The Kingdom of Thailand used to be a flawed democracy. A state that pretended to be democratic, but failed to meet basic human rights. For many Americans and Europeans, Thailand is a popular tourist destination with nice tropical weather and luxury hotels. Sex tourism is also a reason why many choose Thailand as prostitution (although illegal) is the way of making money in cities such as Pattaya. Since 2014, the kingdom is under control of the military, who created a junta called the National Council for Peace and Order. Although western governments were critical, the military has not harmed western capitalist greed in any way!
In 1939, the Kingdom of Siam changed its name to Kingdom of Thailand. The country was under military rule since 1933 and would remain so until 1973. Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena was the first military boss, he took power after the civilian People’s Party broke up due to numerous groups fighting each other. Thailand was invaded by the Japanese in 1941 and the government choose to work with them. This led to another coup after the war as the military choose to side with the anticommunist world!
The Communist Party of Thailand was a major revolutionary force. Fighting against both the Thai monarchy and Japanese imperialism, the party was seen as the biggest danger to the interests of Thai capitalism. After the surrender of the Japanese Empire, the Communist Party of Thailand started a guerrilla war against the Thai government (still led by the generals). Like all Asian communist parties, the CPT became influenced with the ideology of Mao Zedong and his concept of a People’s War!
At its peak in the 1970’s, the CPT had over 5.000 active fighters and over 6.000 sympathizers. The Thai government feared that the party could launch a revolutionary uprising, so the army used brutal tactics in destroying ”communist” influences. After the collapse of the anticommunist puppet regimes in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the Thai government feared a ”communist” victory in Thailand. So they ordered their police forces to assault anybody who was not in line with the totalitarian anticommunist government. This led to the 1976 massacre at the Thammasat University, were over 100 students were murdered by police and army units. The CPT was able to profit from this mass murder as many students joined their ranks!
Still the government proved to be effective in combating the guerrilla forces. They used ethnic Thai nationalism as a weapon and claimed that the ”evil Chinese” controlled the CPT. Because of ancient hostility between the Thai and the Chinese, many choose to support the military. As China moved away from maoism and into state-capitalism, the CPT lost its biggest arms supplier. By 1980, many guerrilla soldiers accepted an offer of amnesty by the monarchist government. Among those who gave up the armed struggle were many students, who had joined after the Thammasat University massacre. Disillusion also played a huge role as the totalitarian atmosphere, had reduced their revolutionary idealism. The Communist Party of Thailand abandoned the armed struggle, but was unable to work legally as it remained banned. With the collapse of stalinism and the capitalist reforms in China and Vietnam, the CPT faded away!
Thailand became what we could call a flawed democracy. Freedom of speech was more tolerated but only for those who supported the monarchy, capitalism and Thai nationalism. Political parties became fronts for corrupt-capitalistic personalities such as Thaksin Shinawatra, a capitalist who became prime minister in 2001. Thaksin was a populist leader who used popular ideas to win support. But this did not hide that fact that he controlled many media outlets and was able to promote his own ideas easy. After Thaksin won the first election in 2001, he launched a brutal war against drug dealers, who were shot on sight. Also he started to close critical newspapers and limited the freedom of the press!
But because of his popular programs which helped the poor, Thaksin Shinawatra was reelected in 2005. His base of support was among the peasantry and people living outside the big cities. Workers and intellectuals however hated him, because he was no premier of the working class nor the poor. Still the peasantry was blinded by his populism and voted massively on Thaksin. The opposition staged massive protests which led to early elections. These were won by Thaksin but because he controlled both the state and many media outlets, the outcome was rejected by the Constitutional Court. The army decided to intervene and removed the populist premier in September 2006!
After he was removed from office, the Thai state went after their former commander in chief. Thaksin Shinawatra became a wanted man after he lost his immunity. He choose self exile while the courts found him guilty on policy corruption and ordered his wealth to be seized. It is estimated that Thaksin owned at least 1.3 billion U.S. dollars before his fall from power. Living in exile he is still a millionaire, with over 100 million U.S dollars in personal bank-accounts!
