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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Nation: Borwornsak Uwanno Pushing Same Undemocratic Agenda as Before

Appointed Senate 'would give bureaucrats a share of power'


Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation


A legal expert who once served deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra supports an appointed Senate in the draft constitution, saying it will allow bureaucrats to have a place in the new power-sharing scheme.

Bowornsak Uwanno, former cabinet secretary under Thaksin and former dean of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Law, said if the Upper House is elected, rural voters - who constitute the majority of the electorate - would select only politicians, leaving no space for bureaucrats and the military.


"Elections under the Thai democratic system are an exchange process informed by the patronage culture.


"The rural poor vote to repay the patronage they receive," said Bowornsak, during Chulalongkorn University's Law Faculty annual dinner on Tuesday night.


"We cannot allow the patronage culture to remain the way it is, but it cannot be changed without altering the production mode.


"Only when people have enough to eat can we inculcate people with democratic culture," he said.


"An elected Upper House would lead towards double representation of the rural poor while maintaining the party list system would enable the middle class to enter parliament," he said.


If bureaucrats or the middle class feel left out of politics they will revolt - or tear up yet another constitution, he said.


Unlike in the West, Bowornsak said the Thai middle class sometimes resorts to undemocratic means to maintain its interest, such as during the events leading up to the September 19 coup and their support for the coup makers afterward.


"As long as the middle class has another option to protect their rights the middle class will accept coups.


"To them, democracy is but a means to an end and so they will accept whichever method for their own good - even if it's undemocratic," he said.


Bowornsak, who is now a member of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and secretary of the King Prajadhipok Institute, cited the institute's recent survey which revealed that two-thirds of the middle class people questioned said they prefer economic well-being to democracy.


However, he criticised charter drafters for trying to re-design the constitution to make future governments weak.


"They intended it to be so - but this is not right."


He also warned drafters not to give too many rights to ordinary people, claiming homeless beggars could sue future governments if they fail to provide them with shelter.


"Where will we get the money from, if not from the middle class?"


Putting too much state policy into the charter would also make it impossible for future administrations to come up with their own policy, said Bowornsak, who was a charter drafter for the 1997 constitution.


"What right do they have to determine the future of posterity? It will make future governments' work difficult."


Bowornsak also criticised the limiting of the prime minister's term to two years instead of four as this was against the notion of the rule of the people.


"Are they trying to tell the people that their view is more important than that of the people's?"


He urged drafters to look at the Swedish constitution and learn how it contains the extreme abuse of both state and private ownership of the mass media.


Bowornsak said he supported total deregulation of all Thai industries to make the economy more competitive, while maintaining a level of welfare and sufficiency policy for the rural and urban poor.


Bowornsak has the same song and dance as he did when he was developing the last constitution.

He opposed an elected Senate back then also. But he lost that battle.

Bowornsak is one of those guys who plays both sides of the fence as much as possible.

He is a staunch royalist, yet he was Thaksin's cabinet secretary up until a few months before the coup.

He says he is for democracy, but only democracy for the elites.

This guy is also the same dude who went to the US to threaten Paul Handley over "Why the King Never Smiles. He is a defender of the Ramkhamhaeng Stone myth.

How he ever became Dean of Law at Chula is beyond my imagination. But he comes from the French legal tradition, which probably explains his faith in the bureaucracy and his love for the state.


Also, I really find his criticism of patronage politics fascinating. This is a man who served many important patrons during his recent political career: Meechai, Prem, Chatichai,Thaksin and Sonthi.


Now that I look at his career, he should have never gone into law, but should have become a double agent instead.


This is the same man who put his career on the line to defend Thaksin crony, Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, during the Dr. S/ Match Box scandal in the early 90's.


This is a little off topic. But when I started to dig a little, it is fascinating what things come up, which is why I always insist that Thaksin is irrelevant, because as long as the same class of cronies, academics, and politicians keep doing their double dealing and corruption behind closed doors without the glare of the media shining upon it, nothing will change.

The whole system is rotten to the core. And no, it is not because of the poor peasants voting for the wrong guys. They are not part of multi-billion dollar corruption deals that are handled only at the very top of Thai society.

Also, what else is interesting is that the more I read about the old scandals from the 90's, especially the Dr. S scandal, I've come to realize why so many people believe that Thaksin hired Edelman/Adelman to start a public relations campaign against the junta. The conspiracy is plausible in the context of looking at the past. Thai politicians really do go to any lengths to destroy their enemies, cover up their schemes, and protect their ill gotten gains.


10 comments:

hobby said...

Fonzi said: The whole system is rotten to the core. And no, it is not because of the poor peasants voting for the wrong guys. They are not part of multi-billion dollar corruption deals that are handled only at the very top of Thai society.

I agree that the whole system is rotten to the core, and IMHO it will remain so as long as the poor peasants (the majority) continue to vote for the wrong guys.

How do you expect the system to change?
Will the people at the top change their behaviour if they can keep getting away with it?
Unless voters reject corrupt politicians (from whichever side) then nothing will change.

You keep banging away about democracy, but democracy is no better than other forms of government if the electorate does not take it's responsibility seriously.

Patiwat said...

Give some background on the Dr. S/Match Box scandal please.

Jason said...

I myself would love to see some documented examples of "multi-billion dollar corruption deals that are handled only at the very top of Thai society."

Fonzi said...

