Politics Fragmented into a Series of Hopelessness

Politics Fragmented into a Series of Hopelessness

Politics Fragmented into a Series of Hopelessness Blog, Politics, Southeast Asia, Thailand
September 4, 2018

Throughout a decade of struggles in a state of kleptocracy, Malaysians, mainly those from the lower middle class, have told me that they were unable to find equal opportunities for work. But then one day, Malaysians saw and experienced the surprising defeat of the Barisan National (BN) government, led by the unpopular prime minister Najib Razak, at the 14th general elections. Hopes and expectations were raised.

Communities, particularly young people, sought long-term, positive changes to the mess that BN had left behind – corruption, mismanagement, controversial 1MDB scandals and the likes. Malaysians want, rightfully so, the new Pakatan Harapan government to fulfill the collation’s election promises. It may be challenging for the new government, perhaps due to an overload sense of priorities, but there are no reasons for them to renegade the public, their constituencies.

Land of Smiles

Then we have Thailand. The country is drifting towards an election but that may, or more like most probably, change overnight. After all, the junta is not known for keeping promises.

The situation is different, compared to Malaysia.

Thailand is under military dominance and rule. Malaysia was governed by right-wing parties and race supremacists, though some of these elements are still visible, pulsing in the present system. Thailand, despite it’s obvious differences, is in great need of democracy. Society has seen long periods of decline, among these failings affect basic rights, local economy and rising cost of living. There is also the matter of accountability, or the lack of it, and the tragedy of not being able to contain the bloated corruption. Good governance does not exist – as this institutions are subjected to the whims and fancy of the junta and it’s networks of cronies. And oh yes, the military – particularly the army – has a long tradition of meddling in politics.

Political repression is common in the Land of Smiles. Politicians are subjected to the doctrine of obedience and if you choose to not conform, then someone from the military will visit you – a ‘social’ call to inquire on your state of mind and allegiance.

Rather than restoring respect for human rights and returning the country to democratic rule, the junta has persecuted critics and dissidents, banned peaceful public assembly, censored the media, and suppressed free speech. – Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch.

Listen to Uncle Prayut

Ordinary citizens are expected to abandon all personal and private views that contradict the ambitions of General Prayut Chan-o-cha. The general has been in power since 2014, ever since he removed Yingluck Shinawatra’s government and anointed himself, much to the happiness of his adoring cronies, as prime minister.

The rule of the land, then and now: kowtow, and submit, to the will of General Prayut, and maybe you’ll be able to lead a ‘normal’ life – though that does not seem to be the case, unless you’re well-connected to the privileged circles of the great Uncle.

Piranha Culture

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard said the party had discovered that rival parties have been paying for party members and votes in Nakhon Ratchasima province. He said volunteers were allegedly given ID cards and promised state welfare if they voted for a political party that supports junta leader Prayuth’s return as prime minister after the next elections, now slated for early 2019.

The party filed a complaint at the election commission in Bangkok. But there is the issue of whether Thailand’s national election commission is accountable and independent. On both accounts it remains questionable and dodgy. It’s safe to say that commissioners are appointments are approved by the junta so as not to actively oppose the might of the military rulers. Same goes with the national human rights commission, which appears to serve the junta’s agenda.

Restoring Democratic Rule Is Not Part Of The Plan

Its a time for debates and dialogues, and of political campaigning for the 2019 elections. But that’s only IF the elections are free and fair. There are still no signs that the military elites are willing to allow power be transferred to civilians, especially people who oppose the junta’s grand road-maps.

Hope, at this stage, is simply a false perception offered by the junta.

And perhaps after an unsymmetrical election Thailand, just like Malaysia years ago, will fall into the iron grip of a kleptocrat.


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