I am certainly not a believer in constitution changes through bullying tactics
but in my opinion today's problems and the red protests (regardless of how much we may disagree with the way it has gone about) is directly linked back to the changes made since the 2006 coup and the precedent set by the Yellow shirt protests of that year.
I questioned a lot of Bangkokians at the time as to the legitimacy in them supporting the yellow shirts. Their answer was always: "anything to get rid of Thaksin. He has manipulated the democratic mechanisms to the point where we cannot leave it to democratic processes to remove him"
I completely disagreed, and to this day still strongly felt that democratic forces were slowly working against Thaksin at the time. (Bangkokians who absolutely adored him for his business acumen had turned against him due to the Shin sales and the tax issue). Elections had been called - but the Democrats boycotted it citing not enough time to campaign?
The election commission had just been replaced, with the new ones very likely to work against him. But what happens? A coup takes place. And they tear up the constitution that had had the maximum people input in Thai history. Was it perfect? Im sure no, but still better than the one put in place by the military.
I remember Abhisit at the time coaxed people into voting for new constitution in the referendum, saying to accept it just so elections can be held. A clear misrepresentation of facts. Elections could have been held without the new constitution. On the other hand, there was also the scaremonger that if the newly drafted constitution does not pass the referendum, then the military could simply pick any of Thailand's past constitution and put that in place. (which means they could have picked the least democratic one from even the 1930s!!) So through whatever means, the new constitution is replaced, with the military happily claiming that it was democratic because it passed referendum. People seem to happily ignore or forget? how the nation was manipulated to vote yes.
Anyhow, so its done. A lot of changes in government over the past 3 to 4 years due to whatever means - I dont think we need to discuss that again, has been done millions of times - finally the Democrats are in power. And did they make any effort to make changes to make the constitution more democratic in their time in power?
On another note more closer to my heart - while Thaksin was in power, a report on the problem in South Thailand had been commissioned. Recommendations were available towards the end of his term (I think?), the government particularly Thaksin was accused of paying no attention. Democrats as opposition were most critical of the government.
One reason cited by the coup makers was so that they can address the problems of south Thailand. Yet nothing was done during the military rule. Now with the Democrats in power and in a position to implement some of the recommendations proposed in the report - yet no such attempts have been made to address any of the problems. For instance, some are simple and non controversial such as including the local dialect Yawi as the second official language for the 3 southern provinces. This strategy would be mostly symbolic and unlikely to have any detrimental affect on administering the country as one unified nation. Yet I have heard nothing of it being considered? I read things like 60% of the problems in the south has eased
, from the government's public relations department,
but I do not see that on the grounds. People in the local community certainly dont feel that way, and each day feel more and more disoriented from the rest of the country.
People may say Thailand has many issues the government needs to address - education, economy, etc etc - but I see these as on-going long term projects, while the situation in the south and those of constitution related are more immediate and need to be addressed before they escalate. Cos the minute they escalate, everything else will be put on hold (as has happened now with all the protests since last year for example).
Some think Im a supporter of Thaksin, or a supporter of the Reds. In reality, Im more of an onlooker disappointed with the Democrats.