Sunday, February 18, 2007

Deconstructing Nophakhun Limsamarnphun: More BS Artistry from The Nation's Finest


A half-baked democracy in the offing for year's end

Dr Anek Laothamatas, the former leader of the Mahachon Party, gave me the impression the other day that a half-baked democracy was in the offing when the polls come later this year.

He said that the military would continue to pull the strings from backstage once the top brass stepped down from their official posts.

Why shouldn't it be? The Privy Council and the Junta will be the final voice on all matters until long after the death of King Bumibol, which was a main factor in having the coup in the first place. The military will be in charge until after King Bumibol dies and after all the post death cremation ceremonies are over, which could take years. Then after the coronation of the new queen or king or nobody, the military will have to be in the driver's seat because it is the only institution in Thailand with the guns. The first couple years of the tenth reign (or republic) will be shaky, because there is no political force in Thailand that can stabilize the country. The military has to be in charge by default.

At Thursday's seminar entitled "Thailand: Future Path", held by the Sasin Graduate School of Business Administration and Matichon newspaper, Anek told the audience that the majority of Thais apparently felt they had won a brief respite when the military staged the coup to oust the elected, though polarising Thaksin regime on September 19, 2006. Then, he said, they felt somewhat disappointed that the Surayud government really had not lived up to high expectations in running the country over the past four months. The Surayud government is kind-hearted, but it's not decisive.

Majority? Anyway you look at it, the majority supported Thaksin. Surayud is worthless because he is a general without any factions or loyalty outside the military. His power doesn't come from the people, only from the junta and the palace. The bureaucracy doesn't listen to him, because it is waiting for Thaksin, their patron, to come back.

Many Thais share the opinion that the future is rather cloudy and that the democratic struggle will be protracted as the military will remain the predominant player, albeit informally, for quite some time. This is likely to be the situation for at least two years following the dissolution of the Council for National Security (CNS) later this year.

See what I wrote above concerning end of reign, post-reign politics.

On the new constitution, Anek says that one of the ultimate objectives is to ensure that once it is promulgated, it is not torn up again any time soon. The last charter lasted nearly 10 years. Basically, this means determining how best to accommodate the universal values of democracy in the Thai political context. A very Western democratic charter would not last, he warns.

Constitutionalism is a joke in Thailand. Any new Constitution will be torn up, because Thais have no respect for the rule of law, especially those in power, and the masses and the middle class could give two shits if a million more constitutions are ripped to shreds by the military. When has there ever been a Western democratic charter in Thailand? Never. The last charter was written by Thais for Thais. Again, it failed. I would argue, however, that the problem is never the Constitution, but rather the people who live under that Constitution who are the problem. Iraq has a lovely Constitution, and that hasn't done the Iraqis any good. What is democracy in a Thai political context? More bullshit. More feudalism. More corruption.

Anek has long championed the notion of twin political forces - urbanites and rural folk - and this proved to be the case last September after urbanites essentially joined forces to oust the Thaksin regime, which was still popular in rural areas. This being the case, Anek says, reconciliatory politics is increasingly unavoidable in the Thai context.

What kind of bullshit is this? The urbanites kicked out Thaksin. The peasants still love him. Where is the coalition? What the fuck does reconciliatory politics in a Thai context mean?

Globalisation and the sufficiency-economy model are good examples of populist policies as exemplified by the previous Thaksin regime that may have to be substituted for what he calls a progressive welfare regime.

More bullshit. What does this sentence mean? How does shit like this get published?

After all, a patronage-based society and a truly Western-style democracy do not fit together seamlessly.

They don't fit well together at all. A patronage system is antithetical to democracy. Who are these idiots?

As the next polls are likely to be held by year's end, all politicians and political parties will have to factor in the military's upcoming predominant role.


Dr Chai-anan Samudavanija, a veteran political scientist who spoke at the same event, believes that democratic reforms will take place slowly over the next two to three years, during which technocrats and bureaucrats will be more powerful politically as political parties will need them to help run the country.

Again, what does this mean? From what we have seen lately, the bureaucrats can't be trusted and their expert advice and knowledge seems to be worthless. And the politicians are the same old faces, so why shouldn't they know how to cheat the state as well as in the past?

During this period, he said, royal initiatives on the sufficiency-economy model will replace populist policies. Politics will be less sensational and will move at a slower speed than in the past five to six years.

Somkid will re-package Thaksinomics into Juntanomics and call it Sufficiency Theory.

On the economic front, Dr Supavud Saicheua of Patra Securities noted that the new constitution, which is supposed to be ready for a referendum around July of this year, would be a key measure of Thailand's political situation in the eyes of foreign investors. If its contents have the potential for increased political stability, the new charter will likely boost foreign investment, he says, and the political risks in Thailand will reach their peak around the second quarter of this year when the Constitution Court rules as to whether any political parties should be disbanded for breaking electoral law.

Why would foreign investors trust this government? How many coups and constitutions have there been? And why should foreigners trust the economic reforms that cheat foreigners out of their money in order to feed Thais waiting at the trough?

For the past four months, foreign investors' sentiment towards Thailand has not been favourable, given that the Surayud government has been perceived internationally as attempting to get rid of the remnants of the previous regime and overthrow its economic policies.

Look at the dishonest reframing in this sentence. Khun Nop is saying that foreign sentiment is against the Surayud government because he got rid of the remnant of previous regime and its economic policies. Where is the evidence for this? Perhaps foreign sentiment is against the present government because of its proactive policies to damage the interests of foreigners, and perhaps they are perturbed because this government is a military dictatorship without any legal legitimacy, and perhaps they are not happy with the Thai media's right wing nationalist propaganda campaign that dumps all of Thailand's problems on the heads of the evil farang.

The Foreign Business Act revisions proposed to the National Legislative Assembly, the 30-per cent reserve requirement on foreign capital inflow and the Public Health Ministry's plan to break the patents of certain drugs for humanitarian reasons are among the measures often cited by the international media as examples of how the Thai government no longer welcomes foreign investment.

Look at the dishonest reframing in this sentence. Again, Khun Nop distorts the bad reaction of the foreign community to mean what he wants it to mean. Also, there is a difference in distinction between cheating foreigners and welcoming foreign investors.

I love how Nop says that the Thai government is stealing US IP for "humanitarian" reasons.

Like a typical Nation journalist, Mr. Nop has no shame.

Nophakhun Limsamarnphun

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