Socialist Worker

A second “coup for the rich” in Thailand

by Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Issue No. 2130

Today Thailand’s constitutional courts dissolved a democratically elected governing party 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 Bangkok’s airports blocked by armed People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) fascists.

Elated PAD activists have now lifted their occupation of the airports.

The royalist alliance against the government is made up of the 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 was 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, but are “untouchable”. On the rare occasions 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 royalist elite are doing everything possible to take away their basic democratic rights.

Second, mass job losses are occurring among workers in the tourist industry, agriculture and electronics. On top of this we are faced with the world economic crisis.

The PAD protestors are middle class extremists who do not have to go to work, hence their prolonged protests.

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 wrongdoing.

The electorate have repeatedly voted in overwhelming numbers for the government party, whether it be Thai Rak Thai or after that was banned by the constitutional court in 2007, the Peoples Power Party.

Now Peoples Power has also been banned and its politicians are moving to the new Pua Thai Party.

Will there be fair elections now? Or will the elites engineer a “fix” to make sure that their people win?

The root cause of this crisis is not the corruption of the Thaksin government. 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.

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 policies which were beneficial to the poor. It introduced a universal health care scheme and Keynesian village funds. Their support is based on such.

The elites 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 plan 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.

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 electorate.

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.

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. We must oppose this second “coup for the rich”.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a supporter of the Turn Left group in Thailand.


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International
Tue 2 Dec 2008, 18:43 GMT
Issue No. 2130
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