Veera in the Bangkok Post:
Thaksin, it was reported, told the government not to back down on its demand for an early election as a solution to the political conflict. The hardline and uncompromising stand prompted the military takeover and the suspension of the Constitution, except for the provisions regarding the Monarchy.
BP: Actually, the demand was that the government resign and essentially give power over to the Establishment to appoint their own government. The government refused. In other parliamentary democracies, when there is a crisis in confidence in the government, a dissolution and a new election is the way out. To Veera and other coup apologists, this is seen as a hardline and uncompromising stand.
It is undeniable that a coup is undemocratic, unjustified and will not resolve the conflict. But I doubt the legions of Thais who took part in the Bangkok Shutdown rallies to protest against the Thaksin regime will agree with Mr Kerry’s assertion that the May 22 coup was totally unwarranted and that elections should be held quickly.
BP: Veera spends one line criticizing the coup and the rest of the op-ed defending it.
Veera then spouts the junta propaganda line on violence being averted:
At least as far as we can see, a potentially violent confrontation between the two rival groups, PDRC and UDD – and even the much-feared civil war as wildly predicted by some foreign media – have been thwarted for now and perhaps during the period the military is in power.
BP: Thanong was spouting this nonsense back in 2006 to justify the 2006 coup. No doubt it will be used again in the future. Repeating something doesn’t make it true…
How do you stop vote buying? And how can you stop a party which is in full control of local administrators such as kamnan and village heads from using these men and women to help in their election without certain reforms being made to the electoral process?
BP: Argh, the vote buying canard again. Veera can offer no evidence. See BP’s recent posts on vote-buying here, here, and here. There is no evidence that vote-buying is the reason the Democrats cannot win. If you are looking for a reason, see the word “incompetence”.
Don’t you feel ashamed if your elected representatives fly overseas to meet a fugitive to ask for political posts in the government or to seek his blessings? And how do you deal with these MPs and senators?
BP: Do you feel ashamed when journalists who purport to be democrats defend coups? The way you deal with elected officials is you vote them out of office. In an election, voters can make value judgments about what they view as acceptable.
How do you deal with your elected representatives if they blindly endorse trillion baht mega projects, backed by only a few fact sheets and completely lacking feasibility studies or public hearings, simply because they were told to do so? Mind you, many of these hopeless MPs will stage a comeback in parliament if an election is held soon, as demanded by the international community and foreign media.
BP: Well you can stage a coup and get the military to implement them… Where will the oversight be given the Constitution is suspended and all executive and legislative power rests with the junta?
The reason that those MPs will stage a comeback is they will be elected.
Many Thai voters boycotted the Feb 2 election or cast “no vote” ballots because they wanted changes to the election laws first before going to the polls because they did not want these politicians back in parliament. And without reforms being made, it is believed many of them will boycott the election again.
BP: Many people also voted in the February 2 election as well. If the PDRC gets their way and we get a Constitution that makes around 30-50% of MPs functional constituencies (where professional organizations select the respective MPs from their members) and other planned reforms that are completely dictated from the PDRC agenda, does Veera consider the reds may then boycott the process?
Almost a decade of colour-coded political conflict and after more than six months of protests against the government, many Thais have a clear understanding of democracy but in a different light from the western perception of it. To them, democracy is not all about elections and going to the polls and then leaving the fate of their country in the hands of the elected representatives. Or giving them a blank cheque so that they can fill in any numbers they wish.
BP: It is good he says “many.” What he really means is a minority. A minority who can’t win and continue to lose so they need to rewrite the rules so they can become a majority.
Democracy is about more than just elections. It is also about accountability, transparency and good governance. And since many of the politicians do not believe in and do not have accountability, transparency and good governance desires, many voters will not go to the polls without reforms that hold their representatives accountable.
They do not just yearn for the return of democracy but also for a truly responsive and accountable parliament and government.
BP: Responsive to who? The minority? If the majority don’t like the government they can vote it out. Veera’s problem is that successive elections since 2001 have shown what the majority want.
Criticism of the media is not prohibited, but of the junta it is, so here is a theoretical question: do we have accountability, transparency and good governance now?