Friday, February 28, 2020

Thai students mass protest for Democracy - Malaysian students? Indifferent or just don't care about justice and rights?

In Thailand are protesting when Democracy is being threatened. Where are Malaysian students - why are they so quite? Where are the people? Why are we so quiet? Do we not care? Are we OK that UMNO-BN may come back into power after we kicked them out in May General Elections? Are we happy about the betrayal of some MPs and maybe also some party of the Pakatan Harapan? 
Thailand’s normally docile students have been holding rallies around the country to express their discontent with the established political order.
We had a time when our university students were in the forefront of the struggle for justice and human rights...

Malaysian people feel that they NOW do not have a say in the selection of the Prime Minister - maybe we should be having elections for PM ...or at the very least a REFERENDUM so people can indicate who they want as the Prime Minister of Malaysia given this current situation.

Is there any of our MP that has gone back to the Rakyat(the people) and talked to their own constituents - the people they represent? Do the people not matter? They forget that it is the people that chose them to represent the people...but some seem to have forgotten in their personal quests of power and position?

Malaysians seems 'indifferent' or maybe they are just simply 'fed-up'. They are angry with the Betrayal of BERSATU and the 11 PKR MPs that left and may allegedly be involved in the attempt to bring back UMNO-BN into government...

Anyway, in neighboring Thailand, a new political party, the Future Forward Party, has  been dissolved...and people are protesting...because their democratic right has been 'violated' the disqualification of the MPs and party they chose.

The Future Forward Party, founded on March 2018, by new people (not by former members or leaders of UMNO-BN or PAS or other parties) - and in the last General Elections in Thailand,  about a year or less after it was formed, they impressively managed to win 81 seats in Parliament of the 500 seats contested. They managed to get 6,265,950  or 17.63% of the popular votes. VERY IMPRESSIVE - for a brand new political party. Maybe we too do not need the Anwars or the Mahathirs to form a new PROGRESSIVE for the people political parties.

Maybe we should also be looking to the formation of NEW political parties free of any ex-UMNO-BN or any ex-party leaders...[PKR formed by Anwar and friends(many are ex-UMNO-BN), BERSATU [Formed by Dr M and Muhyiddin Yassin again former PM and DPM of UMNO-BN] and Amanah [Former leaders of PAS] - We really have a shortage of NEW political parties, and maybe this should CHANGE giving us better choices that what we have now...

Maybe some of these OLD parties formed decades ago may simply no longer be relevant for modern Malaysia - What do you say?

Sparked by Party Dissolution, Students Rally in Bangkok and Beyond

Anti-government protest at Thammasat University in Pathum Thani province on Feb. 26, 2020.
PATHUM THANI, Thailand (AP) — Thailand’s normally docile students have been holding rallies around the country to express their discontent with the established political order.

The rare mass activism was triggered by a court ruling dissolving a popular opposition political party whose democracy-promoting policies had attracted substantial support among younger Thais.

As many as 2,000 students gathered Wednesday in the biggest demonstration so far, north of Bangkok at the main undergraduate campus of Thammasat University. Rallies have been held or are scheduled at at least 30 educational institutions.

Student protests of such breadth have not been seen in decades, but it is not clear if they will gain traction. They raise pressure on a government already accused of incompetence and failure to cope with an economic downturn.

“These protests are significant because they greatly raise the decibel level of organized opposition to the military-dominated coalition government in power,” said Paul Chambers, a political scientist at Naresuan University in northern Thailand.
Anti-government protest at Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok on Feb. 26, 2020.
Many at the Thammasat rally wore face masks, a form of protection against the new virus, as they carried placards lambasting the government. A musician who took the stage apologized to the crowd that fellow band members could not accompany him because they were playing at other protest venues.

Thammasat’s in-town campus kicked off the campaign on Saturday, and prestigious Chulalongkorn University followed on Monday.

“This is a real organic movement that stems from students’ frustration at injustice. And I think all these protests that we see are just the beginning, the beginning of a sign that people cannot take what’s going in society anymore,” said Panasuya Sithijirawattanakul, a spokeswoman for the Student Union of Thailand who helped organized Saturday’s initial rally.

