Thai politics has shifted into election mode. Yet no one really rests assured that things will fall into place, fixed and firm. Instead, we have found that the political turmoil of the last two years has ushered in a new round of economic crisis, with grim prospects of what looms ahead.
Nevertheless, in moving forward, we need to remind ourselves that the political mess we are now in was set to begin when the political fight went astray with the appeal to the royal prerogative under Article 7 of the 1997 constitution as a way of sacking the then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, followed by the Sept 19 coup. Now under the junta-sponsored 2007 constitution, we see much distortion, discrimination and trickery going on.
The long and relentless demonstrations against Thaksin came to lose legitimacy and strength as a means of wielding power by the people when the leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) decided to opt for the arbitrary interpretation of the Article 7, ushering in the putsch a few months later. Up till now there has yet to be any apology from those leaders for inviting the coup and the current economic downturn.
I am digging up the past to remind us not to fall for politicking. The Thai people must uphold the democratic principle of equality among all people.
It is praiseworthy that Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva expressed his dissent with the Election Commission's decision to prohibit the former 111 executives of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai Party from having any participation in politics. This is an example of adherence to principle, not reckoning only one's own advantage.
In contrast, it is dubious whether the EC's judgment is an infringement of the rights of those 111 politicians.
The election campaign of the People's Power Party may seem tasteless or offensive to some, in the case of the party leader's aggressive responses to reporters or the obscene word play to ridicule the junta-sponsored constitution - Ratthathammanuay Hua Kun. Do you know which newspaper popularized these Thai-style dirty puns? But please take into account what they have to say about what has happened after the coup when no one else dared or would want to talk about it.
While these people express their views in vulgar tones and gestures, all through the past year the junta and its cronies in independent bodies and the legislature have been outrageously violating principles in the interests of certain groups with polite manners, often claiming to be democratic and acting for the sake of democracy even when they push for the internal security bill which would overpower constitutional provisions.
Of course, politicians are always politicians, whose top priority is winning elections and grabbing popularity. It is way too naïve to hope for genuine political sincerity. But what is needed is a social contract which has a binding commitment and affects politicians' popularity.
Policies are what Thai politics should be all about, rather than being polite or vulgar or merely a matter of ‘moral integrity', as there are various kinds of moral integrity. Strictly speaking, the particular kind of moral integrity currently in vogue brings about a set of policies that benefit particular groups of people only.
As of now, hardly any parties have presented concrete policies as they should have, and instead have offered endless political games of discrediting and bashing one another.
Politicians and political parties must not move politics backwards. Only by making politics really beneficial to the people will the coup-making nobles and bureaucrats be shown to be those who ruin the country and hinder its progress.
Translated by Ponglert Pongwanan