See More on Facebook

Opinion, Politics

Thais wont mobilize in protest even if junta wins elections.

Thailand’s ersatz elections will not bother most Thais even if army comes back to rule.


Written by

Updated: March 20, 2019

Every country has their breaking point, where corruption, abuse and living standards reach a point where people are compelled to take to the streets and demand a change.

Thailand’s breaking point appears to be much higher than most.

After all, a decade of political infighting, street riots, and military crackdowns has made mass protest much less palatable for the common Thai.

Despite this, the military seem to be doing their utmost to push the populace to their limit.

Reports from early and overseas voters tell of an election deeply flawed with spoiled ballots, discounted votes and confusing polling procedures.

Some votes have been disregarded altogether, including those that voted for the Thai Raksa Chat Party who was disqualified by the Election Commission for running a princess to be prime minister. Those who voted for the anti-junta party will not get a revote and their voices will not count.

Hardly Surprising

Of course, these small, some would almost say petty, attempts at undermining the democratic process should hardly be surprising given even a cursory view of the Thai political landscape.

This is the same military that pushed through a constitution that allows for 250 military-appointed senators to vote for the prime minister. What this means is that the military aligned party only have to win a fraction of the electorate to get their choice of premier, in this case junta-chief Prayuth Chan-ocha.

This is the same military that has weather corruption allegations at the highest level including multi-billion-baht national parks, multi-million-baht luxury watches and other procurement abnormalities that a normal democratic government would not have survived.

Given that the previous, democratically-elected, government was run out of town, its leaders tried and found guilty for corruption, one wonders if the same rigorous application of the law could be applied to the military if they lose Sunday’s election.

Simple Explanation

The short answer, of course, is no. The law is never applied evenly in Thailand’s governing structure. The rules and regulations one holds for the evil, corrupt politicians do not apply to the steadfast defenders of nation and religion.  The men in green are held to a different standard because, in short, they have the guns and tanks.

Is there any other explanation for the ridiculous number of coups that Thailand has experienced over the course of 20th and 21st century? Why has no democratic government that have come after military rule ever hold the coup-leaders accountable?

While the military may not be a homogeneous, unified entity (it has in the past dissolved into factionalism), it would undoubtedly unite to oppose any attempt a civilian government might make to prosecute past coup-leaders. A civilian government that moved against the military would undoubtedly be overthrown in yet another coup.

Progress despite chaos

Yet even as the military reserves its right to intervene in politics at its discretion, Thailand has rapidly modernized in the last 50 years. The standard of living for Thais have never been higher and all qualitative social and economic measures trend upward. Purchasing power parity, literacy, life expectation, infant mortality, access to healthcare, Thais living in 2019 share little in common with Thais living in 1959.

That is not to say that Thailand is not without its problems. The country continually ranks among the worst in terms of income disparity and inequality indicators. But overall, Thais have seen their country progress rapidly, oftentimes in spite of the country’s turbulent politics.

Will it change?

This brings us back to the breaking point theory. Simply put, Thailand’s standard of living, access to healthcare and food, is too decent to ferment wholesale revolution like those we saw during the Arab Spring.

Combine this with the military’s willingness to use its guns and tanks on its own populace, the public’s lack of engagement with a civil society, and it is unlikely that Thailand will mobilize in mass protest even if the army wins Sunday’s election.

 



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Opinion, Politics

Press Myanmar to comply with the ICJ order

The ICJ order Global rights bodies urge international community  to press Myanmar to comply with the issued order to protect Rohingyas in Rakhine from the acts of possible genocide. Global human rights bodies have called for the international community to press Myanmar to comply with the order issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to protect Rohingyas in Rakhine from the acts of possible genocide. They also called on corporations to end any business relationships with companies owned or controlled by the Myanmar army, saying that there can no longer be “business as usual” with the perpetrators of genocide if the Myanmar government fails to comply with the ICJ order. “The ICJ order to Myanmar to take concrete steps to prevent the gen


By Daily Star
January 24, 2020

Opinion, Politics

Rohingya Genocide Case: ICJ ruling today

In response to The Gambia’s seeking provisional measures to stop genocide against the Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to deliver an order today. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to deliver an order today in response to The Gambia’s seeking provisional measures to stop genocide against the Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine. The top UN court, situated in The Hague, Netherlands and comprised of 15 judges, is scheduled to start delivering the order at 3:00pm (Bangladesh time). The Gambia filed the case with the ICJ, also known as the World Court, in November last year. The West African nation, which is predominantly Muslim, took the legal step on behalf of the Organisation for Islamic Coop


By Daily Star
January 23, 2020

Opinion, Politics

No evidence of intent or plan to destroy Muslims or any other community in northern Rakhine: ICOE report

A report by the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE)  has not found any evidence suggesting that these killings or acts of displacement were committed pursuant to an intent or plan to destroy the Muslim or any other community in northern Rakhine State. The ICOE’s Chairperson Rosario G. Manalo and party submitted the final report to President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw on 20 January. The government rejected the demands by the UN and western countries for allowing international independent investigation teams in the northern Rakhine. On 30 July, 2018, Myanmar President formed the ICOE with four members—two from home and the rest from abroad— to investigate allegations of human rights violations and related issues following the terrorist attacks in Rakhine State.


By Eleven Media Group
January 22, 2020

Opinion, Politics

IMF cuts India’s growth rate to 4.8% citing slowdown in local demand, stress in NBFC sector

In a major setback for India on the economic front, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday slashed its growth rate to 4.8 per cent for the current fiscal year which is expected to rise to 5.8 per cent in 2020. The IMF attributed the slash in growth rate to the slowdown in demand in the domestic market and stress in the nonbank financial sector. “India’s growth is estimated at 4.8 percent in 2019, projected to improve to 5.8 percent in 2020 and 6.5 percent in 2021,” said IMF in a statement. The 5.8 per cent estimate in 2020 is down by 0.9 per cent from the previous estimate. The steep cut in India’s growth rate has affected the IMF’s projection on the world economy, which is now expected to expand 2.9 per cent in 2019 as compare


By The Statesman
January 21, 2020

Opinion, Politics

Wuhan virus: 3rd death reported in China as cases soar past 200; new cases confirmed in Beijing, Shenzhen

There has been a dramatic increase of 136 cases of the mysterious Sars-like virus, including one death, in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Monday (Jan 20) as new cases were confirmed for the first time outside the city in Beijing and Shenzhen. The Chinese city of Wuhan on Monday (Jan 20) reported a dramatic increase of 136 cases of the mysterious Sars-like virus, including one death, as new cases were confirmed for the first time outside the city in Beijing and Shenzhen. The sharp spike in detected cases comes as travelling intensifies ahead of this weekend’s Chinese New Year holidays, sparking fears that the mass human movement co


By The Straits Times
January 20, 2020

Opinion, Politics

North Korea beefs up self-defense capabilities in military reorganization

The North have been making many changes ahead of talks. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a meeting of the top military decision-making body to accelerate the development of self-defense capabilities ahead of key events that will decide its national strategy, its state media reported Sunday. Discussions on ways to bolster its military capabilities through organizational restructuring and personnel reshuffle were highlighted during the third expanded meeting of the seventh central military commission of the ruling Workers’ Party. Details on what measures were discussed were not disclosed. “At the meeting, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un


By The Korea Herald
December 23, 2019