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Thailand’s continuing problems over Premier Samak Sundaravej

Thailand has been going through some severe problems till now, a classic case of democracy under test. It has been argued by many people at different periods of time that democracy should not be fully open, that a rule of the people is colored by the problem that the mass is swayed by emotions or other such feelings to elect a person who in turn is not appropriate for ruling the country. Some classic cases that have been quoted in the past have been the election of the Islamists in Algeria, the election of Hamas, and the election of some of the South American leaders and African leaders, many of whom have caused their country great problems. Many of Thailand’s opposition leaders are saying the same thing about the current prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, who is accused of being a puppet of the previous Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra (a truly polarizing figure in Thai politics), a person who won (and continues to win) the hearts and the votes of people in the rural area, and was massively disliked / hated by people in the cities because of his policies (and who was eventually uprooted by the military). For the past few weeks, Samak Sundaravej has been facing a massive demonstration by people opposed to him who have even occupied his offices and forced him to hold cabinet meetings elsewhere.
And now he is under threat because of a very different reason – he is under a court threatened dismissal because of his having a running TV cooking show, and for which he had taken payments from a private company. It is illegal for a Prime Minister to receive money from a private company, and his detractors are looking at this as an opportunity to finally get rid of him, although it is unclear whether he will eventually go even if the court finds him guilty (he could resign, and then be re-nominated by his party for the post). He is meanwhile roaming around the countryside, locations where his predecessor was very popular:

Thailand’s Constitutional Court is set to decide later Tuesday whether Samak violated the constitution by taking money from a private company to host the “Tasting and Grumbling” cooking show. If found guilty, he and his cabinet would be forced to resign — something that protesters occupying the grounds of his offices have not been able to achieve since storming his Government House two weeks ago. However, Samak would not be barred from holding office, and his deputy has already held out the possibility that the ruling coalition could simply vote him back as prime minister.
The protesters, who call themselves the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), are pushing a broader agenda than just Samak’s resignation. They want to curtail Thailand’s democracy so that only 30 percent of seats in parliament would be elected, which they say would restrict the influence of poor rural voters in places like Udon Thani, who have widely supported Samak. PAD supporters say the change would ensure that Samak’s allies cannot return to power.

In this current confrontation, thankfully, both the military and the king have so far pledged their neutrality; anyhow, military intervention just led to a gap of some years; when finally the elections took place, a party similar to the previously ruling party was again voted back into office.

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