[Marxism] Thailand: Judicial coup a blow to democracy

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Fri May 9 11:18:49 MDT 2014

Ungpakorn appears to be a English-Thai native speaker, and is presently in
exile in the UK, where he is a member of the SWP there. Ungpakorn was
forced into exile by the apparently draconian "lese majeste" laws.  Imagine
that in the 21st century. Recommend going to his
http://redthaisocialist.com/ site for more background.  Lots of articles,
lots of rhetoric to wade through, but there is enough substance to make it
unmistakable where the class lines fall in Thailand, as another major
confrontation on the streets may be in the offing.


By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 8, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The
unelected, anti-democratic and illegitimate Constitutional Court has staged
a coup d'état, overthrowing Prime Minister Yingluk Shinawatra on a mere
technicality. It claims that the elected prime minister did not have the
right to move a government official.

It is a mere technicality because she is accused of “abusing her power” to
appoint an in-law to the vacant position. While Yingluk has been accused of
this ridiculous “wrong doing”, the military coup makers and the Democrat
Party politicians who killed scores of pro-democracy demonstrators enjoy

The actions of this court would be laughable if they were not so serious.
The court has previously ruled against the right of an elected parliament
to amend the military constitution so that all senators would be elected.
It also ruled that the government cannot build a much-needed high-speed
rail link. In that case the old fogies stated that “it would be better to
build roads”. Apparently they have illusions that they are experts in all
matters and have the right to run the country instead of the government.

This coup d'état is basically in support of the anti-democrat mobs, led by
Sutep Tuaksuban, who have brought chaos and violence to the streets of
Bangkok. These mobs have also enjoyed impunity. It is merely the latest in
a long line of military or judicial coups since September 2006 that have
sought to reduce the democratic space and disenfranchise the majority of
the population. Each time they have overthrown an elected government,
subsequent elections have shown that the majority of the population
continue to support such a government.

The Constitutional Court is part of the conservative elite alliance. This
alliance is made up of the military, the top bureaucrats, the courts, the
Democrat Party, the middle classes and the NGOs. These are the guilty
people who have promoted the destruction of democracy.

Since the end of last year violent right-wing anti-democratic mobs have
openly used violence, including the use of fire arms, to wreck the February
elections. At the same time middle-class academics and NGO leaders have
joined a disgusting chorus of hypocritical calls for an appointed prime
minister and measures to restrict the democratic franchise in the name of

The caretaker government that survives for the time being is made up of
ministers who were not dismissed along with Yingluk. But it will be weaker
and other sections of the anti-democratic order will try to remove them as
well. Their aim is to change the rules before a new election in order to
further destroy the democratic space.

Make no mistake, this is gigantic conflict between those who believe in the
democratic process and modernity and those who believe in turning the clock
back to the dark days when the majority of the population were ignored and
insulted. It is not merely an elite struggle. It is not about succession to
the throne and it is not primarily about the Shinawatra family. Those who
make such claims dismiss the political awakening and political
participation by millions of Red Shirts and their supporters.

Yingluk’s Pheu Thai Party cannot be trusted to lead a fight for democracy
against these continuing threats. Any defence of democracy must come from
the Red Shirt movement. But what is needed is new leadership which is
independent of Pheu Thai and more closely allied to the organised working

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February
2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged
with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. He
is a member of Left Turn Thailand, a socialist organisation. His book,
Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy, will be of interest to
activists, academics and journalists who watch Thai politics,
democratisation and NGOs. His website is at http://redthaisocialist.com/.]

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