Giles Ji Ungpakorn
I have always opposed the nationalist first clause in the Thai Constitution that says that the Thai State cannot be separated. The most pressing reason is to give the people of Patani the right to self-determination.
Therefore I have no worries about the disintegration of the Thai ruling class’ state. It does not bother me, the way it bothers the military and the reactionaries, if Red Shirts want to split the country in half. This proposal is born out of anger against the impunity of the anti-democrats and the way the anti-democrats and the military, together with their academic and NGO supporters, are trampling over the rights of the majority.
But the proposal to split the country in half is a silly proposal.
Firstly, it is silly because it assumes that the political crisis results from a geographical split. This is simply not the case, with half the Bangkok population supporting the Yingluk government and more than half supporting the democratic process. In all provinces there are splits along complicated class lines. There is a clear tendency for workers and poor to middle income farmers to support Pua Thai and the Red Shirts, irrespective of geographical location.
But secondly, and much more importantly, dividing the country between the north/north-east and the rest, would leave the majority of wealth in the hands of the anti-democratic elites. The new break away country would have no seaport or natural gas and millions of pro-democracy people would be trapped in a repressive regime. What is more, the military and the conservative elites have always been ultra-nationalists and they would wage a bloody civil war to prevent it happening.
Economic data from the national economic and social development committee shows that the GDP for metropolitan Bangkok, the central region, the eastern seaboard and the south, stood at 7,148,323 million baht in 2009. The equivalent figure for the north and north-east was 1,902,393 million baht. Any new country in the north and north-east would be very poor, with little industry and investment.
What is even more important is that this GDP comes from the work of ordinary workers and peasants. It was not created by the capitalists and various parasitic organisations like the military. So it is a very bad idea to just hand it over to them.
What we should be striving for is a “new state” where the rich are highly taxed and the military domination of society is ended. We need a welfare state, an end to impunity for state crimes, the abolition of the never-independent bodies and complete freedom of expression and democracy. Ultimately ordinary working people should collectively own and control society. This can be created when we destroy the old authoritarian Thai State.