Politics of the Sewer

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The nomination of Princess Ubonrut, eldest daughter of the late Pumipon, (full name: Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi), as a candidate for Prime Minister by Taksin’s Thai Raksa Chart Party, is a new low for Taksin and his fellow politicians in all his parties, for the former Red Shirt leaders in Thai Raksa Chart, and for people who should know better like Chaturon Chaisang. But worse than all that, it is a symbol of the total degeneration of the Thai electoral system into the politics of the sewer, especially after the interventions of the military.

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Most people with half a brain and an ounce of democratic principles will not need to ask themselves about Ubonrut’s qualifications for the position of Prime Minister. But this might need to be spelt out for some Thais. Has Ubonrut ever been in touch with the lives of the majority of poor people in the country? Has she ever said anything progressive? Has she ever supported the struggle for democracy and justice? Has she ever condemned the military? Has she ever opposed the backward idea of hereditary public positions? The answer is clearly No! The only experience she has had in recent years is to promote herself in rubbish TV programmes while living her life in a bubble of luxury.

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The nomination of Ubonrut by Thai Raksa Chart is a slap in the face for all the Thai people who made huge sacrifices in the struggles for democracy, equality, justice and human rights. It spits on the memories of the 1932 revolution, the 14th October 1973 uprising, the 6th October 1976 massacre, the 1992 uprising and the great Red Shirt movement. Many people sacrificed their lives during these events. Ubonrut’s nomination spits on the very idea of democracy and peoples’ participation by saying that ordinary citizens cannot make any social changes and that the only person that can challenge the military has to come from the royal family. It is an exact mirror image of what the Yellow Shirt PAD protesters believed when they were trying to unseat Taksin.

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But there is a background to all this. Taksin deliberately destroyed the Red Shirt mass movement, the biggest pro-democracy movement in Thai history, after the election of Yingluk. He, along with the donkeys that led that movement, put it into cold storage and killed it so that it could no longer oppose the military. It is a terrible shame that progressive Red Shirts were unwilling or unable to build an alternative leadership of the movement.

Historical experience from Thailand, and elsewhere, shows that so-called “clever manoeuvres”, which involve adopting the reactionary ideology or views of opponents, always end badly. Ubonrut’s nomination will not destroy the power of the military, its 20 year National Strategy or the extreme political and economic inequality in Thailand. Even now, the mainstream Thai media is still using outdated and feudal Royal Language when referring to Ubonrut, although we are led to believe that she is a commoner. Worse still, the nomination opens the door to a “government of national unity”. All this merely represents another attempt at an elite settlement between Taksin and his opponents.

Some people seem to confuse “form” with “content”. Ubonrut’s nomination is not a consolidation of any mythical absolute monarchy. This is confirmed by the fact that King Wachiralongkorn has now come out against Ubonrut’s nomination, claiming that it drags the monarchy into politics.

It is a process which was aimed at cementing a conservative alliance between Taksin and the military within the framework of “Guided Democracy”, leaving out any space for democracy or participation by Thai citizens.

For those of us who are totally opposed to this “politics of the sewer”, we must redouble our efforts to build a progressive mass movement and to oppose the reactionary ideology of the ruling elites.

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