Tag Archives: article

Anti Government demonstration paraphernalia

Photos of Bangkok – political crisis Sept 2008.

The many stalls at the protest site gives the whole place a funfair feel. The stalls sells anti-government demonstration paraphernalia. Only in Thailand where the enterprising thai mixes politics and enterprise, creating merchandises from political protests.

Vendor selling towels for the protesters

Head banners

Locals buying protest demonstration parapanelia


Displaying Political street art

Photos of Bangkok – political crisis Sept 2008.

Thai University student protesters displaying their political street art.

Posters Caricatures of Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej

Caricatures of Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej pasted on portable toilets. Samak being criticised of being in a televised cooking show. Samak, a self-proclaimed foodie, hosted a popular television cooking show _ “Tasting and Complaining” _ for seven years before becoming prime minister. But he also made several appearances after taking office, allegedly breaking a constitutional prohibition on private employment while in office.

Wanted poster of Khunying Potjaman Shinawatra, wife of former Prime Minister Thaksin. Potjaman played a key role in the development of Thaksin’s commercial enterprises. Potjaman fled the country with her husband to Britain.

Inviting Thaksin for Tea

One inventive protester set up his little site like a performance art.

Please send Thaksin back from Britian for some english tea and biscuits, he can sit on the blue chair.

Caricature of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s government being the hand puppet of the Thakin government

Posing for the locals.

Street Scene of the Anti Government Protest Site

The barricades installed demarking the site , a portrait of revered Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej displayed

The main road leading to the Government House. The protest area has grown bigger with tents setting up along the pedestrian pathways.

The television tents where televised speeches are shown

The protest stage where the people would gather. Speeches were being blasted from the loudspeakers from televised programs of PAD members.

One of the roads being over taken by the PAD, People’s Alliance for Democracy they had taken over one of the Ministry’s garden compound

Makeshift areas of protesters, there were many Thai flag hanging all over the area.

This stretch of the road were selling t-shirts and other anti-government wares.

Portraits of Anti-Government Protesters

Photos of Thai Protesters

Standing up for the Thai King’s Anthem

A protester having breakfast. All meals and drinks are free and provided for by anti-government supporters.









University students visiting the area

Article : Thailand on vote-buying and the patronage system

This Article gave me a little understanding on Thai Politics and how the PAD and the middle class Thais felt about their government and politicial system.

The facts about vote-buying and the patronage system

By Chang Noi

The Nation, Thailand

Over the last couple of years, concern about vote-buying has been on the rise. The story goes like this. Voters upcountry are too poor and too poorly educated. Some sell their vote for cash on the spot. Others are victims of “the patronage system” and obey the instructions of a patron on how to vote in return for continuing patronage of various kinds.

The argument then continues: vote-buying and the patronage system mean that one-man/one-vote elections cannot work in Thailand. There needs to be some “Thai-style” alternative. This might be some corporatist method of representation such as the People’s Alliance for Democracy proposed. It might mean diminishing the power of the elected Parliament, and returning more power to the bureaucracy.

According to legend, vote-buying began in spectacular fashion in Roi Et in 1981, engineered by people in the military. It then swelled over the following two decades. At election time, banks calculate massive rises in money circulation, and journalists love describing complex systems involving lotteries. A brilliant study done in Ayutthaya in the mid-1990s showed that monks, gunmen, and local officials were all deeply involved. Vote-buying is part of the political culture; of that there is little doubt.

But vote-buying is not a simple matter. The practice has been in place for a quarter-century. The number of elections has multiplied – for Parliament, Senate, municipality, provincial council, sub-district council, and so on. Thais have become some of the most experienced voters in the world. There has been a lot of learning about how to use the vote.

In the early history of Thai vote-buying, candidates thrust red notes into voters’ hands in order to create an obligation. Once a voter had accepted the candidate’s generosity, it would be bad manners not to repay that generosity when casting the vote. But this kind of naive transaction did not last long. By the mid-1990s, some voters would take money from every candidate, and then vote how they pleased. Others would only take from a candidate they had already decided to vote for, in order not to create an obligation.

Candidates still had to offer money. Not doing so would risk being branded as “ungenerous” and thus not worth electing. This was particularly true of candidates known to be rich. Vote-buying has thus become a bit like a candidate’s deposit, distributed among the voters rather than paid to the authorities.

By the mid-1990s, vote negotiation had become much more complex than these simple retail transactions. Voters understood that candidates had the potential to offer much greater benefits than a few red notes. They could bring infrastructure spending and development projects with much more impact in the locality. Communities negotiated with candidates to promise scheme, and held them to their promises by the threat of withdrawing their vote at the next poll. Parliament created the “MPs fund” to enable sitting members to fulfil these promises. Lots of local infrastructure got built.

Since then, the system has shifted again. The 1997 constitution began a deliberate attempt to de-link this kind of local pork-barrel from national politics. The funding for local schemes has been substantially transferred from the national budget to local government. MPs have less influence on central-budget spending, and the MPs fund has disappeared. Elected provincial councils and municipalities now have big budgets. Many politicians have followed the money from national to local politics.

At the same time, the profile of the electorate has changed. The great 1986-1996 boom boosted incomes, and the 1997 bust only temporarily knocked them back. The expansion of secondary education in the 1980s began to work through to the electorate.

