The rubbish talks back

From Thairath, August 1, 2014
Rubbish: You can’t clean up this place because the interim constitution doesn’t give you power to do so.
On the rubbish: Politicians who lost their power
On the rubbish truck: NCPO

[In the cartoon, Gen. Prayuth, head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), is attempting to clean up persistent problems caused by politicians. This sort of attitude toward the elected–that they act for themselves without thought of the greater good–is a prominent Thai assumption, not just an attitude of the “elite.”
This is key to understanding and predicting in the Thai world–especially for Westerners who see elections as a solution for political strife.
The nature of the Thai political system–depending on the intervention of the military or the monarchy in times of political crisis–encourages political parties to grab all the spoils they can while knowing that eventually they will be eased out of power.
The 1997 constitution was designed to remove the necessity of extra-electoral powers like the military and monarchy from having to intervene. The constitution created independent organizations and authorities like the auditor general and the election commission to oversee government actions.
However, the Thai Rak Thai Party reacted strongly against this and attempted at every turn to dismantle these checks and balances, citing their unfairness.
Thai Rak Thai’s successor parties like the People Power Party and the Pheu Thai even more openly vowed to rewrite the constitution to remove the power of independent organizations and the courts from having sway over an elected government’s actions.
The gutting of the checks in the 1997 constitution and the years of political strife since then has now had the effect of returning Thailand to its pre-1992 political state–a marginally-democratic system dominated by a handful of “big men” who make deals behind closed doors and who are closely checked by the firm, and often overbearing, hand of the military.]

2Bangkok.com Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

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