Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tulsie on Jakrapob

Jakrapob, not patronage, the real myth

By Tulsathit Taptim

The Nation

We are left wondering which is the real Jakrapob - the defiant "freedom fighter" who spoke at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT), or the very typical Thai politician who appeared at the press conference on Monday decrying a "conspiracy" and vowing to sue. We don't know what to take seriously - his unequivocal FCCT statement that Thailand's dependence on "patronage" was regressive, or his desperate attempts to cling on to Thaksin Shinawatra, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Samak Sundaravej to save his job.


Shall we really presume that "Jakrapob the pragmatist" dictated the words and actions of "press conference Jakrapob" in order to keep the "No more patronage" ideal alive? This theory is disturbing because it goes against the very essence of what he seemingly wanted to promote at the FCCT. Back then, the apparently revolutionary Jakrapob raised the issue of the "Thais' duty to be loyal" and stated in no uncertain terms that patronage was clashing with democracy.

If on Monday it was Jakrapob the Liar talking, was it because he was observing the "duty to be loyal"? And if that's the case, is Jakrapob the Liar actually Jakrapob the Coward? Jakrapob taking an anti-patronage stand is not wrong if we do believe in true principles of democracy. What is not right is making a mockery of what one proclaims to stand for.

Democracy allows Jakrapob to be angry, just as it allows those upset by him to respond. Most importantly, democracy gives Jakrapob a chance to reinforce his beliefs by facing their consequences like a man. A true democracy wouldn't make Jakrapob resign for what he said at the FCCT. But if Jakrapob is really clamouring for true democracy, he's probably looking for it in the wrong place. And that's not because of patronage at any level, but because this is where even the seemingly most ardent advocates of democracy like him lack true courage and find key values expendable.

True democracy would oblige Jakrapob to do many things, and if Thailand can go that far the FCCT statement should be the least of his concerns. Whether or not he truly understands the obligations only he can tell, but if he does want to help lay down foundations, he can start by being true to himself.

I think Tulsie nailed this one. It seems Jakrapob sold out his so-called revolutionary principles so as not to rock the boat and upset his political patrons who now run the government.

Jakrapob probably never cared about disturbing"the patronage system" to bring Thailand into the 21st century. He just wanted to upset Prem's patronage system, because Prem overthrew the new order in order to protect the old one.

The irony, of course, is that the patronage system hasn't changed with the arrival of PPP. They are just new faces using the same tactics of the ancient regime to sustain their wealth and power.
The only difference between the old and new, however, is that democracy is on the side of the new order.

Fortunately, for the old clique, they have the monarchy as their ultimate patron with the propaganda and military on its side while the new clique has Thaksin, which, when you really think about it, is not an enviable position to be in. He has a lot of money. He knows his marketing.
But Thaksin ain't no Maitreya.

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