Sondhi Limthongkul, the media mogul who heads Thailand’s anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy, warned that he’s ready to call more protests despite the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat after a court order to dissolve his governing party. “The PAD will return if another proxy government is formed or anyone tries to amend the constitution or the law to whitewash some politicians or to subdue the monarch’s authority,” Sondhi told cheering supporters as the protest movement decamped from Bangkok’s airport which it had occupied for several days. (LAT, Dec. 3)
In a Dec. 3 opinion for the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman takes a dim view of the PAD:
I am sure that if you are stuck in Bangkok airport, the theoretical implications of Thailand’s political crisis do not rank very high up your list of concerns. Nonetheless, they are fascinating.
Remember all those theories about how the emergence of an urban middle-class is a force for democratisation, because the bourgeoisie will demand political rights? Well, in Thailand the precise opposite is happening. The urban middle classes are rising up and demanding that democracy be rescinded.
Do not be fooled because the group occupying the airport call themselves the “People’s Alliance for Democracy”. Their intent is clearly anti-democratic. They have just brought down an elected government. Their broader demands are for Thailand’s directly elected parliament to be replaced by a legislative body that is 70 per cent appointed. Sondhi Limthongkul, a Thai tycoon (Thaicoon?), who is the group’s de facto leader says bluntly that “representative democracy is not suitable for Thailand”.
The middle-class backers of the PAD hate that under universal suffrage, the votes of the rural poor in the north of Thailand are usually decisive. They see this as a formula for corruption and pork-barrel politics. Hence their desire to roll back democracy.
The implications for China are fascinating. There too the urban middle class seems to be emerging as a conservative force, suspicious of democracy and the peasant power that it might unleash.
See our last post on Thailand.