Thursday, October 26, 2006

Abundance not Scarcity is the law of productivity

Ross Mayfield expresses what has been in my mind for some time:"Abundance, and Five Years of Blogging".

As a student of economics, I felt the same frustration with the assumptions of that discipline. I find that it is even more absurd nowadays, when people like George Bush use its logic to wage war in order to gain control over oil fields.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sulak Sivaraksa and Soundtrek

Another brief link note, three links for S. Sivaraksa. Someone's blogging about S.Sivaraksa, and sometimes I can access this page and sometimes not, don't know what's wrong with it:
and then this blog is supported by Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation, a foundation that seems to be set up by S.Sivarksa's network.

Traditional Thai Dance Forms

Interesting read about how they used to dress thai dancers in the old days, and someone's efforts in reviving it: "Reviving a Thai art one stitch at a time" By Seth Mydans, International Herald Tribune.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Look how fast Thailand is growing in infotech know-how

Only a few years ago, I was admiring how Howard Dean used the new media of bloggers to help his political campaign, even if he wasn't successful, the role of bloggers in politics gained a significant place. Now suddenly, this (Meechai Ruchupan's webpage) pops into my cyberspace, thanks to by the way.

Now that's an activist turning politician who's getting infotech savy. Wow, it blows my mind how places like Thailand adopts so quickly to internet's soft technology. Let's see where this one goes.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I like charts: the new Assembly

OK, a bit late, but I really like charts.

I'm just not so happy that there's such a large portion of military men named there: 35 in their own category plus the hidden numbers in retired category, oh, and there's the other uniform, the police. Maybe I would like more of ngos, and free agents?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Names to remember: "Octoberists"

Names I need to remember, interestingly provided by The Nation's OCTOBERISTS' - 33 YEARS ON
A divided political ideology

Thirayuth Boonmi, his name I can remember, in fact I got an MA from ISS where he went for a fellowship after he came out of the jungle.

According to the article quoting Dr Kasian Tejapira, now Thammasat University's professor of political science., Thirayuth leads this camp:
Pibhob Thongchai, Prasarn Marukapitak, Chermsak Pinthong, Chaiwat Surawichai, Kaewsan Atibhodhi, Kamnoon Sithisamarn, Chatcharin Chaiwat, Tienchai Wongchaisuwan and Suwinai Poranawilai.

Octoberists who joined Thaksin's camp: Prommin Lertsuriyadej, Phumtham Vejayachai, Surapong Suebwonglee,
Chaturon Chaisang, (wasn't he just elected acting TRT's leader?)
Sutham Saengprathum, Pinij Charusombat, Adisorn Piengket and Kriengkamol Laohapairote.

Some Octoberists have been recruited to serve the new legislative body appointed by the Council for National Security. They are Gothom Areeya, Surichai Wankaeo, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, Pinij Charusombat and Kamnoon Sittisamarn.

Nithinand Yorsaengrat, is also named an Octoberist and is a journalist.

I think Acharn Kasian paints a conflictive picture because he makes the common mistake trying to categorize these people. Limiting academic discipline also keeps one trapped in out of date vocabulary, like "ideology" and "leftist", even new generation political scientist Kanokrat can't see beyond her discipline, or was she misquoted?

Interesting also that Thongchai Winichakul, who wrote a really good book, "Siam Mapped", is Ass.Prof at University of Wisconsin, involved in the October events himself doesn't get named.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

From one royal palace to another. We rented a taxi and took the day trip out to El Escorial.

The 16 yr old here is striking quite a pose.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Time to get the boats out

This picture is from
Earth Observatory taken Sept 18, 2006. It looks like this year's flooding is really critical and brings back memories of of two other devestating floods I've witnessed with my own eyes. The first was when I was living in Kalasin in the late 70s, my father drove us out to an area close by called Kamalasai. What once used to be a highway just disappeared in front of our eyes cut out by rapidly moving water. I heard of cars and trucks being swept away in their attempts to cross those roads to places they were desperate to reach. The army had to send out boats to pick up people.

The other bad flood was when I was in university in 1980. I was studying at Ramkamhaeng University which is situated in an area of lowland called the bottom of the pan in those days. The systems of water pumps weren't well established and water accumulated so badly in that area that exams were postponed and school closed for a month. I went anyway just to see how bad the flood was. I think I went a few times, one time I remember watching a truck going down the front ramp to enter the university, it sort of nearly disappeared out of sight for a while and emerged on the higher road. On another, I had to get off the bus at the beginning of Sukhumvit 71, wade knee deep in the water about two blocks to board small engined boats to go see the university. It was like cruising a big lake, the building were half-submerged, I could see only the treetops in many places. Those tree remained marked by the floodlevels for a long time.

When it wasn't threatening, it was sort of fun to be with the flood waters. What amazed me was how the boats turned up by magic from who knows where. In those days, even the people of Bangkok remembered that they belonged to a water culture. Water was their element, floods were a part of it all. With deforestation and the permanent concrete structures less flexible than the floatable wooden houses on stilts the damage has increased drastically.

The 1988 flooding was so severe that the government issued a policy to bans logging in an attempt to prvent further deforestation. That, however, was too late to prevent the flooding of 2000 that was caused by a typhoon that usually doesn't cross over from South China sea. Even with all possible protection in place, we cannot escape Nature's inevitable rythms.

Stories about uncommon common people of Thailand

As I start to get into the hang of writing for this blog, I've come to realize somewhere along the way that history didn't need to be just stories about the big and famous, leaders of of the nation, or important events. Records of common happenings might just as well reveal a lot about a culture's pysche.

This story linked and quoted below from Bangkok Post, is for a friend of mine who reads my blog on and off. I hope he's reading this one.

Life-giving library
Why would a young, successful businessman feel empty and suicidal after reaping a profit of more than 10 million baht from his direct-sales business? And what did he do with that money?

He sought solace in the Lord Buddha's dharma, or teachings.

Friday, October 6, 2006

The cat book of Siam

Cont'd from my previous post, the promised cat poems.

What amazes me when I read the number of poems from "The Legend of Siamese Cats" is how the poems, even if they repeat similar decriptions of certain kinds of cats, were written in different ways, revealing the creative use of words with different "authors". Names of "authors" are rarely recorded in ancient Thai literature. I can imagine that as the manuscripts gets copied, each copier who was creative enough would have added some of his own poetry. Depending on whose was most poetic, his was probably more copied and therefore endured via recieving the honor of being copied in other people's verses.

