Guided Democracy Neo-liberal Style

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

We are now seeing the anti-democratic neo-liberals crawling out of the woodwork to help the junta in its road map to “Guided Democracy Neo-liberal Style”.

First, the Permanent Secretary for Health is now suggesting that the 30 baht universal health scheme be scrapped and patients be made to pay up to half of their own health care costs. Dr Narong Sahametapat, the Permanent Secretary for Health, joined Sutep’s mob and called for the resignation of the elected government earlier this year. He is also delaying measures to provide essential drugs to people with hepatitis and cancer.

In my 2006 book “A Coup for the Rich” I warned that the first military junta back then was thinking of introducing “co-payments” for the health service to replace the 30 baht health care scheme.

Secondly, the Counter Corruption Commission is talking to the Election Commission about a plan to force all political parties to submit their manifestos to the Electoral Commission before an election campaign can start. This is so that these unelected anti-democratic neo-liberals can “weed out” any pro-poor policies which use state funds. The neo-liberals hate the use of state funds for the benefit of the majority of people. But they just love the military for vastly increasing its own budget!

Finally, the Thai Development Research Institute (TDRI) has proposed that the minimum wage should not be raised like it was during the Yingluk government because it resulted in raised prices and workers are still poor! Well, given that most workers are too poor, the minimum wage ought to be doubled to 600 baht per day! Most middle class Thais, including the academics at the TDRI enjoy salaries much higher than most workers. What is more, the wage costs in Thailand are very low and could not have resulted in raised prices, but if they did, a pro-poor government could bring in price controls.

The TDRI has a history of opposing the rice price protection scheme which benefitted small farmers. It also opposes the idea of a welfare state.

This only goes to show that neo-liberalism and dictatorship go hand in hand.

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