His younger sister; Yingluck Shinawatra, decided to continue his legacy. In 2008, she founded the Pheu Thai Party, a capitalist populist party. Like her older brother, Yingluck played on popular ideas, but never tried to end the huge inequality that makes up Thai society. Yingluck is part of the same corrupt capitalist class as most Thai politicians. She and her brother are millionaires, who care nothing about the deep poverty that exists among Thai workers both male and female. In cities such as Pattaya, woman sell their bodies to western sex tourists. Although prostitution is illegal it is tolerated as it is a major source of income. Sex tourism is a major problem in Thailand and a clear result of the deep poverty that capitalism has created. Many families even sell their children to sex tourists!
Yingluck Shinawatra was elected prime minister in 2011. She lowered the corporate taxes and was loved by the Thai establishment. It comes to no surprise that the western businesses also were positive about her. Still like her brother, she cared little for the lives of workers and poor. She ruled in a nepotist way by installing loyal family members to important positions in the government. Angered over the way the Shinawatra family had ruled Thailand since 2001, major protests started in Bangkok. These protests soon escalated as army generals decided that these demonstrations were dangerous and they removed Yingluck Shinawatra from power. On 22 May 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order was formed with general Prayut Chan-o-cha as new prime minister!
Now after two years, the military has drafted a new constitution which has been approved in a referendum. Revolutionary socialists however reject this referendum as unfree and undemocratic as opposition forces were not allowed to speak their mind. The military junta has banned any criticism of its rule, turning Thailand from a deeply flawed democracy into a dictatorship. New elections will only serve one group; the army and those who profit from it: the capitalists. We call for a revolutionary uprising against the generals and if they would open fire, workers and poor must be ready to fight back!
Workers and poor must not trust in western nations or populist individuals. Political parties such as the neoliberal; Democrat Party and populist; Pheu Thai Party only serve personalities not true political ideologies. Although the Thai monarchy does not play a role in politics, the old king is still used as icon by the military junta. Criticism of the monarchy has always been illegal and many have been send to jail for speaking out against billionaire king; Bhumibol Adulyadej who’s net-worth is estimated at 30 billion U.S dollars. His royal family is the richest of all Thai and deeply elitist!
We call for the overthrow of the monarchy and the National Council for Peace and Order. No compromises and no trust in elections under military control. Thailand should be sanctioned like North Korea and other dictatorships. But since the nation is playing a huge role in the production of western products, it seems (once again) that the western world keeps silent. Capitalist nations have too much business interests in Thailand. American imperialism knows this and therefore will not harm the junta in anyway!
Thailand is a deeply unequal nation. Formerly ruled by greedy corrupt politicians and now under the control of authoritarian generals, who have no interests of serving the people’s needs. The best thing western people could do is to boycott Thailand. This means not visiting the nation as tourists. We revolutionary socialists call for massive protests against the National Council for Peace and Order and for the establishment of a workers party on a socialist program. Such a party would then mobilize the masses for genuine socialism!
In response to the growing dictatorship of the military, terrorist attacks have started. These attacks are directed against innocent people, workers and poor. The junta does not care and will only use the terror attacks to strengthen its own dictatorial rule. By now it has become clear that the two biggest political parties, the Democrat Party and Pheu Thai Party have sided with the military’s plan for ”national reconciliation”. Revolutionary socialists reject anything that comes from these autocratic generals. We say:
• No to terrorism; yes to mass struggle
• For a united struggle of workers, poor farmers, students and other oppressed people
• No to the rule of generals; end the monarchy
• Organise the election of a genuine, representative Revolutionary Constituent Assembly
• For the building of a mass workers’ and poor farmers’ party fighting for a majority to form a government
• Trade union rights for the armed forces rank and file – win poor soldiers to the struggles of working people
• Full rights for the oppressed Muslim population in the South of Thailand and all other minorities
• No to neo-liberal policies; for democratic public ownership of major industries, large private land-holdings and banks
• For an economy planned to meet the needs of the working people and poor farmers, under the democratic control and management of elected committees from the working class and small farmers
• For a socialist Thailand, as part of a socialist federation throughout South East Asia