Enduring Opposition Protests Seek Complete Change- Amnesty Debacle Was Just Round 1

Bangkok
Friday, November 14th, 2013
Opinion & Analysis by Burin Kantabutra
The Democrats are increasing pressure on the government because they don’t trust the government parties’ pledge not to resurrect the expanded amnesty bill, and fear that sly Thaksin may use other means to achieve the same ends, e.g., an executive decree — and the Democrats have ample reason to distrust Thaksin & Co.

Has The Shinawatra Political Machine Lost it's Way...?

Has The Shinawatra Political Machine Lost it’s Way…?

 

What if there was a drastic penalty for breaking the parties’ pledge? Say, have all government MPs sign properly witnessed resignation letters and assignment of all their personal assets to the educational institution of their choice. The letters would state that they would be effective the day that the expanded amnesty bill or a bill or decree to the same effect was proposed or passed, and would be given to the Opposition leader for safekeeping. Sure, this idea’s crazy and naive, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

 

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn the current political crisis into an opportunity for long-term reform —  if we will but grab it.

 
Each coalition led  government, whether that of Abhisit or Thaksin, has focused only on the short-term. 
No political parties look beyond their noses, because our problems require long-term vision and political courage. 
We say we are anti-corruption, yet so few or almost no top politician has been jailed for that crime (only high level underlings face any graft busting, and that only after attention grabbing headlines of being caught red handed- such as hundreds of fire trucks sitting in an empty lot due to over-priced contract fixing, for example).
Our education system is bottom-of-the-barrel, and trending downwards, yet we put on Band-aids like tablets. English proficiency among many students is a disgrace.
We say we love our King — yet we studiously ignore his clearly-stated wish for reform of the lese majeste laws. We preach rule of law but each government renews the Emergency Decree placing the authorities above the law. We say we are committed to democracy, yet the ironically-named Democrats are now trying to evict the democratically-elected government by mob pressure.
Need I go on?
 
The current political situation has galvanized civil society like never before, with academics, state enterprises, doctors, students, etc. becoming politically active and taking stands. We should build on them to identify the root causes of our problems, e.g., the very wide gulf between rich and poor, and propose color-free long-term solutions, following former prime minister Anand Panyarachun’s 7 Pillars of Sustainable Democracy: (Clean) elections, political tolerance, the rule of law, freedom of expression, accountability and transparency, decentralization and civil society.
 
Civil society, such as the Council of University Rectors, should take the lead in hosting the discussions, based on the 7 Pillars above, with no topics being off-limits. The output should be solutions which focus on the long-term and which incorporate input from all quarters, emphasizing win-win solutions, and which are available for any color to espouse or modify.
 
We can turn crisis into opportunity, or go back to the old cycle of mob rule and serving personal interests.
The choice is yours and mine, for we get the government we deserve. 

Protest figures from former Opposition MP Suthep and former PM Abhisit

Protest figures from former Opposition MP Suthep and former PM Abhisit

 Burin Kantabutra

 

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