Popular and populist: drawing the distinction

His Majesty the King's grand audience with his subjects on his 85th birthday yesterday revealed once again the strong and enduring love the Thai people have for the monarch who has dedicated his life to improving the well-being of everybody in the Kingdom.

The event also sparked in me an idea for a new populist campaign that I would like to propose to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brains trust. Believe me, it will guarantee the ruling Pheu Thai Party the largest landslide in history in the next election.

I'm not sure if the prime minister will get to read this piece. But I'll address her in the second person just in case she does. Of course, everyone else is welcome to read it too: the plan is no secret.

Your Excellency, I bet that you too have been moved by the hundreds of thousands Thais in yellow shirts, the colour of Monday which was the day of His Majesty's birth, filling the northern section of Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue and the vast grounds of the Royal Plaza in front of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, on the balcony of which he made his public appearance. I'm also confident that you know that there were tens of millions more across the Kingdom watching this grand audience on TV; many, like those at the Royal Plaza, were dressed in yellow and even waved small national flags, as did the entire nation, and happily chanted in unison "song phra charoen" (long live the King).

Can you imagine how many million more votes you can garner if you win the hearts of these people?

So Your Excellency, let's get to the new populist scheme I wish to propose. It's really very simple and all you have to do is:

1) Accept that there is an underground, yet well organised, movement to undermine the monarchy.

2) Be serious about bringing those involved to justice.

If you can make it happen, carry out the campaign fearlessly, exposing and sending to court anyone involved in this movement even if that includes people in parliament or their families, you will surely win the hearts and votes of the tens of millions people who painted the country yellow with their shirts yesterday.

Unlike the first car, rice mortgage, the 300-baht minimum wage or other of your populist policies, this one has no negative side effects and won't undermine national interests.

I assure you the opposition bloc in parliament will never raise this to attack you in any censure debate. It's safe and guaranteed to work if you dare.


Pongpet is the Bangkok Post travel editor.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Pongpet Mekloy
Position: Travel Editor