10 Wishes - About Thai Politics


Overhaul Thai Politics

Thai Politics became world news to some degree when a military coup took place at the end of 2006. The same happened mid-2014, after months of political and social instability. Most people had assumed the era of military interventions was long gone, but here we are, and the country went back to its old habits.

Democracy is a good thing, and a commendable system of government. We do not want to go into the justification for the military intervention. What is often forgotten though is that democracy is more than just the availability of democratic elections and the right to vote and choose your government.

The reoccurence of a military coup aside, the main problem with Thai politics is the absence of proper political parties. Residing in Thailand for quite a while, and reading the English-language newspapers, it is hard to gain an opinion on what the different political parties actually stand for. There seems to be only one long-standing party (Democrat Party), while other parties seem to be mainly adhoc groupings of 'politicians', that is people making a living being in politics.

Now what are their policies? Well, all of them seem to be patriotic, and claim to want to do what is best for the country and its people. But how do they differ? We feel there is not much difference in policies, there are only different groupings of people aiming for power. This is most visible in the period preceding any election. New political alliances are being formed, it seems almost on a daily basis. One has the impression that all the politicians involved are old hands. Only, they are talking to each other, and forming different new parties with new names, in an attempt to entice a large enough following to be able to participate in forming the new government after elections.

Not only do the different parties lack in providing information on their party policies, but individual politicians seem to lack an ideology likewise. Some people in the news seem to have belonged to three or four different parties over the years. What exactly do they stand for. Some may argue that they stand for the benefit of their local region or province, but otherwise there is nothing much to differentiate them.

Thai politics is characterised by adhoc decision making. Populism and patriotism seem to be the only things remaining to attract voters.

What Thailand needs are political parties and politicians expressing their views (and having one in the first place). Interestingly, despite the fact that more than 60% of the Thai population are farmers and low-cost laborers, there seems to be no party at present that has as its main objective to represent this large group of people. This must at least partly explain why so many people of the provinces have to migrate to Bangkok for a living, selling trinkets and food along most streets in the city, and why prostitution is still there.

Secondly, besides having clear policies, the mindset of politicians should change. Rather than trying to be part of a winning combination, they should develop their own convictions and stick to them. Personal convictions may change over time, but having seemingly no convictions at all, and changing political alliances willy-nilly is actually not 'honorable'. Even now, after the coup of 2014, while there is a lot of complaining about changes to the constitution and procedures for the elections to come, the above issues have not been addressed. Furthermore, there is no emergence yet of a party to promote the rights of the downtrodden, making them available to be co-opted by any party that makes enough populist promises