Fighting for democracy against those who are bold enough to try to take it away. Those words could easily be spoken in any democratic country around the world, this time those words are being echoed in Thailand.
It was not that long ago The Thai people were relatively tolerant living with a corrupt government. Some how just enough of what was needed found it’s way to most of the people. The corruption was a bad taste in the mouths of the Thai people but not overwhelming. That all changed when Thaksin Shinawatra became Prime Minister.
Thaksin being a business man did things the way a CEO would, and worked to grow Thailand like a company, and there was a lot of success made that can not be denied. But as typical for a CEO just about any place you go, they have huge salaries and loads of perks that the company pays for. Keep in mind that in Thaksin’s eyes ‘company’ and “Thailand” are synonymous.
After growing his personal profits to what was the limit of what could be allowed, the next step was to start to remove barriers that were restricting bigger profits. Much of those barriers were cause and effect. A law that stood in the way (cause) of making a bigger profit (effect) were quickly changed and thus that limitation was removed. It made no difference to Thaksin that the laws he was changing were the foundation laws of democracy.
Thaksin’s greed got the best of him when he saw is was easy to change the laws that stood in his way. His supporting government namely the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) also saw the personal financial benefits of this and had no problem at all in following Thaksin’s lead. Thaksin was the only one of the TRT bunch that had the know how to pull it off. Years later Thaksin supported this fact by saying he was the only smart one and everyone else was just his helper. When things came up for a vote in parliament there was no debate, they just voted per Thaksin’s instructions. There was absolutely no consideration of constituency, it was all for Thaksin. In short there was no government representation of the people, and government representation of the people is what democracy is.
Thaksin knew that if the public got wind of this there would be problems, so Thaksin did his best to keep this from they eyes of the Thai people by refusing to answer certain questions posed by journalists. Around August of 2005 there was so much corruption going on Thaksin could no longer keep it all hidden from public view. nearly all the checks and balances of democracy including the division of power were gone and total control was falling to Thaksin and he was gradually becoming a dictator. All of this triggered the birth of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and they began peaceful demonstrations seeking to get Thaksin to step down.
Eventually the PAD played a significant roll in Thaksin’s downfall and after he was removed from power by a coup the PAD disbanded itself. The next significant event in Thailand’s history in restoring and insuring lasting democracy was a Powerful New 2007 Constitution with several provisions to keep what Thaksin did from happening again. Although the Constitution was not perfect, it did have the muscle to keep people like Thaksin under control.
Now people loyal to Thaksin are back in power under the name People Power Party (PPP) and once again they look to take democracy away from the Thai people by changing key provisions in the 2007 Constitution that keeps that from happening. In short they want to undo all of the pro democracy things put in place after the coup. Much of what was done has already been undone by the PPP, however not without getting bit by the new Constitution.
So this is what it is all about, Thaksin cronies want to get Thaksin back in power because he is the only one with the true know how to help them get rich. If they could do it themselves, Thaksin would have been just a chapter in Thailand’s History and he would have been tossed to the trash. However the Constitution stands in their way and that is what this battle is all about. Thaksin is bold enough to take democracy away from Thailand, and arrogant enough not to give up trying.
The PAD are no less significant to Thailand than the militia was to the early United States when fighting off the British Red Coat soldiers. The PAD keeps the attention focused on the PPP as well as motivate the Thai people to stand up for democracy. The PAD are the true heros of Thailand’s democracy. They are brave enough to stand up and fight for democracy in Thailand. As other Thais join the PAD, the momentum grows to fend off the attack on democracy Thaksin and his cronies have mounted. There is no doubt that when this chapter of Thai history closes, the PAD will have the same significant place in Thai history as Nelson Mandela did for South Africa. A Thai can be proud to say he/she fought for freedom and democracy in Thailand, by simply saying they were with the PAD.