There is no u-turn for Thailand from electoral democracy, even though some dinosaurs in the country have been creating situations to attempt to demonstrate that the parliamentary system does not fit the Thai context. Naturally, chaotic incidents – like the Thaicom satellite glitch or the Thai-Cambodian border clashes and coup rumors – preceded efforts to turn a new political page. The new page was not always a better one, but the chaos was just a pre-requisite step to move on from several years of status quo.
Yet despite all odds, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjaajiva, the Democrat leader, has one last chance to be remembered as a brave leader of Thailand at a very critical political juncture. He can be remembered as a courageous leader by upholding his promise to the people: the dissolution of parliament.
Thai society should also hold all political parties accountable and force them to accept the results of the election. Civic poll watch agencies, including international ones, should also be allowed to monitor this forthcoming potentially mud-slinging and heavy-money-spending election.
The Democrat Party has realized that there are lots of doubts and concerns looming large among western countries regarding controversies over the involvement of the monarchy in the recent years of political upheaval, the role of the fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and his lawyers regarding a petition to the International Criminal Court over the April-May 2010 fatal crackdown, and Thaksin’s links with the Red-Shirt movement.
The meeting of the Abhisit–led government with all European ambassadors at the Bangkok Club is therefore an attempt to clear any doubts and reclaim confidence from western nations that they remain on top of the country and will return to the fore again after the election.
Interestingly, on Tuesday night at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, the core leaders of the Red-Shirt movement will also try to convince the international audience present of their assured political future. This political future has come into question given that their brother party, Puea Thai, seems to have distanced itself from its sister (the Red-Shirt movement).
However, after experiencing the volatile landscape in Thailand for the past several years, many diplomats as well as businesspeople might not be so convinced of the more positive floral paths in the near political future. Yet, they all look forward to see Thailand turn a new page and fight anything on the table.
The supreme desire – felt by foreigners but deeply held by Thais – is to restore the rule of law and eliminate double standards. The very last thing that Thai people and observers would like to see from all establishment forces in the country are renewed irrational efforts to clip the freedom of expressions in the name of the loyalty to the most revered institution.
Thai society has been wounded enough through years of polarization. The further blunt monopoly and manipulation of loyalty would only backfire in the medium and long run for the very institution all people claim as the object of their dearest devotion.