Thailand has a unique history as well as the combination of the races, the tribes, the religions, ways of life, and other beliefs. Together with its sunny tropical climate, being fertile for agriculture and easy livings, Thailand harbours a particular kind of political culture which in turn has retarded the country and the people for nearly a century.
Out of 60 million people, 90 per cent are from outside Bangkok, where lives are relatively peaceful and slow despite the general poverty. No matter how far ones move away to other parts of the country, local and rural cultures still play major roles through the blood ties, the spoken dialects, as well as their thoughts. Only minority 10 per cent, city born, adopt different city lifestyle and ideologies.
In general, since the nature is not too harsh on them, Thais are friendly, pleasant, fun-loving and easy-going. The population have been grown up passively, to be dependable on others, and taught by subconscious examples to be relatively submissive and respectful to the monks, the parents, the teachers, elders and the authorities in order to maintain good relationships and hence good connections for personal benefits and peace of minds. Thais are not taught to be inquisitive, argumentative, a reformer and a rebel. Any nonconformers would look wierd and subjected to be socially unacceptable.
Contrarily, westerner’s life is a hard struggle. Everyone is for oneself. Everyone is equal and supposed to abide by the same rules. Simply, Thais follow personal connections rather than the laws. Thais personally care personal one’s feelings rather than the abstract rules particularly if that personal one is superior and influential. For decades, modern schooling and public televisions have neither educated nor changed this particular culture, but perpetuated evenmore into the youngs. Pitifully, materialistic industrial changes have swept the country with weakened moral immunity, and people become more selfish at the expense of the society.
Politicians in Thai culture basically come from local rural areas who are the wiser ones and the more powerful ones in terms of people’s trust and money. Naturally, they are the one which other members would not like to stand up against. They may be either good guys or bad guys who local people come for financial aids, to consult, to solve their problems or to ask for a help through the superior connections. They may be ex-teachers, powerful landlords, illicit goods traders, gambling mafia, police officers. Whoever is the more powerful could be elected to be the head of the village, looking after dozens of houses, or head of groups of villages (Kamnan), looking after a dozen of villages (hundreds or thousands of voters) .
These are basic building blocks of Thai politics. Any national leading politicians need strong connections to these grass roots local influential headman “Kamnan”. The more “Kamnan”s, one has in hand, the higher chance of winning the national provincial election.
Basically, there is no actual political ideological conflicts in Thai society. There is neither actual competition between the left and the right ideologies nor the fight between socialism and the liberalism. There is no political competition between social classes or fight for unions either. There are only personal wealth and power conflicts and conflicts of personal interests which most of the times are solved with personal connections, money and sometimes with bullets. Party’s policies in Thailand are just beautifully written novels which party members never have a role in the creation and political parties really never pay attention. The winner parties also win the state concessions and monopolize the national wealth.
Thai political parties, except the Democrat Party, are more or less a private company owned by very rich persons who work and pay top-down to recruit necessary connections to Kamnans to win the general election. The more, the party wins the MP seats, the better negotiation power it has. Once, in the House of Parliament, the party must return the huge investment by joining the government for corruptions, commisions, administrative authority. MPs of each party are just puppets on strings of the party’s owners. They have to follow the orders to ensure the regular undertable salaries as well as the next-election budgets for vote-buying.
In contrast to western democratic building blocks, each western constituency has different needs, various ideologies and politicians to represent in the competition. Contesting polititians and party’s policies have to be nominated and orginated from voting of the individaul party member. To buy votes from voters in western election is absolutely wierd whereas it is a usual and logical practice in Thailand.
With annual per capita income less than a thousand USD, one can be very sure to buy a vote at a price of under twenty dollars. To win a general election, a would-be MP would need a million USD budget to ensure his seat. To win the House of Parliament’s majority, only 300 million USD from multibillionare Thaksin and Pojaman’s pocket, was not so difficult.
Thaksin with his Thai Rak Thai party(TRT), and the following Samak with People’s Power Party(PPP) got into the power through this defective political culture. Thaksin claimed majority 19 million people voted for TRT in his second term. Despite electoral frauds and vote-buying have been charged and penalized, the corrupt governments try all possible ways either by bribery of the Election Control Committe to lift the charges and stay on. No matter when, Thaksin and his gang are so sure to win any general elections or national refferendum since they have got a good grip of the nation’s connections. It is much easier when they also have the administrative power and the police state authority in their hands. This is also WHY PAD has to keep on fighting to reform the democracy and counter the electoral frauds.
Author: Ronayosk source