Daily Archives: November 2, 2008

Interview With The PAD: Part 1

Hailing from Suphanburi Province, Ajarn Nimit Somboonwit a former Marxist, originally got involved in politics during the turbulent 1970s when he was Vice President of the Srinakharinwirot Student Movement at Thammasart University. For the following 20 years, he concentrated instead on his chosen fields of employment, which including teaching and printing.

After learning from the Asian Economic Collapse of 1997, he once again decided to become an active member of society which sought at bettering the country – and so joined the Civic Movement. Working with the Movement, he has been principally involved with farmers – promoting preservation of the environment while adhering to the principalities of the King’s self-sufficiency philosophy.
In 2006, shortly before the military coup, he ran in the national Senator Elections, but just missed out.
Presently an active member of the Suphanburi PAD, Ajarn Nimit has been a speaker on the stage at Government House.

Now, this may sound like a basic question Ajarn, but just what is the basic objective of the PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy)?

Firstly, the PAD wants to simply protect the constitution. The current PPP (People’s Power Party) government wants to change the constitution so that the 111 red-carded former Thai Rak Thai (TRT) members will be able to get back in power and Thaksin will be given an amnesty and let off scot-free (politically speaking). Changing the constitution will also allow the PPP to dissolve private organizations like the DSI which have been investigating Thaksin’s crimes.

Much has been written and said by foreigners vehemently complaining that the People’s Alliance for Democracy is in fact ‘undemocratic’, not democratic at all. How would you answer that?

Many don’t understand – elections in Farangland are different from in Thailand – there is no vote-buying. How can you have a democracy when the government buys its ways into power? Thaksin and his cronies have dug deep deep corrupt roots. Now, that’s what I call ‘undemocratic’. Foreigners can’t come to Thailand and dictate that this or that is ‘democracy’, they don’t understand that the fundamentals are different. Thailand has never known a true democracy. Foreigners never believe it, but politics in Thailand is like a ‘game of investment’ and the profits are huge.
First, invest 30 million baht per MP, 400 MPs total 1,200 million baht. Next, form a government. With all those dirty old MPs, they can vote to pass budgets for Mega Projects. Projects which guarantee massive commissions of 10+%. The earnings are so amazing that the government makes ten times the initial investment and earns 12,000 million baht. Foreigners need to know that before Thailand can have ‘democracy’, the PAD needs to ‘chase out the government’.

What do you mean by ‘chasing out the government’?

The PPP is a puppet of Thaksin, it is not independent. Thaksin is behind the scenes pulling all the strings. Even former PM Samak admitted that he was only ‘a nominee of Thaksin’. Vote-buying a puppet government into power is not Thailand’s idea of a ‘democratically elected government’. What kind of a democratic independent government makes the brother-in-law of a wanted fugitive its prime minister (current PM Somchai). Not only does Thaksin want to get back in power and retrieve all his billions, he and his cronies are also bent on changing the entire system and that includes dissolving the monarchy. Government members have been caught committing lese-majeste, yet since they control the police force, the police have simply turned a blind-eye and failed to bring charges against them.

The last time we spoke, I remember you talking about the PAD ‘digging up the roots’. Please explain.

For 7 years, Thailand was totally under the control of Thaksinomics. Rural people were brainwashed into loving Thaksin because of his ‘populist policies’, like pumping an annual million baht a year into each corrupt village fund. The popular Thaksinonomic mega projects were rooted in corruption. Those roots of corruption need to be dug up. Have at look at other forms of corruption in ‘conflicts of interest’ and ‘corruption by policy’. Example: You are a politician (or ones wife) and so you can find out where to buy land at a discount price. So, as you area connected person with ‘power’ you purchase it. When you initially buy the land you are informed that it is illegal to build anything more than 5 stories high. With your political cronies, however, you are able to have the limiting regulations altered, enabling you build as high as you wish. Mega profits to be made. A prime example of this kind of conflict of interest was the Ratchada land deal which Thaksin has just been found guilty of.

As for ‘corruption by policy’ – you are a powerful local politician who has gained the authority to access the national budget to build a mega new road through your hometown. There a few local firms you could sign the construction contract over to. Sure, the firm that wins your signature is the one which pays you the largest commission. That firm could also belong to one of your relatives. So, you can see why MPs are willing to pay tens of millions in vote-buying to gain this kind of power. They are in it for their own self-interest, nothing to do with the people. All this corruption needs to be dug up.

Some foreign reporters have complained that the PAD doesn’t seem to listen much to the voices and opinions of foreign observers in regards to PAD policies and actions etc….. Anything to say on that?

I would like foreigners to realize that they only read the ‘half-truth’. Take the English language local newspapers, they are good examples of printing only the very basic news, they are afraid to go into detail as they are half controlled by the government. Look at ‘lese-majeste’ cases, all they write is ‘arrested for lese-majeste’, but give no details, unlike some Thai language newspapers. They don’t want foreigners to know what is really happening. If they printed the whole truth, foreigners would understand more why the PAD are committed to protecting the country’s entire system and the highest institutions. The foreign press only gets their news and opinions from local English language reporters, but what kind of valuable news is that when the foreign reporter knows little about what he is reporting. The English language newspapers are censored – censored by the government.

The PAD wants foreigners to really understand the present situation and how really corrupt and dangerous Thaksin and his cronies were/are. But, unfortunately, they only get a ‘bird eye’s view’. English language media reports hardly report on what is said by the PAD at Government House, therefore, foreigners, unless they understand Thai, know little of the real situation. As for me, like many other PAD, I’ve seen the political situation for more than 30 years. Politics, along with the desire to see justice done for society, is in my blood. Most foreigners, like most Thais, need to be educated.

I’ve heard a lot myself recently, even from yourself, about PAD ‘educating the masses’. Please go on.

First, there is PAD’s ASTV satellite. That was formed because of the reluctance of the normal TV channels to report on politicians and their corruption. The masses are able, with ASTV’s transmission from Government House, to really hear the ‘whole-truth’. Nothing is censored. For 24 hours a day for the past 5 months or so, the masses have been getting only factual information which the normal TV channels don’t report. This is one reason the PAD gives out ‘degrees’ to supporters. You can compare them to real degrees in Thai politics – this uncensored political knowledge which supporters gain from Government House is the reason we call the area a ‘university’.

‘Educating’ also means allowing folk and especially villagers the right to access full, complete and truthful information about the work being done by their local politicians. From the past until know, due to corruption, people have been denied any knowledge on how their local budget is being spent. Another example of this, is disallowing the people to know the truth behind any mega projects done in their own backyard; such as the building of dams etc… Smoothy politicians have been able to fool their constituency into giving their permission for mega projects which has after helped to destroy the environment – a good example of this has been some dams. People have to hear the real truth and not lies as told by the corrupt village-headman, a relative of the local politician who is getting millions in kick-backs for the contract. All corrupt confidential information should be made public.

UPDATE: Click here for Part Two of this interview.

Ajarn Nimit is a regular Thai language blogger. His popular blog can be found at: http://www.oknation.net/blog/Thaihippy/