Saturday, September 23, 2006

Talking about a revolution

There are few societies where you can take political comment at face value. Thailand is no different, but the reason for the double speak has more of a cultural base than the normal spin and blame passing we are used to in the West.

Thai culture demands that every transition is dealt with in a level of respect due to each class and level in the society. Overt attack is simply not practised in any way we are familiar with or recognise easily.

That difference creates a few difficulties in second guessing the dynamics of the recent military coup in the country. However in the end, behind the local code of respect, the realities do appear to be playing out as one would expect.

There has been no ranting condemnation of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin, but equally there has been little show of support for him in the country either.

While coup leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, refers to Thaksin as 'like a brother' and welcomes his return home on that basis, the machinery to investigate and prosecute the former PM is being put in place.

The new ruling body, Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy, is doing what Thaksin failed to do as Prime Minister; they are attacking the corruption which has been crippling Thailand's growth, just as it cripples any economy it sets its teeth into.

Even before a new, interim civil government is in place, the military rulers have appointed a long-awaited anti-corruption body.

The National Counter Corruption Commission includes a graft-buster who led a probe of Thaksin in 2001 and eight current or retired senior civil servants, according to the army announcement.

The assets of deposed the Thai caretaker prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and 15 former cabinet colleagues will be investigated by a new anti-graft panel as new questions are raised about who orchestrated the alleged car bomb assassination attempt on the controversial leader.

Critics of Mr Thaksin say he used his five years in power to corruptly accumulate great wealth. Thaksin's family - his wife, Pojaman, children and his sister, will also be investigated by the six-person panel set up by the coup leaders, who now call themselves the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy.

In a separate investigation, the Auditor-General, Jaruvan Maintaka, will pursue cases of alleged corruption during construction of Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi Airport, which was overseen by the Thaksin government. Ms Jaruvan will focus on the purchase of CTX bomb scanners and the rail link.

She will also look at the January sale of the Thaksin family company that netted 73 billion baht ($2.6 billion) almost tax free.

It is easy to understand just why Western leaders have been so quick to condemn this coup. No right thinking person can easily justify the overthrow of a legitimate government, but Thaksin left himself exposed on the issue of legitimacy.

There is good argument that our Western governments are on equally shaky ground as they ride roughshod over the rule of law, in the name of a dubious War on Terror. The WoT is constantly being exposed for what it truly is, a dangerous game of domestic politics.

Having said that, fears of coups are not the real issue in the West, thank goodness. Unlike Thailand, none of our countries have the circuit breaker of a right minded monarch who cares passionately for the people and country.

They do need to fear the example of political corruption being dealt with openly by the network news shows. They need to fear the seeds of doubt that are cast about when political corruption is put on public show.

We need a bloodless revolution as well, to clean out the stables and put power back in the hands of right thinking people. That will only come when the public finally cottons onto the notion that we are being robbed blind by our leaders, our societies sucked dry to the benefit of a few.

It must come through the ballot box; and sooner rather than later. How soon depends on just how quickly the 'followers' latch on to a new concept to follow; political responsibility and probity.


Kvatch said...

That will only come when the public finally cottons onto the notion that we are being robbed blind by our leaders, our societies sucked dry to the benefit of a few.

Well said, but I'm not hopeful.

At least in the United States, one of the greatest deceptions has been to convince a very large segment of the electorate that the people they're voting for deserve to rob the voters blind. Until this changes, and that that particular socio-economic swath of American wakes up, we're not going to see a big change here.

Cartledge said...

I know, but we live in hope. Been waiting a long time now for the revolution.