It's sort of similar to what we're doing with blogs, except nowadays we have to declare who we are in some way for readers to trust our authenticity.

The poem I'm posting here is Kaap Chabang on the "Benefits and Drawbacks of Cats"
The first cats referred, this treatise describes in their forms
Black on body, beautiful face two paws, stomach, back and tail
Nine places clear as cotton wool, eyes like jewels compared
Melodious voice, much loved by humans female and male
Whoever intends to raise them will become a master, promoted
Servants, retainers, wealth will come continually ample
With prosperity and dignity, enemies will not come near
Raising them yields results as the masters say in the treatise

One with white body, fine all over, and black in nine places
Like a piebald horse, whoever feeds it well, will trade swell
Much riches and treasures will be found, everything will come
That person is a rich man, for a good cat benefits its owner

One named fine sapphire, entirely, claws and tongue, fine black
Whichever cat you meet, black as they say, must be looked after
It will bring you all, retainers and food in ample amounts
With power, happiness, and welfare against danger

One copper, luminescent, claws, tongue and teeth as dyed red
Who raises it will gain great rank, a general or minister

One lao of flower of clear color, off-white fur, see black mixed
Who finds one, hurry to support it, that cat brings happiness
Women, men everywhere will cherish it, as this cat has charm
Loved all over by the people, both female and male

One called the jewel cat, of white body, with eyes like gems
Four black feet, ears and tail black as if ink applied
Has incalculable value, will bring great gain, more property
Who raises it will gain power, retainers and all good things

One a mercury color, a glowing shine, as if applied
Feed it well and great benefits rush in, raise it, do not doubt

One called Mongkol Amphai, the treatise says is auspicious
Black body, white neck round, good for the raiser, great wealth

One with a hourse-saddle mark, fine face with two black eye rings
Worth 100,000 gold tamleung, it brings its owner honour

One is black around the body, of great beauty, strange,
Who feeds it will have rank, power, with people fearing

One glows black all over, its nose clear white, a lovely face
Who raises, gains rank in seven months, the lords grant fortune

One with marks all over, its nose clear white, a lovely face
Who raises, gains rank in seven months, the lords grant fortune

One with marks all over, flashing beauty, strange,
Who feeds it will have rank, power, with people fearing

One glows black all over, its nose clear white, a lovely face
Who raises, gains rank in seven months, the lords grant fortune.

One with marks all over, flashing beauty, they say has dignity
Who raises, will be a minister, or chief of council, with rank

One marked large on mouth and nose, who finds it, should care for it
Will get land, fields, riches, a commoner becomes a master

One with underbelly markings is good for trade by boat
Merchants raise it hoping the cat is a bank of gold and silver

One has the line all along, good by the book, will further the family
With rank and power, replete, on an eternal base

One with amusing feet, they say to keep only for queen's lines
This cat brings virtue, so kindly do not endanger it

One marked on two ears, the treatise says should be raised by monks
For studying well, without forgetting with success as desired

They repeat in the books, one must study, raise and all will follow
Even in death, never discard the ghost, bury it, and keep the bones
In a pot to keep, which is also a virtuous act
When keeping do not despise it, or hit it, but care for it with love
Give it fine food, rice and fish, service it with everything replete
The cat will prosper, do not fret, or doubt the text

There are many more bad cats with tiger patterns,
They eat their young and have still births
Red tail markings of loss, twisted white tails, they say let go.

Here endeth the cat treatise, the bad and good in summary.

This particular poem didn't give the names of most of the cats, but other texts name 17 auspicious cats and 6 kinds of bad cats.

Just to show their poetic names, the 17 are: Ninlarat (Dark Sapphire), Wilat (Beauty), Suphalak(Excellent) or Thong Daeng (Copper), Kao Taem (Nine Points), Maaleht (Flower) or Dork Lao (Lao Flower), Saem Sawet (Alternate White), Ratanakamphol (Jewelled Cloth), Wichien Maas (Moon Diamond), Ninlajak (Sapphire Circle), Mulila, Krop Waen (Spectacle Frame) or Aan Maa (Horse Saddle), Pat-sawe (White Line) or Pattalort (Line Throughout), Krajork (Sparrow), Singha Sep (Lion), Karawek (Bird of Paradise), Jatubot (Four Feet), Konjaa (Sarus Crane)

Even the bad have exotic names. Six bad cats: Tupphalaphet (Weakness), Phan Phayak or Lai Sewa (Tiger Breed), Pisaat (Fiend), Hin Thot (Bad Stone), Korp Phleng (Fire Raiser), Nep Saniat (Dagger)

I wonder how these verses were used. Unless you were a cat breeder there isn't much use. I don't think cat breeding could have been such an important job (even if you could sell one cat for 100,000 gold pieces), but the survival of these texts certainly means that there was an abundance of them. An abundance of texts, but because of the nature of medium they were preserved in, never as ubiquitous as books in the west, and so Thailand was more of an oral society and a literate one.

These cat poems needed to be shared by being read aloud. I think they could have been tools for young students to learn how to memorize (and eventually read and write) since these cat poems didn't serve any practical purpose like buddhist texts or housebuilding manuscripts. They certainly are entertaining and the motivation of knowing your cats would be an incentive young ones to learn the verses.

6th October

A day many choose to forget. The recent military coup certainly helped refresh its memories. Here are some links about the anniversary of a very black day in Thai history.

Added Oct. 12, Chaiwat Satha-Anand's "Hurting, haunting, hoping", a deep articulation on how violence freezes time.
Former activists mark Oct 6 bloodbath
Democratic stance torn apart by coup
TRT figures fail to attend ceremony
Charoen honoured as an 'October 6 martyr'
Army 'never back in barracks'

And a page from "The Balancing Act: A History of Modern Thailand" by Joseph J. Wright Jr.
...and so a round-the-clock vigil began on the Thammasat campus. Though the university had been closed down earlier, 4,000 determined students broke through the gates and took over the Bo Tree Courtyard and the football field. There were reports later that some of these students had smuggled in firearms which, if it were true, would seem a precaution, wisely taken or not, against the kind of violence used by Red Gaurs against defenseless marchers in the anti-American demonstrations six months earlier.

