Rescue by Hobbits? A small New Zealand’s press is concerned about Thailand’s delicate democracy

 

A great many globally are concerned about Thailand. The talk of civil war is getting louder and louder, and the Thai military is sending out all sort of signals, that it is ready for help the Bangkok establishment, meaning, ready to slaughter to put down an up-rising. Meanwhile, democracy have been beaten back by the courts and independent units, leaving Yingluck, herself struggling to survive politically, also having to try to find a way to salvage democracy. Globally, most news outfit, are entirely ignorant of what is really going on, pumping out only the usual “marketable narrative” that has little to do about reality. Well, at least, a small press in New Zealand, gets what is really going on, and is concerned about Democracy in Thailand. Like they say, “Hobbit comes to the rescue.”

The following is from New Zealand’s the Ortago Daily Times

Thailand’s delicate democracy

Home » Opinion (Source)

Wed, 5 Feb 2014

Editorial

New Zealanders watching developments in Thailand do so with apprehension.

Each day brings more problems and increased tension.

Each day increases the likelihood of a military coup or court action to topple the Government.

Protests in Bangkok have been large and vociferous and, not surprisingly, the election last weekend heightened the drama and the risks.

While most demonstrations have been peaceful, several people have been killed and injured during the past month. Violence does flare, and more widespread out- breaks cannot be far from the surface.

In the meantime, although tourists are specifically not targeted, tourism does suffer.

Hotel bookings this year are down in Bangkok, and flow-on effects to other parts of the nation are inevitable both for tourism and other business.

The Thai unit of Toyota Motor Corp, for example, has said it might reconsider a planned $600 million investment, and even cut output, if the unrest drags on.

So far, large numbers of visitors have kept going.

If, however, violence escalates or, as happened in 2008, the main international airport is blockaded, it would not take much for tourism, a central part of the country’s economy, to plummet.

Thailand is Southeast Asia’s most sophisticated and second-largest economy and a strong Western ally.

But it is imperiled as politics threatens to spiral further out of control.

Ironically, it is the business, bureaucratic and military elite, with strong middle-class backing, that is pushing to the country to and perhaps over the brink.

Out of any resulting chaos, it could well be many of them who will actually suffer.

The protesters proclaim they are all for democracy.

But, in essence, they are endeavouring to subvert the overall will of the people.

It is they who wanted the elections postponed.

Many of them would not mind the army taking over, as it has done many times in Thailand in recent decades.

It is they who argue for a so-called ”people’s council” to run the nation.

Their cry was ”reform before election”, and they point to corruption and say the strong rural support in the north and northeast for the Government is because votes are bought.

While they might well be correct to some degree about corruption, it has been endemic, regardless of whoever was in power.

There is, it could be argued, also an element of truth to bribery allegations in that the rice subsidy to growers – now proving to be unsustainable – encouraged strong rural support for the Government.

But democracy has always involved ”pork barrel” politics and rewards for support.

It is hard not to believe the demonstrators are primarily concerned with their own power.

They are from the urban middle classes and elites and the relatively wealthy south and play nationalist and royalist cards.

They can see new elites and new wealth developing around former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of the current prime minister, who fled overseas to avoid corruption convictions.

They also claim they have massive support, and their marches and gatherings in Bangkok are impressive.

But their ironically named Democrat Party has been whipped in each election since 2001.

Given their wealth and their connections, this must be galling.

Interestingly, comparisons are drawn between the ”whistle mob” of Bangkok and the Tea Party in the United States.

Both are substantial and strong-minded minority.

Neither can win at the ballot box.

Both are as disruptive as possible.

It seems the protesters, the ”white shirts”, appear intent on provoking conflict.

In a harsh crackdown, the Government loses legitimacy and the army could come in to take over.

Meanwhile, the Government’s ”red shirt” supporters must be losing patience as their resentment grows.

Their will, expressed through their votes, is being regularly disputed and disrupted.

Not surprisingly, violence is also not be far from the surface from that quarter.

Yesterday, the United States warned against any moves to stage a military coup in Thailand as anti-government protesters vowed to press on with their fight.

Sadly, there seems little room for compromise or for a way out of Thailand’s present predicament in a fair and peaceful way.

Reply:

The ‘white-shirts” are not the anti-government protestors who have been causing trouble in Bangkok. They are a group composed of both sides of the political divide who support democratic elections, a peaceful reolution to the current conflict,  and disagree with the disruptive tactics of the anti-government movement (see this link).

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