Some more nonsense today from the junta and The Nation’s rural-phobic columnists that seeks to deny independant political will in the Thai electorate. Pro-democracy rallies against the military regime are dismissed as a rent-a-mob (were Sondhi’s rallies ever described in these terms?) and pro-democracy commentators are branded as fundamentalists. This is contrasted with the “patriotic” citizens who report on the supposed “undercurrents.” Is the ideological ground being prepared for an even stricter crackdown? The Nation reports:

General Saprang Kalayanamitr, an assistant Army commander who is also assistant secretary-general of the CNS, said he had learned that politicians linked with deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra were preparing to spend money to get people to join what may be an organised mass protest against the junta. He said patriotic Thais had been giving information about the movement of a hired group of protesters and he would like to thank them.

…Saprang said yesterday those who join the anti-coup protest on Sunday will either be hired by politicians with ill-intentions or fundamentalist democracy lovers. The general said people should not be fooled by “bad politicians” who may be trying to engineer the protest so that it gets out of control and ends up in possible bloodshed, so the junta-installed government will crumble.

“I think they are either hired guns or just free-spirited bookish-type people who want to see an ideal democracy that only exists in textbooks,” the general said. “In the real world we should make society the best we can … but I would like to tell the fundamentalist or ideologically-imbued academics to understand that the armed forces love democracy no less than democracy-loving politicians.”

If condemning the overthrow of a thrice-elected government amounts to being “free-spirited and bookish” then I am happy to be so labelled. But I don’t accept that this involves a “fundamentalist” commitment to an “ideal democracy”. Most commentators who have condemned the coup fully recognise the inadequacies and abuses of the Thaksin government, including its manipulation of some democratic institutions. It was an imperfect democracy, far from ideal. But its imperfections were widely discussed and, on balance, the electorate continued to support the incumbent government.

There is nothing fundamentalist or idealist about respecting and accepting the view of the electorate.