Friday, June 1, 2007

Asian Sentinel Via New Mandala: Thaksin's Party is Over, The Royalists and Military Crashed It

The Thai Rak Thai party’s dissolution completes the military power grab.

Asia Sentinel

It was billed as "Judgment Day" in Bangkok, but Wednesday's decision by a military-installed court to dissolve ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's party and ban its executives from political activity for five years was in the works well before the army seized power last September.

The main goal of the coup-makers, of course, was to cut the legs off Thaksin and Thai Rak Thai, the party he founded in 1998 as a personal vehicle to carry him to the premiership. TRT stormed to power with a win in the 2001 general election and became the only party in Thai history to complete a full term in office.

The Constitutional Tribunal's decision to dissolve the party — finally revealed after the judges read the ruling for an excruciating nine hours — was just one part of the plan to remove Thaksin from the political scene. The rest of the job belongs to those drafting the new constitution, which aims to limit the powers of the executive and expand the role of non-elected senators and judges to ensure that a reincarnation of Thaksin doesn't rise from the ashes.

While Thaksin can justly be blamed for interfering with independent constitutional bodies during his tenure, the rulers that replaced him have gone even further by overthrowing an elected government, manipulating the justice system, rewriting the constitution, sending soldiers to television stations and enforcing ex post facto laws. Now they've wiped Thaksin's party off the map and banned 111 of the Party’s executive members from running in an election for five years — the harshest possible punishment. Although the blatantly political decision has profound ramifications for the Thai political landscape, it was simply the culmination of a series of rulings over the past year that skirted or completely ignored the law.


I thought this was an excellent synopsis of what happened. I don't think Thaksin and Thai Rak Thai were victims, but this story really explains that politics behind the party dissolution case.

Personally, I want to move on. But many people feel burned. I believe in non-violent political expression. However, if the comments at the end of this story are an indicator, many Thais are less than satisfied with the outcome of the case, and if the majority continue to get screwed by the elites, it may come down to violence because there may nothing left to do.

The coup cycle needs to stop. I am really starting to get scared that we may descend into a nihilistic abyss that we may never be able to recover from.


Patiwat said...

Don't you get it, Fonzi: this isn't the end - this is the beginning. As the article states, the next constitution will prevent any stable elected government from forming and will continue the military's stranglehold on Thai society for the foreseeable future.

Matty said...

Now the 'real fun' begins after a monster and its 110 heads had been slain. Cutting off 110 smaller heads was a bit extreme, since Thailand is a Buddhist country and should have been more compassionate.

My business associates over dinner last night commented that perhaps the 'corruption fee' which escalated to take-it-or-leave-it 30% would scale down to its previous 10%. If Thaksin and TRT were so unpopular among the businessmen was mainly because of that choking 30%+ under-the-table rate.

When I said 'real fun' was referring to the same concern expressed by Patiwat. NOW the probability had increased that: (a) the next constitution may be indefinitely delayed (b) the next promised year-end election would be pushed even further, or (c) just no new constitution or election at all.

Military elements could use any pretext to stay in power. By military elements, may be any military groupings.

hobby said...

Patiwat & Matty: That's your 'winner take all' view taking over - it doesn't have to be like that.

Thaksin had a big let off from the 2001 Constitutional Court ruling, and he survived the extra judicial killing scandal under his drugs war. If he did not sell to Temasek, or even if he had paid tax on the deal, then IMHO he would still be in power now.

Thaksin wanted it all, just like the military does - that's why I think Thaksin has a lot to answer for, because he was the big hope to change things in Thailand.

Matty said...

Hobby I merely meant 'increased probability' and I am merely speculating, because knowing human nature the temptation may just be too much even for a patriotic honest general to slip away.

I agree you with you Hobby that Thaksin was a disappointment. He was just darn good at the helms of government, wasn't he? Except that . . . . . And those 'except that' were just too scandalaous and too blatantly family-directed at the expense of country that Thaksin's vices just overwhelmed his virtues that led to his downfall.

Fonzi kept harping on that one theme that Abhisit, Democrat Party et al, the Thai media, the Thai elites, the academic community, and the Bangkok people like me, ARE to blame because we allowed, then did NOT protest General Sonthi's coup. Perhaps we meekly allowed the tanks to rolled in. But like Fonzi who was quick with his DELETE key when aggravated, the intensity of aggravation by many decent Thais against the arrogant blatant scandals by Thaksin also tested the limits of our patience, and thus the tanks provided the relief.

I watch the TRT gang regrouping, and angrily denying everything and anything without any apologies or pause and I have to be dismayed. Because it just shows the arrogance of corrupt Thai politics: that these corrupt politicians, despite the court rulings or any tag of criminal behaviour or unethical mischief, still believe they can continue to lord over their venal poor rural dependent sheeps, and that they will definitely BE BACK!

Patiwat said...

The party might be over, but I think in the end it was worth it.

Was Thaksin's government corrupt? No doubt.

But I measure Thai politicians not on how efficient they are in using the state budget (since, as matty noted, everybody is corrupt), but on how effective they are. Thaksin's populism benefited himself, but it also benefited the poor. The poverty and healthcare numbers speak for themselves.

(And, because I'm sure somebody is going to mention it, I don't care about the drug war. Some innocents might have been killed but it was worth it. And the Thai people agree with me.)

Sawarin said...

Yes the Fontz, a number of us on this end share the same fear. Peace will have to walk the tight rope from now on.

svl said...

When Patiwat argues that extrajudicial killings for expediency, election fraud to win, and, blatant dishonesty in elected officials are justified so long as there is 'trickle-down' effect on the poor must be the heights of hypocrisy coming from an educated man.

