|Numbers won't save Yingluck from hubris|
|AuthorDefaultA… 文章CopyFromhttp://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/363749/numbers-won-t-save-yingluck-from-hubris Hits448 UpdateTime2013-8-9  |
In a democratic society, numbers always count.
You need certain numbers of members to set up a political party and to field candidates in an election.
You need to outnumber your political rivals to win a chance to form a government. The only politician in our modern history who was able to form government despite holding a minority of seats was the late statesman MR Kukrit Pramoj, leader of the Social Action Party, in 1975.
You need certain numbers to survive the parliamentary process, especially with important matters such as budget bills.
Of course, the higher the numbers, the more stable a government becomes. This is exactly why MR Kukrit's coalition government was short-lived. Volatile political situations forced MR Kukrit to dissolve parliament the following year.
Higher numbers are an advantage to a political party as it ensures the vote of confidence in the House, but it can be a disadvantage if the high numbers result in overconfidence of those in power.
Consider the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.
When it comes to numbers _ 265 against 159 _ the Pheu Thai Party, which has reinforced itself with support from coalition parties, has a huge political advantage over its rival Democrats. With such vote disparity, the opposition stands no chance to resist anything _ from the 2-trillion-baht transport loan bill, to the rice scandal, to the contentious amnesty bill.
We can hardly expect the House to perform its role as the applier of checks and balances. The House, in this form, is no more than a rubber stamp.
As the government is about to celebrate its mid-term in power, we have realised that the best the Yingluck government can do for democracy is to pay it lip service.
Remember the so-called Mongolia speech? By delivering that controversial speech, the prime minister painted a picture of herself and her family as champions of democracy.
When facing the threat of the Democrat-led street protests over the amnesty matter earlier this week, it was Ms Yingluck who called for the use of parliamentary channel. Her own words: "Let's take the issue to parliament" to tackle the national crisis.
However, it's the same Ms Yingluck who escaped from the House debate after opening it on Wednesday afternoon. The prime minister chose to travel to Hua Hin for another function.
Really? Isn't the amnesty an important national issue?
No, judging from her proposal to enlist political heavyweights to set up the political reform council.
It would appear that Ms Yingluck considered the amnesty issue highly important as she addressed the nation live in a televised broadcast on Aug 4.
But her absence from parliament tells us otherwise. Perhaps Ms Yingluck thinks parliamentary affairs are social events where she can simply cut the ribbon and then leave.
If anything, her escape from parliament is not a surprise. It's not the first time, nor will it be the last.
The prime minister, like her disgraced brother Thaksin, is an elected leader who attaches little, if any, importance to parliamentary process. Her escape from this House debate proves that.
Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai, who is now chief adviser of the Democrat Party, was correct when he said the prime minister's "actions did not match her words". He was too polite to use the word "hypocrite".
Whether Ms Yingluck realises it or not, her actions call into question her claim of being a champion of democracy. Her absence cast a bad light on herself and her government.
Or she just does not care?
Their number of seats in the House is what gives Ms Yingluck and Thaksin, when leading the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai, the privilege of arrogance.
The prime minister should pay more attention to history and should recognise what happens to politicians when they become too confident.
Over time they lose their legitimacy and there's nothing the numbers can do then to save them.
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