Korn and the PAD : Drunk on PAD Kool-Aid?
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Korn and the PAD : Drunk on PAD Kool-Aid?

Besides Abhisit, I have always had a soft spot for Korn. I am not too sure what to make of his latest op-ed in the Bangkok Post:
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Last time my column appeared was Tuesday, Aug 26, the day the People’s Alliance for Democracy broke into NBT television station and Government House. I had written how it was time the gloves were taken off against the government. I wrote about how the government was ignoring normal rules of engagement and was in breach of all decency in the process of pursuing its self-serving goals.
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/>I concluded that we needed to pursue all attempts to convict members of the government, their political party as well as the government itself. Unless we succeed in doing so, the ruling party and their co-conspirators would simply continue to abuse the majority vote given to them by the Thai public.
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/>That same day the PAD decided in their different ways, to take the gloves off too, and it was eerie and disconcerting.

/>BP: Last Sunday before the violence there was mention in PPP, by Samak if I remember, of talk of possible bloodshed if the protests continue. The mere mention of it was enough for the Democrats to attack Samak wondering what he knew. Can’t we now reverse the situation?
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/>His op-ed continues:
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Public reaction to the PAD was swift – an opinion poll that day showed 70% public disapproval of this course of action. I wasn’t polled, but I would have agreed with the majority.
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/>I was concerned. Let’s be clear – I am a PAD sympathiser. I attended the very first Thammasat “seminar” organised by Sondhi Limthongkul back in 2005. I remembered thinking at the time that something special was happening, not because of what he said, but more because of the passion of the packed house responding to it.
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/>I was right. I sporadically observed other meetings, first at Lumpini Park then at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge.
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/>As a Democrat Member of Parliament, there isn’t much that is new in what is said on stage, but the growing momentum of the movement was obvious, boosted in early 2006, by the sale of Shin Corp by the Shinawatra family to Temasek Holdings of Singapore.
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/>Although I had never once attended the PAD’s second series after the general elections late last year, I retained reasons to remain a sympathiser of the movement.
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/>No point shying away from the obvious – after all, it is a well-known fact that one of the PAD leaders, even if he is acting on an individual basis, is a Democrat MP.
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/>Many other key speakers were our candidates in the recent general elections. Almost all of the tens of thousands of the attending public are Democrat voters. Most importantly, the PAD and their supporters make similar arguments with us that the government has lost its way and lost its legitimacy, given breach of both law and ethics. Recently, the government has also lost its authority.
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/>BP: I think we can raise serious questions on the DAAD=PPP link as well,* but is interesting he is conceding the level of Democrat involvement in the PAD. Can anyone detect any difference in his opinion with PAD? Who determines when a government loses legitimacy?
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/>The op-ed continues:
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It is remarkable and bitterly ironic how much damage the emergency decree has caused, relative to the protests that went before it. International perception, when they heard of the announcement, was swift: government bond yields jumped almost 50 basis points, the stock market collapsed – after having withstood even the increasing level of violence the week before. Foreign tourists cancelled their holidays, already disrupted earlier by the closure of Phuket airport.

/>BP: None of this international perception was affected by the fact that there had been political violence the night before, clashes before this, seizing of government buildings, airports had been taken over (with widescale press coverage overseas – actually I think it is the airport closures which had a greater effect on tourism as the newspaper articles in the western media talked about passengers stranded at airports unable to leave etc.), lack of the ability for the government to do anything, and talk of strike action. It was only the state of emergency which caused all this. The government though has a perception problem as if it lifts the state of emergency things will improve, but then again with no violence for a week things have improved anyway. Will the tourists come back though? Given that PAD can act with impunity and block airport travel, it will take time.
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/>The op-ed continues:
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Coming to terms with the new PAD, coming to terms with old politics
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/>Did everything change as a result of the illicit acts? Not for me. Put simply, I do not have to agree with the action of the PAD leaders to remain in league with the democratic spirit of the bulk of the supporters. I disagree with those who say that the whole movement is undemocratic – even if some of their demands appear to be less democratic than what is the perceived wisdom.
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/>Many observers say that it is undemocratic for a crowd to call for the resignation of an elected government. I find that to be absurd. It is true that a government should only be removed through parliamentary process, but not true that this implies the general public cannot voice their desire for a change in government.
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/>BP: It is not undemocratic for a crowd to call for the resignation of an elected government. My problem with the PAD is that they are taking the option of occupying public roads and government buildings. If they want to go to some park somewhere and whine, complain and bleat to their heart’s content, I don’t have a problem.
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/>The op-ed continues:
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I also believe that, like it or not, the Democrats could not on our own have resisted the PPP or the government from abusing their powers in the seven months of their rule. I think that without our parallel efforts, it is likely that the Constitution would by now have been amended and protection given to both Thaksin and PPP itself.
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/>BP: If PPP had gone to a referendum, would Korn be satisfied? Weren’t the coup leaders self-serving with Article 309 in providing themselves with an amnesty?
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/>The op-ed continues:
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I believe the government would have approved 6,000 hugely expensive buses rather than the 4,000 they are trying to get away with.
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/>I believe we would have lost future claim and current territory at the Phra Viharn temple.
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/>BP: Future claim??? And there were no transport projects when Suthep had his fingers in the pie…
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/>The op-ed continues:
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The day after the Government House break-in was a strange one for me. I was saddened by the PAD decision to cross the legal line. Yet I understood it from the perspective of strategy. Like many school boys, I have always been interested in war strategies and the PAD, with Maj-Gen Chamlong as their strategist, certainly think in those terms. Their move on Government House fits what is called the “Death Ground” strategy – putting yourself in a situation where you have too much at stake to lose.
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/>Of course, once they decided on a strategy, they moved at lightning speed – Blitzkreig; they kept their opponents on their heels, they shifted the battlefield and, most importantly, through all this, they compelled their opponents into making mistakes – the heavy-handed police reaction and, disastrously, the announcement of the emergency decree that was ignored by the army and highlighted the government’s lack of authority.
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/>The problem, of course, is that, in their thirst for victory, so much damage is being caused. Is this the only way? Is the PAD’s victory a good thing for Thailand? Indeed, what defines “victory”? The PAD’s goal-post seems to be constantly movable. Mr Sondhi might want to choose to quote Abe Lincoln next time he’s asked what the PAD wants: “My policy is to have no policy.”
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/>BP: He seems almost excited by their seizure of Government House.
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/>His op-ed continues:
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My father, the Parliament and the future of Thai politics
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/>But on that day, we had lost a peculiar vote in Parliament. The House was considering a bill on the National Counter Corruption Commission as required by the Constitution. It had already passed the first hearing (agreement in principle) as well as the second hearing (approval of draft) but then in the third hearing the bill was inexplicably toppled by the PPP (which had effectively written the agreed draft). This, in our view, was pure cynicism and was an attempt to undermine both the NCCC and the Constitution itself.

