The Nation


Burning issue

Is the PDRC about to blow its undeniable support?

So far, it's still uncertain which direction Thai society is heading in. But one thing should be pondered: how did the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) led by Suthep Thaugsuban, former Democrat MP, manage to gather so massive a number of protesters to join the rally on Monday?

An undeniable factor is that the demonstrators shared dissatisfaction with the government, controlled by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from behind the scenes. The government fuelled the dissatisfaction with several actions that came close to showing how it had been corrupted by power.

And the last straw that prompted people to fill Bangkok's streets was the passage of the amnesty bill by the House to whitewash Thaksin.

Although some refused to accept it, the Monday rally drew the highest number of protesters in Thailand's history. Most of the demonstrators were from the middle-class and were willing to join Suthep on the streets, although Suthep was not the type of politician liked by the middle class.

A simple answer is that middle-class people have become fed up with the current ruling system. They would like to see corruption rooted out from the country and would like the country to be ruled by "good persons" they can trust. Most of all, they would like to see swift changes and they are often carried away with beautiful words.

Suthep knows what the middle class wants. So, he used these flowery words to explain how he could bring about change to the current system. This way, he won the hearts of the middle class, but they failed to check how the goals Suthep talked about could be achieved.

A key question was what Suthep would do next after he had won over this middle-class support. The proposal to establish a People's Council without a legal base would not convince the people for long.

Moreover, the government had already returned a ruling mandate to the people by agreeing to a snap election. However, the PDRC rejected the election and is continuing to seek a People's Council. This would prompt the community to weigh the pros and cons and choose which proposal would be best.

The middle-class cherish their rights - but the reform model of the PDRC would take away these rights on the grounds it wanted to improve the rules before allowing an election. This would prompt a lot of people to question whether to continue supporting Suthep's cause.

This is because the People's Council would, by all measures, not be far different from a council of dictators - as the people would have no chance to elect its membership. Its name says the council belongs to the people, but its members would be selected only by PDRC leaders.

Now that the current demands of the PDRC are different from those set when Suthep started to lead the protest, the PDRC leaders may begin reviewing as to whether they should push on with this path. If they continue, the chances would be high for them to fail. Remember the old saying: the more greedy you become making a bet, the more chances you will lose.

But if the PDRC leaders select a good moment to end their campaign, real political reform might take place. The rally has already shown that the people's power is important like never before. At least, the people's power has led to a change in the government.

The PDRC should not let this fight become futile through the stubbornness of its leaders.

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