Latest from Chang Noi: A national election that is really about nothing

Latest from Chang Noi: A national election that is really about nothing - The Nation, December 20, 2004
[The pseudonymous Chang Noi handles only the 'hottest' Nation editorials. They usually come on Monday and here is the latest. Another past example of tough talk from The Nation is here.]
...By the time the opposition parties lumbered into action, the drama was over. Thai Rak Thai had commanded the stage, put on a great show and exhausted the audience’s attention. The opposition parties have been going through the motions of election campaigning, but with all the sound and fury of a slow-motion pantomime performed in an empty theatre. This is not all their fault. The government’s influence over the Thai-language media (especially the electronic segment) has meant that the opposition parties are marginalised in the public space. The opposition parties have crafted campaign platforms, but the Thai Rak Thai apparatchiks claim these platforms are simply replicas of the Thai Rak Thai version. This may be massively dishonest, but it is brilliant strategy.
This is why the opposition leaders, despite their campaign platforms and advertising efforts, seem like puppets or dummies.
A weightier answer to why this election is about nothing is that the kind of populism which Thai Rak Thai embraces is designed to make politics about little issues rather than big ones. Please don't think about the future of the country; just enjoy another Bt400,000 for your village fund. Don't pay attention to all those dead people, because we have this new SML scheme. Who cares about the rule of law since we really, really are going to eradicate poverty in six years. Keep quiet, and you may get rich. Don't worry about corruption, because we are waging a war against it, really...
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