The Battle of Ideas

16 07 2007

After the coup d’etat on 19 September 2006, the Thais are split at least into three major camps: the pro-Thaksin, the anti-military anti-Thaksin but pro-democracy and the not so anti-military anti-Thaksin but prefer Thai style democracy. The first camp (led by former Thai Rak Thai Party leaders) has tried to organise mass demonstration but failed. The second camp is trying to gain public support not to vote for the new constitution during the national referendum on 19 August 2007. The effect is yet to be seen but is likely to fail also. The last camp is willing to accept the new constitution with the hope for an early election which they hope will shore up image of the country and lead to the socio-political and economic recovery.





The second and third camps are different in their ideas towards democracy. While the second camp willingly accepts and subscribes to the Western concept of democracy, the latter is more skeptical. To them, an adopted concept has to be adjusted to suit national political culture – top-down social structure, charismatic leader etc. People who support those two camps appear to be urban middle class or the so-called political elite in Bangkok who tend to decide the political future of the country – therefore they suppose to be very important people.


In a few discussions during the past few weeks with those who I identified them as urban intellectual people and most are Western educated, they tend to argue against the military coup and supported the argument by citing the principle of democracy they learned from abroad. It was sadly to learn that for them the national political culture does not count when it comes to democratisation. For me, the democratisation process in each country must be considered together with national political culture. The concept has to be adjusted to suit local audience…each country has its own political culture and to plant new ideas takes time and never happen overnight…the Battle of ideas between the urban folks will continue and the fight can be seen in the result of the vote for or against the new constitution on 19 August.



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