Here are a few scene-setting stories to contemplate as we await the Thai Constitution Court verdict I mentioned yesterday.
In an AFP story, Professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak says:
Thailand expert Thitinan Pongsudhirak, of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said there had been a “systematic effort to undermine and subvert democratic institutions” in recent years.
“In previous judicial dissolutions, the grounds were questionable but less bogus. This time… the verdict is rooted in presumptions about the future which has not happened,” he said.
“There will be a severe backlash if we see yet another repeat of the usurpation of electoral rule and this time the court is in a much weaker position.”
Thitinan also has an opinion piece in today’s Bangkok Post. Some key lines:
Thailand’s problem is that those who keep winning elections are not allowed to rule, whereas others who ultimately call the shots cannot win elections.
In some ways, Thailand’s holding pattern is rooted in what can be described as a royalist lockdown. All Thais have lived under this reign. Its most glorious years transpired during the Cold War, when communism was kept at bay and economic development was achieved.
In the early 21st century, the monarchy is challenged by electoral rule with its unscrupulous politicians and political parties as a source of legitimacy. Thais used to be just loyal subjects but more and more of them also now feel like informed citizens with a stake in and access to the political system. The Thai dilemma is how to amalgamate and synchronise the monarchy-centred political order with the imperatives of democratic rule in an acceptable constitution.