While the four thousand sat cross-legged in clusters around the campus grounds, singing their protest songs and making speeches, the capital braced itself for a reprise of Fourteen October, the anniversary of which was now just 10 days off. Counter-demonstrations began right away. A group of 400 rightists protested outside the prime minister's office, on the fourth, demanding he take a definitive stand. They stayed through the night, and their angry shouts intensified the following day, 5 October, when he announced his cabinet changes. Seni had dismissed the conservative Samak from his post as a deputy in the interior ministry, and had placed the apparently neutral Admiral Sa-ngad Chaloryu at the head of Defense.

Meanwhile, at Thammasat, a troupe of students actors staged a pivotal drama, a reenactment of the lynching two weeks before of the union men who had protested Thanom's return. On a make-shift stage in the campus courtyard, a young actor was strung up on a harness to stimulate the hanging, while others portrayed those responsible for the deed. One of the performers-the one dangling from the rope- was said by some to have borne a certain resemblance to the crown prince, an unpopular figure then among the members of the left. Soon, somehow, word got out that the play had been an act of lese majeste, an insult to the crown, in which radical leftists had hanged the king's heir apparent in effigy.

By evening a photo story about the skit had made Bangkok's front pages. Dao Sayam-a "rabid, right-wing newspaper," says Anderson -printed apparently retouched pictures of the performers, exaggerating the features of the one in question to make him look more like the prince. Then, in what seems to have been a coordinated effort, the armed forces radio network broadcast a similar version of the story and urged the citizenry to buy Dao Sayam and see for themselves.

Considering the theme of the student's skit-the murder of innocent citizen by corrupt authorities- it does not seem logical that the dramatists would have planned to make the victim, who was a sympathetic figure, look like the crown prince. In another photograph of the skit, one sees a young man in the guise of a monk - apparently Thanom- seated half-lotus style beneath the dangling "corpse". In the monk's lap is a human skull; standing guard beside him is a soldier with a Nazi arm band. Several students lay about, face-down, nearby, obviously mimicking more dead bodies, those who had fallen on fourteen October. A placard beside the tableau reads "Students, don't worry. I only want a few more corpses."

Plainly, then, the hanging figure would not have intentionally resembled the prince. It simply would not have fit in with the rest of the scene if it had.

Yet, even if this was an act of mockery against the sacred institution of the throne, it would not have justified what followed. Heeding the call of the army broadcast for "all true Thai patriots" to quash the supposed anti-monarchist demonstrations, thousands of militants, led by the Red Gaurs and other neo-fascist groups, flowed into the Thammasat area and surrounded the campus.

It was now the morning of Six October, another date which requires no mention of the year to distinguish its place in Thai history.

Perhaps sensing what was to come, the NSCT (National Student Center of Thailand) leadership left the campus, not in flight but to surrender themselves to the prime minister and try to explain the true meaning of the play before the misguided mob could carry out its intentions. The NSCT leaders left behind some two-thousand of their fellow demonstrations who had spent the night on campus as promised. By the time the students leaders arrived at Seni's office, however, it was too late.

Claiming they had been fired upon from inside the campus, police who had been shepherded the mob outside called for reinforcements. By 7:30 am the streets outside the university compound were lined by special units of the police and military, armed with machine guns, recoilless rifles, grenade and rocket launchers. The mob had by now swollen to ten thousand, and as if the police needed more help, had armed themselves with swords, clubs, and guns of their own. Suddenly police and soldiers opened fire, pouring as many as 1,000 rounds per minute in sporadic intervals into the compound. They used no tear gas. By comparison, shooting a fly with an elephant gun seemed reasonable.

They smashed through the campus gates with a dump truck and charged the cowering demonstrators inside. There must have been snipers within firing upon the invaders, as photographs do show armed soldiers and policemen hiding behind trees and walls as the civilian mob carelessly blundered through the compound. But whatever armament the students possessed could not have been enough to make a difference, for soon the demonstrators were overcome by the rabble, some trying to flee, leaping into the Chao phraya River, others trying to give themselves up. Reporter Richard Nations was there.

"I saw one university student emerge from the auditorium unarmed only to be swamped by the mob and kicked and beaten to death with bottles, mangled chairs and jagged bits of metal torn from the main gates. Other students who tried to escape were hanged from the trees outside the campus. Later, their bodies were doused in petrol and burned. At least one girl was reported to have drowned among the many who tried to swim across the river to safety."

The rampage went on for hours, as police went from building to building to flush out the students. Once outside, the demonstrators were rounded up and herded into the football field where onlookers cheered from the bleachers, waving flags, and laughing as boys and girls alike were made to strip to the waist and lie facedown on the playing field; any show of reluctance earned a rifle butt in the head. Among the sprawling mass of half-clad students, prone and paralyzed with fear, strolled policemen, kicking and beating the quivering forms as they went. At least one officer went about stripping students of any Buddha images, violently ripping chains from around their necks; he said he did so "because communists are not Buddhists," but he did not mention the amulet's gold content.

By midday, police arrested 1,700 students and carted them away to detention facilities, driving them along the way, past the mutilated corpses of their friends, strung from the trees around Sanam Luang. Their job at Thammasat done, the victorious patriots marched to government house to confront the premier.

"I did my best," a tearful Seni Pramoj told the crowd. "I tried to keep law and order in this kingdom, but if you wish, I will go."

Somehow the honor and prestige of governing the people of Thailand did not seem worth fighting over now. A dark and ugly side of a normally pleasant people had just been revealed, and the Thai elite seemed revolted by it. That evening it was announced that the military had taken over the government. No one else seemed to want it anymore.

Siamese cats and old manuscripts

If you didn't already guess, I must warn you I am a cat lover. My previous post about Ms. Pook prompted me to work on this post about cats in ancient thai manuscripts, a post I intended to write a few years back but got sidetracked by life.

The pictures posted here are scanned from "The Legend of Siamese Cats" written by Martin R. Clutterbuck, printed by White Lotus Press (my favorite publisher). I was quite amused to find, when I googled for the book, that it was being offered for $1,711 at It seems that this book I bought in 1998 has become a rare and out of print book. (I've got to remember to never give up any of my White Lotus books.)

"Tamra Maew" (cat treatise or cat poems) were found in old thai manuscripts known as "smut khoi", rice paper books. The ones M. Clutterbuck used for his research were between 100-200 years old. However, research I've done previously on ancient literature revealed that manuscripts were copied by hand and passed down generation by generation in the family. They may date much older than those 100-200 years old. Another popular form of preserving ancient literature was with palm leaf manuscripts in which most buddhist literature is preserved. These are also copied by hand, and are said to last 600-700 years with correct preservation.

