“All Thais are equal but some are extra equal than others”


“We determined to undertake this system, so we must have confidence within the democratic system.”

Words from the Thai Parliamentary president Chuan Leekpai urging, or keen, the Thai voters to not “become disheartened with the current state of Thai politics” and to have “confidence within the democratic system”.
The democratic system?

Constitution Day was on Friday as Thais commemorate the day, 89 years ago, when Thailand moved, in a single day, to a constitutional democracy from its previous absolute monarchy. That initial Thai Constitution was the first of 20 constitutional and constitution paperwork which have aimed to border the country’s distinctive version of democracy. It was known as the Siamese Revolution though it was hardly a ‘revolution’ in comparability with other country’s moments in historical past the place they veered from one political system to a different.
The King of Siam in 1932 was King Prajadhipok, Rama 7. In essentially the most stripped again model of events, HM the King visited Hua Hin to relax and play golf throughout June in 1932. After a period of unrest following the elevating of taxes, a cadre of seven ‘promoters’ planned an overthrow of the 800 or so years of absolute monarchies within the Kingdom. Many of them were navy men, setting a sample of military affect and interference in coups ever since.
The almost-bloodless coup was hatched and dispatched whilst the King was in Hua Hin. Once word reached the 45 12 months old monarch he decided to take up the supply of being a constitutional monarch, handing over his ‘absolute’ powers to a new document which might guide the new Thai parliament – Thailand’s first democracy.
Last Friday, the Parliamentary speaker and former PM Chuan Leekpai declared… “Don’t let issues and obstacles destroy the country’s primary system. We must not lose coronary heart.”

But as Chuan Leekpai presides over Thailand’s Lower House, he should be secretly choking on the irony of his comments where Thailand’s current structure stays a blunt device to maintain the country’s army interests and a Bangkok ‘elite’ in power.
“The mandate belongs to all Thais who play a crucial role in promoting a democratic system free of corruption. Thais must work collectively to search out methods to eradicate vote-buying in elections.”

Guilt-free saying all the proper issues on a public holiday set aside to commemorate Thailand’s first constitutions, Chuan doesn’t need to look further than his parliament’s upper home of hand-picked Senators to grasp that any true democracy within the Land of Smiles stays elusive.
The entire 250 member Senate, which indicators off on all laws (along with the power to elect a prime minister out of thin air if no get together wins 50% of the MP seats, plus 1), had been selected to take their comfortable upper home seats by the National Council for Peace and Order, the military coup leaders who overthrew Thailand’s last elected parliament in May 2014.
Chuan even addressed proposed amendments to the Constitution which might take away the ability of the unelected Senators to vote within the number of an outside prime minister.
“This was a part of a democratic process.”

But it is unlikely that the Senators will vote themselves out of a job and expose themselves to, heaven forbid, a vote of the individuals.
In Thailand it seems, to bastardise a line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “all Thais are equal however some are more equal than others”.
“We have had many lessons over the course of almost 90 years.”

The ruling party of the Thai lower house, Palang Pracharat, clings onto a fractured coalition made up of 12 totally different parties, a few of the parties simply single member MPs. Out of the 500 MP seats in the decrease house, Palang Pracharat maintain only 123 seats. The balance was cobbled together in the wake of the 2019 basic election the place the opposition Pheu Thai Party won 132 seats. But Palang Pracharat, actually a political front for the NCPO that seized power in 2014, ran the phones harder and pulled collectively the numbers it needed to kind a government.
Without a majority in the house, each houses of parliament have been forced to vote on prime ministerial candidates put ahead by the parties. The candidates, underneath the course of the 2017 Constitution, didn’t must be MPs. An ‘outsider’ candidate might be nominated and put ahead as properly.
The chief of the 2014 coup, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, didn’t stand as an MP but was all the time going to be the PM candidate for Palang Pracharat. With the rump of 250 fixed votes from the Senate, he was a shoe in for the job.
THAT is Thai democracy within the second decade of the 21st century, a stumble backwards from the intentions of the civilian and military coup leaders in 1932 who took benefit of a King taking half in golf in Hua Hin to pivot Thailand from its Siamese historical past of successive monarchs to a model new constitutional monarchy – a democracy with an unelected Head of State who exercised limited powers.
Call it ‘Democracy Thai Style’ or ‘Quasi Democracy’ or ‘Limited Democracy’. But, in 2021, the total intentions of the 1932 democracy pioneers have not but been totally realised.
In the middle of final yr a new wave of democratic calls for emerged from a model new, youthful, educated group of Bangkok students who’re additionally pushing for constitutional reforms and changes to the role of Thailand’s Head of State – same, same but different to the calls of the coup leaders 89 years ago. So far their youthful voices have been pretty bluntly rebuked and lots of the leaders either discover themselves in jail, sporting location bracelets or out on bail, on condition they chorus from their protests..

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