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Sat, November 25, 2006 : Last updated 21:11 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Opinion > Ignore the CNS and move politics forward

Ignore the CNS and move politics forward

Judging from the political headlines, the fragile situation is sliding into the abyss of a system meltdown where politicking becomes a self-destructive process because the ruling elite are trying to annihilate one another.

Fractious politics persisted long before the September 19 seizure of power - and continues to do so.

Although Thailand has had 74 years of democratic rule, three pro-democracy uprisings that ended in bloodshed and 17 constitutions, it appears clueless on how to resolve a political struggle.

A few short months ago, a political crisis was in full swing because of the confrontation between the Thaksin Shinawatra regime and pro-democracy advocates.

As Thaksin clung to power, his opponents tried to heave him out of office. The country experienced a lame duck situation for almost a year because the caretaker government had overstayed its 90-day term and many state mechanisms became inoperable.

The military coup dethroned Thaksin, ushered in the interim government, revived the bureaucracy and revamped the political system.

Should everything go according to plan, the restoration of democracy is expected to be completed in one year.

Unfortunately, coup leaders failed, or somewhat underestimated, the political volatility. Tensions did not dissipate like precedents from past military intervention.

Noisy bickering has become louder as the issue of Thaksin's leadership remains unresolved while new problems have come to the fore. Passionate arguments have extended to a wide range of issues like the true intentions of the coup and the path back to democracy.

The Council for National Security (CNS) may have envisioned a fresh start for democratic rule but this can only happen if relevant parties agree to move on instead of getting trapped in old animosities.

The prevailing political landscape is worrisome. Political discontent permeates the social fabric. Politicians of all stripes, civic leaders and opinion makers are quick to fault one another but offer very little about ways to mend fences and overcome political flaws.

Thaksin and his supporters blame everyone else for their predicament.

Pro-democracy advocates welcomed the destruction of the Thaksin regime but at the same time attack the seizure of power.

Since the CNS was catapulted into power it seems to have lost its bearings while navigating to reshape the political system.

In a nutshell, society is being overwhelmed with political problems - and everyone keeps on complaining as no one does anything about it.

As an authoritarian leader, Thaksin was considered a malignant force concerning democracy. He manipulated elections to cling to power. Overthrowing him by force was undemocratic. It was as harmful as the corrupt regime it deposed.

Two wrongs do not make it right. The critical issue at this juncture is about the country moving on and not about dwelling on what has happened.

Historians will judge which is worse - the authoritarian regime or the military take-over.

The debate over the military intervention is now futile and may lead to a larger problem. The seizure of political power is irreversible and the only way to undo it is by staging another coup.

If this happens, then there won't be a glimmer of hope for the return of democratic rule. Opinion makers should realise that the more they discredit the CNS, the bigger the chance for another military clique to emerge and seize power.

In fact, why pay undue attention to the CNS at all? Coup makers have already set the timetable for their exit - so let them be. Should they fail to honour their pledge, there will be plenty of time for a backlash next year.

At the moment, time and energy should be spent on the dismantling of Thaksin's tentacles of power. Furthermore, relevant parties should be preparing for rigorous debate

on the drafting of the new constitution.

Political pundits have extensively diagnosed symptoms leading to the collapse of checks and balances.

Too little has been said about the remedies for the flawed system.

Avudh Panananda

The Nation

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