Suthep, the false prophet

Suthep, the false prophet

One evening, while sitting at the office pretending to work, a loud, angry voice was screaming hellfire and brimstone at the top of his lungs from the television.

Annoyed, wondering what Jatuporn Prompan was going on about this time, I turned around and discovered Suthep Thaugsuban doing his best impersonation of, well, Jatuporn.

The anti-government protests have been successful in pressuring the prime minister to shelve the blanket amnesty bill. The protests have largely been an admirable and democratic show of people’s power, even if they are the minority. That was up to Sunday. Come Monday, the stupidity began in earnest. 

When the red-shirts invaded and occupied, they were called thugs. When anti-government protesters invade  and occupy government offices, they say it’s a good thing. No, it’s illegal occupation all the same. Simply because there were civil servants cheering, welcoming and opening the doors for them doesn’t make it the right thing to do. 

When the red-shirts displayed posters and banners featuring derogatory curses and insults, and death threats against individuals, they were called uneducated thugs. As the anti-government protesters do the same, what should they be called, thugs who are living proof that the Thai education badly needs reforming?  

Suthep Thaugsuban addresses his followers from a podium at the Democracy Monument, Nov 22, 2013. (Bangkok Post photo)

True, thus far the activities of the protesters are nowhere near the level of ridiculousness achieved by the red-shirts and the yellow shirts in the past, but it’s getting there. So beware of the false prophet. His name is Suthep.  

To those protesters who genuinely march for good governance and a better democracy, don’t let yourself be used as tools and fools by Suthep & Co. Or else there isn’t much difference between the so-called rural buffalos and urban buffalos.   

On Monday German freelance photojournalist Nick Nostitz was assaulted. He was identified by Chumpol Julsai, another Democrat leading the protests. Through a loud speaker from the stage, Chumpol called Nostitz a "red-shirt journalist" and charged the guards to "kick him out", resulting in him being manhandled and assaulted.  

An apology may have been issued, but the point is this: First, it was the leadership on the stage that incited the assault, not some group of protesters doing something out of hand, which can happen at any large rally. Second, regardless of what Nostitz is or isn’t, or who pays him, they had no right to assault him, or to remove him. 

Suthep himself has said that even if the prime minister dissolves the House and calls  a snap election he would not stop, because the votes would still be bought. He intends to "completely rid" Thailand of what he called the Thaksin system and return to the past.   

Firstly, no Thai politician should point his finger at another political party accusing them of vote buying. It’s hypocritical, Democrats or Pheu Thai. 

Secondly, how would he rid Thailand of the Thaksin system completely? Certainly it can’t be done democratically. Definitely it won’t be done even if the Constitution Court bans the Pheu Thai Party. There would just be another nominee party.

So what does he mean: a military coup and the death, imprisonment or exile of anyone associated with the Thaksin system? The key words here are "completely rid". 

Thirdly, Suthep has stated an aim of the protest is to "transform Thailand into a country ruled by a monarchy system that is complete and true". Again, what does that mean, a return to absolute monarchy? The key words here are "complete" and "true". 

His six-point reforms may look good on paper, but he’s going about it in all the wrong ways. Finally, Suthep has called for a nationwide uprising.

All signs point to one thing, Suthep has snapped and is rejecting democracy and the rule of law altogether. The so-called Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD) is quickly looking like the Conniving Movement for Dictatorship.  

To those protesters still cheering on, the wrongs that Pheu Thai and the red-shirts have done are one thing. They need to be corrected. But first ask yourself about the wrongs you are being led to commit. The Internal Security Act (ISA) has been declared. The court has issued a warrant for Suthep’s arrest.  

Where are those – specifically the Democrat Party – who so passionately defended law and order, the judgement of the court and the democratic process back during the red-shirt uprising in 2010? Whatever ground the Democrats may have gained over the past months, Suthep & Co are setting them back by decades. 

Congratulations to those protesters who condemn the actions of Suthep & Co. Don’t stop the protests, but do stop the stupidity. Do whatever it takes within the bounds of democracy and decency in order to impact a political change.  

Consider these three excerpts from His Majesty’s speech on May 20, 1992:

"Our country does not belong to one or two people. The country belongs to everyone – work together, don’t confront each other. Fix the problems, because there are problems." 

"How will we solve problems, if we only want to win? No matter who wins, there is no victor. There’s only danger, there are only losers. Everyone loses. Those who confront each other lose. But the biggest loser is the country."

"Is there any good that can come for the pride of the victor who stands on top of the wreckage?" 

Voranai Vanijaka

Bangkok Post columnist

Voranai Vanijaka is a columnist, Bangkok Post.

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