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Background to “What You Are Not Seeing”


I give below an article from Al Jazeera which highlights the resolve of the power elite to have an unelected government in place in Thailand, probably before the 2 February elections. It is useful background to my blog “WHAT YOU ARE NOT SEEING” which refers to some Thai TV broadcasts today.

Some points to consider:

1. The opposition party, of which Suthep was formerly a deputy prime minister, has not won an election through the ballot box for over 10 years. It could, according to the polls, not win the February election. Which is their main reason for not standing and campaigning at the hustings. Suthep believes that the country would be better served at the present time by appointees and not elected members of parliament. Although Suthep is acting as the mouthpiece, that view appears to be widely held by the opposition party led by Abhisit. 

2. There has been corruption on both sides of the political spectrum in the past. The issue is not really about corruption in the parties led by or influenced by Thaksin, the premier ousted in the 2006 army coup.

3. Although gamesmanship is taking place,  with talks of negotiation, compromise, and election delays; the most likely scenario would be the appointment of something akin to a “people’s council” (though not elected by the people) to replace the present Shiniwatra family regime. At least for the time being.

4. That could be achieved without an army coup. Technical reasons could be used to effect a change in the administration. That happened before, in September 2008. It is not unlikely that the present government have considered this.

Suthep, the leader of the Thai protesters trying to bring the capital Bangkok to a standstill and topple the government said there will be no negotiations and no compromise.

The statements of Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister, came as thousands of his supporters blocked key road junctions and a number of government ministries in what they are calling the Bangkok Shutdown.

“Whoever is thinking about negotiations, compromise, hoping for a win-win situation, a win for both sides; I tell you now there is no win-win, there can only be one winner,” Thaugsuban told thousands of supporters on Monday.

The firebrand opposition politician faces a murder charge in connection with a deadly military crackdown on political protests when he was deputy prime minister in 2010.

Protesters want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down to make way for an appointed government that would oversee electoral reforms to curb the political dominance of her billionaire family and tackle a wider culture of money politics.

Earlier on Monday, Shinawatra invited leaders of anti-government protesters and political parties to discuss an Election Commission proposal to push back the date of the snap election she called from February 2, a senior aide said.

Ministers have until now said a delay would be impossible under the constitution, but the Election Commission has said it could be pushed back and one member has suggested May 4.

‘Fed up with corruption’

Authorities say they are ready to declare a state of emergency if there is fresh unrest, and roughly 20,000 police and soldiers will be deployed for security.

But they have not tried to stop the demonstrators taking over parts of the city in the run-up to the February 2 elections, which they have set out to disrupt.

The protesters have vowed to stop officials going to work and cut off power to key state offices as part of the shutdown efforts, which authorities have warned could lead to further bloodshed.

“My generation is fed up with corruption in the country,” Marisa Buerkle, an anti-government protester, told Al Jazeera. “We don’t care who will lead it in the future. Just as long as they are not corrupt.”

Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and dozens injured in street violence since the protests began over two months ago.

The current political crisis is the latest chapter in a saga of political instability and periodic unrest that has gripped Thailand since Yingluck’s older brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by royalist generals seven years ago.

The billionaire tycoon-turned-politician, who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, has large electoral support particularly in northern Thailand, where he is adored for a swathe of popular policies.

But he is reviled among the country’s elites and by many in the Bangkok middle class and Thai south, who see him as authoritarian and accuse him of buying votes.

The latest impasse has revived fears of a judicial or military ousting of the government, in a country which has seen 18 actual or attempted coups since 1932.

Al Jazeera and agencies

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