Thai politics - A family affair

Alfie · 1 · 239

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Online Alfie

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There's a good opinion piece in the Bangkok Post today highlighting the large number of families involved in Thai politics. The writer says it's all about power and money - business rather than public service. It's worth reading the whole article. Below is just a section of it.

Family Business

The 'official' figure is that in the 500-member House, which represents some 65 million Thais, will contain 89 MPs who have one or more relatives in the legislative body, for a total of 42 ''political families'' but these statistics only cover those with the same family surnames. In actuality, there will also be family members with different surnames.

The picture isn't one of families in politics, because that implies politics is the more powerful force, in which certain families exist and work within. No. In the Kingdom of Thailand, politics is family business, which means these powerful families dominate politics, from within and without, upside down and inside out. Therefore it also means these families dominate Thailand - well, along with the military, the mafia, the establishment and some other folks of course.

The purpose of any business? Money and power, naturally. Is this the picture of a healthy democracy? No. It's an oligarchy masquerading as democracy - a loose and messy oligarchy at that.

How has the Thai political landscape come to this? The answer is simple, patronage democracy. The Thai voting public is divided into two groups. There are those who make their own decisions. Then there are those bound by allegiances.

Many of the political families own enclaves, or fiefdoms - the districts, the provinces and the regions that belong to them _ and are not dissimilar to the lords and barons of feudalistic times. The people of these fiefdoms owe allegiance to their lords.

How could they not? The lords, or the MPs, take care of them. Need to borrow some quick cash? Done. Want your newly graduated son hired by a certain company? Done. Want daughter to attend a particular school? Done. Need pesky bookie to back off a little? Done. Parties and festivals to keep the ''serfs'' happy? Done. Fat envelopes for weddings and funerals? Done and done. And the latest trend - populist polices? Done.