/>BP: I am having difficulties in finding news articles about this from google news, but did the PPP really draft the bill? The Constitution was set up so the independent agencies draft the bills. The bill I remember being defeated was one where PPP argued that there should be a right of appeal and not just one court to decide. Political office holders have no right of appeal. One could argue this is self-serving, but should only political office holders be denied a right of appeal. I don’t see any good theoritical grounds for doing so and it hardly undermines the Constitution.
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/>His op-ed continues:
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At nine o’clock my thoughts turned to Parliament and the PAD, and I simply thought, screw the opinion polls, the people attending the rally don’t deserve to be vilified as criminals and I decided to go visit them.
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/>An emotional night became more so as I realised that my visit and its timing had touched a nerve. People were moved, as was I. I made it a point not to enter the grounds of Government House and certainly not onto the stage. In my mind I was clear: I was visiting the people, not the movement or its leaders. I see the people as heroes – pure in their beliefs, certain in their desire to see positive change in the country, and willing to be active citizens. Is this not the seed of true democracy? Call me a romantic – but if you’re not, you shouldn’t be in politics.
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/>I do not have all the answers, but I do not think this brinkmanship is good for the country. However, a week after that night, my father passed away. One of the last things he said to me was: “Like them or not, the PAD is forcing change.”
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/>BP: So if there was a Democrat-led government and PPP supporters seized Government House and were occupying it, would he call them heroes? Last December, when the military-appointed government was passing hundreds of laws in quickfire action, a group of unarmed protesters went to protest and entered Government House (by climbing the fence). No injuries were reported. They were of course promptly charged with wide range of criminal offences. I don’t remember hearing any complaints from the Democrats at the time – I googled a few different variations and can’t seem to find anything. Acts of civil disobedience can and should be punished, but it is amazing the level of support, tacit or otherwise, in the media and the Democrats for the PAD against a democratically-elected government versus against the actions then against the military government.
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/>* I started a post on it last week (as well as the PAD=Democrats connections given that the first load of stories on the DAAD=PPP mentioned that the PPP MPs were speaking on the stage at DAAD rallies) and it keeps going around in circles. The benefit of the PAD is that they have a media empire so if they say something, we have print, audio and video. So far with DAAD we have sources saying someone said something at a meeting. Not that a reporter was there and heard it, but a source tells they had something. Or that someone heard something and they told someone else who presents a petition to the Speaker, but doesn’t say who the person who heard something was.
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/>This makes it hard to discern DAAD motives and from what I hear from people who were on the ground from the protests is just confusion and a lack of organisation. PAD seem reasonbly well-drilled and organised. DAAD are the opposite. This is complicated as the previous meme was that Newin=DAAD. Then again the previous meme was also that Newin was Thaksin’s crony. Then the story of the Gang of Four confuses that all with Newin now being called a traitor and planning to stab Thaksin in the back. I don’t think there is unity within DAAD and there are different people with different agendas. It seems (yes, it is speculation because we don’t have clear facts) that Newin is up to things and has the strongest connections with the hardliners within the DAAD movement. Hence, it is a good idea that they