Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Let us be clear. The junta’s pseudo-legal action against former Prime Minister Yingluk Shinawat, over her role in the rice price support scheme for farmers, is a deliberate attempt to ban Yingluk from politics and it is designed to destroy democracy. It has nothing to do with the rice scheme.
Yingluk is accused of “allowing corruption to take place” in this rice scheme and of presiding over financial losses to the government.
Firstly, it should be made clear that there is no evidence what so ever to prove that Yingluk herself was corrupt. In fact “corruption” is now a convenient insult to be thrown at anyone who the middle classes or the elites dislike. The most corrupt organisation in Thai society is in fact the military and their acolytes in the appointed parliament. Nearly all Thai generals, including the present junta leaders, have accumulated wealth amounting to hundreds of millions of baht, way beyond what they could earn from their normal salaries. Not only are they corrupt, but they are also murderers.
Secondly, it may well be the case that corruption occurred at some levels of the rice price support scheme, probably associated with dishonest rice milling and rice trading companies. Yingluk’s opponents want to punish her for failing to stop this corruption. If failing to stop corruption is a reason for punishment, then every single Thai Prime Minister, including Prayut, should be punished. But the difference between Yingluk and Prayut is that people could vote out Yingluk if they wished to do so, in democratic elections. Prayut has installed himself at the point of a gun.
Thirdly, much of the financial losses to the state which resulted from the rice price support scheme come from two sources. The government was using state funds to guarantee rice prices paid to poor farmers. Such losses are totally justified and are part of distributing income to the rural poor. But other losses came from relying on the world rice market and hoping that the price of rice would rise, which it did not. Instead the government should have sold rice cheaply to the urban poor and recouped any short fall by taxing the rich and by cutting the military and Palace budgets.
Of course the middle-classes, extremist neo-liberals, the military and the royalists would have been up in arms if this had happened.
While Yingluk faces a sham trial, Prayut and his gang killed unarmed demonstrators during the red shirt protests in 2010, and more recently, they have staged an illegal coup, kidnapped people who oppose the junta, tortured prisoners and fitted people up with the illegitimate lèse majesté law (See my previous posting). Members of the junta’s appointed parliament have also appointed their relatives to “assistant” posts with publicly funded salaries. Naturally none of these crooks and gangsters face prosecution.