Old guard can't halt the turning tide

Old guard can't halt the turning tide

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroong-ruangkit and party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul speak at a press conference in Bangkok on March 25 following the general election in which their party finished third. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroong-ruangkit and party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul speak at a press conference in Bangkok on March 25 following the general election in which their party finished third. PATIPAT JANTHONG

The wind of change is blowing. It's only just a breeze now really. But already it has caused quite a stir.

A frenzy of mud-slinging against the new up-and-coming party and its freshmen politicians has been launched in earnest.

When the Future Forward Party (FFP) was being formed, people looked at them condescendingly. After all, they were just a bunch of new and inexperienced faces attempting to play in the big league.

But once the party and its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit scored a major surprise, all hell broke loose. All roads bearing knives and venom lead to Thanathorn and the FFP.

All sorts of complaints have been laid against the party, Mr Thanathorn and secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul. Some of these allegations are old news that happened way before the party existed.

Most of the allegations are politically motivated and simply ridiculous attempts to stop the party's and Mr Thanathorn's meteoric rise.

Everybody knows it. The military bosses know it but they don't care what people think so long as they achieve their sinister objectives.

A seasonal change usually brings inclement weather. And so this stormy political weather is to be expected. The establishment is being shaken up to its core, not by its traditional enemy but by an unknown, untested force with an army of young, enthusiastic followers.

The rise of the FFP and its so-called "Futuristas" scares the military and its conservative flock to such a degree they are resorting to the tactics of past eras past that may eventually led to mindless violence against fellow citizens.

Old clips, old writings, old spoken words have been dug up from years ago to level against both Mr Thanathorn and Mr Piyabutr. Hate speech has been slung against them with such venom one would think they are pathological serial killers rather than just two young men trying to put the system right.

Why such hate and venom? It's not hard to see. The FFP's political platform aims at the heart of the status quo and the current power structure with the military at the centre.

The military has always claimed to have monopolistic love for the nation, religion and the monarchy. Any critique, for whatever reason, instantly elicits counter-reaction, often followed by intimidation and threats.

Advocacy of military reform is also viewed as a threat to the cosy relationship between the military and the monopolistic business elite. While the Thai business elite would rather keep a low profile and avoid being dragged into the fray, its determination to maintain the status quo cannot be under­estimated.

It also highlights an emerging generation gap.

The older generations, understandably, are apprehensive about change, especially if that comes fast and furiously and disrupts everything in their world.

They are seeing the world they have grown comfortable with turning into an almost incomprehensible mass where communication of ideas moves in shapeless form with the speed of light.

Evidently, some older folks see Mr Thanathorn and the Futuristas as bringers of disruption.

It's conceivable that Mr Thanathorn and the FFP might not be able to withstand the onslaught of hate and ignorance. But it will not stop change, the seed of which has been firmly planted.

The oligarchy is working against time and history. Nothing will stop change. That is realism. The change that is coming will trend towards a more democratic and free society that allows widespread sharing of ideas through the cyber world.

The younger generation will have their own ideas about how to run this world. The surviving older generations can choose either to be their supporters and guide them through a gentler change or obstruct their progress and be swept asunder.

As for the military, they have existed in a virtual contradictory state for far too long.

They have always proclaimed to be the nation's protectors, but the "nation" in their dictionary does not include the people. Indeed, at times, they treat the people as if their enemy.

Their official status is only a ministerial unit in a government, but they act as if they are a government unto themselves.

They demand that others obey the law and be accountable but they themselves refuse to be held to the same standard.

They earn their living from the people's tax money but they demand that the people are beholden to them.

All these will have to change sooner or later. Let's hope it's sooner through peaceful means.


Wasant Techawongtham is a former news editor, Bangkok Post.

Wasant Techawongtham

Freelance Reporter

Freelance Reporter and Managing Editor of Milky Way Press.


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