Thailand deadlock democracy

In the midst of World Movement for Democracy Forum held in Jakarta,
Indonesia’s neighboring country faces major threat of its democracy as
the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) masses
widely identified as the Redshirts remain firm in their demands for
early election following resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit
Vejjajiva . The three weeks street protest has influence The Election
Committee in Thailand to ruled a decision to dissolve the incumbent
party leader in Parliament, the Democrat, on April 12 for an alleged
misuse of the campaign fund for the amount of US$ 800,000 and
unreported cash in flow to the party 2007 election campaign from a
cement company (The Jakarta Post/ April 13, 2010). The decision of the
Election Committee corroborate the political crisis in Thailand as the
double-edged sword in the country’s democratic history as it prevailed
to the public that both sides (the Democrat Party and the People Power
Party (PPP)—which was dissolved earlier by the Constitutional Court
decision in December 2008) as the majority voted parties in December
2007 election have violated the rule of law. The question mounted is
whether Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva complies with the decision of
Election Committee or stand firm in his current political perspective
that fostering election is not the answer to the political crises.

The impact of the ruling of Election Committee to dissolve the
Democrat party, then the Parliament, is massive since the dominant
political powers in Thai political history in the past few years
configured in PPP and Democrat have been banned from the political
arena for five years respectively.  The previous political leaders of
PPP who also served as Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej and Somchai
Wongsawat—Thaksin’s brother-in-law—together with their comrades in the
party believed to be the resurrection of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party
was banned due to Constitutional Court decision to dissolved PPP
because of election fraud. The decision in 2008 was also triggered by
the prolonged political crises and massive demonstrations of the pro
monarch People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) or commonly known as the
yellow shirts. The similar story of people filling the streets of
Bangkok to demand a political change has again brought a potential
shift of power in Thai politics after the sacrifices of 20 lives,
including foreign journalist, but this time the color of the masses is
The event of political crises in Thailand has proclaimed to the world
three important characters of Thai current political story. First,
Thailand is now experiencing deadlock of democracy wherein the system
cannot resolve the political conflicts of the competing interests.
Democracy is in a ‘deadlock’ because it is supposed to become the
peaceful means to arriving at political decision in a democratic
state. Second, there is a division in Thai people—red and yellow
shirts—that has its roots in political stance of attitude toward
ousted and fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. In the
same token, the division of Thai society verifies that Thaksin himself
is still a powerful figure in Thailand. Third, social revolts in the
form of mass demonstration is considered the most useful mechanism to
articulate the voices of the people and make the democratic procedures
in the country’s legislative and government supportive body, as well
as civil society organization, have not functioned properly as needed
in democratic prescription.
The way in which deadlock of democracy will be resolved in current
political crises is the key to the further fate of democracy in
Thailand. In its previous history, Thai crises were solved by the
means of military coup d’état, or by His Majesty King Bhumibol
Aulyadej monarchical arbitrary intervention. The option of using
military force to become the government caretaker was recently used
when General Sonthi Boonyaratglin took over the power of Prime
Minister Thaksin in September 2006 and it became the 18th successful
coup in Thai politics. But Army General Commander General Anupong
Pochinda has stated since 2008 that coup is not an option. And for the
latter, the current physical conditions of King Bhumibol prevent him
to making a public appearance requested by the Redshirts protesters.
If either option is to take course, Thailand will once again fall into
the vicious cycle that Chai-Anan Samudavanija once described the
nature of Thai politics in which Thailand will never be a full-pledged
However, there is one scenario believed to be a potential scheme that
is the returning of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is
assumed currently in Dubai. Thaksin during teleconference with his
Redshirt supporters have repeatedly announced that he will make a
political comeback eventually and convince his followers that it will
be the victory of democracy.  Thus, the next level of political
situation in thai politics will ensure the rest of the world on how
actually the people of Thailand perceived democracy.


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