Taken from an article called “Autocrats told to embrace equality“, by Achara Ashayagachat, on 24 June 2013 at www.bangkokpost.com
The June 24, 1932 revolution successfully installed rights and liberty in Thailand but egalitarianism, another tenet of democracy that was announced by the Khana Rassadorn (People’s Movement), has yet to be embraced by the autocratic middle-class, say academics and descendants of the founding fathers of Thai democracy.
Puangkeo Satraprung, 71, one of the four surviving children of Phraya Phahonponpayuhasena, leader of the young, oversea-educated civil and military officials who revolutionised Thai politics by turning an absolute monarchy into a constitutional one, said it was a pity that today, people did not fully understand “democracy for all”.
At the sidelines of the annual merit making ceremony for Khana Rassadorn members at Wat Phrasimahathat Bangkhen, Mrs Puangkeo cited the example of the white-mask group as being among those who fantasise about bringing back the old regime to replace the present electoral parliamentary system.
Nattapoll Chaiching, a Rajabhat University-Suansunantha lecturer in humanities and social science, explained that the white-mask group was a minority view that signified the principles of rights and liberty as being above egalitarianism concepts.
Of the Khana Rassadorn’s six principles of judiciary and economic independence, internal security, a national economic scheme for all, egalitarianism recognising commoners as equal to royal siblings, freedom and liberty, and education, it seemed the June 24, 1932 event has not yet imbued egalitarianism into the mindset of the Thai people, said Mr Nattapoll.
“The change in the Thai political regime created a social sense of citizenship among commoners that was different from the phrai (serf) worldview. With the increasing recognition of political power, the majority of people progressed as democratic citizens but the minority, who speak louder, do not want the lower/grass-root classes of people to lead or have a fair share of steering the course of democratisation in the country,” he said.
Mr Nattapoll urged “autocrats” to embrace egalitarianism as being equally important as the rights and liberty principles and called on Thai society to allow wider and deeper participation of the people across the social spectrum.
Sophon Phungsoondra, 86, son of a civilian Khana Rassadorn member Pramote Phungsoondra, said Thai society should be mindful and not swayed by irrelevant and outdated calls for a new regime to replace the elected government.
“If the government is corrupt and has other problems, we have to speak out and help solve it, but not through military or judiciary coups,” said Mr Sophon, adding that the constitutional court may not understand the rule of law principles that Khana Rassdorn emphasised.
Suthachai Yimprasert, a Chulalongkorn Unviersity assistant professor of history, said 24 June 1932 was not a simple coup but a revolution that created a new regime that would be based on rule of law, and people’s rights and freedom.
Consequently, Thai democracy has faced moves to revive royalism and maintain the hegemonic leadership of the military over the country’s affairs since the post-1932 coup, Mr Suthachai said.
But 81 years on, the people have emerged to take centre stage and no longer will allow monopolised leadership by autocrats and the military, he added.
Commemoration of the 81 years of Thai democracy began on Sunday evening at the Royal Plaza where the marker of the Khana Rassadorn was implanted. Various groups led by the October Generation movement (1973 and 1976), the anti-coup June 24 Group and some red-shirt members have emerged with a clear message of unfinished business from the revolution by the people and a call for judicial parties to stay out of politics.