IS THAILAND HEADING FOR ANOTHER MILITARY COUP? – Protesters in Thailand remain on the streets of the capital Bangkok demanding that the duly elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra steps down from power.
Yesterday it appeared as if the protesters had taken the day off in which to celebrate Constitution Day; something many critics of the protests are shaking their heads at in disbelief.
As with any protest of this nature it threatens the very constitution that they supposedly support and yet it must be acknowledged that under a democratic system people have the right to express their views; unfortunately with the rise in violence the message often becomes blurred leaving the ability to engage in open and peaceful dialogue almost impossible.
It appears to many that democracy is lost on the Thai people for demanding the ousting of a duly elected Government does not fall within the ideology of democracy in that the ‘majority’ voice must be respected and that Government’s should be allowed to govern until the next round of elections.
It could be argued in modern society, in Thailand and indeed any other democratic country, that democracy simply refers the one’s ability to vote in the next dictator. Such a notion is born from the every growing influence of powerful individuals and corporations who lobby the Government for their own ends.
There are fears that Thailand’s constitution may not last much longer and with growing pressure from the protester, or rather the rising violence, the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra took the decision on Monday 9 of November to dissolve parliament and call for a general election.
Whilst the political opposition hasn’t won an election in decades, Yingluck Shinawatra recent move may in fact not be enough to satisfy her critics for she is often seen as little more than a puppet of her exiled brother and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in 2006 whilst attending a UN summit meeting.
Thaksin Shinawatra was soon after formally charged with a number of criminal offences, including fraud over land deals, which resulted in the courts confiscating over US$2 billion and sentencing him to 2 years imprisonment.
Thaksin Shinawatra fled the country and has since lived in self-exile but many believe that Thaksin Shinawatra is the real power behind the Peau Thai Party of which his sister Yingluck Shinawatra is leader.
The director of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thitinan Pongsudhirak recently told reporters at Bloomberg that the people no longer had any faith in Yingluck Shinawatra or indeed the electoral system in which allegations of vote buying is rife but largely unproven.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak went on to say that the ‘Yellow Shirts’ keep losing and this they believe is due to a corrupt political system controlled by Thaksin Shinawatra and therefore continue to reject the electoral process as nothing more than a rigged system for the Shinawatra family.
Some experts believe that the current situation is nothing more than a continuous revolving door, with either the Red or Yellow shirts protesting and that without an outside influence to bring calm there is every real chance that these scenes will be played out time and time again.
Other political analysts believe that the anti-Shinawatra sentiment from the Democrats can only be truly addressed if the Shinawatra family stepped down from politics; something that is only likely to be achieved from yet another military coup.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak now believes that another military coup is more than probable. Whilst there have been minor clashes of Red and Yellow shirts it hasn’t escalated to the point where the military feels it must intervene in order to bring peace; however, violence could easily escalate now that Yingluck Shinawatra has agreed to dissolve parliament and call for new elections as the Red shirts vehemently oppose such a move.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak feels that if the Democrats succeed in replacing the existing government then it is almost certain that new protests will emerge on the streets of Bangkok, this time from the Red shirts; such will simply exacerbate the situation, create further civil unrest and ultimately result in untold damage to the country’s image; especial in the critical area of foreign investment.
Some critics feel that the military is poised yet again to cease power but others oppose this view stating that the military simply wants peace and will not intervene unless violence escalates to the point where only the army could bring civil unrest under control.
What political future lies with Thailand is not yet certain but clearly the people on both sides feel that the political system is corrupt and whilst this notion exists the ability to form a legitimate democratically elected government appears a long way off.