By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
November 26, 2008 -- Bangkok International Airport has now been closed by fascist thugs from the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). The PAD is demanding that the elected government of Thailand resigns. This is despite the fact that the government has the backing of the majority of the Thai population and even the majority of Bangkok citizens. This backing has been proven by repeated elections. The PAD want a dictatorship to replace democracy because it deems the majority of the Thai electorate to be too ignorant to deserve the right to vote.
How did the PAD thugs manage to seize Bangkok International airport? Airports are supposed to be high-security areas. Thai airports are controlled by the Thai military. It is obvious that the Thai military, which staged an illegal coup in 2006, has quietly supported the actions of the PAD. It is obvious that the military is unwilling to provide basic security to air travellers and air crews. But they are happy to rake in huge salaries associated with their control of the Airports Authority. Foreign governments and airlines should reconsider whether the authorities in Thailand are willing to provide international standards of safety and security.
Back in early October, PAD thugs surrounded parliament to prevent the prime minister from making a policy speech. When the police used tear gas to try to disperse the PAD, the police were roundly condemned by the Thai media and most middle-class intellectuals. It is no secret that the PAD are armed with guns, bombs, knives and wooden batons. They constantly break the law with impunity. Earlier on November 26, PAD thugs were filmed by PBS ThaiTV shooting at taxi drivers who were trying to defend their pro-democracy community radio station. The PAD thugs were holding up pictures of the King. Yesterday the PAD kicked and punched a senior policeman. The police are powerless to act.
The PAD is a royalist fascist mob which has powerful backing. Apart from the army, it is supported by the Queen, the so-called Democrat Party, the courts, the mainstream media and most university academics. What these people have in common is a total contempt for the Thai electorate who are poor. They are angry that the Thai people voted for a government that gave the poor universal health care and other benefits. They want to turn the clock back to a dictatorship which they call “the New Order”. They are hoping that the courts will now dissolve the ruling party and that an authoritarian “National Government” will be set up.
It is clear that the PAD, the military, the Democrat Party and the conservative establishment would rather see total chaos in Thailand rather than allow democracy to function. This is despite the fact that we face a serious economic crisis. Interestingly, the anti-government groups are extreme neoliberals with little grasp of how to deal with the economic crisis or how to stimulate the economy. Apart from opposing welfare, they have attacked Keynesian policies of the previous government of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Where is the King in all this? Throughout the three-year political crisis, the King has never attempted to diffuse the problem. Many Thais believe he supports the PAD, but it is more likely that the monarch has always been too weak to intervene in any crisis.
Those who support democracy and social justice in Thailand must condemn the PAD and those advocating a dictatorship. We must be with the pro-democracy Red Shirts, while refusing to support ex-PM Thaksin, who has a record of human rights abuses. I hope that all those friends of Thailand abroad will support all our efforts to defend Thai democracy and to defend those of us who may face arrest in the future.
[Giles Ji Ungpakorn is an activist with Turn Left (formerly Workers Democracy) and an associate professor in the faculty of political science, hulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.]