BANGKOK – Acting Foreign Minister Surapong Towichakchaikul has reported that more than 40 countries have expressed support for the planned general election in Thailand on Feb 2, 2014
In an address broadcast by the Thai Television Pool of Thailand, Mr Surapong said these countries included the United States, China, Russia, England, France and member countries of the European Union.
These countries support an attempt to settle the ongoing political conflict in Thailand by peaceful means under a democratic system and the constitution, he said.
The minister said the refusal of anti-government protest leader Suthep Thugsuban to join a government-sponsored forum on reform planned for Sunday showed that his group did not listen to other people’s opinions.
If the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) managed to set up a government without a democratic election, Thailand would lose its credibility and the international community would not support the country, said Mr Surapong.
He called on businessmen and academics supporting Mr Suthep’s plan for an appointed “people’s council” and people’s government to think twice about the possible negative effects of such a move on the country.
Thailand faces the problems of corruption and abuse of power, as well as the so-called “tyranny of the majority”, but people who feel frustrated should not try to tackle these problems by dismantling the existing democratic system as it won’t solve anything, noted Thammasat University political scientist Kasian Tejapira said yesterday.
Kasian, a key member of the newly formed Assembly for the Defence of Democracy (AFDD), was responding to a question about corruption by The Nation on Tuesday at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, where the group held a press conference. Kasian said many Bangkokians who joined the protest are frustrated by the fact that their party of choice, the opposition Democrat Party, continually loses elections, and so they feel powerless to change anything.
Kasian said political parties in Thailand are currently still under the domination of money from capitalists, and measures must be introduced to tackle the problem so that party members and the electorate will have more say and sway. He said Thailand is not alone in facing such problems, adding that the task will take time. He said people should not “hope for angels to descend down to take up guns and seize state power”, a reference to the hope among some protesters for another military coup.
He warned that rushing to solve the problem by abandoning the electoral system and dismantling the democratic structure won’t solve anything.
“Countries which are democratic use democracy to reduce corruption – [they don’t] destroy democracy in order to stop some forms of corruption, while allowing other forms of corruption to continue unchecked,” Kasian said. He added that there is no mechanism to scrutinise protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, his People’s Democratic Reform Committee or his proposed “People’s Council” if it materialises.
Kasian predicted dire consequences for democracy if Suthep is handed “absolute power”. “What tools would Thai people have to scrutinise Suthep once he has seized all the power?”
“If we keep on walking the wrong path, there will be many more people who will have to die in vain. And it won’t solve any problems. That’s the saddest thing,” said Kasian, in reference to fears of possible violent confrontations between the two sides in the days and weeks ahead.