UPDATE This evening Suthep the person, not the medium, has formally been charged with an act or acts of rebellion and treason. Maybe this is an attempt to lure the anti-democratic "tiger" out of the cave for once and for all? The problem is that one doesn't have much leverage with a tiger in nature. The choice is either to destroy the beast or get wholly devoured. Is Thailand, as one of the reconciling peoples of the East, ready?
Monday, 25 November 2013
Guest post by Jakrapob Penkair: Suthep's rhetoric of anti-democratic regime change
This is a guest post by former government minister, Jakrapob Penkair, on the extraordinary anti-democratic rhetoric recently used by Thai protest leader, Suthep Tueksuban.
We have Mr. Suthep Tueksuban to thank now. Not only he is leading his supporters to the streets, trying to paralyse Bangkok, Suthep helpfully puts out a key sentence and explains quite vividly what this is all about. In a rousing speech, he says that their aim is to build up “the most absolute of a king's system” in Thailand once again.
Absolute. King. System. If one punches these words into a computer, the phrase of Absolute Monarchy can spring up on the screen in no time. So what has he been referring to? There’s very little doubt indeed. Mr. Suthep is practically changing his stage rhetoric from anti-government into anti-democratic regime-change.
No one on stage argues otherwise. Every word said seems to wrap around this well-scripted sentence, which is hardly an accident or a slip. We can’t thank him enough for such a crude showmanship. Beyond Suthep, there are always some shrewd hands, long-versed in the cunning art of directing Thai politics.
But Suthep is such an earthy figure he can’t stand being indirect for too long. His impatience and bluntness proves to us a sense of him being a standard bearer. He wants to tell us who is behind him and how much he can do to hurt us. “To hell with red-shirt people of Thailand” he rants, although the Red Shirts are a group who do, in fact, represent the majority. In Suthep’s version of “democracy” smaller groups that represent elites and the ruling classes must tell the majority what to do. Well, democracy is already an endangered species long before Suthep’s strange stage performance. Now it is even stranger with a suggestion that Thailand’s jaded democracy should be replaced by the absolute non-democracy of absolute monarchy.
Thailand is no enemy of modernity. There is no religious or economic resistance to globalising Thailand. In fact, Thailand jumps on every band-wagon deemed to transport it to new territory, and faster than some. However, there is a line that Thailand does not seem comfortable enough to cross, and that line is mainly about how far Thai democracy can go and the limitations placed upon it. Of course it doesn’t take long to realise that those limitations are imposed, top-down, by unelected networks and elites.
Suthep’s suggestion is not criminal. Rather well-worded and legally thought out. It is only so revealing that we no longer see his solemn face but another face in the atmosphere that dominates all protesters from Suthep’s podium to wherever blind faith may bring.