Praphan Khoonmee has told the yellow shirts that he will accept any means to let good people govern the country, saying that it is their right to have a better political system.
On 21 Mar, at about 8.50 pm, Praphan Khoonmee, a yellow-shirt leader, told the crowd that during 79 years since the 1932 revolution, Thailand had been more ruined under elected governments than under military juntas and appointed governments.
He claimed to have checked the list of coup-appointed Thai prime ministers which included Gen Phahon, Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkram, Pridi Banomyong, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikajorn, Sanya Thammasak, Anand Panyarachun, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda and Gen Surayud Chulanont.
[In fact, Pridi Banomyong became prime minister three times consecutively in 1946 through the parliamentary system. - Prachatai]
The total damage inflicted on the country through corruption under all of these appointed PMs combined is still less than that under one elected PM. This is what is so ‘despicable and evil’ about politics based on elections, Praphan said.
He found that Thailand had flourished better under appointed PMs than under ‘those sordid elected politicians’. And he went on to describe the accomplishments of each one, as opposed to the evils of elected ones.
Gen Phahon and Pridi Banomyong laid down the political and economic foundations of the country.
Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkram modernized the armed forces and the country, and modified several traditions; although there were some undesirable outcomes, there was no damage, corruption or territorial loss under his rule.
Field Marshal Sarit greatly contributed to Thailand’s development. ‘Running tap water and glowing light bulbs’ was the slogan, and the National Economic and Social Development Board was established during his time.
Sanya Thammasak, appointed after the ousting of Sarit’s successor, Field Marshal Thanom, by the popular uprising on 14 Oct 1973, made improvements to the law, resulting in labour protection laws which introduced the minimum wage, and land reform laws which introduced Sor Por Kor 4-01 title deeds for farmers.
Gen Prem, who held the premiership for 8 years because elected politicians were in awe of military power, led the country to economic prosperity, with abundant financial reserves in the coffer and the discovery of energy sources in the Gulf of Thailand. Under his leadership, bureaucrats had to return any money left from their overseas trips, banquets at Government House were limited to drinking water without alcohol for economic reasons, and anyone guilty of corruption was fired when caught. Despite the country being plagued with communist and separatist threats, he was able to solve all problems. The country was full of happiness, without the need of elections.
Anand Panyarachun, appointed after the 1991 coup, improved the tax system and developed the telecommunications infrastructure [by dividing the concession earlier agreed between the ousted Gen Chartchai government and the Charoen Phokphan (CP) conglomerate, which was reportedly connected to the Gen Suchinda-led junta, to provide 3 million household telephone numbers across the country, allowing bids by other companies - Prachatai].
Of all these appointed prime ministers, only two have had their assets seized. Field Marshal Sarit’s assets worth about 604 million baht were seized, and less than 100 million baht’s worth of assets were seized from Field Marshal Thanom and his cronies; relatively little compared to corruption nowadays, Praphan said.
During the time of Gen Chartchai, who succeeded Gen Prem in 1988, elected politicians enjoyed the ‘buffet Cabinet [sic]’, a term used by the 1991 coup leader Gen Suchinda. The junta seized his assets worth 1,600 million baht, not including corruption involving tens of billions of baht by his Cabinet members.
Under Gen Chavalit, the baht was depreciated, the economy collapsed, and the national reserves were depleted. The person who gained the most from this situation was Thaksin.
There was not much corruption during the first Chuan Leekphai administration, but when he returned the second time [after the 1997 financial crisis], the 11 laws required by the IMF conditionalities allowed foreign companies to buy Thai assets at cheap prices, and make immense profits. This was the first era of ‘selling the nation’, and it was under the Democrat Party.
Banharn Silapa-acha stepped down after one year of outrageous corruption.
The worst was the time of Thaksin who was accused of accumulating unusual wealth of 76 billion baht. Dr Somkiart Tangkitwanit of the Thai Development Research Institute has found that Thaksin raised the value of his businesses to between 60 billion and nearly 100 billion baht. The Assets Scrutiny Committee [appointed by the 2006 coup makers] also found corruption in 13 projects worth almost 300 billion baht.
‘This is the system of elections! A sham democracy !’ Praphan said.
Abhisit is no better, be it the NGV bus procurement, the Philip Morris case, the Thai Khem Khaeng scheme, the no-dust roads, the high-speed trains, etc. No less than 300 billion baht in corruption in just a few years in office. Corruption is found in all ministries.
‘So you see! Between governments coming from elections and from coups, which is more evil? When it comes to political spirit and responsibility, appointed governments are much more thin-skinned than elected ones. Elected politicians create more economic and social problems, and more threats to people’s freedom,’ he said.
To those who have always asked who else they can turn to, if they do not want Abhisit, Praphan said that the answer was that they would accept anybody except the current politicians.
‘And if you ask what system we want if we don’t want elections, we will accept any system which does not let these scoundrels govern. Any system which lets good people govern will do. We’re not seeking a system which will threaten the nation, religion and king. It is our legitimate right to want a better political system,’ he said.
He told Abhisit and those ‘scoundrels’ to go to hell, and said that their rule was no longer accepted.
‘We must stand up and be united. On the day that we mobilize our people, we have to come out in full force. Soldiers, police, and government officials should stand up for the good of the country. When the day comes, everyone must come out to make changes ourselves. We have to cooperate and help ourselves first, and angels and gods will help us.’
[Praphan Khoonmee was one of the students who participated in the popular uprising on 14 Oct 1973. He joined the Communist Party in the jungle after 6 Oct 1976. After returning, he became a lawyer. He is a close aide of Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri. He contested general elections twice in 2005 and 2007 under the Democrat Party, but failed. He was appointed a member of the National Legislative Assembly after the 2006 coup. Currently, he is an executive member of the New Politics Party, and a host of an ASTV weekly programme.]