Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Thai democracy - where they're at now

I wrote about the Thai style of democracy last June. And guess what - they've just declared a state of emergency.

The PAD (People's Alliance for Democracy) in Thailand isn't that democratic after all. They want the constitution changed so that the Parliament comprises elected representatives as well as appointed reps, such as those from trade unions etc. How can that be democratic? Who is authorised to appoint reps to Parliament other than the citizens of Thailand?

One of their justifications is that Thais in the rural parts of the country are illiterate or less literate than those in urban centres; and these are the people most culpable to voting for people who give them money - what they call vote buying. But aren't these rural folks a part of their populace with the same rights under the constitution?

Their proposals smell of the Indonesian parliament under the rule of President Suharto where there are fixed number of appointees from various organisations, such as the military etc.

If Thailand can get away with this, then Malaysia can also say that the rural Malays do not deserve the same vote as the urban Chinese. Malaysia can also say that the rubber tappers who are so essential to their economy also do not deserve the same vote as the more educated people. Should we redefine democracy such that one university degree gets one vote? Or one higher school certificate gets one vote? Maybe Singapore should dictate that those who do not have two kids cannot vote. Or that democracy is only for the elite; and anything which the elite doesn't like is not democracy?

Although absurd - I believe - these are the notions the 10,000 or so people illegally occupying the government's office, and the same group who closed off the airports to their main tourist destinations are proposing for their country. Is Thailand heading back to the stone age? Only the Thais know.

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