Some pictures from original khoi manuscripts can be found in the "Smud Khoi of cats from where you can find info about the khorat cats.

The studies done wtih tamra maew reveal that these cat poems flourished from at least the 17th century. The first Siamese cats travelled to Europe around the 1860s when cat shows in Victorian England were already popular. The Siamese color-pointed, good humored, "talkative" and intelligent cat was an instant hit.

In Thailand, or rather Siam in those days, the (brown pointed) siamese cat was only one of a group of designated "auspicious" and lucky cats to have around for cat fanciers. King Chulalongkorn himself searched out cats with good appearances. The Korat cat, also known as "Si-sawat" was named "Korat" when King Chulalongkorn found them in this new region. In that newly annexed Northeastern region, there was a rain calling ceremony where a cat in a bamboo cage was paraded through the village, sprinkled with water and then set free.

I witnessed one such ceremony as a teenager visiting the Boon Bang Fai festival in Yasothorn in the early 80s. The "bang fai" or sky rockets, also a rain calling ritual, was already attracting more attention than the cat parade at that time. I don't think any villages perform the cat parade ritual anymore.
The samut khoi are made from the pulp of the khoi tree (streblus asper). This small shrub grows easily in the boggy and well-watered fruit plantations of Thailand's central plains. The stripped bark is pounded into pulp with wooden mallets: this is then poured over a wire mesh and dried in the sun. The resulting sheet is removed from the mesh and polished with stones before being folded concertina fashion to create a whole book from a single sheet. Nowadays, they are produced as luxury paper for soveneir making and exports.

The sheet can be blackened with the charcoal of the sanoh khang khok tree to create the black "samut thai dam". If bleached with lime in the pulping process a white "samut thai khao" is produced. The black books were written on with a pastel-like white pencil, which is usually written over with yellow ink made from gambage for permanence. The white books were written on with black ink. has a short page about the making of khoi paper books.

Chiangmai Mail, the first English language newspaper from Chiangmai, has an interview with Mr. Ed Rose who is a cat lover and became well-known for the numerous siamese cats he takes care of.

Prestwick-Beresford Old-Style Siamese
Breed Preservation Society
has a page on history of siamese cat breeding in US.

Coming up next will be one of the cat poems.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Self-sufficiency or sustainable development

The concept of what's being called "self-sufficient economy" in Thailand has been getting quite a bit of attention since the Thai coup leaders have declared that would be their economic policy. For people unfamiliar with Thailand's development, it might be a bit of a surprise and maybe difficult to understand. However, it's a concept that's been widely talked about and implemented as far back as in the late 70s-early 80s, even predating the Brundtland Report's definition of "sustainable development":
«Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.»
Thailand's economic development has been guided by several 5 year period development plans of which there have been nine, summaries of the nine plans (1961-2006) provided here.

The first Western economist who had some understanding of how such a concept of development may work was E.F. Schumacher, and he wrote a famous book "Small is Beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered". His concept has gained some ground in the world of conflicting economics and has been called Schumacher's Buddhist Economics.

However, don't mistake that for what the Thais are thinking about. Ven. P. A. Payutto's Buddhist Economics may be closer.

Among the economist in Thailand (at least my generation), the name "Father of Economics" in Thailand was given to Puey Ungpakorn, his simple piece "The quality of Life from Womb to Tomb" is a well quoted piece. He was among the key group of people thinking about the future of Thailand in the 30s. Puey was interested in development economics, however, economics taught in Thai universities had a very Keynesian tilt.

Theory explained, the actual implementation of such thinking was actually started in small scales through Projects Undertaken Through the Initiative of HM King Bhumibhol

Seventy years afterwards, this thinking crystalized and rises to the surface. It is printed in Chaipattana Foundation Journal HM's concept of self-sufficient economy:

His Majesty graciously granted his advice on self-sufficient economy in order for the people to lead their lives productively, peacefully and happily, with dharma to help steer the course and heart as an essential driving element. By Maintaining a Balance in the Five Following Aspects Describes the Principle of Being Self-reliant:

A balance in the state of mind: one needs to be strong, self-reliant, compassionate and flexible. Besides, one should possess a good conscience and place public interests on a higher priority, above one's own.

A balance in social affairs: people need to help each other, strengthen the community, maintain unity, and develop a learning process that stems from a stable and strong foundation.

A balance in managing natural resources and the environment: the country's resources need to be used efficiently and carefully, in order to create sustainable benefits and to develop the nation's stability progressively.

A balance in technology: technology should be used appropriately while encouraging new developments to come from the villagers' local wisdom.

A balance in economic affairs: one needs to increase earnings, to reduce expenses, and to pursue a decent life.
He proposed pratical method for farmers, the 30:30:30:10 ratio of land use which work under the three following phases.

Phase 1: To live at a self-sufficient level which allows farmers to become self-reliant and maintain their living on a frugal basis.
Phase 2: To cooperate as a group in order to handle the production, marketing, management, and educational welfare, as well as social development.
Phase 3: To build up connections within various occupation groups and to expand businesses through cooperation with the private sector, NGOs and the government, in order to assist the farmers in the areas of investment, marketing, production, management and information management.
To Live in Accordance with the Principles of Self-sufficient Economy

1. One must adhere to a frugal style of living and try to cut down daily expenses especially for extravagant items as stated in the Royal speech, ". . .One should not live luxuriously and must cut down expenses in an appropriate manner. . ."

2. One must be true to oneself and work righteously as well as honestly, even under harsh living conditions according to the Royal speech, ". . .Success of all people comes from good conduct and proper work. . ."

3. One must stop selfish competition and the habit of taking advantage of others when doing business as commonly happened in the past. This is defined in the following excerpt from the Royal speech, ". . .The meaning of genuine happiness is the happiness derived from one's fair conduct, both of intention and action, and not from coincidence or taking advantage of others. . ."

4. One must not give up in finding ways to pull oneself out of hardship, by striving to learn more and more in order to earn sufficient income, as stated in the Royal speech, ". . .The reason for encouraging people to learn more and become stable in their life is for their own lasting happiness from, first, leading a sufficient lifestyle, and then from being proud of themselves for being able to stand on their own. . ."

5. One must behave with good morality and refrain from all greeds. Thai society collapsed with this adverse economic situation because a lot of people betrayed their own country without any shame. His Majesty the King graciously delivered a Royal speech that conveys a similar message, as follows: ". . .Avoid committing wrongdoings that will destroy oneself or others, eliminate one's inner greed, remain true to oneself, as well as preserve and enhance the good virtues within oneself. . ."

