Giles Ji Ungpakorn
No amount of outrage at the violence and impunity of the thugs will push Yingluk or Pua Thai or the authorities into a crackdown on those committed criminal acts. Yingluk would rather do a dirty deal with Sutep and others than to mobilise the Red Shirts and the general population to fight for democracy.
After the 2011 election Pua Thai and Taksin made an uneasy peace with the military. This was reinforced in late 2013 when the Pua Thai government tried unsuccessfully to push through a disgraceful amnesty bill covering the military and Democrat Party leaders who murdered red shirts in 2010. Naturally, it also covered Taksin, but not lèse majesté political prisoners.
Since the eruption of Sutep’s anti-government protests, the military have realised the advantage of just sitting on their hands. Sutep’s mob, with the backing of the elites, academics and NGO leaders is putting pressure of Pua Thai to make more compromises.
No amount of compromise or negotiations with the anti-democratic thugs will solve the crisis. The only short-term result would be shrinkage of the democratic space and the further empowerment of those who view the majority of the electorate with contempt.
This means that pro-democracy activists, whether they be progressive Red Shirts, pro-democracy trade unionists, White Shirts, Nitirat supporters, socialists, or members of the Forum for the Defence of Democracy, all have to work together to prevent the destruction of the democratic space. They should also push forward with real reform proposals which will increase rights and the empowerment of the majority. The future of Thai democracy lies in their hands.
Democracy is not an unchanging state of affairs. It is constantly contested. If the Thai democratic space is compressed today, it does not mean that we cannot fight to expand it in the future.
Photo credit (from facebook)