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A Week in Review: May 7-13, 2011

The election circus is coming to town...

With house dissolution having received royal endorsement last week, the countdown to Thailand’s general election has begun. And it’s already getting messy. Find out how here…

In an apparent bid to ensure a clean and fair election, the Election Commission has asked all Thailand’s political parties to sign a Code of Conduct.

In order to adhere to the code, all parties will be required to respect and follow the letter and spirit of the constitution, election laws and regulations issued by the Election Commission; will refrain from involving the royal institution by deed or comment in the election; will refrain from vote buying; and will not use state or other public resources for campaign purposes or to obtain votes.

Also under the terms of the code, all parties will conduct the campaign using only peaceful means; will not threaten, harass or disrupt the campaign efforts of any other party; will avoid using inflammatory or defamatory language, particularly that which threatens or incites violence; and will accept the results of the election that generally reflects the will of the people and which is credible and fair.

While Thailand has a proven track record of introducing regulations and laws – particularly those of the knee-jerk variety – it has an equally abysmal record of enforcing them. This leads us then to the obvious question: why bother with a code of conduct for morally bankrupt politicians who see themselves as being above the law anyway?

The answer is alarmingly simple. Just as with Thailand’s archaic and repressive lèse-majesté law, it would appear that the code of conduct is wide open to creative interpretation. And just as with the lèse-majesté law, the code of conduct would appear to be nothing more than a tool to control or remove individuals or even entire political parties who are deemed a threat to the status quo.

This was clearly demonstrated last week when Phuea Thai MP and red shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan had his bail revoked for allegedly making remarks deemed offensive against the monarchy during a speech at a recent red shirt rally.

While Jatuporn has certainly pushed the boundaries of his bail conditions far beyond breaking point on several occasions, the timing of the revocation of his bail is somewhat questionable coming as it does in the build up to the election and just ahead of a large red shirt rally.  

Although it is difficult to harbour any sympathy for such an odious and hypocritical individual as Jatuporn, the revocation of his bail at this time reeks of behind-the-scenes political manoeuvring. Seen by most neutrals as nothing more than a rabble-rousing mouthpiece for Thaksin, Jatuporn is nevertheless vital to Phuea Thai’s election campaign in his role as a coordinator between the party and its red shirt supporters.

In another blow to Phuea Thai’s campaign, and in what could be the first breach of the aforementioned code of conduct if it is shown to have been directly or indirectly sponsored by a political party, former Pheua Thai MP for Samut Prakhan, Pracha Prasopdee, was shot and slightly injured on Monday night as he was returning home after helping a local politician campaign for the provincial administration election.

Meanwhile, it would seem that Thailand’s fugitive former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, is finally set to announce his youngest sister, Yingluck, as Phuea Thai’s candidate for prime minister.

While Yingluck has almost no political experience, she is the only person that Thaksin trusts to overturn his conviction and quash his jail sentence rather than stabbing him in the back by putting the needs of Phuea Thai supporters before his desire to escape justice.

Some Phuea Thai MPs have expressed concern about the choice of Yingluck, but these can be dismissed as party rebels who have failed to understand the true purpose of Thaksin’s political party.

And in one last piece of election news, the PAD (remember them?) has announced that it will end its current protest (remember that?) just in time to be able to start a new protest after the election.

As the yellow shirts are pursuing a ‘no-vote’ campaign, they are likely to be protesting again regardless of who wins the election or forms the next coalition government. And with last week’s developments, it could well be that they are joined on the streets by the red shirts.

Fasten your seat belts. We are about to experience some turbulence.

Paul Snowdon – May 14, 2011

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Have your say...

David Donald
14 May 2011, 03:20
"Some Phuea Thai MPs have expressed concern about the choice of Yingluck, but these can be dismissed as party rebels who have failed to understand the true purpose of Thaksin’s political party."

How thick in the head can these guys be to NOT know Thaksins true purpose in using and controlling the party? Failed to understand the true purpose... it is astounding to think they are not bright enough to see this, if we can.
Gary Joseph Chandler
14 May 2011, 17:47
All I can say is why did PAD use stately tiger in their NO-vote bulletin board - an insult to tigers to be compared with Thai politicians.

Mangy soi dog, check; grabby monkey, check; buffalo, [i still don't get what is so bad about the buffalo?] lizard, mebbe; I see it as a bunch of crocodiles and snakes in a swamp; until the swamp is drained, which IS possible, there will always be Corruption and the feeding frenzy at election time.
Bangkok Dave
16 May 2011, 22:39
Paul, as you know, I think your comments on Jatuporn are spot on. Certainly the guy deserved to be incarcertated, but I take issue with the use of the LM law as an all-purpose political weapon against him and other opponents.
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