Chaipattana ends the article with, "His Majesty accentuated that the most important word is "sufficient". If we are satisfied with living at a sufficient level which is reasonable for our status, we will then learn the true meaning of happiness."

"My Cat, Pook, and 6 Oct"

This short story by Wattanchai Winichakul, written in very correct and poetic Thai, touched me in its simplicity and depth, so I decided to translate it for English readers. The English, of course, would never equal the Thai version in its communication. So if you can read Thai, please read the Thai version, link provided above.
"Miss Pook" was my pet cat when I was a child.

Ms. Pook's fur was three colored, mostly black, white with patches of yellow all over her body up to her tail. Her four paws were all equally white. Most prominent of all, was her face, exactly halved by fur of black and the other half, fur of yellow.

At that time, my house was a food shop in the Ta Prachan area. Therefore, Ms. Pook grew up well fed. She was a teen cat with shiny fur, playful and mischievous. She could be classified as a good natured cat with extraordinary intelligence for a cat.

There was this time when I taught her how to use the toilet bowl by carrying her with me to the bowl and showing her by doing the business myself. Since then she would pee in the toilet bowl and patiently wait for someone to come flush it down with water.

Ms. Pook lived a very common cat life. We would rarely see her catch a rat. If she did, she was just following her cat's instincts. Once she caught and killed a rat, she would play with it rather than eat it because she was already well fed.

My Ahmah loved cats. She would have fresh platoo (thai fish) in the fridge ready to mix with rice for Ms. Pook to eat every morning and evening. Ahmah would call Ms. Pook to eat by knocking the aluminium bowl on the floor. Its sound, a few "peng! peng!" would miraculously produce Ms. Pook from whichever corner she was hiding in to faithfully appear immediately in front of that bowl.

On the morning of 6th October, BE 2519, I got up as usual to shower and get ready to go to school but found that the shop was not open. My older brothers told me that I didn't have to go to school because there was a violent situation at Thammasart University. I was secretly happy to not go to school, but a little bit sad because I wasn't able to send my art homework on which I had deligently colored during the whole week.

At 7:00 am, a thunderous sound, as if something gigantic fell right next to my house startled and frightened me. We had become accustomed to the sound of guns and bullets because our house was located close to Thammasart and Sanamluang, a strategic location during that time.

This incredulous sound was not like before. I felt as if great danger was falling upon us. Ms. Pook was all puffed up, hair on ends, running around like mad, her eyes filled with terror I had never seen before. Ahmah tried to catch her but couldn't. We didn't know which part of the house she went to hide. That was the moment when many occurrences took place in my house.

Many strangers came into our house and were herded away.

My elder sister nearly got taken away in the herd, fortunately, my mother managed to pull her back.

Many uniformed men came into my house and ransacked the house, rudely shouting at my mother's and father's faces.

One of my older brothers got hit in the back of his neck with a riffle end when he moved towards the door to answer a frantic knock on the door. He was dragged out in front of my mother and father. After that I heard the sound of a round of machine gun. My elder sister fainted. My mother's heart shattered.

My aunt had a house in Pratoonam. She sent her daughter for us to take refuge there.

"Go and help bring the kids and the elders. If you can't help them out, then don't come back!", my mother recounted my aunt's orders.

My brothers and sisters, my mother, and myself, altogether five of us took refuge at Pratoonam for nearly a month. When we returned to our Taprachan home, I found that my father had taken Ms. Pook away to some place where she wouldn't find her way home. My heart ached, it reflected the terrible atmosphere in our family at that time.

Sadness remained in my heart for some time, but one day my brothers voices woke me up calling me to come look at something. I sleepily walked downstairs and saw there Ms. Pook looking at me with wide eyes, her fur all dirty and mangly. I called her name and ran down to hug her to myself with joy, but there were no more tears. They had dried up since the morning after October 6.

They say that cats loved the house, dogs loved their owners. So if a cat ever got lost or deserted, it would always find a way home, just as Ms. Pook did.

I wanted to ask her, where had she been, how difficult had it been, what did she encounter? All I could do was to pet her all over and rub her chin as she liked. If she could talk she would probably have asked me, and you, how were you when I was gone, did you think of me? But all she could do was to nudge my hand and try to wrap herself around my legs.

Ms. Pook came back to live her happy normal life with us. Many times, when I returned home from school, I would find her languidly sunbathing under the evening sun shining in through the windows. Her shiny black fur sofly reflecting the light would always invite me to go pet her and give her a rub under her chin.

I don't know if Ms. Pook remembers any of the trauma of October 6. I believe that if she can be so intelligent to do many things beyond normal cats, she would remember all the good and bad things that have happened no less than my own memories.

Only different from us...

Human memory is a wound cut deep in the heart,

Never forgotten.

PS. I got particularly weepy for this one because my cat of 12 years old recently died. I think all Thais are apprehensive and sad that this year's anniversary of 16 Oct is under a military coup regime.

Picture of my cat.

Migrant labor

BKK Post, Oct 4, 2006 reports "Thai workers 'cheated in Qatar'".

This is an issue that boils under the surface of everyday Thai politics and policy making, pops up once a while with a scandal such as the one above and eventually gets eclisped by other issues while its problems remains mostly unsolved.

A good brief about the problem is found here, it starts...
"Since 1973, Thai workers have migrated to Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar. Saudi Arabia was once the largest labor market for Thai workers. In 1990, following a diplomatic break between the two countries, there was a sudden reduction in the demand for Thai labor. Thai migrant workers had to turn to the job markets in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei) and East Asia (Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong). As of 1995, an estimated 627,815 documented and undocumented Thai migrant workers were scattered around the world."

Source: A White Paper from

The first labor policy was initiated in 1932.

Sample of a "labor campagin" here)

Migrant labor policy is pretty closely related to Thai politics. (What a remarkable synchronicity that the BKK Post makes the above report at the dawn of this government.) It was part of a campaign introduced in the 70s by some power dealers, gained bureacratic support and henceforth grew. It was at the same time partly, an emergence from the periphery, as cash strapped Isaan workers tried whatever they could to find a living. This was easy money for them but it has put them in cycles of debt-ridden woe and loss of property rights. Even if a new Ministry of Labor has been set up in 1993, the issue has been eclipsed by other more politically volatile issues of the increasing import of poorer migrant workers into Thailand. So the poor people from the Thai countryside are still more or less left on their own wits to deal with the sharks and snakes of labor agents in their hopes of hitting the jackpot.

