Don't get stuck on thaksin

Don't get stuck on thaksin

They come out by the tens of thousands, from all walks of life, in all parts of Bangkok and in many provinces.

They march separately but under one banner, ''No to Blanket Amnesty''. They rally with a united motivation, for King and country. For many of them, the ultimate purpose is to remove Thaksin Shinawatra's influence.

They blow whistles. They change their Facebook profile pictures to reflect their activism. They buy sun-block lotion.

But regardless of what happens with the blanket amnesty bill, the protest movement needs to be reminded of one thing: Don't get stuck on Thaksin. It's not worth it.

The problem in Thai politics is that we only see one day ahead, at best, and we always see the bogeymen. We need to look beyond, years and decades ahead, and see salvation rather than the apocalypse.

Thaksin is but one person, flawed and finite as anyone else. Like the rest of us, he will be gone one day. However, there's something he may leave behind.

In the medium to longer term, the movement needs to recognise the possible ascendancy of the Democratic Dictatorship of Thakland, a regime ruled by the Shinawatra family and cronies that could last for decades if not more.

This regime can take over with or without Thaksin; he has already set the stage. Some may argue that it will crumble without Thaksin, but to be prepared against it is to be wise and safe; to overlook it is to risk being sorry.

On the other hand, this doesn't mean we should go back to the Democratic Feudalism of Ammartland either. Democracy in Thailand has never been balanced. We need to balance it out. Learn from the past, understand the present and plan for a better tomorrow.

The movement needs to capitalise on the current mood and atmosphere to build a credible and viable opposition that could unseat the Pheu Thai government in the next general election, or the one after that. Take the next two years, and all the years after, and make them count.

To make them count, the movement needs to evolve from being simply anti-Thaksin and anti-Pheu Thai. These are the same tired songs we have heard over and over again, and it gets the country nowhere.

The movement needs to evolve beyond tribal colours and cults of personality, and advance onto the platform of a better Thailand _ a Thailand that is democratic and adheres to human rights and the rule of law first and foremost; a Thailand where there's a balance of power, not an oligarchy for either the feudal elites or the capitalist elites.

Marching to say ''No to Blanket Amnesty'', or for anything else should not be because of hate for Thaksin, but because of the desire for the rule of law. Don't get stuck on one person. Instead, take that person's weapon and turn it against him. That weapon is democracy. Find common ground with those red shirts that have become or are becoming disenchanted with Thaksin. Open your arms to those looking for a better Thailand regardless of the colour of their tribe.

The flag the movement has chosen is not colour-coded. It is the Thai national flag. This is a good decision. But lest we forget, red is also one of the three colours of the Thai flag.

But if the alternative that you offer them, and everyone else, is the same old Democratic Feudalism of Ammartland, then all will be for naught. Come voting time, you will still lose, and you will deserve to lose.

It is evolution, not revolution that we should aspire to. The current situation provides the opportunity for Thailand to take a step up in the evolutionary ladder, or we can fall back down on our collective behind, landing smack on the heads of future generations. So mind the stench.

The people of Thailand are waking up; make sure they are not waking up to Thakland, but at the same time, don't let them fall back to sleep on Ammartland either.


Contact Voranai Vanijaka via email at voranaiv@bangkokpost.co.th.

Voranai Vanijaka

Bangkok Post columnist

Voranai Vanijaka is a columnist, Bangkok Post.

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