Opinion: The time has come to boycott the smaller parties that enable Prayut and co.

Thailand is entering a phase of political volatility with violence by the state towards protesters not out of the question. Yet despite a crackdown by the police on unarmed demonstrators on Friday, smaller coalition partners continue to stick by a government headed by the 2014 coup leader General Prayut Chan-ocha.

The coup leader did not by any means win the highest number of seats in the parliament even though it tried its best effort to manipulate the outcome of the March 2019 elections.

Despite their best efforts, they came in second to the Pheu Thai party but managed to get Bhumjai Thai, the Democrat party, and the Chart Thai Pattana party on to their side to cobble together a coalition government.

Ever since the 2014 coup, the government of Gen. Prayut has done nothing that has tangibly benefited the country except exacerbate the rich-poor divide.

The suppression of democratic principles was not a concern for many people when the 2014 coup took place but as time progressed the economic malaise that came along with the mismanagement of the Prayut administration left even their die-hard supporters doubting the capabilities of the administration.

Then came the much-awaited elections of 2019 and hopes ran high that things will change. But government engineering and a shoddy constitution meant that the country was going to get more of the same.

The Pheu Thai party, which remains the single largest political party in Thailand, had gone as far as to say ‘we don’t care who is the Prime Minister as long as it is not E-Tuu’ (Tuu is the nickname of Prayut).

Negotiations between Pheu Thai key leaders and the leaders of the 2 similar sized parties Bhumjai Thai and Democrat party progressed to the point that Pheu Thai were willing to allow the likes of Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of Bhumjai Thai party, and even Abhisit Vejjajiva the then leader of the Democrat party, to become prime minister in a coalition government.

Dream Come True

For Anutin it would have been a dream come true. Anutin has openly stated to the world community that he aspires to be the country’s Prime Minister one day and still serves a key role as a power broker today.

But somehow, the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party worked its magic and Anutin joined with Prayut and Prawit in the current government.

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul (C) walks with fellow party MPs into the parliamentary vote for Thailand’s new prime minister in Bangkok in June 5, 2019. – Thailand’s new lawmakers are set to vote for a prime minister on June 5, with junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha in pole position to sweep away the challenge of a charismatic billionaire leading the anti-military bloc. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

For Abhisit, the dream of becoming the Prime Minister remains intact and he was the only candidate named in the party’s nomination of the possible candidates for the premiership. Abhisit, who has a tarnished image after the 2010 crackdown of the Red Shirt protest movement, is desperate to clear his image in the country’s history books.

Pheu Thai at that point reportedly was willing to go as far as giving up its anti-Abhisit stance in order to bring down the Prayut government but then again it was the Democrat party that turned this offer down.

Today both the Bhumjai Thai and Democrat party have 60+ and 50+ MPs in the parliament and are crucial to support the survival of the Prayut administration.

Chance to rectify mistakes

These 2-3 parties have had many chances to rectify their missteps after the 2019 elections but it seems they always miss it.

The demands of the students started with the amendment of the constitution and both Bhumjai Thai and Democrat party jumped on the bandwagon to undertake it but as soon as the signal from the Phalang Pracharat party came that they wanted to delay the entire process by 1-month, these parties simply tuck tail and left to follow their paymasters.

The student movement were unhappy with the move and threatened to escalate the protest – bringing us to today.

On Friday, the coalition partners – Bhumjai Thai, Democrat & Chart Thai Pattana, had the opportunity to push back against the implementation of the ‘Declaration of a Serious Emergency Situation in Bangkok’ but they did nothing.

When Prayut came out to warn of not waking up the ‘reaper’ and that people should not be so ‘careless’ with their lives, the cabinet including Anuthin stood behind him and smiled.

Flanked by the mask-wearing leader of the Democrat party – Jurin Laksanawisit on the right and Anuthin on the left, Prayut made his statement which presaged the crackdown on unarmed students.

Time to Boycott

Although many politicians are calling for these parties to walk out of the coalition it is too late for the majority of the people.

They have time and time again proven to be oblivious of the changing situation on the ground.

Inside the party, they justify their allegiance to the military and make arguments that these hashtags and social media post is being undertaken by a handful of people and the rest is artificial intelligence at work.

But the show of force on October 15 and October 16 was a clear indication that it is not just the keyboard warriors that this government is dealing with but instead a vast majority of the country’s disenfranchised population. The fact that protests were held simultaneously all across the country and not just in Bangkok clearly shows that these politicians are living in their own bubble – one that may soon burst.

Yesterday’s crackdown should be a turning point. The time has come to boycott not the products made by the so called ‘salim’ but to forever boycott these chameleons who keep changing their color to remain in power and to reap the benefits.

Make no mistake, whatever crackdown that occurs on the student in the future and on Friday should be placed first and foremost at the feet of Prayut and Prawit. But blame must also be appropriated to these lecherous small parties who do nothing for the country and only reaps the rewards.

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