Bangkok’s Democracy Monument was erected to commemorate the 1932 coup that ended Thailand’s seven-century reign of kings, and became a rallying point last year for protesters seeking to oust the government. Now, the landmark’s builder is going abroad for the first time in its 84-year history as political instability saps demand at home. Read more...
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Bangkok’s Democracy Monument was erected to commemorate the 1932 coup that ended Thailand’s seven-century reign of kings, and became a rallying point last year for protesters seeking to oust the government. Now, the landmark’s builder is going abroad for the first time in its 84-year history as political instability saps demand at home. Read more...
Posted in Okategoriserade.
Songkran, Thailand's Buddhist New Year festival, ended earlier this week but the holiday’s dark legacy of high road deaths continues to cast a pall. Thai PBS reported that 277 people died in road accidents during the holiday, and 2,926 sustained injuries in nearly 2,754 reported accidents. Read more...
John Draper
 
 
Pheu Thai’s policies have been dismissed as ‘populism’, but elements of them can more properly be categorized as belonging to ‘Socialism of the 21st Century’, a movement embraced by Latin American leaders such as Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and one with its own Wikipedia page for those interested.
 
Socialism of the 21st Century aims to address both the failures of free market capitalism and of socialism. It prioritises needs seen as urgent in terms of social justice and redistributive justice, including poverty, hunger, economic exploitation and the lack of a participative democratic system. However, unlike Pheu Thai, Socialism of the 21st Century solidly embraces a socialist economic system based on large-scale property and wealth redistribution and therefore tends to be anti-corporatist as well as anti-imperialistic and anti-US.
 
 
With absolute poverty in Thailand down to under 8%, thanks in part to Thaksinomics, the question is whether Pheu Thai needs a more nuanced set of policies as part of a reform process towards finding a core ideology that can escape the label of ‘populism’. One possible approach is that a reformed Pheu Thai could, in some form, indeed become a ‘Socialist’ party. ‘Socialist’ is equated with‘communist’ by many Americans and is therefore seen negatively. However, most European democracies include a form of socialist party, and for example, the French Socialist Party currently controls France.
 
So, Pheu Thai could evolve into a Socialist or 'Social Democrat' party (such as the one currently leading a controlling coalition in Austria). A Social Democrat party supports both a free market and taxation to support a welfare state. Examples of countries that have developed along the lines of social democracies include the Nordic Model countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), which lead the world in equality through a highly progressive taxation system and a well-developed welfare state.

Or, Pheu Thai could evolve into a true Democratic Socialist party similar to those of Latin America outlined in the introduction, more in favor of wealth redistribution, property redistribution and a socialist command economy. However, such a ‘Hard Left’ position would be too radical for the great majority of voters in Thailand.

This is despite the fact that Thailand does have a quasi-command economy with five year plans and a heavily centralized bureaucracy, two potential (not necessarily good) components of Democratic Socialism. So, perhaps elements of Democratic Socialism could exist within a broader Social Democrat ideology.

In terms of macro-economics then, a reformed Pheu Thai would continue Thailand’s quasi-command economy. Solving the rice problem would be a priority, and while subsidizing the cost of production is possible, the ‘Green’ element common to most Social Democracy ideology would likely continue to try to move Thailand away from mono-cropping through supporting more sugar cane production, for example. As such, it could also involve both subsidization of costs and price controls in several agricultural industries.
 
As Social Democrat parties also promote the environment, this would mean a new Minerals Law for Thailand that sees the legal prevention of environmental destruction as just as important as compensation or remedial action. It would also imply toughening up the Environmental Health Impact Assessment system and would also probably subsidize solar. Taking some of these steps may be viewed suspiciously by Pheu Thai’s corporate backers and would be a real test of whether the Pheu Thai Party could really reform along Social Democrat lines.
 
Pheu Thai’s links to industry could also pose obstacles to it embracing Social Democrat principles in the workplace, as following such ideology would lead to both more unions and more politically active unionization beyond public sector unions, such as that of EGAT, and into private companies. This would aim to improve worker-friendly accident/health legislation, sick pay and so on. The basic question then is can the party that introduced the current minimum wage scheme additionally embrace unionization?
 
Social Democrat parties can also support decentralization, including regional decentralization to achieve greater democratic participation in public decision making through either participative or deliberative democracy. This may then generate regional parties, such as the existing Matubhum Party. A new Decentralization Act would be required in order to slim down state agencies responsible for decentralization and to transfer more fiscal responsibility to the provinces/regions. Again, Pheu Thai would run up against vested bureaucratic interests, the belief that ‘Thainess’ means unity without diversity, and elements within its own party that see elections as a ‘winner takes all’ model.

A more progressive taxation system, abolishing personal income tax exceptions and instituting property taxes would be a priority for a Social Democracy party. Again, property taxes would find the party running up against opposition from the 1% from both sides of the political spectrum.
 
A Social Democracy party would also use income inequality and quality of living indicators, such as wellbeing, to develop Thailand’s welfare state, which already has a free health system, some provision for the elderly and a free education system for all grades.

