See More on Facebook

Opinion, Politics

There is a cancer inside Thai democracy, and it isn’t the military

Despite numerous coups and seizures of powers, the military is not the real cancer inside Thai democracy.


Written by

Updated: June 6, 2019

General Prayuth Chan-ocha was elected by Thailand’s parliament on Wednesday to continue serving as prime minister. Five years after he took power by launching a coup against a democratically elected government, Prayuth was confirmed by a mostly democratically elected parliament.

It did not hurt Prayuth’s chances that he had 250 appointed members of the senate voting in his favor. The senators were all appointed by the junta, under provisions in the constitution that the junta had drafted, and voted unanimously as a bloc to make Prayuth the prime minister.

It is little wonder then that Thais are up in arms about the whole affair. Many have taken to social media with the hashtag #RIPThailand and #PrayforThailand. Others posting on social media have accused the military of unfair play and setting back Thai democracy.

An inconvenient truth

One fact that many commentators are skirting or ignoring altogether is that even if all 250 members of the senate did not take part in the selection process, Prayut would still be confirmed as prime minister. He won the vote on Wednesday by a margin of 500 to 244. Take away 250 seats and he would still win.

Of course, this does not consider the political wrangling that may have happened had the senate not been in play, but the inconvenient truth is that a significant portion of the Thai populace supports both the general and the military.

In the March election, the military aligned Palang Pracharath party won the popular vote with 8.4 million votes. The constitutional referendum held by the military which enshrined its rule and paved way for the appointed senate won by over a million votes in 2016.

Prayuth scores favorably in popularity polls run by both civilians and the military even when matched against his political opponents.

The cancer in Thai democracy

But the cancer in Thai democracy is not the military, it never has been. The military has always been a blunt instrument, determined to bend the political process to its ideas of tradition, its appetite for power and its cozy relationship with the conservative elements in Thai society.

The military and the significant number of people who support them cannot be called democratic cancer because they do not support the process to begin with.

They might hold an election here or there to appease the populace and Thailand’s international allies but there is no real belief in democracy, polls are just an inconvenience needed to appease the unwashed masses.

The real cancer within the system are the small political parties willing to strike a deal with whatever side wins the general election.

The poorly named Democrat Party, the Bhumjai Thai Party, and not to mention the plethora of small parties that joined the junta yesterday in voting for Prayuth would undoubtedly have swung the other way and sided with the opposition had the senate not been in play. They have switched sides before and often and will do it again.

We have written about the Democrat party before and not much more needs to be said. Perhaps the reason they constantly need to profess their allegiance to Democracy is because they have so often betrayed the process.

As for the other parties, most are nothing more than fiefdoms run by the same families for decades, focused only on getting and retaining power. There is no democratic ideal here, there never was even the pretense. There are no party platforms, no manifesto, just a quick copy and paste of what is most popular and what will get them the most number of seats so they can side with the biggest party.

Thai democracy will never be healthy until real policy-based voting occurs in the countryside rather than clientelism.

As of right now, unfortunately, there is too much money and too much power at stake for politicians to loosen their stranglehold on power. There is too much to lose for politicians to promote real political education that would see a paradigm shift in the political process.

 



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

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By China Daily
December 9, 2019

Opinion, Politics

India’s exit from 16-nation regional trade pact moves closer to reality

Japan intends to continue efforts to persuade India to remain in the RCEP. TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) – The withdrawal of India from the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade deal (RCEP) which have involved 16 countries including Japan, China, South Korea and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is seemingly coming closer to reality. Japan intends to continue efforts to persuade India to remain in the initial 16-country framework for the agreement of the regional trade talks. However, as there is still strong opposition to the RCEP within India, it remains to be seen whether the negotiations will go smoothly. At a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Friday, Economy, Trade and


By The Japan News
December 9, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Huawei asks US court to overturn ban

The company is suing the FCC, the latest in a series of legal tussles. The legal battle between Huawei Technologies Co and United States government intensified on Thursday. The Chinese tech heavyweight announced a legal challenge to the US Federal Communications Commission, seeking to overturn the latter’s order that bans telecom carriers from buying the company’s equipment via federal subsidies. The move is the latest push by the world’s largest telecom equipment maker to pursue fair competition and treatment amid a slate of restrictions from Washington. Analysts said the FCC ban would have very limited impact on Huawei’s financial performance, but labeling the company as a national security threat would cause far-reaching reputational harm. In a petition filed in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Thursday, Huawei asked the court to declare the FCC order un


By China Daily
December 6, 2019

Opinion, Politics

No safe spaces for women in Pakistan

Rafia Zakaria writes for Dawn. THAT crime lurks in the streets and corners of Karachi is not news for anyone. Precariousness and predation are the mainstay in this southern corner of the land of the pure; if you have something you are hunted and if you have nothing, you hunt. Destiny damns both, the hunters and the hunted, enacting a dystopian version of The Walking Dead, every day and every night. Karachi is, after all, judged as one of the world’s cities that are least liveable. The scars of it all are visible everywhere, on the bodies and faces of its people, on the hospitals that do not care, and the police that do not protect. This time, the dark forces that breed within the city came for a young girl. According to news reports, 20-year-old Dua Nisar Mangi was ‘committing the crime’ of walking down a city street. This was over the weekend past, and with her was a friend named Haris. It was not suppo


By Dawn
December 5, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Chinese FM to visit India this month for boundary talks

The talks were to be held in September but had to be postponed as the two sides could not find a suitable date for the meeting. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to visit India later this month to hold boundary talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, sources said on Wednesday. Wang, who is also a State Councillor, and Doval are the designated Special Representatives (SRs) of the two countries for the boundary talks. The talks were to be held in September but had to be postponed as the two sides could not find a suitable date for the meeting. Besides holding boundary talks with the NSA, Wang, a trusted lieutenant of Chinese President Xi Jinping, will meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. He will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


By The Statesman
December 5, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Najib to take the stand today

The former premier is accused of malfeasance. Today is the day that Malaysians will see, for the first in the country’s history, a former prime minister take the stand to answer charges against him in a court of law. Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pic), 66, will testify from the witness box as the first defence witness to rebut his seven charges of misappropriating RM42mil in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. According to his co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh, Najib will be called as the first witness on the opening day of the defence’s proceedings. Najib will be first questioned by his defence during examination-in-chief before being cross-examined by the prosecution. On Nov 11, Justice Mohd Nazlan ordered Najib to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three charges of money laundering and on


By The Star
December 3, 2019