Life without populism

Life without populism

The government plans to increase the flag drop by 5 baht and increase the fare when stuck in a traffic jam for the important voter-bloc of taxi drivers, raising the question of just what is populism. (Bangkok Post file photo)
The government plans to increase the flag drop by 5 baht and increase the fare when stuck in a traffic jam for the important voter-bloc of taxi drivers, raising the question of just what is populism. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Once upon a time in a land very, very far away with a "government by the people, for the people" there was a plan to fix recalcitrant taxi drivers and make them pick up passengers, politely, and then to reward the drivers with a fare increase. And that plan was carried out in the faraway country, and passengers were happy to reward deserving, hard-working, uncomplaining taxi drivers.

Meanwhile, in a different-ness country, taxi drivers learned they will get a flag-drop reward of 5 baht and a higher fare when sitting in a traffic jam -- while being surly to the selected passengers fortunate enough to be allowed into the cab. The driver only will have to wait a bit, until just before the different country's election, to get their income raised by the man counting on the election to keep him in power.

In the second-ness country, the government issued orders that all taxi passengers had the right to grit their teeth and take whatever drivers give them. This was in no way, at no time a populist measure to try to win votes and huzzahs and enthusiastic chaiyo. Because in the second country, populism is banned.

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Alan Dawson

Online Reporter / Sub-Editor

A Canadian by birth. Former Saigon's UPI bureau chief. Drafted into the American Armed Forces. He has survived eleven wars and innumerable coups. A walking encyclopedia of knowledge.


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