There's an interesting description here, where it gives an explaination about how migrant workers or "tourist consumers" are tied to "traditional forms of Buddhist ceremonial" where
"More than just a welcome respite from the drudgery and discipline of factory jobs, these excursions allow labor migrants to make important claims about their experiences as members of the Thai nation-state. As tourist-consumers, migrant workers appropriate powerful signs and symbols of modern Thai identity and status; in so doing they contest (and at least partly rework) their material and ideological marginalization within contemporary Thai society."

Lastly, a succinct blog post by David Frazier from Taiwan, in "Pots: "Thai Labor: Widgets or Workers"

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

More on pyramid of party politics

Posters and polling, two business that grew greatly with party politics.


and this one (Bangkokians prefer being happy, The Nation), I thought was a silly way to use a poll. Party politics, polling = dualities that we need to escape from.

Pink Orchid

This was my fourth term lab project. It was great fun to make, wrote the script, directed and edited myself. I had real actors and a complete crew working for me too.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Excerpts of Prime Ministerial Order No. 65/2525 "Plan for Political Offensive"

I found this is the appendix of Suchit Bunbongkarn's "The Military in Thai Politics, 1981-86", printed by ISEAS, 1987. This was a government paper signed by then Prime Minister Prem Tinasulanonda in 1982, so possibly a number of people were involved in its drafting. What I found interesting was how it categorized "pressure groups and interest groups" as "economic groups, the masses, progressive groups, and mass media". An extensive quote, but it needed all its elements together:

1. Principles and Rationale

1.1. Pursuant to the Prime Ministerial order No. 66/2523 of 23 April 1980 pertaining to the policy "Struggle to Win Over Communism" which required that the "Struggle to Win Over Communism be completed within a short period of time by conducting a continuous political offensive", the Cabinet on 20 April 1982 endorsed the recommendations put forward by the Committee on the Policy to Struggle to Win Over Communism concerning a "Plan for Political Offensive", and hereby ordered by Government agencies concerned to follow the guidelines laid out in this plan as well as other plans which the Committee may add in the future to complement it.

1.2. The important factor in the struggle to win over communism and destroy all forms of authoritarianism (totalitarianism) is the development of democracy. The people desire that the nation becomes democratic under the leadership of the monarchy, but because the political development towards democracy has been delayed and is full of shortcomings, the communists have used these conditions as the basis for a propaganda campaign to compete for the people's loyalty. However, the "democracy" spoken of by the communists is only a tactic to win over the state so that eventually a conversion can be made to socialism and communism. Therefore, better and true democracy, both strategically and tactically speaking, must be developed within a short period of time. The personnel who will be the main instrument for achieving this task, are to be government officials in every agency as well as ordinary people with idealism who are prepared to co-operate to bring about a model democracy in our society.

2. Objectives and Policy

2.1 To promote true faith and understanding that sovereignty rests with the people.

2.2 To create a balance between individual freedom and this collective sovereignty.

2.3 To destroy all forms of authoritarianism and form a democratic society under the leadership of the monarchy and based on the guidelines of democratic beliefs.

3. Operational Framework

An organizational unit composed of government officials and idealistic ordinary people as core members is to be created to direct the campaign. This unit is to be responsible for safeguarding the people's interests, creating true democracy and fulfilling the basic needs and desires of the people by:

3.1 Enabling the people to live in happiness and security, both personal and material, free from exploitation and repressive influences.

3.2 Enabling the people to live with honor and dignity, and to participate in and lead political processes, for they are the owners of the country.

3.3 Enabling the people to live with hope and faith in their faith in their future and their nation's security.

4.Operational Guidelines

4.1 The task of developing democracy has two parts: one is to promote faith and understanding that sovereignty rests with the people by destroying authoritarian power and influences from the local to the national level, and the other is to promote individual freedom by making laws which are laws. Due to the existence of many constraints such as resources and laws which must be amended or annulled, this task cannot be accomplished completely in a short period of time, but should be done in continuous stages with a full awareness of the special characteristics of Thai society and contextual limitations...

4.2 In addition to the operational guidelines laid down by Order 66/2533 of 23 April 1980, the following operational guidelines are to be followed:

4.2.1 Faith in the value of democracy... must be promoted by disseminating and improving knowledge of democracy both in theory and in application; providing true information about the prevailing situation; educating the mass media which are to act as an instrument for transmitting correct knowledge and understanding of democracy to the public at large; and ensuring that governmental officials conduct themselves in an exemplary and democratic manner.

4.2.2 The discharging of their respective responsibilities according to democratic principles by all state mechanisms must be accelerated at two levels. At the highest level of decision-making which involves politicians, political parties and top administrators... policies must be laid down clearly, positively and coherently to solve the nation's fundamental problems... strong and decisive response must be made to cope with day-to-day problems as they develop in accordance with principles of justice and interests of the people as a whole; opportunity must be made open for others such as academics, mass media, interest groups and various experts or specialists to partake in solving of such problems... The bureaucracy as a whole must be improved to strengthen the conditions for creating and developing democracy, and bureaucrats must be made to develop a conscience and sense of duty together which idealism to be responsive to the people in a responsible way, strictly to enforce the law and bring justice for one and all... At the level of civil servants, improvements must be accelerated because all civil servants, have an important role in putting into practice the national policy but at the moment are still lacking in the sense of duty and idealism necessary to promote popular sovereignty and generate respect for the law. All civil servants are to ... search for sources of a remedy for corruption ... discharge their duties and responsibilities strictly ... and within limits ... prevent fellow civil servants from acting as lords and masters of the people and exploiting them, and at the same time bring to justice those who break rules... (In addition) the bureaucratic system must be reformed and decentralized, delegating power and responsibility towards regions and localities..., and sufficient salary and welfare must be provided for all civil servants, especially those at junior levels, so they can uphold their own honor and dignity.

4.2.3 Popular participation in political activities must be promoted to enable the people to have more practicle experience which can serve to strengthen their attachment to an understanding of the principles of popular sovereignty. This must be done by involving the people in activities near their places of residence such as in the tambol councils, village committees and co-operatives ...; encouraging the use of political parties as a means of promoting their own interests at the national or local level in accordance with the principles of democracy...

