Friday, March 31, 2006
THAILAND'S HANDICAPPED ELECTION WILL GO AHEAD
rganisers called off the anti-Taksin protests yesterday morning, after a couple of days and nights at a new location near Siam Square. Several of the biggest shopping malls in the city had been closed down due to the demonstrations in the area, and I thnk there must have been some realisation that stretching things out until the planned dispersal tonight would have also stretched the patience of Bangkokians to the breaking point. The "Taksin Out" movement has been losing support of the city's people (in recent opinion polls), and the organisers made a wise decision to call things off until after the Sunday general election.
I have no idea what will transpire thereafter -- if there's anything constant one can say about this country, it's that nothing is predictable. But that's why I love it! The likelihood that a legitimate parliament can be elected this weekend seems vanishingly small. The bizarre part is that we have a legitimate parliament in place now, which was elected barely one year ago. What we will have after Sunday is almost certain to spark a constitutional crisis -- and after that, anything is possible. The King has not found the present circumstances sufficient to warrant making any moves, as he is firmly committed to the democratic process. Although many had appealed to him for intervention, such as the naming of an interim prime minister, such a move would have gone against his character and ethical sense. His Majesty is at heart, a teacher for his people, and I believe he is waiting for the proper moment for his next lesson.
So Taksin will go to the people on April 2, virtually alone. It's all about him, for he is the only one who lost legitimacy in the eyes of many. The three major opposition parties have stuck with their pledge to boycott the election. There isn't really any major disapproval with the government as a whole -- it's all directed at one man only. As I wrote recently, he had lost legitimacy with me way back in his first term. But I have no say in the matter, and it's up to the Thais now to figure out a way to see the end of him. I think their best chance at a clean break would be for a strong showing for people marking "no vote" on their ballot papers. With a sufficient proportion of these, there might be a chance for Ai Naa Liam (sort of, "old square-face," but a little ruder) might be provoked into feeling some shame.
But the turnout could well be so low, that an insufficient number of MP's would be elected, and the parliament could not be convened at all. This is what I suspect will happen, and how things will shake out after that is anyone's guess. And all this mess is due solely to one man who puts his own big face and pride above the good of his country. Nobody wanted or needed this election other than Taksin himself. He is the only issue, and he has destroyed the entire political landscape simply for his own face. He wants to say "I win," but something tells me the story doesn't end there.