A day for Democracy

Tomorrow has been set as the D-day that Thais will walk out on the streets of Bangkok and protest against corruption and misuse of power by the current government. Still many are asking, why are you protesting when the government has already abandoned the controversial amnesty bill? Isn’t it enough? Protesting a democratically elected government is like protesting against democracy. Are you in favor of a fascist state?

Let’s make a few things clear.  I am not protesting against democracy or in favor of a fascist state, but I am protesting against a government who has misused the power entrusted to them and to this day, has not admitted any wrong doing.   Why have they been able to corrupt and misuse power to such an extent? This is because the current model of democracy in Thailand has flaws in its check and balance system.  And as you know, a check and balance system is important if you are to prevent a majority government or party from misusing their power.

This misuse of power by the majority is a concept feared since the time of Plato and as Tocqueville called “Tyranny of the Majority.”  The misuse of power happens when the majority controls the legislative power, the executive power and the judicial power.  In plain English, when the majority controls how laws are made, executed and interpreted.

In designing the US constitution this was considered and James Madison realised that, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government.”  The US democratic system reduces the incentive for the government to succumb to human nature and pursue personal interests with its separation of powers and its system of checks and balances.

In Thailand, the legislative branch of the government is majority controlled by the government.  The judicial branch shares its powers with the constitutional court which at times has had controversial verdicts.  Think of  Clarence Thomas in the US.  I need not mention the executive branch.

The media, which is supposed to objectively report news has also been influenced.  Since the protests started earlier in November, the “Free TV” which is broadcasted throughout the country, has barely covered the protests.   They have selectively omitted the news.  This, I presume, comes from the government’s ability to influence and make life hard for any journalist or station not in their favour.

This lack of an objective and reliable source of information has led the population to turn to social media for news and information.  It’s hard to distinguish between real news and rumour.

The government is wonderfully smart at getting things done, keeping the opposition quiet, and appealing to those who want a “democratically elected” government.  They have put their own people in important positions and if a policy needs to be pushed, a politician becomes head of a committee. Interfering with governmental agencies.  This I have witnessed. They are masters of marketing.  Every interview with foreign media boasts of how the government was “democratically elected.”  Pro government supporters have signs in english and foreign media are given VIP treatment.

If this democracy is to work in Thailand, it has to be tweaked and polished. We need a strong legislative and judicial system, one that would not be subject to external influence and a strong media that will report and help be an “eye” to any misuse of power.

For now, action has to be taken before the cancer spreads any further.  That’s why we are protesting and that’s why tomorrow you will see millions on the streets of Bangkok.

Short term pain for long term gain. What happens next, we’ll just have to wait and see.

This is Why I Protest

It’s politics today. It kept me up last night and to sleep I had to get this out of my system, so here goes.

I’m not a red shirt, I’m not a yellow shirt. I don’t think the Prime Minister or her government is stupid.  In fact, I think they are smart and know exactly what they are doing.  I don’t think the opposition is better and I don’t think the protestors should break barriers.  I empathize with the policemen stuck in the middle between doing their duty and the people.

I have friends on both sides.  So why do I go out and participate in the protests ?

Here’s why. I am against corruption. I am against the amendment of laws for personal  benefit, the changing of versions, and of rushing it through in the wee hours of the morning.  Yes, thai politics and the opposition are also guilty of corruption, and I too am against it, but never before has corruption been at this level.

I am an advocate of transparency and believe the opposition should be allowed to voice their opinion no matter what.  I believe constitutional verdicts should be upheld and cannot simply be denied.

I am against a culture of “cash is king” and one where political goals override the needs of the country.

I am against a culture of where every action is a new “marketing” opportunity and money wasted when there are still people suffering. 

If any other democratically elected government abused their power, I would protest too. Being elected and a majority doesn’t give you the right to abuse your power.

I participate so that I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I have at least tried to do something for the country that I love.

Remember this as Lord Acton once said,  “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

And ask yourselves as Benjamin Franklin once asked, “What good may I do in this world ?”

Whatever you believe in, everyone has the right to voice their opinion and should fight for what they believe in. Don’t let others fight for you.  Fight for yourself and stand up for what you believe in.