Chang Noi on PAD and New Politics
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Chang Noi on PAD and New Politics

If Chang Noi had ever been on PAD’s christmas card, I think Chang Noi has been well and truly struck off now. Key excerpt in latest column:
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The movement’s longer-term aim is to undermine the central principles of electoral democracy, namely the sovereignty of the people, and the selection of a parliament by the system of one-man, one-vote. The PAD leaders claim that the electorate cannot be trusted with the franchise because the mass of rural people are uneducated and corrupt. They want the elected portion of the lower house reduced to a minority (perhaps 30 per cent), and the remainder filled partly by “retired officials and important people” and partly by ordinary people and workers, selected by appointment. Since the logic of the PAD’s proposal is to disenfranchise the rural poor, this new system is likely to favour the rich, the urban, and the higher educated.
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/>Analysing the PAD’s audience on the streets and in front of television screens is difficult. There are only stray interviews, plus pictures. Perhaps the single word that emerges from this impressionistic data is “respectable”. The crowds are generally smartly dressed. The age profile is quite high, though there are also many families in attendance (and the TV audience may be significantly younger). Head-counting from press photos shows a slight preponderance of women over men. From the few on-site interviews available, the crowds include retirees, public servants, small business people, and senior executives from modern firms. There seem to be relatively few manual workers.
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/>The PAD is clearly well connected to other institutions. One of its leaders is a Democrat MP. Other Democrats have spoken from its stages. So too have academics from some of Bangkok’s major universities. A serving general has taken the PAD stage in his full uniform. Other military figures, including General Saprang Kalayanamitra, have been seen backstage and are open in their support.
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/>The PAD seems to be protected, perhaps by friends in important places, but also by virtue of its widespread urban support. No other Bangkok protest has suffered so little harassment.
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/>In short, PAD is an anti-democratic movement, supported by high investment and shadowy protection, that exploits the fears of the privileged and a deliberately anti-rational nationalism, and flirts with militarism and violence.

/>BP: Read the whole thing. Chang Noi also covers PAD’s use of symbolism.
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/>My impression from watching the rallies and based on a number of reports from different people who have attended the rallies is more in line with Crispin’s column last month and that is there is less urban and middle-class support as well as less support from the institutions.* PAD deliberately stage manage and The Manager and ASTV choose more respectable people to highlight in pictures and to interview. The core base is more provincial than the Bangkok middle class. This can change with a temporary swell of numbers at times. Polls indicate there is some urban support for the PAD, but they didn’t turn up to the protests.
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/>*Any Prem speech recently? Key military support is not there and Sondi L has attacked Army C-in-C Gen. Anupong.