A question was asked: If after the next general elections, General Prayuth Chan-ocha continues as prime minister, whether by winning the elections or “by appointment”, what will Thailand become?
The answer is this: If Thailand only aspires to remain a middling, average nation relative to the worldwide scheme of 195 countries. Nothing too wonderful, except for the beaches and the massages. Nothing too horrible, except for the corruptions, pollutions, trashes and potholes. Then sure, the general could do the job.
After all, this ordinariness is where Thailand is already at, and has always been at.
Thailand’s economy will progress, and as a developing nation with natural resources, relatively skilled labor and strategic location – there’s still plenty of room for growth. Foreign investments will increase, the highspeed railway will be built and other projects will stimulate the economy. These things will happen. In fact, they will happen with or without the general in charge after the elections. So, it’s really neither here nor there.
But at the end of the day, we would still be a middling nation in the worldwide scheme. Corrupted and disorderly, always ripened with abuses and exploitations, but with more money in our pockets.
However, if Thailand aspires for a better tomorrow. If one day we hope to walk among the giants, and be the envy and admiration of other nations (not just Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar), then is the general really the answer? Or is there another candidate who could possibly be the answer?
There are three primary criteria for making a nation great, according to me.
Firstly, there must be a leader who can move mountains, someone who can inspire a nation and a people towards greatness. The general has been in charge for over four years now. The question is, has he shown any character to inspire a nation and move mountains? (Sure, he has the firepower to blow up mountains, but that’s not the same thing.)
If the answer is yes, then that’s great, let’s vote for him. If the answer is no, then which of the other candidates has the potentials, if any?
Secondly, the culture of good governance: meritocracy, pragmatism and honesty. Meritocracy, electing or selecting the right people to the right job based on skills, talents and abilities. Pragmatism, which involves realistic assessments and scientific approach to solve problems and achieve goals – a working governance based on reasons, facts and evidences. Honesty, which of course is the opposite of corruption.
With more than four years of authoritative power in his hands: Has the general shown that he’s the one who would tear down Thailand’s deeply-entrenched patronage networks that have cursed the nation with unqualified people and downright buffoons in important positions? To do away with cronyism and tribalism? And turn Thailand into a nation that practices meritocracy?
Is he the one to sweep aside superstitions, the obsession with face values, myths and folklores, and instead champion pragmatism? Is he the one to clean up Thailand’s corruptions? (Well, if we were to ask him, his answer would be, cleaning up corruptions is exactly what’s he been doing.)
If the answer is yes, the general has been fostering good governance for over the past four years, then let’s vote for him. If the answer is no, then which of the other candidates has the potentials, if any?
Lastly, a set of laws that uphold human rights. A free media that acts as a check & balance on the government, to make sure there’s honesty and transparency. The freedom of speech and expressions. The right to disagree and to stand up for what we believe in, even if it’s against the mainstream, even if it’s against the government.
The right to assemble and protest. The right to read any book we want to, without fear of policemen come knocking. The right to hit the “share” button on Facebook, without fear of soldiers come knocking. The right to criticize (or even curse) powerful people and the government, without getting an “invitation” to attitude adjustment camp.
Would the general foster such liberty? If the answer is yes, then that’s great, let’s vote for him. Especially, since we barely have any of these rights even under democratically elected leaders of the past anyway, not counting detention camp and soldiers knocking on doors of course.
But if the answer is no, then which of the other candidates is most likely to uphold human rights and civil liberty, if any?
The reasons to support a leader, or to vote for a leader, should be based on the vision of what we want Thailand to be, of what we see as our nation’s place in this world. It shouldn’t be based on the love of one cult of personality and the hate of another cult of personality. It shouldn’t be based on short-term economic gains. It shouldn’t be based on tribal allegiance or partisan politics.
For if we base our supports or our votes on these things, then it’s a guarantee that all Thailand will ever be is a middling, average nation, corrupted and disorderly, always abused and exploited.
But sure, we’ll have more money in our pockets.