I have to admit that before coming to Thailand, I knew very little about the country except that I have a lot of friends who have spent many a drunken week here diving, sunbathing, and all in all ‘chilling out.’
PAD…PPP…too many acronyms, not enough information
December 11, 2008 by Marianne
I also don’t remember the last time I ever saw Thailand in the international news headlines.
My how things have changed.
I’ve learned that Thailand isn’t just a drunken beach party, and I’ve managed to arrive in this country just in time for it to splash its name all over the English papers paired with words like ‘crisis’ and ‘attack.’ Words I don’t like to hear any more than the next guy.
So for my readers who are just as naive to the situation here as I was just a short time ago, here’s the deal:
For a few months there was a large group of anti-government protesters (the PAD, or People’s Alliance for Democracy…the most ironic title they could find; will explain later, or read here for more details) on the streets, surrounding government buildings, and for a few days sitting in Bangkok’s two major airports, suspending all air traffic in and out of the country’s capital. Basically they wanted the Prime Minister to resign because they believe him to be corrupt (which it appears is probably true).
The airport sit-in caused enormous disruptions to Thailand’s economy as you can imagine, so the protesters definitely made their point. Check out the link for more on that, but the short version is that during Thailand’s busiest tourist season (now) hotels are at a fraction of their usual capacity. Not to mention all the exports Thailand produces that couldn’t fly out last week. One foreigner managed to get inside the airport and camp out with the PAD. He video taped a bunch of what he saw which you can see here.
So last week when the PAD made it clear that they in fact were quite comfortable in the airport, but thanks for asking, the leaders of the ruling party were found guilty of electoral fraud and the Prime Minister plus his executives were banned from government for five years. Ouch. Party in the airport!!
So now everyone is sitting around and playing the waiting game. They will probably hold elections in the next couple of weeks which could be pretty interesting and could very probably make things worse regardless of the turn out. Here’s why.
The PAD is not a party for the people, nor are they democratic. So great title right? PAD members are royalists, consisting of middle/upper class citizens who believe in an appointment based government led by the royal family. So no popular elections, no democracy, the term fascist-like has been thrown around…
The PAD managed to lead a government coup a couple of years ago throwing out the previous Prime Minister, Thaksin. Only problem is, when a popular election was held after that coup, Thaksin’s ally was appointed Prime Minister, because despite their ability to make a whole lot of noise, the PAD do not make up the majority of the population here.
Do you see the problem yet?
So now here we are again, probably about to have another election. And guess what? The PAD still don’t make up most of the population. The PPP (pro-government) members consist mostly of rural farmers which is a huge majority of Thailand’s population. So post-election, either the PAD wins (not likely) and the majority finally get pissed off enough to do something about it, or the PPP supporters win and we’ve all seen what kind of mess the PAD can drum up.
So there’s the deal on Thailand. Don’t you feel smarter? Now go impress someone with your knowledge and feel free to correct the mistakes I probably made.