Out with the outdated Thai regime

Out with the outdated Thai regime

A friend of mine who is a businessman was asked why he was not out in the streets protesting. Is he not against corruption? But of course, he’s against corruption. In fact, he hates it so much that he has filed a lawsuit against a certain government ministry over unethical practices.

But isn’t that all the more reason for him to be out in the streets protesting? Well, not quite. His lawsuit was filed against the ministry in question under the Democrat government three years ago, not Pheu Thai. Drum roll, please.

The protestors in the streets may be marching to rid Thailand of the Thaksin Shinawatra regime, citing corruption, cronyism and all the bad practices. But if we take it one step further, they really ought to be marching to rid Thailand of the outdated Thai regime.

Suthep Thaugsuban. Part of an outdated regime. Eradicate him, says Voranai. (Photo by Thanarak Khoonton)

After all, Thaksin is a true son of Thailand. He represents this outdated Thai regime in almost all aspects – as does the representative of his opposition, Suthep Thaugsuban. Let’s take a look.

Thaksin’s popular support is built around a cult of personality and tribal loyalty. Check. Suthep also relies on a cult of personality and tribal loyalty, think about it, to build support for his political putsch. Check.

Thaksin’s political support is built around a network of family politics and cronyism. Check. Suthep had four family members in politics, this was before they resigned to protest, of course, and he is the most powerful man in the Democrat Party as he controls the southern MPs. Check.

Thaksin’s business support is built around a network of shared interests and mutual profit margins. Check. Suthep’s business interests are well known to be in land and rubber, among others. Check.

Thaksin’s government and nominee governments are marred by corruption allegations. Check. In 1995, Suthep’s Sor Por Kor 4-01 land scheme scandal led to the downfall of the Democrat-led Chuan Leekpai government – then there’s the rubber controversy during the Abhisit Vejjajiva-led government. Check.

Thaksin himself has been convicted of corruption. We don’t need to check this one as this is out of the norm. Suthep has never been convicted of corruption. Now this is normal in Thai politics. Check.

Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai. Part of an outdated regime. Eradicate him, says Voranai. (Photo by Pattnapong Chantranontwong)

Thaksin won support from upcountry rural poor by taking on the role of a generous and caring paternal figure. Check. Suthep won support from southern rural poor by taking on the role of a generous and caring paternal figure Check.

Through marketing propaganda, Thaksin’s image constantly bombarded the Thai populace while he was prime minister. Check. Through persuasion or intimidation of the press, Suthep has made sure his face, words and deeds are constantly in the media during the protests. Check.

Censorship of freedom of speech, human rights abuse and (alleged) extrajudicial killings were practiced under Thaksin’s government. Check. Censorship of freedom, human rights abuse of speech and (alleged) extrajudicial killings were practiced during Suthep’s time in the Democrat-led Abhisit government. Check.

Thaksin’s political party and nominee parties have been accused of vote buying. Check. Suthep’s political party has been accused of vote buying. Check.

Hallelujah, the clouds are parting and the light is shining through from heaven. Paternalism, tribalism, hero-worship, corruption, cronyism, nepotism, propaganda and all the other –isms and non-isms, we can find them all plaguing both sides of the political divide.

So let’s just eradicate the outdated Thai regime, be it Pheu Thai, Democrat or any other.

Voranai Vanijaka

Bangkok Post columnist

Voranai Vanijaka is a columnist, Bangkok Post.


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