Patiwat you must really really recheck with your monk the possibility that Thaksin's Khmer voodoo had constipated you absolutely!

Patiwat said...

svl, let me ask you a serious question: when you talk about "voodoo", do you really sincerely believe those allegations? At first I thought you were merely trolling or being sarcastic - how else should I react to the absurd charges of devil worship that you yellow-shirts threw at Thaksin. But it seems you guys sincerely do believe that Thaksin ate stillborn babies and worshipped lords of darkness. So do you, or don't you?

svl said...

Patiwat - Now you are beginning to wonder whether my mention of Thaksin\'s Khmer voodoo worship is sarcasm or not. I can\'t blame you Patiwat if you conclude the latter. After all Thaksin\'s megalomania was/is bizarre!

Thaksin eating still-borns! Is that how to be Khmer voodoo omnipotent Patiwat?

Bangkok Pundit said...

Patiwat: My position is not to engage the trolls.

Patiwat said...

BP, I'm not sure if they're trolls. They're just repeating the nonsense that yellow-shirt in chief Sondhi Limthongkul made. I'm coming to suspect that these guys seriously believe their own absurd accusations.

svl said...

BPundit and Patiwat: One really ugly troll both of you worship so how can BPundit claim he won't engage with his idol? Two hints: the Finland Plan and AIS (Thailand's biggest Nokia reseller).

Whatever education you both, Patiwat and BPundit, must have got, subject on ethics and common sense you both must have failed repeatedly as you both continue to worship Thaksin now Thailand's no. 1 tax evader, extrajudicial mass slaughterer, election cheater extra-ordinaire.

svl said...

Further hint to BPundit and Patiwat: A troll originally comes from Scandinavia, had migrated to Thailand, and further migrated to Manchester City.

Kahve said...

Jesus, this Finland plan is so much bs, there is no real sources to back it up. It is a disgrace to my country of Finland that you connect it's name to childish falsified accusations.

svl said...

kahve - I am sure you are not a Scandinavian troll nor a TRT bull. But
how many bulls about Thaksin were now found to be truths after all:
(1) The Thaksin-directed extrajudicial killings story was NOT bull 'kahve',
(2) The Shinawatra clan runaway tax cheating to the tune of Baht 28 billion was NOT bull 'kahve',
(3) The election cheating carried out by TRT, with Thaksin certainly directing, was NOT bull either 'kahve',
(4) The conflict-of-interest AmpleRich-Shin-Temasek US$1.8 billion sale transaction, facilitated by Thaksin while PM, was certainly NOT bull 'kahve',
(5) And Thaksin's abnormal Myanmar and Khmer voodoo fascination/worship is definitely NOT bull 'kahve',
(6) The mega-corruption spree during Thaksin's regime, with the Suvarnabhumi scandal the highlight thereof (ask former Minister Suriya if you can bring him out from hiding at the hospital) was NOT bull 'kahve',
(7) Thaksin's subvertion of constitutional checks & balances was also NOT bull 'kahve'.

Was the Finland Plan bull? Maybe yes and maybe not. After all, Thaksin had been trying to move Thailand towards a Republican political system, much like Singapore. Actually very much like Singapore with a one-party system, and that is NOT bull either 'kahve'.

Thaksin's party is definitely over. His and his party's irrational bullish exuberance for runaway greed and corruption was their undoing. Amen.

Rich said...

"I don't care about the drug war. Some innocents might have been killed but it was worth it."

It is hard to believe anyone with a brain would say this.

"And the Thai people agree with me."

Which means there are lots of Thai people without brains?

Perhaps we should keep it sensible.

Rich said...

Thaksin was a thief. His whole family and circle of friends had their snouts and both front trotters in the public trough. He belongs in jail.

It is surely the mark of a scoundrel (eg Chaturon) to say that thieves and cheats should be given another chance "because that would be compassionate". Put the buggers in jail and throw away the key, Thailand has no need of people like this.

hobby said...

Where's Fonzi?

Have you been censored, or have you joined The Nation as a special opinion writer?

Matty said...

Fonzi are you on sick leave? Quite unusual that you'd stop deconstructing and ranting against your favorite Nation columnist for a week . . .

We seldom agree on any point Fonzi. But your mere talking about any subject only highlight, for me at least, how deeply the Thaksin issue is still alive and why the Thai people must remain on guard.

Not that the junta would be any better but at least we KNOW the junta had NOT been democratically elected, the junta did NOT get my vote and their any deceptions would be very short-lived not having any legitimacy, from the very start. Whereas to this day, even after the election fraud, tax evasion, extrajudicial killings and a blatantly conflict-of-interest committed by Thaksin during his rule, Fonzi would argue while I would vehemently disagree of course, that Thaksin had legitimacy.

But does it amuse you folks that from Japan Acharn Thaksin starts off with "I have a dream that democracy would be reestablished in Thailand". Acharn Thaksin as usual deliberately omitted the fact that under him Thailand's constitutional democracy underwent a complete systematic manipulative dismemberment that led to the coup. Acharn Thaksin is Thailand's nightmare and until Thaksin is locked up and the keys thrown to the ocean, Thailand would never be at peace.

sooksiam said...

The reason that Fonzi has not written anything for many days is that he/she is engaged in negotiating a pay rise from his/her boss for writing critical messages on this blog.

stevie g said...

Oh man, talk about love-hate. Shall I start a Bring Back Fonzi campaign? My columnists friends are getting pretty worried. All is forgiven, Fonzi.

Sawarin said...

Is Fonzi at Sanam Luang?

hobby said...

Is Fonzi at Sanam Luang?

With a megaphone?

Trirat said...

Fonzi made a lot of enemies. Are you being held under house arrest without access to the internet? Or are you just sick and tired of the whole scene. Let us know, if you can.