The Socialist Workers Thailand Group proposes additional actions to expand democratic movement after the mass protest on 19 September 2020.
Protesters raising 3 fingers at Sanam Luang during the 19-20 September 2020 protest.
The huge protest on September 19 2020 at Thammasat University, Tha Pra Chan campus, organized by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, determined to push 3+10 political demands. The protest is of great importance in the transition to a modern Thai society where all people are equal under the same law.
The Socialist Workers Thailand group strongly supports the 3+10 demands and has some additional proposals to exchange with the masses and activists in the movement.
It is known that the problem of Thai politics is excluding people’s participation in shaping the future of the country, even the process of drafting the 2017 Constitution. This problem led to countless other problems under the administration of a military-dominated regime, conservative forces and big corporates whom we can call the "elite class".
The politics of the elite set up political structures that generate sustainable wealth for their class. The current structure they have built is a highly unequal system which accumulates capital that comes from the exploitation of working people; appropriating the national budget to live in luxury; building its own masses; buying weapons to threaten the people; and reproducing the privilege system for their own children to be born rich and succeed to political and economic power while millions of people are unemployed. That’s why joining the huge protest today is an attempt to undermine the system of privilege.
Furthermore, the system of privilege and monopoly is being challenged by ordinary people around the world. For the past two years, we have seen a new generation of people who “are not afraid” of protesting against global warming and cracking the consciousness of the politicians in parliaments who are great only at bickering.
We see revolutions and general strikes to overthrow dictatorship in Sudan and Algeria, and large protests for freedom of self-determination by millions of young people and workers in Hong Kong. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese people are also extremely angry with a selfish government that neglects solving problems and causes people to live unsafe lives. We see a large struggle of black people in the Black Lives Matter movement against racial oppression in America at the time of the Covid-19 outbreak linked to the ongoing crisis of economic and social inequality.
The recent protests in Thailand are no different. General Prayut Chan-o-cha's parliamentary dictatorship is trying to use the epidemic to empower him to crack down on arrests. The opposition politicians in parliament were unable to stop them.
However, the fight for democracy may not be successful anytime soon. We should expand spaces to campaign for the establishment of a welfare state by organizing community groups and people at work to gain more political momentum because we need to see hundreds of thousands or up to a million demonstrators, people’s resistance in daily life, in public areas, and in workplaces of all sectors, including general strikes to achieve our victory.
What the Socialist Workers Thailand Group wants to propose in addition to the 3+10 political demands is the establishment of a welfare state and the means of expanding democratic space.
Currently, there are two big campaigns for rewriting the constitution to democratize the system, and for the establishment of a welfare state. Students, workers, farmers, women, academics, NGOs, and other groups comprising a large number of participants are involved in these campaigns. There are still some important points about the welfare state, i.e. progressive taxation of income and property of the rich. Taxing the rich more is a key measure in creating a universal welfare system and unemployment insurance and reducing the influence of the rich and capitalists. It is no different from reducing the influence and budget of the monarchy.
The way to expand democratic space is to strengthen the conditions and measures that facilitate the establishment of politically progressive trade unions, which is one of the strategies for the next phase of struggle because if there is no progressive trade union organization, working people cannot confront the power of capitalists and executives to stop them violating workers’ rights and freedoms in the workplace.
Establishing political groups outside parliament will further drive progressive political ideologies and inequality reduction policies. According to Thai political history, the overthrow of the military dictatorship on October 14, 1973 relied on the presence of a left-wing political group, the political party of the working class. The students’ movement also cooperated with ordinary people and the labour movement.
Summary of 5 additional proposals
- Create a welfare state by collecting more revenue from progressive income taxes, and inheritance and property taxes on the rich. This measure is required to provide comprehensive welfare and unemployment insurance to all people.
- Student organizations should expand their coalition by encouraging blue-collar and white-collar workers to unite to fight and go on strike to support the political struggles.
- Create democracy at work by establishing trade unions among soldiers, police, civil servants, and employees in the public and private sectors. Working people must be involved in administration and negotiation at work.
- Establish political organizations/groups with internal unity and in the form of mass organizations. There should be a membership system starting from holding more meetings among various groups and expanding study groups.
- In the future, establish a left-wing political party outside parliament to be a tool in political and economic democratization for the working class.
The influence of the dictatorship prevails not only among leaders, but also in networks throughout Thai society. We have to campaign to build a deep culture and values of freedom, equality, and participation in small units of society and overcome dictatorship in this generation.
Socialist Workers Thailand Group
September 19, 2020
*Note 3+10 means:
3 demands: stop harassing people, dissolve parliament, and re-write the constitution to end military dictatorship
10 demands concern reform of the monarchy, including abolition of Section 6 of the 2017 Constitution that bans accusations against the King and the addition of a section to allow parliament to examine wrongdoings of the King; abolition of Section 112 of the Criminal Code that criminalizes criticism of certain members of the Royal Family; cancellation of the 2018 Crown Property Act and a clear division between the assets of the King under the control of the Ministry of Finance and his personal assets; and an end to royal endorsements of any future coups.