The absence of radical political parties becomes a fertile ground for all kinds of regressive politics such as calls to appoint an unelected prime minister, attempts to abolish elections, and demands to bring back the absolute monarchy and so on. The levels of backwardness are astonishing to many people both in Thailand and aboard.
The main debates about the Thai political crisis still focus on the interests of the elites. When Pua Thai came to the power, their first priority was to have conciliation with the army. Pua Thai has relentlessly tried to white wash the army’s murderous mess by brushing aside all the demands to punish the generals. They tried to prove their royalism to the army by intensifying the use of lèse majesté as well as ignoring the red shirt political prisoners.
It seems that Pua Thai holds democracy to ransom by saying that they have to compromise with the army, otherwise Thailand will see a fresh round of bloodshed. Unfortunately, the majority of red shirts buy this argument. Not only do the UDD red shirt leadres limit themselves to merely being Pua Thai cheer-leaders, but they also fiercely attack progressive red shirts who dare to question Pua Thai’s wrong doing. Can we really avoid having a new round of violence if Pua Thai kisses the arse of the army and their friends? This simple question cannot be discussed openly because the red shirt leaders believe that in doing so would weaken Pua Thai and red shirt unity. Practically, it will only help Pua Thai to brush aside the inconvenient truths about their making a deal with the army.
In this blog, we have stressed several times that we need a progressive political party. Social movements like the red shirts have a narrow political agenda and are led by Pua Thai. We need a political party or organisation to challenge Pua Thai’s political agenda and leadership.
The formation of the Common People Party of Thailand (CPT) is very welcome news. Their demands are very progressive politically and economically. They openly announce that they want to amend the lèse majesté law so that it cannot be used as a political tool to prevent free speech. They address the violent problems in the south by suggesting that the Muslim Malay provinces should become an autonomous region. They want to decentralise power from Bangkok to regions, so all the mayors must be elected instead of appointed. They are determined to abate bureaucratic power by bringing in the elections at all levels. They support giving ethnic minorities, along the Thai borders and in the mountains, automatic Thai citizenship which they have long been denied. They wish to abolish gender inequality by titles such as Mr., Miss or Mrs. They want to minimise the gap between the poor and the rich by using progressive tax systems. Admittedly, their policies need to be laborious clarified in order for them to be achieved. But under the current circumstances, most of their policies are very positive. Tanaporn Sriyakorn is the leader of PCT. He declared that the motto of his party is “the voice for the voiceless”. He used to be a member of Thai Rak Thai but was banned from politics after the military coup in 2006.
Tanaporn says, “Do not ask if all this is possible, but get involved in campaigning and we shall see. If we can get 20 members of parliament we can put pressure on the main parties, especially Pua Thai, to change their policies.”
In the past we used to have similar parliamentary parties such as the Socialist Party of Thailand (SPT) and other left wing parties. Their policies focused on challenging inequality. The SPT was found in 1974 and in 1975 the party won 18 seats in parliament. Dr. Boonsanong Punyodyana one of their prominent leaders was killed in 1976 when Thailand entered another dark age.
I hope that the CPT can become an important mechanism to push for progressive political reforms that we desperately need.
For more details visit their webpage ( http://on.fb.me/1pGrmdH).