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1-07-09 - A Report on the Recent Events in Thailand

from our East Asian correspondent Peter Kaufman

The politics in Thailand during the last few months is just normal stuff. After all of the months of protests, the ruling party finally came down because of a court verdict of 'vote-buying'... yeah, what else is new? The courts rule in a pragmatic way here, and there are other considerations besides the written law. And so the 'Law' is NOT aggressive: this ruling was an acceptable end to a stalemate situation. But if it had been thought to be in Thailand's best interest for the ruling government to continue - everyone would have been judged squeaky clean! Probably, the largest factor in this ruling was that the news and problems in Thailand were becoming world-wide, and to continue indefinitely with this political situation was bad for Thailand's image and the tourism economy. The new government will be the 27th since Thailand became a Constitutional Monarchy (some 40 years ago or so), and they have ALL come down because of corruption... No shit! The protesters were protesting for a law-abiding, honest, and transparent government - but this is as likely as asking the Mafia to be law-abiding, transparent, and honest. Every time a prime minister goes down, he is replaced with just another gangster. It's like impeaching Bush - you get Cheney! It's all 'important family' and money politics here; a remnant of feudal governing. Instead of the government, law enforcement, and the Mafia being separate and combating forces - hey! by combining them into one entity you make it simpler, easier, and healthier for everyone! The way to power in this Democracy is by handing out money (not promises) to the poor during the elections, and naturally, it has to be expected, that the ruling party once in power will want to get rich, and will need to recoup their expenses and get ready for the next election. Massive sums of money 'trickle down' nationally during elections, and the amounts are even reported in the press. (And let's be realistic; frankly, if I had to choose between campaign promises and a handful of cash - I'd take the money!) The protests were over a proxy government controlled by Taksin, a deposed Prime-Minister living in exile (and a fugitive from Thai justice) who while acting as Prime Minister took corruption over the line and to new heights, AND at the same time, gave more to the poor and accomplished more for the Thai people than anyone before. It's easy to see the argument... Go figure. Taksin had gained complete control over the parliament, the justice system, the press, the police, and very nearly the military, and was ruling Thailand as if it was one of his own private companies where he could do whatever the hell he wanted. My own view of Taksin is that this much power is by definition; a menace.
The protesters taking over the airport was over the top, but you have to realize what a great country this is that got it all settled and resolved without (almost) any violence. The police and army flatly refused any orders to fuck-up their brothers and sisters. There was never any real danger here, and besides from the protesters and the government, the ordinary Thai people's reaction to this political situation was a common Thai attitude and expression (translated from Thai into English), which means "never mind"... Typical of Thailand, I heard that it was kind of a party at the airport. An elected politician got himself in a bit of trouble by saying that it was "Fun... Good food, and good entertainment." Even though I live in Bangkok I never saw anything, and it all seemed pretty remote. Actually, I was only hearing and learning about this stuff on CNN - same as you.
When I compare corruption and crime in Thailand to America, in my analysis it actually seems to me to be a lot more honest, transparent, and safe here than in America... It is definitely much kinder, less narcissistic, and a lot more fun!

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