Scholars at Chula urge tax revolt
Don't pay until Thaksin govt is history: Charas
Tax revolt may be the ultimate sanction against Thaksin Shinawatra and the system he presided over if all other civil disobedience measures fail, a Chulalongkorn University lecturer who is refusing to pay income tax said yesterday.
Charas Suwanmala, a lecturer in public finance at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Political Science, said he and at least five other lecturers at the faculty would defer their income tax payments until the Thaksin system is dismantled. He also urged businesses to delay handing over value-added tax to the Revenue Department as a gesture of their disapproval of Thaksin and his cronies.
Charas said he faced fines of a Bt100 plus 1 per cent of the amount of tax he owes the Revenue Department for each week that he refuses to pay.
"I will allow them to arrest me, but I will still resist [paying tax] until Thaksin stands down," said Charas, who presented a paper on tax revolt at the university yesterday in an event organised by the Network of Chulalongkorn University Academics.
The lecturer said historical evidence in the United States showed that tax revolt has proven an effective protest method in the past. However, he added that Thai citizens planning to withhold their taxes should do so after serious consideration as it could cripple the treasury in the long run.
"It must be carefully undertaken and should be employed as a last-ditch measure because it will be hard to convince people to pay tax again. It took 30 years for tax payment to return to normal levels in California," he said referring to a tax revolt triggered by the state government's employment of populist policies for political gain, which led to a crisis of confidence in the administration and eventually to its ousting.
The bottom line, said Charas, was that citizens should keep in mind that taxation without legitimate representation of the people will not be accepted, and that the people have power over the state.
Meanwhile, another Chulalongkorn lecturer urged people who disapprove of Thaksin to continue applying civil disobedience pressures by boycotting Shin Corp's services such as AIS mobile-phone services, Thai AirAsia airline and avoiding travel to Singapore.
"The protest must begin with the individual, and we must forego our attachments to minor comforts," she said, in reference to the fact that changing from one mobile-phone service to another can be inconvenient.
"The results may not be apparent today, but will show in the future. We must be steadfast and recognise that the upholding of [political] ethics is the responsibility of each and every one of us," said Rasamee Krishnamit, a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts.
Narongdej Sarukosit, a law lecturer at the same university, said with or without civil disobedience, the post-April 2 government would be a "lame duck" government due to the huge anti-Thaksin sentiment made evident by the 10 million abstention votes cast on Sunday.
He said even if Parliament managed to convene through some means it would be utterly ineffective as it would essentially be a one-party Parliament, a "rubber-stamp Parliament", lacking in checks and balances.
"It'll be a lame-duck Parliament that cannot truly function in any real sense," Narongdej said.