[Marxism] Why have most Thai NGOs chosen to side with the Conservative Royalists, against democracy and against the poor?

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Fri May 9 12:54:20 MDT 2014

An excerpt from an article written in 2009.  Makes clear the natural
relation between "neo-liberal" policy and NGO do-gooderism.  After all, a
universal health care system would expose the NGO crowd as parasites:

"Initially, the NGOs loved-up to Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai government. They
believed that it was open to NGO lobbying, which it was. Thai Rak Thai took
on board the idea of a universal health care system from progressive
doctors and health-related NGOs. But then, when they were wrong-footed by
the government’s raft of pro-poor policies that seemed to prove to
villagers that the NGOs had only been “playing” at development, they rushed
over to love-up to the Conservative Royalists. Such an about face was only
possible by ignoring politics, international lessons and any theory. NGO
leaders argue proudly that they are the “true activists”, not book worms or
theoreticians. This explains why they can justify to themselves the support
for the 2006 coup and why they have failed to defend democracy since.
Instead of bothering to analyse the political situation, they beat a path
to lobby generals, governments of every shade and anyone who has power.

"Granted, the political situation was extremely messy and difficult. In
2006 you had Thai Rak Thai, a big business party with a record of Human
Rights abuses and corruption. On the other hand you had the Army and the
Conservative Royalists, with a history of Human Rights abuses and
corruption. There was not much to choose from between the two. But Thai Rak
Thai had power through the electoral process. In this situation the NGOs
should have remained neutral and with the poor and they should have opposed
the coup. But they were angry that Thai Rak Thai had won over their
supporters and were distrustful of Thai Rak Thai’s use of the state to
build welfare programmes and stimulate the economy. This distrust came from
an anarchistic distrust of the state. For many NGOs, welfare should be
organised by communities. But this anti-state position opened the door to
accepting a neo-liberal concept of a small state, a view shared by the
Conservative Royalists. Their anarchistic rejection of representative
politics, also allowed them to see “no difference” between a parliament
controlled by Thai Rak Thai and a military coup.

"Since the poor voted on mass for Thai Rak Thai, the NGOs have become
viciously patronising towards villagers, claiming that they “lack the right
information” to make political decisions. In fact, there was always a
patronising element to their work. Many Thai NGO leaders are self-appointed
middle class activists who shun elections and believe that NGOs should
“nanny[6]” peasants and workers. They are now fearful and contemptuous of
the Red Shirt movement, which is starting a process of self-empowerment of
the poor. Of course, the Red Shirts are not angels, but in today’s crisis,
they represent the poor and the thirst for freedom and democracy.

"The NGO movement’s relationship with NGO and trade union leaders in the
PAD was also a factor. The top PAD leadership was made up of a coalition
between (1) Sondhi Limtongkul: Conservative Royalist media tycoon and owner
of the Manager Group. (2) Chamlong Simuang: leading light in the
reactionary and anti-abortion Buddhist Santi Asoke movement . (3)Somsak
Kosaisuk: Retired leader of the Railway workers union. (4) Pipop Tongchai:
Advisor to the Campaign for Popular Democracy and “N.G.O. elder”. (5)
Somkiat Pongpaiboon an activist working with teachers’ groups and farmers.
(6) Suriyasai Takasila, ex-student movement bureaucrat."



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