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Time for PAD's moderates to speak out - if there are any

Are there any moderates left in the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra People's Alliance for Democracy?

It may be wishful thinking to expect a few, or even one, given the daily bombardment of one-sided information and news the group prescribes itself. But if there are any left they should wake up, smell the coffee and recognise that the alliance is now doing too much damage to democracy. And they should do something to rectify it, instead of keeping silent and hoping that it's enough to simply be on the supposedly "virtuous" side.

Earlier this week, the PAD supremo threatened to surround the compound of the Army chief. This is part of the ongoing desperate move to agitate the Army into intervening in politics again, as if September 2006 didn't do enough damage. The PAD-mouthpiece radio has also been goading the military on a daily basis to do something about the current political stand-off.

This latest plan came less than two weeks after another PAD leader, Piphob Thongchai, claimed the alliance was against any coup.

Another new PAD move to agitate is to manipulate ultra-nationalist sentiment over the Preah Vihear temple issue between Thailand and Cambodia. The PAD yesterday began a march to the area, risking further the already damaged bilateral sentiment between the peoples of the two nations.

Then we have the PAD's recent proposal for "New Politics" wherein 70 per cent of future members of Parliament should be appointed instead of elected. Finally the real aspiration of the PAD has been revealed, this reflects the alliance's deep distrust of the vast majority of the Thai electorate, which is essentially the vast majority of the Thai people.

The PAD apparently prefers to have national-level decisions made by a handful of people on an unelected committee who will in turn select and appoint the majority of the lower House, not to mention the upper house which is already nearly half-appointed under the junta-sponsored Constitution.

These select few people, this self-appointed elite, will decide who is worthy of representing the people and running the nation's affairs.

Such an idea is the politics of exclusion, which is not just undemocratic but would most probably create a different set of problems, perhaps even worse than that of the alleged corruption and abuse of power by Thaksin and the current administration of Samak Sundaravej, which is believed to be nothing but a proxy of Thaksin.

What's more, the majority of the people will have no say in the failure or success of future administrations - they are being reduced to mere subjects to be ruled by supposedly benign, just and selfless bureaucrats and unelected leaders.

While this new political philosophy claims to help solve the problem of ridding the Parliament of corrupt politicians, there's no guarantee that the supposedly morally astute selection committee would not end up becoming self-serving. And where would the checks and balances be found when the mandate is no longer with the people?

It's a dear mistake for the PAD and its supporters to see elections as a mere dispensable trapping of democracy and not as one indispensable part of a democratic order.

Elections surely are not the be-all and end-all of democratic order, but they are an indispensable part of a democracy, nonetheless.

Voters can and will likely make more mistakes in the future. They may become selfish or short-sighted in their electoral choices, but removing their electoral rights will only reverse the learning process of Thai society.

Without a belief and trust that people can eventually rise above themselves and learn to become better citizens through trial and error, there's no point in talking about democracy.

There's no denying the alleged corruption and abuse of power by Thaksin and his cohorts is very disturbing to say the least, and that it must be dealt with. But the PAD have gone too far in their zero-sum fight against Thaksin that they're now resorting to undermining the very foundation of democratic principle and culture.

If there are any moderates left within the PAD, the time for them to speak out is now.

Source: 
<p>http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/07/18/politics/politics_30078372.php</p>

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