Tens of thousands of protesters marched Tuesday to the offices of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, demanding his resignation over allegations that he improperly enriched himself in a massive telecommunications deal.
The demonstration was one of the largest since long-simmering grievances among Bangkok’s middle class erupted into outrage two months ago after Thaksin’s family sold its controlling shares in the Shin Corp. business empire for $1.9 billion to a Singapore investment company.
Although the rally passed peacefully, Thaksin warned Tuesday he would declare a state of emergency and call military troops into the streets if demonstrations turned violent. ~The Washington Post
Thaksin Shinawatra, for those who have not been following Thai political affairs very closely, is the leader of the Thai Rak Thai party, whose name literally means “Thais Love Thais.” Governing with a populist platform of expanding government supports and subsidies in a number of areas, Shinawatra has also made himself into something of a democratic authoritarian ruler with a heavy-handed and brutal “drug war” in the country’s south. Because Thailand also suffers from a small Muslim insurgency in its south, American and international pressure on Thailand to do slightly better than meting out summary executions to accused drug dealers has not been forthcoming. Now corruption also makes its appearance in the Thaksin era, which does not come as much of a surprise. However, Thaksin and his party benefited from an enormous, all together democratic victory last year, helped no doubt by the generous spending and government programs his government has pushed through, so whatever you may hear in the coming weeks about democracy or “people power” in Thailand as Thaksin comes under increasing pressure most Thais are still strong supporters of Thaksin. Thaksin is the face of democracy in Thailand–no wonder there is a movement to empower the king! His is just another example of democracy encouraging bad government, lawbreaking and personality cult. This is not proof of Thailand’s flawed democracy, but of the flaws of democracy itself.