New Mandala does not usually run letters to the editor, but for an esteemed occasional contributor like Nuat Namman it is hard to say no, especially given the importance of the issues he raises.
Dear Sirs, I am sorry it has been so long since I have been in touch with New Mandala. Unfortunately I have been very busy helping out at Mrs Namman’s resort. We have been digging a fish pond, following His Majesty’s advice, and I have been driving back and forward to dump the waste soil in the river.
But after reading today’s Bangkok Post, I could hardly restrain myself from putting pen to paper and writing to Mandala Mai once again.
Four very learned, and very old (have they really lived in Thailand for more than one hundred years?), Americans have provided some excellent advice for Thailand and for those like you, New Mandala, who comment on her.
Finally some good sense from the farang commentariat.
These four amigos are telling foreign observers to stop calling for Thailand to “bring back democracy” and hold elections.
I couldn’t agree more, and I know Mrs Namman backs me on this.
Talking this morning over some patongko and sweet coffee (at the morning market, where we always read the Bangkok Post – if you go after nine you can avoid the chaw na) Mrs Namman and I thought it would be nice if I showed my gratitude to these gentlemen by providing some advice about America, and those who comment on that great nation.
Like Thailand, America is treated very unfairly by international commentators.
Most annoying is the way so many people talk about the strength of American democracy. To quote my four new colleagues, this is “counter productive and simplistic, revealing inadequate understanding of the cultural, social and political challenges” that our American friends face.
America needs a real democracy. A sustainable democracy. A Thai-style democracy.
Foreigners need to understand just how problematic American democracy is. Take the President, for example. He is elected for four years. But what about those who didn’t vote for him (or perhaps her, before too long)? In the American system they just have to accept it. How can that majoritarian authoritarianism be fair? It’s intolerable.
What about the rights of those who back the loser to challenge the legitimacy of the President’s election? Forget about the courts, what about their right to stage aggressive and disruptive protests aimed at overthrowing him?
Shouldn’t Americans also be able to prevent people from going to vote, if they are worried that their side will lose the election?
And why should the army in America remain loyal to the President? Shouldn’t it be able to support those who disrupt the election and then take power because the election was unworkable?
The basic principles of Thai-style democracy have yet to take root in America. Election after election has delivered passive acceptance of majority rule. The rights of electoral saboteurs are casually dismissed.
Foreign commentators need to be much more aware of the failings of American democracy.
Americans who don’t accept majority decisions and who want to spoil the electoral process need to be treated with much more respect by so-called foreign experts.
Echoing my colleagues in the Bangkok Post, I would argue that it’s going to take a massive change in attitude in America to bring about Thai-style democracy. A complacent and easily manipulated citizenry there seems to be willing to accept a smooth and stable electoral process, regardless of its terrible cost.
Hopefully informed foreign commentators can provide some encouragement to those in America whose ambition it is to undermine electoral institutions. Only then will America be able to start to build a sustainable Thai-style democracy.
That’s enough from me. Mrs Namman needs to me to drive her to a happiness seminar at the amphoe.
Nuat Namman na Lopburi