Published on December 29, 2007
I see that the PPP has nominated Thanong Bidhaya to be their finance minister, should they form a government. If memory serves me, I remember that Thanong was in control of the government purse strings leading up to the disastrous financial debacle of 1997. That was during General Chavalit's administration - one that included among other cronies a certain Thaksin Shinawatra. While none of these people individually may have been responsible for the currency crisis, there were certainly a few fortunes made among those who knew where to put their money. And it must not be forgotten who was actually in power and responsible for the economy when this crisis was precipitated.
The Democrats took over shortly after this, just when the IMF was called in. I remember they worked diligently to try and pull the country out of the mess caused by the Chavalit government. Of course, from the ordinary Thai's point of view, especially those in the Northeast, these were hard years following the crisis, and of course they would blame the Democrats under Khun Chuan, the government in power at that time, for all their financial problems - with perhaps a too facile ignorance of the real causes of the crisis.
The very complex problem of actually pulling the country back into a financially reputable position involving debts, trade balances and currency control was way beyond the majority of Thai voters. All they could see was a government run by the Democrats that appeared to be doing things very badly.
So just when the Democrats were beginning to get things back to normal, they voted in Thaksin. Of course, all the hard work had already been done by the Democrats, and Thaksin was able to take the credit entirely. He looked like a winner to every voter whose livelihood was now on the mend. Most voters still identify their prosperity with Thaksin and this is why they voted for Samak and PPP - they want to return to the "good old days".
But it will be impossible to do this, and it may take another six months (or until Samak becomes senile) of terrible mistakes by the PPP before Thai voters begin to see that they have made a mistake. You can't bring back the good old days; you must, inevitably, go for a younger generation with new ideas in order to improve this country.
This is a case study of why democracy, the supposed panacea of Western nations, fails in an environment like Thailand or indeed in a great many small emerging countries. Very few people, including perhaps even Songdej and Manas, understand that a responsible democratic government is not only the party in power, it includes and is balanced by a responsible opposition.
The opposition party since Thaksin's emergence in 2001 has always been the Democrats, and Democrats like Abhisit have done a singularly magnificent job - in spite of being outnumbered by so many wannabes that have come and gone from Thaksin's ruling cabinets - of debating and confronting bad governance and policies and corrupt activities that are not in the interests of the people or the country. So, please, give them credit and stop criticising them for not performing.
NLA is outstaying its usefulness
The police are preparing to take criminal action against Jon Ungpakorn and his supporters for intrusion at Parliament House and trying to interrupt NLA sessions this month. I'll bet a poll would show that more people think the NLA should have charges brought against it for flagrantly violating its "caretaker" status in passing the laws it has, and for continuing in session beyond the election of a real government in Thailand.And that Jon should be recognised for his courage in standing up to them.
John Francis Lee
A shocking scene that nobody cares about
Visiting Lumpini Park, I saw a scene you can see at: www.flickr.com/photos/toni_uni/2134975979/. Near the police booth at the Rama IV-Rajdamri intersection lies a poor fellow waiting for death. The police know and don't do anything. I think he will only be "helped" when it is necessary to remove his body. Is this the humanity in this country? There are three hospitals in the vicinity. I alone could carry him to the Queen Sirikit Medical Centre opposite, or the Red Cross.
Antoni P Uni
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