MILLIONS of tiny, sparkling dots of light have appeared in the Thai Kingdom’s smouldering sky, the scene of a drawn-out battle between Corruption and Democracy. The fast-moving dots head toward the bitter enemies, who look more like twins every passing minute. Obviously, the new phenomenon is meant to be a boost for one of them. But for whom exactly?
Democracy: I hope that’s not what I think.
Corruption: Sorry, pal, but your hunch is right. That’s millions of signatures coming our way.
Democracy: Shall we take a break and flee this thing? From the looks of it, it will only make our fight more complicated.
Corruption: Why are you so keen to get away from the truth? The signatures sum it all up for us. They want us to be friends so life can go on as usual. They are voices from heaven saying, “Enough!”
Democracy: I’ve spilled so much blood having fought you this long. What makes you think I should give up simply because “Mr Twitter” has millions of admirers?
Corruption: Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? I mean, democratically speaking.
Democracy: I can’t whitewash a person, you arrogant fool. That hundreds of millions shed tears for Michael Jackson doesn’t mean…
Corruption: Doesn’t mean what?
Democracy: Just leave it. The guy’s dead.
Corruption: At least those tears told us how much a man can be misunderstood, and that everyone has good and bad sides.
Democracy: Again, just because you have overwhelming support for your good side doesn’t mean you are automatically entitled to a get-out-of-jail card.
Corruption: Are you implying that millions who adore a good man should leave him if he made a questionable mistake? God, I hate it when I have to defend your values while you harp on about ethical nonsense.
Democracy: I’m only saying that one signature and a million signatures should count as the same. Numbers must not come into play where a crime is concerned. No amount of signatures can make a guilty man more innocent than a mistaken drug suspect shot by police in an extrajudicial killing spree.
Corruption: Big numbers can represent a man’s goodness.
Democracy: Are you suggesting the mistaken drug suspects deserved to die because nobody loved them? You are badly confused. Yes, elections depend on numbers, but the figures only represent political advantage, not merit. Winning an election doesn’t mean you are a great, untouchable person. The worst evil can rise out of the ballot box.
Corruption: You think you are smart, but that’s my argument you’re using. I’m saying, for the thousandth time now, that you are me and I am you. Look at us now. Nobody can tell us apart any longer. Try telling The Economist that the petition campaign is not a democratic exercise and that using Twitter to back it is a manipulative gimmick.
Democracy: That their editorial writers don’t know the difference doesn’t mean there is no difference.
Corruption: That they don’t know the difference means you are stubbornly stuck in a dream world. Democracy comes with a package, and I’m your package. If you have to eject “Mr Twitter” out of your system, you will basically have to eject almost everyone else. Trust me on this. I have been around, you know.
Democracy: To put it mildly.
Corruption: I love your sense of humour. Does it suggest we are now close to a deal?
Democracy: Not so fast. But, out of sheer curiosity, what should we call such a pact – Democratised Corruption or Corrupted Democracy?
Corruption: Your call, pal. Both names are cool. All I want is a place to stay quietly and peacefully where I don’t have to look out for tanks every time someone who knows a housekeeper of a politician’s brother is awarded a major contract.
Democracy: You used to say the tanks can be yours, too, so why worry?
Corruption: Very sharp, my friend. Thing is, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want his business to get interrupted. Powerful and omnipresent as I am, I hate to start things all over again. Let’s put it this way: If we can seal a lucrative deal in one government, why do we have to wait for two more governments, knowing that the deal will finally be sealed all the same? Come on. Get me out of the good-or-bad equation. I guarantee you, your life will be much easier. And the mutual benefit will be immediate.
Democracy: What do you mean?
Corruption: I mean we wouldn’t have to debate who between us the onrushing signatures are for.
And the World, Heaven and Hell continue to hold their breadth.
By Tulsathit Taptim
Published on August 5, 2009