April 23, 2014 00:00 By Tulsathit Taptim
"Show me a man or a woman alone and I'll show you a saint. Give me two and they'll fall in love. Give me three and they'll invent the charming thing we call 'society'. Give me four and they'll build a pyramid. Give me five and they'll make one an outcast. Give me six and they'll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they'll reinvent warfare."
- Stephen King, The Stand
Give me 60 million Thais and they’ll prove they don’t need a government. Or an orthodox government at least. Call this sarcasm or a joke, but we should seriously consider the possibility of living without the main cause of our misery. And before the pro-Yingluck camp goes wild on the keyboards, this is not just about “this” government, but “any” government as we know it.
Let’s cut to the chase. Here are reasons why Thais will do just fine without an elected, or non-elected, team of “administrators” we know full well are no better than us:
1. If a habit is formed after 21 days as they say, our non-government life should be more than secure by now. Street campaigns against the Pheu Thai government began late last year. The House of Representatives was dissolved in December. Ever since, we have had a caretaker government, which has done anything but prove it’s in control.
2. Tap water still flows. Schools and convenience stores remain open. There has been no looting. They still collect our taxes. We continue to be connected to the Internet. Both biased and neutral media outlets continue to operate in full force. In other words, the nation has been flying smoothly on auto-pilot.
3. One way or another, a new government will end up like this one, so what’s the point?
4. What is a “government”, really? It’s a way of making a lot of people live together peacefully. Can our government – I mean “any” government – do that?
5. What is a “government” supposed to do, really? It’s supposed to make the people happy, right? Can our government – “any” government – do that?
6. A government is about putting the most efficient, capable people in charge of things like improving national education, right? Well, don’t get me started on this one.
7. If a government is about making people respect the laws, our system is an epic fail.
8. I know permanent state officials have to be paid, and their services need funding. The much-needed money traditionally comes from the “budget” that a government proposes and seeks parliamentary approval for. But if you have a choice between letting guys like Nuttawut Saikuar decide on how much money the whole agricultural sector needs and on an entirely new way of budget allocation, what will that be? (Sorry if you’re a Nuttawut fan. How about allowing guys like Chalerm Yoobamrung have a say on the police budget and its spending?)
9. If a government is about promoting unity and harmony so national resources can be properly utilised, look around you.
10. If a government is about setting good examples (like paying taxes properly), again, that must be a government in some other universe.
11. What about drought, other forms of natural disasters, border patrol and national security? Well, our problem is that a government “as we know it” has to handle every one of them. Is it in anybody’s best interests to, say, have the best goalkeeper play as a striker one day and a midfielder the next?
12. The above points concern what good a government is supposed to do. But we don’t need a government when it comes to bad things, either. If corruption is okay, we no longer need a government to tell us so. Of course, bad morals sometimes need endorsement at a high level in order to go viral, but we have seen enough examples to do well on our own.
13. Nations need leaders because “visions” are necessary, you may argue. Well, show me a good political vision and I’ll show you 10 bad ones.
14. A government is necessary because nobody else can help the underprivileged and tackle inequality, some say. Who will take rich people’s taxes and use them to help the poor? Who can make sure the grassroots have access to good healthcare?
Here are my answers: Those things are noble. Trusting a government as we know it to do noble things is like giving a temple boy Bt1,000 to put in the donation box and turning away and driving home.
“We’ll give it a shot. We’re half way there. Livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand and we’ll make it, I swear.”