Monumental mass protest on October 14, 1973 went down in the Thai history as the first fight for democracy, calling for a constitution in order to break free from years of a dictatorship regime.
Thirty-six years ago, there was no Internet or mobile phones and certainly news and information weren’t easily accessed or abundant unlike today. Somehow, with steel determination and common ideology, university students and concerned civilians came out to protest in hundreds of thousand. By any standards, it was no ordinary phenomenon. Eventually the people’s power prevailed over General Thanom Kittikajorn who had absolute power in his grips with support from both the army and the police.
The protestors’ victory was not without the expenses of their blood, sweat, tears and lives. Those who sacrificed their lives for the progress of Thai democracy have been hailed as the ‘October 14’ heroes.
In contrast to a people movement of late which has come under question about its true motive and agenda, whether it aims to serve the interest of the public or one certain politician.
One legacy born of the democratic fight that took place thirty-six years ago is a group called ‘October People’ who have become movers and shakers in Thai politics.
Several individuals, referred to in Thailand as the ‘October People’ including Bhumthum Wechayachai, Kriengkamol Laohapairoj, Sutham Saengprathum, Dr Prommin Lertsuridej and Dr Surapong Suebwonglee, have implicitly and explicitly aided former PM Thaksin Shinawatra in making his transition from the business world to Thai politics. Some of them still either help the ex-premier in exile planning his next step or encourage more people to support Thaksin
Unfortunately, their original ideology didn’t rub off on Thaksin or change behavior of this businessman-turned-politician. Or else, Thaksin would have welcomed open scrutiny on his conduct. But instead he preferred the system to work his way.
Another group of the ‘October People’ have chosen to exercise their influence in the academic field; Sombat Thamrongtanyawong, Seksan Prasertkul and Teerayuth Boonmee, whose words are treated with respect by the Thai society.
A worrisome change in the Thai society is how students and youths seem to be ignorant of what is going in the Thai political landscape despite the fact that they have ample access to news and information more than ever. This is an issue we all must find a solution to. How can we make them become more passionate and interested in politics?
Is political evolution of Thailand going forward or backward? For generations, the charter is the favorite scapegoat for politicians and certain interest groups. The root of all problems is the fact that, in today society, what politicians lack in respect for the law, they make up for with thirst for power without regard for ethics and morals.
Taken from ‘Kom Kid Khon Khien’ column by ‘Khien Khan’ , Daily News, October 16, 2009
Rewritten, edited for clarity and length by Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
TAN Network./ Analysis