Patiwat-

Chapter 5-Politics and the Press in Thailand

Duncan McCargo

The short version-

Siam Rath printed a story back in 1995 about documents that they uncovered from the Chatichai government that implicated a Dr. S, Surakiart, in a lobbyist scandal. Basically Dr. S would act as a go between the Thai government and US companies, defense, engines for Thai Air, etc and get kick backs for his services.

He was also the one who arranged for the Thai government to hired lobbyists in the US to act on behalf of the Thai government.

Match Box was the cover company for all the dealings.

Surakiart was an up and comer, a golden boy if you will, and became the Dean of Law at Chula, a position that Dr. Borwornsak had also held.

He is also related to the royal famiy by marriage.

Surakiart and Bowornsak were both on Chatichai's Ban Pitsunalok staff.

When the story blew, Surakiart was the Sec. of Finance for Banharn.

Borwornsak covered for him during the scandal. Borwornsak was also a Match Box partner, uncoincidentally.

Another familiar name at this time, Kraisak Choonhavan, was also in he mix, which is interesting to me, because his name was one of those found on the current junta's propaganda slush fund list.

Kraisak publically covered for Surakiart and Borwornsak during the scandal, accusing rogue elements in the military of framing Surakiart.

Coffee said...

So much wrong with this guys stuff. So, poor aka the majority of population, should not have access to shelter. As it would be paid by the middle class. Well, I thought that many times every one is under taxation, so everyone pays. Rarely you see this open disregard agains poor and tapping to the middle-class fear of losing income to taxes (USA politics taps to this many times).

Now, as Sweden is close to me, I was into seeing what the heck is this guy talking about abuse in Swedish constitution...And along to the investigation...
http://www.servat.unibe.ch/law/icl/sw00000_.html
http://www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2707/a/15187
http://www.riksdagen.se/templates/R_Page____8909.aspx

Article 1 goes on about freedom of expression. Nothing abusive there.
Article 2 is about protection from abuse by government. Article 12 lists the reasons on which freedom of experssion can be limited. Anyway, someone should ask from the Man what the heck he is babbling about Sweden. I think they would be pissed off when some dog of a man from thailand calls their constitution "abusive"...Or what he tried to say, who knows. That comment just was so baffling, like "WTF" effect was running high. It was such a surprising and out of context comment....

hobby said...

"He urged drafters to look at the Swedish constitution and learn how it contains the extreme abuse of both state and private ownership of the mass media."

Coffee, I interpreted that statement by Bowornsak as being praise for the Swedish constitution because he thinks it handles those abuse matters well.

It's funny how we all see things differntly - I couldn't care less whether the senate is elected or appointed, as I think either system will produce senators of similar (poor) quality.

The statements by Bowornsak that I take the most exception to are the following:

'He also warned drafters not to give too many rights to ordinary people, claiming homeless beggars could sue future governments if they fail to provide them with shelter.
"Where will we get the money from, if not from the middle class?"
Putting too much state policy into the charter would also make it impossible for future administrations to come up with their own policy'


I've got no problem with human rights and noble goals being included in the charter.

Coffee said...

hobby - yea, because I had really trouble understanding what he meant as to me it seemed like he thinks Swedish constitution leads to abuse, as it "CONTAINS ABUSE"...:) It would be good to see the original thai and other translation what he babbled.

And in many places the other house is indeed not elected by public vote but by peers, from the people in the second house/chamber or then by the patronage system etc.

But yeah, I took the most issue with the opinion about poor people. It is not about oh everything should be so PC, but damn, he just openly doesnt think they should have right for humane living conditions. :-O

Oh ways to try feed out corruption: Singapore pays huge loads of money for their officials, and give hefty pay rises to them (=no incentive for extra cash, or so they want to believe). BUT still, the argument is that the damn officials are STILL corrupted, even when their politcians are paid MORE than politicians in UK for example.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/
Southeast_Asia/ID13Ae01.html

Rich said...

"Elections under the Thai democratic system are an exchange process informed by the patronage culture."

'Informed by' in this case meaning 'carefully perpetuated by'.

"The rural poor vote to repay the patronage they receive," said Bowornsak

Thus it is clearly our God-given duty to make sure there are always lots of rural poor.

"Only when people have enough to eat can we inculcate people with democratic culture," he said.

Thus it is clearly our God-given duty to make sure they never get enough to eat. Lest they desire an iniquitous democracy.

He also warned drafters not to give too many rights to ordinary people, claiming homeless beggars could sue future governments if they fail to provide them with shelter.

"Where will we get the money from, if not from the middle class?"

Thus is the high-class Thai attitude to other Thais clearly illustrated. What percentage of Thailands wealth is is owned by the top 10%. Instead of the middle-class - perhaps it might be a good idea to see if the top 10% might put something back. For a change. Sorry, silly suggestion, can't imagine what I was thinking of.

Rich

Bangkok Pundit said...

Hobby stated: "I've got no problem with human rights and noble goals being included in the charter."

I understand where Borwornsak is coming from here, but that is because I have always been opposed to a constitutionally entrenched Bill of Rights where judges decide the limits on freedoms and rights.

hobby said...

Pundit: Who would you rather decide?

I'd rather rely on the judges to decide as I see them as a better althernative than whichever mob of politicians is in power.
I know to some extent the politicians still get to have influence by stacking the courts with sympathetic judges, but that takes time and the political worm usually turns before they have complete dominance.

BTW: This comment is general in nature, not specifically related to Thailand.