What would you do in this sad state of affairs?
Here's your situation: your sister is the prime minister, the national police chief is your former in-law, the capital's police chief openly put up your photo for worship, and the defence minister allegedly wouldn't finalise a military reshuffle plan without your stamp of approval.Your political party controls Parliament. More than half of the population supports you. The only problem is, a two-year jail sentence is hanging over your head, forcing you to live in exile overseas, which is actually not as bad as it sounds, because countries like America, the UK, Russia and Japan have welcomed you with open arms.
What would you do then, in addition to playing golf at the world's most exclusive clubs and shopping at the world's most luxurious stores?
A) You accept that judicial and political powers are meant to counter-balance each other. You concede that what you did was against the law of your land, no matter what circumstances they convicted you under. Painful as it feels, you admit that the country's democracy has been weakened not just by elements "conspiring" against you, but also by your own disdain for true democratic principles at the beginning. You decide, pretty much for the sake of the country that has been deeply divided over your "plight" or "crime", to let all this become a totally legal, not political, affair.
B) You insist on your "innocence", wield election victory like a sword, brand the judicial power as abusive and biased, and try to use your political power to override it. There is only one way to achieve your goal - you and your publicists have to go about discrediting your own country with poisonous rhetoric. So dictatorial is a country that let your sister govern, her contentious economic policies be implemented, your former in-law become the chief law enforcer, the capital police chief publicly advertise his undying love for you, and so on.
A bolder question is, with the police unlikely to abuse you and the government working basically at your command, why don't you just come home and get it over with?
You certainly will point the military out. Returning home now may destabilise your sister's government, which has not been on good terms with the generals. That's why the military reshuffle is a big issue, you explain. It's a fair concern. Coup-makers don't care how many votes your party has won, or they would never have brought you down from power six years ago.
You are adamant that using your political party's "mandate" to erase your "crimes" is the only peaceful way to go. But then again, wasn't this kind of mindset exactly where it all began? Just as an election mandate was not supposed to allow you or your spouse to grab a big lot of state property while you were in office, such a mandate cannot whitewash you of that offence either. Of course, MPs are "lawmakers" who are meant to follow the will of the people, but even that sacred democratic duty has its limits. It's simply a universal rule that the laws can't be written or changed for any individual with retroactive effect.
The deadlock is sticky yet simple. You consider your absolution the only means to restore justice, while your opponents believe justice can never be served unless you unconditionally admit guilt. There is no acceptable middle ground. You will never confess your sin in exchange for amnesty, insisting that you have done nothing wrong. The other side will accept nothing short of a heartfelt confession.
If evil forces are undermining democracy in Thailand, how can a government exist that is always ready to lay down a red carpet for your return? Why do unconventional media outlets mushroom, which are freely supporting you or campaigning against you? Why are controversial economic policies, many of which are known to be your brainchild, being implemented without hindrance? Why is everything that is within the scope of a fundamental democratic mandate progressing quite smoothly? Why is it that what is "obstructing democracy" seems to only revolve around a plot of land that your family should never have bought?
Your answers may be that it's because the righteous forces are prevailing. You overlook the possibility that maybe it's because the righteous forces are holding their last ground against you. Either way, the ultimate trophy is your return or its prevention. Which will benefit or kill democracy may be hard to judge. Despite your questionable traits, democracy owes you one thing: thanks to you, people are putting the ideal, its definition and components under new scrutiny.
You can say that your sister being prime minister, your former in-law being the police chief, the capital's police chief expressing his love for you on a daily basis, and the defence minister paying you a courtesy call is not democracy. But while you may be right, the common ground between you and your opponents ends here. This is most probably not democracy, everyone agrees. People diverge at the question "why?" Either because something is missing - you - or because the current state of affairs is just an overblown, completely distorted democracy trying to accommodate something it is not really supposed to.