4.2.4 Activities of pressure groups and interest groups must be regulated. Pressure and interest groups can act either to reinforce or to obstruct the development of democracy. Therefore, to ensure that their role be a constructive one and to deter any such group from hindering this development, their activities must be regulated in the following ways:

Economic Groups Because Thailand has a liberal economic system but its state mechanisms for mobilizing resources and distributing benefits are still weak, some economic groups have been able to take advantage to build up monopolistic power which inflicts social injustice and material hardship on the people, creating conditions for war. Moreover, some of these monopolistic groups have been able to develop great political bargaining power which is an obstacle in the development of democracy. Although it is vital to regulate these groups, the process of regulating them should be taken step by step and in accordance with the law ... The guidelines for cutting down the monopolistic power of the economic groups are: accelerated enforcement of the law against any violation by business; use of strict legal measures to guard against any violation by business; use of strict legal measures to guard against and destroy monopolistic power; enhancing among traders and capitalists the feeling of social responsibility and commitment towards the collective interest of the nation, by commending those with a social conscience, education, and opening up opportunities for participation in solving problems caused by their peers, and use of appropriate monetary, fiscal, legal and administrative measures on business, industry and commerce to bring about a distribution of economic benefits among the people at large.

The Masses. Workers and farmers are important in that they form the crucial foundation for Thailand's revolution and are targets for competition among political groups including the communists. Therefore, to prevent opposition groups from winning over them, to save them from being victims of communist propaganda and to generate their support for the development of democracy, the following guidelines for action should be taken. Support should be given to mass organizations which are truly democratic to prevent their leadership from falling into the hands of opposition groups. Leadership of mass organizations should be won over to destroy the subversive power of the communists within these organizations. A political environment conducive to mass political activities based on the principles of democracy should be created and encouraged.

Students. Students are a special group which has high political awareness and seeks democracy and social justice. However, because their experience is limited, they are targets for communist groups and used as a part of the united front constructed by the latter. Therefore, to utilize students as a force for democracy and to prevent them from becoming tactical tools of communists as well as other authoritarian groups, the following guidelines for action should be taken. Freedom should be given to students to conduct all their activities, including political activities, which are within the law and the regulations laid down by their academic institutions. Students' activities geared towards the development of democracy be incorporated in the syllabus at every level of education and appropriate textbooks prepared by academics as standard of references for the future.

Progressive Groups. There are now many groups which have become more politically active in urban areas, including those who have returned from the "jungle", various progressives, communists, united fronts and other democratic groups. To ensure that their activities be kept within bounds imposed by national security considerations and contribute towards the development of democracy, the following guidelines for action should be taken. Opportunities should be given to all groups to put forward ideas and suggestions within the limits of the Constitution and law. Strong democratic movements should be encouraged in accordance with the Prime Ministerial Order No. 66/2523 dated 23 April, 1980. Leadership of Progressive ideas should be won over. Activities of those groups which constitute a threat to national security and the development of democracy should be closely and continuously observed and obstructed.

Mass Media. The media can act either to promote or to destroy democracy. Therefore, to ensure that they are constructive for democracy, the following guidelines of action should be taken. Members of the mass media who have democratic ideas should be commended and given support and special responsibility in providing new conducive to the development of democracy encouraged. Campaigns to use ideas as a means of promoting democracy by the mass media should be supported. The government's mass media organizations should be used to promote democracy and counteract news which cause its destruction. News which have adverse impact on the democratic system should be curtailed by executive as well as legal measures.

Armed Forces and Formation. They should have a correct understating of democracy and support and preserve this system.

27 May BE 2525
(27 May 1982)

(Signed) General Prem Tinsulanond
Prime Minister

The source quoted for this plan wasISIS Bulletin.

The First Constitution and the First Political Movie

The First Constitution and the First Political Movie
an essay in

People's Assembly in Thailand

"As a member of 1960s generation, I grew up in the midst of the search for the meaning of life...."

Words from a soulmate I never met. Read more from this link:
Quest for a sustaining energy for societal change

from Chaiwat Thirapantu

Military coup of 1932

Here's a page from David K. Wyatt's "Thailand: A Short History", (Silk Worm Books, 1982/84) an account of the 1932 coup:
"It was accomplshed by a handful of conspirators with a few hundred troops and involved only one casualty. It succeeded initially on surprise and bluff, then on the Promoters' holding of princely hostages, and finally on the sanction conferred by royal approval - all of this taking only a few hours. The public was not even aware of what was happening until it was all over, and before noon on June 24, the life of Bangkok and Siam was proceeding normaly, but with new leaders at its top.

The 114 Promoters of the 1932 coup could not have succeeded as they did if they had not included in their ranks a small number of senior military men, whose membership in the group lent it credibility. It may perhaps also suggest the extent to which officials had begun to lose faith in the old order. These men, indeed, were relatively conservative, certainly compared with the youthful left-leaning civilians led by Pridi Phanomyong. It was they who dominated the first constitutional regimes until the late 1930s. The most important of these were Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena (Phot Phahonyothin) and Phraya Songsuradet (Thep Panthumsen), both colonels by 1932. Phraya Song held a top post at the military academy in Bangkok, which gave the conspirators access to a broad range of contacts and an increasingly indoctrinated cadet corps. His tactical genius made it possible to neutralize a strong army and government with a handful of troops. Phraya Phahon was distinguised by a personal integrity that made him acceptable to all factions of the Promoters as the leader of the People's party.

Having induced the king to recognize and validate their actions, the Promoters undertook to organize a government under a provisional constitution of June 27. In order to minimize internal resistance and avoid the dangers of foriegn intervention that they thought civil strife might invite, the Promoters initially stayed in the background, though they were still firmly in control. The long-term political program drawn up at the time by Pridi envisaged a three-stage process of political development. The first stage had now begun, with the adoption of a provisional constitution establishing an Assembly of seventy members appointed by the Promoters and a smaller People's Committee drawn from and responsible to it. A second stage was to begin within six months under a constitution similar to that drafted for Prajadhipok in March, with a half appointed and half indirectly elected National Assembly. A third stage of full representative government was to be inaugurated when half the population had completed primary education or within ten years, whichever came first. The general framework was defined in terms of the political leadership and tutelage of the People's party.

