June 4, 2008

Thailand: The Resilience of the Third Force

In recent weeks as the politics of the People's Power Party have become clearer (ensure no revisiting of the accountability agenda of 2004-2006) and as the impasse politics of the People's Alliance for Democracy have intensified, the "no-to the two-camps" position of 2006 is emerging as a tangible third force in the Thai political equation. The position that democracy means more than submission to crown and khaki or capital, which is what was on offer, remains resilient and relevant to those seeking a way that lies beyond elite liberalism or authoritarian populism.

Below, find reproduced two indications of this emergence. A viable politics that has at its centre genuine democratic deliberation in free conditions is emerging. It looks vibrant when set againt the compromised positions of the pro-coup or pro-Thaksin positions.

FROM Prachatai English Site.
Academic advisor for the poor talks about the PAD
Thai Post
04 June 2008

Prapart Pintobtang, lecturer at Chulalongkorn’s Political Science Faculty and advisor to the Assembly of the Poor, speaks frankly about the latest moves by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). Years of having supported the causes of the poor have made him no stranger at all to some PAD leading members who are from the so-called ‘people’s sector’. Yet, finally, he touches on issues which in the past couple of years have become acrimonious among NGOs and people’s movements, and on which many ‘people’s sector’ insiders have chosen to have reservations.

Prapart was among 137 academics who recently proposed the drafting of a whole new constitution as an alternative to the polarized politics. As one among people with ‘2 No’s’—No Thaksin and No Coup—he earlier signed a petition against the Samak government’s unfair transfers of civil servants, while he was also among 130 academics who condemned the Manager Group for instigating human rights violations. (See 130 activists and academics condemn Manager media group)

Now he talks about the PAD rally in such a way that the PAD will probably see him as yet another enemy, because he does not want to see another coup.

Backward and fanatically nationalistic

He went to see the PAD rally on May 25.

‘I felt what I saw was a war of hatred. The theme was the monarchy, or the trinity of Nation, Religion, and Monarchy, with all the rest being linked to this theme. Under this theme, anybody who doesn’t identify with the PAD is pushed to the other side among those who are destroying this ideology and are trying to build what the PAD calls a republic.’

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From the Bangkok Post
Change, yes. Now, no.
June 4, 2008

By Nidhi Eoseewong

For Thai society, there is no worse moment to amend the constitution than now. Even though a consensus has been more or less reached about whether we should change the charter, some blood was shed on the streets. If we actually get down to rewriting the text, we could be butchering one another


At this juncture, I see no plausible way to end this conflict other than to allow the whole society to take part in drafting the new charter themselves. We will have to resort to having a public hearing on each important aspect of the constitution, for example how the electorate should be divided? One-person-one-vote? Small constituencies or large ones?

I hope that the process of arguing and discussing these important issues regarding the constitution would divert society to a more reasonable conflict than the trading of accusations that we are facing at present. We can have legal hands do the actual rewriting of the charter, but the concept must come from the results of public hearings.

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