A Social Democracy outlook on developing this existing welfare state would see a more equal education system promoting entrepreneurial activity, i.e., improving equality of opportunity through more investment in schools in the regions, more equipment for their chemistry and physics labs, better libraries, and educational philosophies that prioritize human rights education and social problem solving. The Left is particularly strong in these areas, with both critical pedagogy and community-based research willing and able to look into injustices along race and class lines and develop actions and policies to address them.

As for justice, a reformed Pheu Thai following a Social Democracy model would introduce change along the lines of social justice. This would include more funding for the justice system to eliminate Thailand’s backlog of cases, more transparency in terms of judgement making to establish a rational humanist aspect to Thailand’s existing case law, and a whole new set of ideological components to address the cultural rights of racial minorities such as the Thai Lao via new legislation including a National Language Policy.

The reform of Pheu Thai cannot be undertaken without the corresponding reform of the Democrat Party. If the Democrat and Pheu Thai Parties reform themselves, we might be able to see, though only through a glass, darkly, the emergence of Thailand's dream: a stable political system where all sides can clearly see each other’s ideological positions and policies. 
 
And though the parties may not like their differences, this does not matter provided there is basic respect and a normalization of Thai politics that could provide opportunities for a democratic, parliamentary dialogue to take Thailand into the 21st Century. 
 

John Draper is Project Officer of the Isan Culture Maintenance and Revitalisation Programme at College of Local Administration, Khon Kaen University. His opinion proposed for reforming the Democratic Party can find in Bangkok Post.

 

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Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathien charged for using excerpts from Reuters' Pulitzer prize-winning reports on people traffickingThe Thai authorities have charged two journalists with defaming the country's navy in a news report about the trafficking ... Read more...
Two Phuketwan journalists were charged today with defaming the Thai Navy, and face seven years in prison and a $3,000 fine if convicted. A Thai Navy captain brought charges against Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian after they republished a paragraph from a Reuters story accusing Thai officials of being involved in a human trafficking operation that exploits Rohingya refugees from Burma. Read more...
PHUKET, Thailand (AP) — Thai authorities have charged two journalists with defaming Thailand's navy in an online news report about the trafficking of refugees from Burma. The Australian editor of the Phuketwan website Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian appeared at a court Thursday on the southern island of Phuket to hear charges of defamation and violation of the computer crime act. Read more...
BANGKOK, 17 April 2014: Revenue earned from international film productions shot on location in Thailand should increase 15% to Bt2.5 billion by year end. Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ Department of Tourism director general, Anuparp Kasornsuwan, said film earnings should grow 15% from Bt2,173.35 million last year, despite instability in the country. Promoting film shoots [...] Read more...
BANGKOK, 17 April 2014: Two journalists face jail if found guilty of defamation after citing a Pulitzer-prize winning report alleging Thai military links to people-smuggling, one of them said Wednesday, raising fears for media freedom in the kingdom. Australian editor Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian are due Thursday to hear the criminal [...] Read more...


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Accountability for the political violence in April and May 2010, which cost 98 lives and injured over 2,000 people, is still incomplete even after full four years have passed. 
 
In early March, the Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Suthep Thaugsuban after he failed to show up to hear the Attorney General’s indictment on charges of ordering the 2010 military crackdown and premeditated murder. 
 
The then Deputy Prime Minister and current anti-government protest leader, Suthep was indicted as an accomplice of former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva. Meanwhile, Abhisit said he could never apologise for what happened because all the facts have not yet been fully revealed.
 
So far, the courts have read inquests on 29 deaths. Of those, 17 were ruled by the court to have been caused by bullets coming from the direction of the army. However, the inquests did not specify individual army officers. 
 
The Attorney General has already handed out indictments in the cases of Phan Khamgong, a taxi driver, 16-year-old Khunakorn Srisuwa (Isa), Samorn Maithong, a van driver who was heavily injured, and also the six who were killed in Wat Pathumwanaram. 
 
Inquests in six cases are in the process of being heard, including the Japanese Reuters cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto. Another four cases are under police investigation. 
 
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Kijja Pattamasattayasonthi, president and chief home fashion officer of Chic Republic, opened the fashion store’s Sleep Gallery featuring mattresses and bedding items from 12 well-known international brands including Sealy, Slumberland and Tempur. A representative of the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya was at Chic Gallery to answer customers’ queries about sleeping disorders, snoring and allied matters. The [...] Read more...
Mai Chaiyanit, mayor of Nongprue municipality, told a public meeting at Pattaya Land and House Village that a wall erected for security purposes would need to be removed to make way for a new public road between Sois 8 and 14. He explained that the wall had originally been built to deter unwelcome strangers but [...] Read more...
Alan Morison, who faces up to seven years in jail over story on human trafficking, says authorities aim to shut down his website An Australian journalist set to face a Thai court on charges of criminal defamation and computer crimes says the Royal Thai... Read more...
Men on two motorbikes fired a volley of shots at a security guard’s home, injuring the man’s mother. Owner of the house near Baan Nongprue School, 36-year-old Surachart Kenaran, handles security at a bar on Soi Buakhao. When he earlier had intervened during an argument among several drunken teens at the bar, he believes the [...] Read more...
Police are investigating a blaze at the Mitsubishi garage on Sukhumvit Road which damaged two cars before firemen brought the fire under control. It is thought that the fire, which occurred after the car dealership was closed for the day, may have begun in a garbage dump. Investigators said they were not sure yet of [...] Read more...