Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday, December 03, 2013
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This week the guest columnist on Flying Sporran's Weekend Diary is Mangus Evans


Well that was a busy week, but while the riots have been raging in central Bangkok I can’t help but notice that some people are taking all this rather personally.

I don’t mean the guys out there on the streets throwing objects at police and pulling down barricades; nor those in red shirts who filled Rajamangala stadium in Bangkok. No doubt they are too. No, I mean the foreign journalists.

I have been  quite amazed at all the foreign journalists who appear to have taken sides in this long running dispute over who should run Thailand. 


Well, not so much that they have actually taken sides but the fact that they flag it up as well.  It’s been like watching a pantomime on the social media. ‘Oh yes he did.  'Oh no he didn’t’, or reading a political debate on thaivisa.com even.

Day after day I have been reading tweets from foreign hacks giving their opinions, some seem to be seething with rage, some seem almost to be in tears, as their adopted fledgling democracy drunkenly lurches around the world stage. 

I had every sympathy for the amiable photographer who was attacked after he was pointed out in a crowd as a ‘red’ journalist. 

Everyone knows his politics because he is up front about it. He can also be very critical of the reds and I am sure he is even handed. But he has put his heart on his sleeve.

Do you want Mary Whitehouse at your orgy?  It must have been a bit like being a Murdoch journalist turning up at a union rally in Australia.

Personally I do not want to inflict my democracy on another country if they do not want it. (It does not really suit me either) And if some Thais do not want their democracy I guess they have a right to say so.

Was last week about democracy? I’m guessing most of the foreign journalists will say yes and this was an outrageous anti-democratic movement.  Personally I think it was about accountability. But that means of course Suthep Thaugsuban, their figurehead, has to be accountable too, one of the facets which made the protests seem a little ridiculous.

Government after government has come to power in Thailand promising a better education system, and a better distribution of wealth.  But then Government after government has found a better way to distribute wealth to its politicians and paid nothing but lip service to education, unless they can sell the kids a few primitive computers or the like.

When they gorged themselves to excess,  as they always do, the military whose traditional role was to step in and change the rulers, while of course, taking their slice of the cake, would step in and change the rulers.

Of course that is not acceptable in a democracy. This time the military has so far not intervened.

But despite being the ‘Land of the Free’ you can’t call a politician a liar and a cheat in Thailand. In western countries journalists regard politicians as their prey.  They have to be accountable for all their actions even, perhaps wrongly, down to with whom they are sleeping. 

The media still link honesty in private lives with honesty in public ones. (But a little scandal also sells).

Courtesy London Daily Mail
In Thailand politicians appear to be loathed behind their backs but revered in face to face encounters. Its the Asian way. While looking after their own wallets first they also try to seek favour for their own constituencies. That's the trade off.

So when Thailand goes to the polls next we are no doubt going to see the same crusty old politicians being voted in again and leaving richer than ever…..…unless of course they leave a system in place which will allow the people the education and skills to know to never vote for them again.

But they’d better do that quick. The rest of Asia seems to be overtaking.

Day after day I have been broadcasting in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa and writing for the U.K.

It’s been interesting dealing with people on news desks and TV galleries who come up with things like, er, ‘So this guy Suthep is a monarchist but he’s being done for treason or sedition?’ and ‘So, have we got it right here?  A lot of these guys support the democrats. They call themselves the Civil Movement for Democracy right? But they don’t want democracy? They want a people’s committee of good guys?'

And of course the final and funniest one: ‘Who won then?’ 

Answers on a postcard please?

Hint: Democracy is the wrong answer

8 comments:

  1. I don't think the foreign press seem to get the key fact that Suthep essentially wants to end parliamentary democracy. They're too focused on the protests themselves....an honourable mention though to time magazine and the economist though who produced good analysis even if it did lead to the economist not being published for 1 week.

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    1. Exactly. There's a great deal of misinformation about. Suthep is following the lead given by Boonlert in the Patik Siam movement last year where he wanted unelected "good men" to replace elected MPs

      The Amnesty Bill was not only about Thaksin and anyway was not passed by normal democratic parliamentary process. Originally, shelved for 180 days, it has now not being resurrected.

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  2. A bit like NGOs during disasters. Where are they when there is no disasters? Exactly, no where to be seen and in 2 or 3 days they are rattling on about what is best for the country.
    The people on the ground full time, like yourself should be the ones we are hearing on T.V. , not these idiots who know nothing about the past, present or anything about politics of Thailand

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  3. Answers on a postcard please..... OK, Ponder on this.

    "Millions of words have been written about democracy, its blessings and its failings but little changes because all our destinies lie in the hands of the few people who control the Financial, gold, silver and all the precious metal markets. Control the source and you control all. In the future, in our increasingly polluted world, even the water we drink and finally the air we breathe, will come under their democratic control.
    Democracy as we all realise by now, is so wonderful. Therefore these straightforward questions must be asked.

    "Why do governments only rarely or never use referendums (referendums are 'democratically' prohibited in Germany) on important matters and allow the majority to make the decisions that affect their lives?"

    "Why is democracy not used in the military system anywhere in the world? We know that the military uses the utmost dictatorial form of control in order to maximise its efficiency. Hence, if democracy does not work in the most efficient form of existence, in the military, why should it work in our daily lives?"

    "Why is democracy never used in the corporate business system, which is the financial engine of the world and especially the democratic system?"

    "Why do businesses of all styles and sizes have bosses running them, and not their employees having a say in the management by using a democratic vote?"

    Test: Ask any voter, in any democratic country, about his or her own democratic system the simple question. "How many seats does your Parliament hold?" and wait for the answer.
    Answer: The vast majority of the population has no idea at all.
    Democracy is a clever scam that persuades the many, that by having a right to vote for who is elected to represent them, that they hold the keys of power. In reality its real purpose is to give the power to the few for the sole benefit of the few. Thus the few have the protection of the many that voted for their elected representative."

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  4. Democracy, The Painted Whore is what a libertarian writer I know has called it. Regardless, without a highly informed and educated people, it is impossible. The rest of my comment is now
    C E N S O R E D

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  5. They would do well to remember Churchill on democracy - "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

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    1. Churchill made the remark after his election defeat but was actually very pro-democracy. Most of his comments and quotes are supportive of real democracy.

      He also said, tongue in cheek, "the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter" It is that remark that Suthep is relying on to promote rule without the ballot box. As indeed did Boonlert in 2012 during the Pitak Siam riots..

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  6. Most of us are actually from democratic republics, which is about representation democratically elected. You wanna have a referendum on every single issue? Take about a zillion years.
    The fault is when the reps become corrupted, either by power or pork. I say give them big salaries and wipe out the payments, favors and future jobs from special interests . Getting 50 % women would also go a long way in eliminating corruption- Sorry guys but testosterone is not conducive to cooperation.

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