This party had as yet no mass membership or following, nor had it even substantial control over the army, so the first government it constituted displayed at least the facade of wide support. The first National Assembly included in its membership numerous senior officials, including some chaophraya of the old regime, amounting to about one-third of the total membership. The president of the Assembly was Chaophraya Thammasakmontri (M.R.W. Sanan Thephastsadin), a former minister of education. On the People's Committee, which handled the day-to-day administration of the governement, there were eleven promoters, including the leaders of their four chief factions, and four senior officals. Of the latter, the most important were Phraya Maopakonnithithada (Kon Hutasing), a respected judge of the Court Appeals, and Phraya Sri Wisarn Waja, former undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and adviser to King Prajadhipok. Phray Sri Wisarn was the new foreign minister, and Phraya Mano became prime minister and minister of finance.

Meanwhile to consolidate their power while experienced hands ran the government, the People's party reorganized the army and navy to put their men in key positions and began trying to build a popular constituency. They quickly discovered that the first course was much easier than the latter, that people would not attend rallies and demonstrations unless ordered to do so, and that many now seeking to join their ranks were motivated by desire for jobs in the new government. The lack of dependable popular support clearly became evident within a few months. It left the young civilian faction within the People's party at a severe disadvantage in competing the influence with the military and with senior civilians with the bureacratic experience and networks of connections within the elite.

Once the permanent constitution of December 10, 1932, came into force the conflicts and competition latent within the ruling coalition began to erupt."

More about factions in the Thai military coming up later.

Tanks in the name of democracy

Why do the Thai military think they have a right in politics? They gave the people democracy with their coup of June 24, 1932. A constitution was drafted and we became a constitutional monarchy. "Protector of democracy" has been their slogan ever since.

I wonder how long it will take for people holding guns to realize that those guns will never be able to give equality and freedom. How can they be so deaf and blind to the fact that in our collective memories, when guns and people stood against each other lives were lost, always. The Thai people giving flowers and food to the soldiers? Isn't that how they appease powerful spirits?

Factions and politics

Aahhh...the familiar make and break of pyramids in Thailand:

Somsak leads 100 members to resign from Thai Rak Thai
Sonthaya and Chonburi faction resign from TRT
Suranand leaves Thai Rak Thai
Surakiart resigns from Thai Rak Thai Party

All in a rush to (pardon the language) save their asses.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Last time we had a "good" general at the helm:

General Prem's coalition government lasted 6 years (1981-87), two elections and a couple of parliamentary dissolutions resulting in the five cabinets listed below.

1st Prem Cabinet (3 March, 1980-11 March, 1981)

Coalition partners: Social Action Party, Chart Thai, Democrat, Chart Prachachon and Siam Democrat
Major opposition: Prachakorn Thai

2nd Prem Cabinet (11 Mar 1981- 8 Dec 1981)

Coalition Partners: Democrat, Chart Thai and a number of smaller parties including Siam Democrat, Ruam Thai and Social Democrat
Major oppposition: Social Action and Prachakorn Thai

3rd Prem Cabinet (9 Dec 1981-30 Apr 1983)

Coalition Partners: Social Acion, Democrat, Chart thai and a number of smaller parties
Major opposition: Prachkorn Thai

4th Prem Cabinet (30 Apr 1983-11 Aug 1986)

Colatition partners: Social Action, Democrat, Prachakorn Thai and National Democrat (replaced by the Progressive party in Sep 1985)
Major opposition: Chart Thai
(In Jan 1986, there was a reshuffle within the Social Action Party for its allocated quota of cabinet seats)

5th Prem Cabinet (11 August, 1986-28 April, 1988)

Coalition partners: Democrat, Chart Thai, Social Action, Rasadorn
Major opposition: Prachakorn Thai, United Democratic, Ruam Thai, Community Action, Progressive

Source: "The Military in Thai Politics, 1981-1986", by Suchit Bunbongkarn, published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1987.

Taksin's politics wiped out nearly all political party alternatives, co-opting them all into TRT. At this moment, we don't have strong enough groups of representative of diverse voices to enter the parliamentary system as we had back then. Without a constitution and with the ban on political gathering, it would be difficult for any alternative political groups to be built in time to run competitively in upcoming elections.

On censorship

Lots of talk about this now, here's an eye opener:

"Censorship exists to some extent in all modern countries, including the U.S.A., the U.K., Germany, France, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand."


There's a lot to read on that website, good for critics who love to criticize. Even shutdowns of antiwar websites. How's that for freedom of speech in the land of "democracy"?

Here's some good (rather extensive) reading on freedom of expression. FEPP

And lastly, this is what Thailand needs: Media Literacy: An Alternative to Censorship, and since we change constitutions and governments so often, we might have the capacity to jump into it naturally. Hah, hah, hah? :)

Canada's media control

From FAIR, May/June 2002 Canada's Media Monopoly

from Freedom to read censorship

and from Media Awareness Network Canadian content rules

Keeping an eye on the new constitution

The Nation (Oct. 1) posted the coup leader's Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim Edition) of B.E. 2549. I would like to urge all Thai bloggers to carefully study, keep a critical eye, and participate actively on its development. Here is the National Assembly's page providing the articles of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand. B.E. 2534 (1991)

The Interim Edition seems to have an emphasis on the structure of the National Asssembly, limiting the number of total representatives (MP, senate and parliament) to only 250. Why such a specific and limited number? Under the 1991 Consitution and Taksin government we had 500 MPs and 200 senators. The age limit of 35, I think was not specified before. I remember that Aphisit Vejjajiva became an MP when he was around 27.

The worst of Interim's proposal is this clause of Article 7:

"The president of the Council of National Security will countersign the royal command to appoint members of the National Assembly, president and vice president(s) of the National Assembly."

Notice that it's the Council of the National Security which is what the coup leaders are now, how democratic is that?

What I would like to see in the new constitutions a a guarantee/protection for the freedom of speech, and a provision recognizing of civil society organizations' place in all of this, maybe allowing an observer status in the parliament, and a secondary process where they are allowed to bring about political change. While we're at it, let's broaden the base for politcal participation, no?

Read the signs

I thought it was strange the first time, but it seems to be repeated again. Usually when the King grants audience to politicos in something as important as this, a news clip (vdo) is released (usually live) showing the King and the people in audience together authenticated by the speech of what is being said. Therein lies the power of the image. I have this strange feeling that a comment I read posted in Prachathai may have some ground; the King really doesn't approve of this coup. Why do we see the swearing ceremony performed in front of an image (a portrait) and not in front of the real live King? If someone finds live footage to prove me wrong, please post it on the internet.