The hard-line approach that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej used to disperse the crowds at Government House, particularly the police raid of the compound at 3am on Wednesday, means that bloodshed is possible. On October 6, 1976, a tragedy unfolded after police used arms to disperse protesters. This was also the case from May 17-19, 1992. Who was the loser then?
We would like to repeat what His Majesty the King told then prime minister Suchinda Kraprayoon and Chamlong Srimuang on May 20, 1992 at 9:30pm following the tragic "Bloody May" events. His Majesty said that not only did the tragic incident lead to the loss of life and the destruction of property, but that it also wounded the country's morale and economy beyond measure. Such a confrontational atmosphere would only bring the nation down.
His Majesty gave us that speech as a guideline 16 years ago. Suchinda had to step down after he was ousted by the masses. Then, why does Samak want to repeat history by creating a "Bloody August" incident? Samak should listen to what His Majesty said then. And the police and armed forces should realise that the unarmed protesters are also Thai and that bloody suppression does not bring peace. On the contrary, it may result in a "civil war'" with severe consequences.
Thais witnessed the chaotic situation in Bangkok and some provinces on Tuesday with their own eyes and through media reports. All sides must play their role in maintaining law and order, which is a pillar of democracy.
The democratic system consists of several pillars, such as public participation, fair elections, guarantees of people's rights and freedoms and the independence of the judicial system. In any event, the rule of law is an essential pillar in a democracy.
The government has to keep law and order and protect public property. Any government that fails to maintain law and order is a "failed government" because it lacks credibility. At the same time, the exercise of the public's rights and freedoms must be done under the scope of the Constitution and within the strictures of the law, such as those calling for gatherings to be peaceful and unarmed. The People's Alliance for Democracy has insisted all along that they would fight peacefully and be tolerant. Thus, they should strictly follow that principle.
Every side should respect and follow the Constitution, particularly the clause regarding the freedom of the media to report news. The media must report news in a straightforward manner. The media should not take sides despite pressure from Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Media outlets should be free to perform their duties without any intimidation or intervention.
In summary, the government and people should follow the rule of law, otherwise, Thailand cannot claim to the world that it is a democratic nation. If every side fails to abide by the rule of law, it would not only affect the image of the nation but also erode the confidence of the international community in Thailand.
Thai democracy is not perfect. There are several flaws and it is at an early stage in its development. Thus, every side should give Thai democracy a chance to flourish and stabilise. Democracy should not be disrupted many times because these disruptions could bring the country a step backward. And Thailand will not be recognised by the international community as a democratic nation.