In the Beltway, Away from the Coup

To the two or three people who still read this blog after my long absence: the reason I’m been away for so long is that I have just moved to the US and started some graduate work somewhere in Washingto, DC. So far it’s been overwhelming, to say the least.

The coup in Thailand was what is bringing me back here for this short post. Thaksin is not my dream PM, but the way this event unfolded shock, angered, disappointed and saddened me at the same time. Haven’t quite collected my thoughts even though it’s been quite a while, but I’d like to recommend you read Thongchai Winichakul’s piece here (via Bangkok Pundit).

11 responses to “In the Beltway, Away from the Coup

  1. JW – I’m not so sure if I will have the time, but will try my best. I’m kinda far away from news from home, so will try to offer a somewhat different perspective I guess.

    Great job on your blog, by the way. Keep it up!

  2. Naphat – Thanks. Fortunately, I had some free time for a few days last week because if the coup had happened a day earlier or now. I would not have been able to devote as much time.

    I look forward to your views – even if I don’t agree with them. I’m also waiting for VP’s response.

  3. Dear K. Naphat, let me excuse for the delay as I have been away from the computer for the whole day.

    I will put short response to what I thoght about A. Thongchai first. Then the complete version please allow me sometimes, as I am not a writer nor have I been educated in Social science or related fields, but rather have passion on politics.

    Self-contradiction within the article might not appeared, but as a regular reader of A. Thongchai’s work, I think he simply says “This is ‘Correct’ but it is ‘Wrong'” I have strong background of tautology, and logic via computer science, so the paper doesn’t make sense to me given what A. Thongchai mentioned elsewhere at other place…

    I think what’s wrong about this article is soundness argument rather than self-contradiction. His standpoints are:

    1. Bad democracy is still better than benevolent dictator (remember Linus? – Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL)

    2. Theory rules practicality.

    From 2 of his alternatives, he doesn’t see that those are impossible – to have Thaksin step down by his own will, or for PAD to stop demontration. What’s the alternative, to let Thaksin reign forever, destroy every facet of Thai society and democracy itself?

    Military coup, is just a mean to reach the end. It’s a mean to restore democracy. He just uphold democracy blindly, by saying that if people want to vote for Thaksin, then let them vote (and we can’t help). This signifies he’s Ameracanised, and doesn’t care to take actual society context into perspective.

    I think this kind of people is more dangerous than pro-Thaksin, for this meantime.

    I will get back here to make more of counter argument.

    Btw, K.Naphat, if you have A. Thongchai’s contact, please pass on to me (you probably see my email address)

    Regards

  4. VP – I guess the difference is that I do care about the means towards that end of real democracy. The means are likely to have an effect on the outcome. I can certainly predict that the new constitution we are getting will give even more power to the non-elected elites to prevent some future cheating populist to somehow take over — at the expense of truly devolving power and giving people a real chance to have some say in the government. It will reinforce the bias we have as middle-class Bangkok people that rural people can’t be trusted to ‘vote in the right people.’

    For Aj. Thongchai, I think as a historian he takes a longer view. You might want to read back to his postings on Prachatai.com, in which he says he believes Thaksin is not infallible – courts, increasing public opposition and pressure will force Thaksin to compromise.

    One thing I note is that we all tend to devalue the vote of the rural majority and say that they are either bribed with populist policies, are fooled by biased information, etc. I would say that we middle class people are ‘bribed’ in the same way with policies that benefit us (think of the massive investment, pre-Thaksin, on expressways and other infrastructure projects that the rural people don’t derive any direct benefit from). We are bombarded with biased information too — you just need to turn on ASTV. We seems to label the rural majority choice of Thaksin as ‘wrong’ but in my view neither my choice of not voting for Thaksin or their choice has any value over one another.

    Corruption is another matter, and Thongchai earlier wrote that the elections are not really avenues to judge whether Thaksin is guilty or not – the courts are. Try reading his article again krub.

  5. Please try followings : From Serithai.net

    It might not be 100% of what we were talking about, but I think you get my answer there… (I didn’t write any of comment there, but others comments nicely wrap everything I wanted to say…)

    Other than that…. please let me know…

  6. Graduate work, eh? What is your field of study? The reason I ask is because I was also once a grad student in DC, living not too far from Dupont Circle on the Red Line. If you’re doing what I think you might be doing, I’d be very happy to chat some more off this board. Feel free to send me an e-mail anytime.

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