Thai-Style DemocracyBy Bangkok Pundit Dec 01, 2006 12:08AM UTC
UPDATE: Andrew at New Mandala gives us his comments in a post.
The Nation reports:
She [Amara Pongsapitch, former dean of Chulalongkorn University's Political Science Faculty] suggested that instead of conventional Western-style elected representation, perhaps political representatives should be chosen from different sectors.
Thammasat University historian Chaiwat Boonnag shared similar views, saying instead of relying on corrupt and abusive members of constituency-based elected politicians, a new form of parliament, in which different sectors - including the monarchy – elected or appointed their representatives, would be better for Thailand.
“The [western] representative rule is a very scarce thing. This kind of democracy is a death structure for Thailand,” said Chaiwat. “Villagers think democracy is equivalent to elections … but it has always been [operating] under a patronage system.”
What Thailand needs, Chaiwat said, was “democracy that is rooted on ‘Asian-ness’ and then encompass ‘Thai-ness’.
“We must explore the issue,” he said, “because province-based representatives only produce godfathers who lack a human conscience.”
COMMENT: What Chaiwat means by Thai-style democracy is that the poor will be excluded from not only becoming politicians, but also being able to choose. The poor who make up 70% of the population will not be represented.
Just look at the military selected National Legislative Assembly (NLA) which is mostly made of the elite – at least it saves them the trip to the Royal Bangkok Sports Club and they get paid for it! For the 240 odd members of the NLA you have the government sector including the upper echelons of the judiciary and the police, but also more than 60 former or current military officers (yes, that is right 25%). Then, you have the bankers, lawyers, journalists, artists, retired government officials, and academics. You will get a musical chairs approach with the elite taking turns on ruling the country. This is just a continuation of the middle classes and the elites unease for democracy – see here, here and here. Anything to keep the poor away from the keys of power.
Nevertheless, I think that the elite will realise that they can’t not have elections so to maintain some semblance of democracy I think it is likely that the House of Representatives will be elected as per normal although possibly with more restrictions on who can be a candidate, but the Senate will be appointed from different sectors of society. Chang Noi raised this possibility of what the elite were planning just after the coup and then again recently:
(for example, through a Senate partly appointed and partly elected as a single national constituency).
This will give the elite a veto over the poor.