Siam sojourn – Letter to Bangkok Post (Sunday)

Dear Friends —

I’d like to offer a different perspective than the generally anti-PAD letters of Sunday. For what it’s worth, my connections to Siam are more religious and cultural than economic.

The key question in the current impasse is whether the long-term imperative to keep Thaksin out of Thai politics trumps the short-term disruption of the PAD protests. Further, given the skill with which Thaksin has manipulated, abused, and weakened an as yet incomplete democratic system, could less aggressive tactics that the PAD has employed bring about a permanent retirement of Thaksin?

Many of my Thai friends answer the first question with a conditional “yes.” They have seen where Thaksinism could take the country. Thaksin’s version of “democracy” is a sham. His corruption has been unprecedented. He ignores Supreme Court rulings and lashes out with hypocritical accusations of those who don’t do his bidding. His willingness to encourage violence far exceeds that of the PAD leadership. If anyone is responsible for the months or protest and the closure of the airports, it is Thaksin and the gang that works for him.

The second question is open to debate. Nobody can really answer it with certainty. The PAD is doing what it can to effect their goal. The PAD leadership, whatever its weaknesses, has kept its people generally non-violent, despite numerous attacks on it, largely by pro-government rowdies. Violence provoked by govt MPs is worse. Nor do they seek power for themselves. Nobody else has been able to develop a more moderate and successful approach. Such are the realities of Thai society today.

In short, given the Thaksinites intransigience, the PAD has no better option than what it has been doing. This is most unfortunate, but is a lesser evil than Thaksin returning as Emperor.


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