Sunday, September 24, 2006

On the Wake of the Thaksin Dream

After just about two days of jubilence, getting off the phone from a depressed friend who was pro-Thaksin, I sobered up and started to ask questions. I remembered how we had to stop talking politics with this group of people who were pro-Thaksin because it became like a religious obsession to defend him, no matter whether it made sense or not. I was just ardent in criticising the man whether it made sense or not too. Since Sonthi Limthongkul's campaign against Thaksin, we had become a divided community in political beliefs even if our community was small and distant, its health depending on our ability to communicate well with each other. (We are living in Canada, far away and physically unable to take any kind of action for our political beliefs.)

Feelings of compassion for my depressed friend and the nagging feeling that this was not right that we've forsaken friendship and community for the sake of politics. That I felt was the worst that Thaksin's politics gave us.

I called a family member who would be out of a job because of the coup. He said, so who else have we got to lead the country? Are we going to continuously fall into this vicious cycle of coups and elections?

Sure I agree with the majority that the coup helped us come out of a deadlock, but before the coup actually happened, my real feeling towards the coup was "Come on, any coup at this point of history is definitely a backward step we want to avoid."

So I dug up all my politcal books, and re-read what I knew about Thai politics, searching for the answer to the big question in my head, "What was it about us Thais, as a group of people, where we must follow the leader?" We craved heroes. In 2001, Thaksin was a hero to me too, just as some 20 million Thais in the rural parts of Thailand.

BTW, this is a thoughtful article about these feelings. " ("Ex-Thai Leader Won Support Via Handouts", By ALISA TANG/The Associated Press/Saturday, September 23, 2006; 4:57 PM)"

I think, we've come to the point that as individuals, we Thais need to think about how we approach democracy, how we can take a role in preventing another hero worship as happened from 2001-2006 to happen within our psyche, and within the political arena.

I do strongly believe that we are a vibrant democratic nation, even before constitutional/electoral democracy was given to us in 1932. When I look back into Thai history, I cannot help but feel proud of all the institutions that were put into place bit by bit to expand people's participation. Sure some of it came by blood, but which other countries in the world did it not come about that way? Why are we to be condemned for working it out our own way? That last question, I hope I've imparted passionately enough to my depressed friend to wake her up from passively accepting the pressures she felt from her western colleagues.


KorBua said...

I believe everything happens for a reason. I also believe that democracy will not work properly in a country where the majority of the people are still clueless about that democracy really is. Sometimes when it comes to an emergency time, a very drastic measure is needed.

The Western world has obviously blown the news out of its proportion. We, Thais & Asians, always have our ways of working it out. Though outsiders' opinions could be helpful, noone (especially the Western world) would know better than people living in the country! I just hope that everything would turn out ok. With or without Thaksin, our country will still survive. I'm pretty sure of that.

Hope your friend will feel better soon na ka. We all need a way of coping with the situation. :) Better face the depression with a smile than a frown. :)

Cuauhtémoc said...

I don't think we (Thais) are the only ones who are clueless about what democracy is. I think what is happening in Thailand is part of a larger problem where electoral democracy and party politics has failed the people in general. Look at what has happened in Mexico and Hungary. Isn't it worth noticing that these uprising are happening at nearly the same moments?

There is a bigger debate that is needed at the world level that is being prevented from happening by the dominance of certain political ideals and certain political powers. As Thais who are sincere about our own political responsibilities we need to ask these questions for ourselves with a mind that what we choose will have repurcussions on a wider scale. Where do we stand? In support of power for the sake of power? Can we listen to those who have different views with respect? Is it possible to include all groups not matter how big or small they are? How do we do that? "Democracy" via majority rule, doesn't allow that, that I know for sure.