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Why the Democratic party boycotted the Thai elections

Opposition demands an end to totalitarian abuses of power under the guise of democracy.

Last updated: 04 Feb 2014 12:29
Kasit Piromya

Kasit Piromya is a former Thai Foreign Minister. He is currently a member of the Thai parliament.
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The Democrat Party boycotted the election [Getty Images]

The current situation in Thailand reminded me of a clip I received of a recently aired Super Bowl advertisement. In it Laurence Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus, who, posing as a car valet, offered a couple the choice between red and blue keys - in lieu of the red and blue pills in the film. The woman picked the red key and had an new experience that completely changed their perception of luxury cars.

The much-parodied scene pretty much reflects the conditions of Thai politics today. The people have chosen the red pill or key, which has given them the ability to see through the facade, a house of cards, erected by Yingluck Shinawatra's government.

Fed up that the government could not pay a dime for their hard-earned harvest because of loopholes that encourage massive systematic corruption in the rice pledging scheme, the farmers took to the streets.

Fed up that the government could not pay a dime for their hard-earned harvest because of loopholes that encourage massive systematic corruption in the rice pledging scheme, the farmers took to the streets.

Fed up with the government's breach of trust to reconcile the nation, secretly pushing through an amnesty bill that will grant wholesale absolution to convicted politicians, the people took to the streets.

We want to make a point that if you want to break through the Matrix, this illusion of democracy, then we need a fair and transparent electoral system devoid of interference and violence

That is also why I and fellow members of the Democrat Party felt it was justified to boycott this election. We did not stop anyone from exercising their rights, but we want to make a point that if you want to break through the Matrix, this illusion of democracy, then we need a fair and transparent electoral system devoid of interference and violence - frankly in the past the Democrats could not campaign in certain provinces because of death threats.

The people's fight is a demand for electoral reform and accountability from the government. We wish not to see the country plunge further into the abyss, for we will be stuck in a black hole where totalitarian abuses of power will be accepted under the guise of democracy, where one man reigns with complete disregard for checks and balances.

I do not wish to paint a dark and dystopian picture for the sake of scaremongering. Nor am I dreaming up a utopia, but this is the reality. In modern Thai history, I have never seen any parliament majority defy the rule of law by brushing aside the judiciary and other independent anti-corruption bodies as if they were nothing more than pesky flies, as they made a mess of the country.     

So what shall we do now? Like Neo in the film, we may have doubts and we may have even been deceived by the distorted reality perpetuated by the mainstream media. But we must not lose heart. We must break through from the world that prevents pluralistic civic engagement, a world where a super-majority is propagated to be the panacea for all social and economic grievances.

I believe the time is now. Through patience and open-mindedness, our cause to redefine democracy, as a viable and fair system for all - where all votes are equal and respected - will succeed. 

Kasit Piromya is a former Thai Foreign Minister. He is currently a member of the Thai parliament.

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The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

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