living teaching English to students and doctors when today I woke up to the BBC (and to a far lesser extent, CNN) reporting that protests staged by the People's Alliance for Democracy has stepped things up a notch, breaking into government buildings and generally being obnoxious. I had to hear about this on the news because the protests are concentrated mostly near the main government sections of this over-sized city and so it's pretty quiet near my place. I have to ask though, does anyone really know what all the fuss is about?

As far as I can tell, these are the same people who clamored for the resignation of the last prime minister back in 2006 which culminated in the military staging a full-blown coup and taking over the country, instituting martial law and blocking Youtube. After forcing their own elected PM into exile and dissolving his whole party, they then proceeded to have somewhat free and fair elections in an attempt to restore normality. Well it seems that they still aren't happy with the results and even though their former prime minister is back in exile and his assets seized, they somehow got in in their heads that he's still pulling the strings behind this new government. Now this so-called movement for democracy is calling for the installation of a non-elected parliament and an end to populist politics that buy votes from the rural poor (apparently fueling money into the public sector and reducing interest rates for loans counts as buying votes in this country). And while Youtube is back, the political structure still has all the stability of a Jenga tower in endgame.

So after appreciating the beauty and cosmopolitan culture that this nation has had to offer, enough to make me want to stay longer than I initially planned, I think I'm starting to look forward to returning to Texas. Say what you want about our broken American political system - at least we usually vote the leaders we don't like out of office. Or failing that, we bide our time and try harder in the next elections. I guess my point is that nothing makes one appreciate a dumbed-down, divisive, two party electorate overrun with special interests like a system that can't go twenty years without overthrowing their own elected leaders under the guise of national integrity, or even more paradoxically, democracy.

On the other hand, our current national debt stands at over 9.6 trillion dollars. Whatever.

Glyph on

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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I will say, thank you for the crash course. I've been scratching my head over what the fuck's been going on down there the past few years.

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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    BamelinBamelin Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I used to work with street involved youth in Toronto. It was my standard practice to point out all the opportunities we have here in Canada when kids complained about how "hard they have it".

    We have it so good in western countries in terms of political rights, opportunties to get ahead and our overall standard of living.

    Bamelin on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Damn, I've been meaning to visit Thailand for a while. It's like a stone's throw away from China. I'll let you know if I'm ever in the area.

    Were you there in the 2006 coup? One of my Thai friends took some pictures of a tank on the street, but said it wasn't anything special.

    Loren Michael on
    a7iea7nzewtq.jpg
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    GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    It really wasn't. It suspended and eventually dissolved parliament and established what amounted to a royalist-backed military dictatorship but inner-city denizens treated it like it was a goddamn holiday. A coup is still a coup, no matter how bloodless or even festive.
    tank1.jpgthai_coup_kids_tank.jpgtank.jpgultramen_350x236.jpg

    Thailand: Where everyone is smiles and everything is a tourist attraction... even political upheaval.

    Glyph on
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    GoslingGosling Looking Up Soccer In Mongolia Right Now, Probably Watertown, WIRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    My God, that last picture.

    Gosling on
    I have a new soccer blog The Minnow Tank. Reading it psychically kicks Sepp Blatter in the bean bag.
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    GlyphGlyph Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    If it helps, that's actually them getting arrested after posing with a tank. Which was apparently off-limits to performance artists.

    Glyph on
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    CauldCauld Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I was in Thailand during the coup. I got woken up by a text message from my friend that said "Thailand just had a coup". I was scared. School was cancelled that day (I was a teacher). But beyond that I hardly noticed it (never even noticed the blocked youtube), not being in Bangkok. There seemed to be more soldiers around afterwards.

    I'm not yet well versed on these more recent developments, but I know there are a lot of problems in the Thai poltical system. Whether or not Thaksin (the former PM) is the defacto leader of this new party, I don't think its difficult to argue that the new party is made up of mostly the previously banned party. Not that this should be a surprsie or anything.

    Thailand seems to have problems with its judicial and political systems. They had problems forming a new consistution after the coup, and even agreeing on the process to making a new constitution. There seems to be plenty of corruption, yet the corruption charges they brought against Thaksin didn't really go anywhere (they did take his stuff though).

    But I also think that its a testament to Thailand that the country didn't go to shit during or after the coup and that they returned to democracy. Amongst their neighbors, only Malaysia is a democracy. And it is quite peaceful there. Obviously things could improve and I hope they do. Sadly recent development seem about par for the course.

    Cauld on
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