Then Thaksin changed the game in national politics. He promised some attractive re-distributive schemes, and delivered them. He centralised control over a fifth of the budget under his own executive authority, and toured the country dishing this out. The party and the prime minister became more important patrons than the local MP. Although the 2007 Constitution has reversed some of this change, the memory still dominates.

In the last couple of years, there have been studies of election practice in the North, Northeast, and South. The decision on casting a vote is now very complex and involves the party, the candidate, and the money. In the South, voters feel a strong emotional pull to vote Democrat. In the North and Northeast, Thaksin’s schemes have created a strong pull towards the People Power Party/Thai Rak Thai. Yet the candidate also undergoes scrutiny. Is he a local person, someone close to us? Can he get things done, and does he have the track record to prove it? Is he reasonably honest? Does he have the right kind of friends? Finally, does he prove his generosity with a gift? Only candidates known to have modest wealth are excused this obligation, yet can still be elected on grounds of their social contribution.

At the recent poll, there did not seem to be much money around. After three elections in three years, pockets were empty. Candidates feared disqualification. The issue at stake in the poll was so stark, that a few hundred baht was not likely to matter.

So why the current panic about vote-buying? The upcountry electorate is richer, better educated, and more experienced at elections than ever before. In truth, the problem is not that upcountry voters don’t know how to use their vote, and that the result is distorted by patronage and vote-buying. The problem is that they have learnt to use the vote only too well. Over four national polls, they have chosen very consistently and very rationally.

And, of course, that may be the real problem. Back when many upcountry electors sold their votes, and as a result their weight in national politics was zero, nobody cared so much about vote-buying. But now the electors have got smart, they have to be stopped. The bleating about vote-buying and patronage politics is simply an attempt to undermine electoral democracy because it seems to be working.

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Article : Thailand Political Party PAD

PAD must not become its own worst enemy
By Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation
Published on August 27, 2008

Until yesterday, the People’s Alliance for Democracy was a political movement that did the wrong thing for the right reason. The activists had sacrificed their personal comfort, risked their safety and endured condemnation, all purportedly for a clear-cut objective that Thai democracy had to be clean, transparent and accountable. In a single brazen stroke, the group’s leaders threatened to replace an image of martyrs with that of fanatics. And the arguably noble cause of a largely peaceful rebellion is now in danger of being undone.

Yesterday changed things. While we can live with traffic nightmares or disruption of school routines, we cannot call seizing a TV station, intimidating news anchors and paralysing public works a non-violent campaign for democracy. Nor was it a show of civil disobedience, because the much-acclaimed political practice isn’t supposed to harm or terrorise innocent people doing their jobs.

Morally, it was not right. Politically, it was foolish. For once, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej looked a calm and reasonable leader on TV as he pleaded for the public not to lend support to the rampaging PAD. That is not surprising, because the more belligerence the PAD exhibited, the more sympathy would shift to him. All he needed to do was hold back his usual urge to spew venom. If he can do that he will win this very crucial round.

All this begs the question why. Court cases are proceeding against Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allegedly massive and uncontrolled corruption gave the PAD justification to take to the streets, even if he has fled into exile again. The Samak government’s persistent efforts to change the Constitution have not helped but it has not taken a formal step on those plans. And constitutional charges against incumbent ministers have so far not been hindered by the government’s political influence.

The PAD has crossed the line. While it is acceptable, laudable even, for the movement to serve as a major social force to try to keep politicians in check, yesterday’s aggression cannot be justified. The activists’ leaders, in their campaign against Thaksin and his alleged political nominees, have repeatedly warned of dangerous precedents – doing whatever it takes to protect one’s status quo, or abuse of legitimacy. They have to take a serious look at themselves now.

They have to be careful not to blur the sense of political decency. If the public is to condone the seizure of the National Broadcasting Television, some of whose terrified staff fled through windows, society will be locked in a moral dilemma. What if, say, a newspaper office was besieged like The Nation was a couple of years ago? Or what if there is an eruption of violence like when PAD members were assaulted in Udon Thani recently?

When things calmed down yesterday afternoon, it almost looked like the PAD of old. Colourful umbrellas adorning a human sea of yellow even gave Government House a somewhat festive atmosphere. Female protesters smiled and chatted with reporters. The movement’s logistic personnel were busy as usual preparing food and making sure there were enough toilets. How many of them understand, however, that public perception of their beloved PAD may never be the same after the raid on NBT?

This transition is a pity because the PAD was once a phenomenon and could still be a great social force. The biggest evidence of the movement losing itself is the fact that now, unlike when the PAD camped near Government House during Thaksin’s last days in office, people are asking what its objectives are. This is not to mention the continuous alienation from friends or allies who demonstrate the slightest difference in opinions from its leaders. The “Us or Them” mentality that they once decried Thaksin threatens to take root in their midst.

Thailand’s on-going crisis has clouded the truth that the PAD leaders have achieved beyond imagination. It would be unfair to say we owe them nothing. Thanks largely to the movement, an election was nullified, corruption cases filed against a former PM and his associates, and he is now on the run. And its strong presence has served as a shield for the courts against political pressure.

But history shows us that it all starts this way, that democracy, dictatorship and corruption are divided by very thin lines. Grown out of an ideology, the PAD has reached that dangerous point of maturity where raw impulses want to take over. The biggest challenge now for the PAD leaders is not to bring down another government; it’s how they can avoid becoming their own worst enemies.

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