Little Sister Kicks ***
July 17, 2011: The low-level civil war that has been going on for the last six years is over. The Royalists (yellow shirts) have acknowledged that the majority of Thais do not support them and are abiding by the results of the July 3rd election. The royalists (also called the urban elite) gained power via a coup in 2006, and held onto it using tainted elections. For years, the Royalists tried to capture and prosecute the Populist (red shirt) leader, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The royalists and urban elites believed that the capture, trial and imprisonment of Shinawatra might break the will of the populists, or convince Shinawatra to switch sides. Last year, the courts moved to seize half of Shinawatra's fortune ($1.4 billion) as a fine for being corrupt. This was an unpopular move, since nearly all Thai politicians are corrupt, and people wondered who was going to get the $1.4 billion. The red shirts threatened violence over the seizure, although Shinawatra, from exile in Dubai, urged calm and only non-violent demonstrations. Many Royalists believed that Shinawatra was financing the populist violence with this money. The royalists have contempt for the poor and less educated red shirts, and this is returned with resentment and growing anger towards the wealthier and better educated urban population that opposes majority rule. This anger has not been extinguished by the government use of force against those demonstrating for fair elections and a restoration of democracy. Such class warfare is nothing new. There were similar outbreaks in the 1970s and 1990s. But the current one is more widespread and having more of a negative impact on the economy.
This time Thaksin Shinawatra outsmarted and outmaneuvered his opponents. He managed to get a new political party (the PTP, or Puea Thai Party) organized and then, two months before the July 3rd parliament elections, he introduced something no one expected. His younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra came forward as the lead candidate of the new party. She is young (44), pretty, rich and has many of the same political and business skills as her brother. Yingluck only began campaigning in May, but immediately shot to the front in the polls, taking her party with her. Although long active in her older brother's businesses (which grew from Shinawatra family firms that have been around since the 19th century) Yingluck was considered untouchable by prosecutors seeking to nail her brother for corruption. Moreover, until two years ago, Yingluck expressed no interest in politics. In 2009 she began getting involved, but in a low key way. Thus the government never really had her on their radar, and were caught by surprise when Yingluck suddenly entered the electoral campaign and attracted widespread popularity. The red shirts were electrified by the appearance of Yingluck, who was seen as the same kind of energetic and dynamic politician as her brother. She will also be the first woman to run Thailand. By law, the new parliament must convene 30 days after the election, and the new prime minister must be selected and take control of the government within 60 days.
The defeat of the royalists was celebrated in Cambodia, as it is generally agreed that the royalists have encouraged the current border dispute with Cambodia, as an attempt to gain some political popularity in Thailand. That did not work, as the results of the July 3rd elections demonstrated. The new government is expected to quickly settle the border dispute.
In the south, three Moslem farmers were killed, probably by Islamic terrorists seeking to keep the Moslem population in line. This has proved increasingly difficult as all locals come to regard the Islamic militants as what many of them actually are; gangsters trying to operate behind religion.
"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.
It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.
Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."
John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.