Last week, the Constitutional Court ordered the opposition Future Forward Party dissolved. The recently formed party won the third-highest number of seats in last year’s general election with an anti-establishment stance that attracted younger voters. But those same positions antagonized Thailand’s traditional ruling class, which is dominated by royalists and the military.

The court ruled that the party broke the election law by accepting a large loan from its leader. However, it is widely believed that the party was targeted for its popularity and for being critical of the government and the military. Its charismatic leaders were barred from holding political office for 10 years.

Discontent has been brewing since the army ousted an elected government in 2014, but protests then were limited to a small circle of students who braved repeated arrests.
Tight controls under military rule were lifted after last year’s elections, but the prime minister remained the same as under the military regime, former army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha, who staged the 2014 military takeover.

“The protests are significant in that they show a growing dissatisfaction with the Prayuth regime among younger Thais,” said Jacob Ricks, a political scientist at Singapore Management University. 

“A fair number of these students probably voted for Future Forward.”

He noted that after the 2014 coup, gatherings of more than a few people were banned and the Future Forward Party did not exist.

“Now students have more freedom to protest, an organization to mobilize around — the Future Forward Party’s social media structures — and emotional investment,” he said in an e-mail interview.
Student organizer Panasuya said the protesters don’t have specific demands because they have not yet coordinated with other universities.

“But now that we see others are thinking the same thing, we will reach out to others and come up with demands,” she said.

“I think we really have been fed up for many years now,” she said. “And this anger goes beyond Future Forward’s dissolution. It’s like the junta had dumped oil on us and Future Forward’s dissolution is the match that sparked the fire that is now spreading.”

“I think this could be the beginning of a bigger movement,” she added. “I can’t guarantee that, but I think it could happen.”

Ricks said Prime Minister Prayuth still holds the stronger hand.

“He can probably afford to ignore the protests for the time being as long as they don’t move off campus and cause major disruptions,” he said.

Peck reported from Bangkok. Associated Press writer Preeyapa T. Khunsong in Bangkok contributed to this report. - Khaosood Engl;ish, 27/2/2020

Thai court dissolves Future Forward Party (update)

Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit reacts as he watches Thailand's Constitutional Court ruling, at the party's headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand on Feb 21, 2020. - Reuters

BANGKOK (AFP): A stridently anti-military Thai party was dissolved Friday (Feb 21) and its key members banned from politics for a decade over a US$6 million loan by its billionaire founder, a withering blow to the kingdom's pro-democracy movement.

The ruling could edge a politically febrile kingdom -- whose economy is shrinking -- closer to the street protests, which have scored much of the last 15 years of Thai history.

The Future Forward Party (FFP), fronted by the charismatic auto-parts scion Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, emerged from nowhere in March last year to become Thailand's third biggest party in the first elections since a 2014 coup.

The party's radical agenda -- calling for full democracy, an end to conscription and the removal of the army from politics and business -- won it 6.3 million votes and pitched it against the powerful, conservative military.

But since their strong poll showing, Thanathorn and his 76 lawmakers have faced relentless rounds of legal cases in Thailand's courts.

On Friday the nine-member constitutional court dissolved FFP, ruling a US$6 million loan by Thanathorn breached the law governing political parties.

The loan exceeded the US$315,000 limit on donations to parties by an individual, one judge said.

Panya Udchachon told the court that "party executives must have known that a loan of that amount would give influence (to Thanathorn) and he could gain advantage over the party."

Sixteen party executives, including founder Thanathorn, were also "banned for running for political office for 10 years," judge Nakarin Mektriarat added.
FFP has denied wrongdoing.

The same court has taken out several pro-democracy parties since 2008 and knocked two anti-establishment prime ministers from power.

The ruling appears to put a pin in the immediate political aspirations of Thanathorn, whose emergence on the Thai political stage has inspired millennials but frightened the country's conservative establishment.

"I don't understand why they do this. Do they want people to come out on to the street?" a desolate FFP supporter at the party headquarters told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Thailand has seen several rounds of bloody competing street protests roughly between those who support democracy and those who buttress the royalist army establishment, which draws on the support and wealth of the kingdom's oligarchs.

Thailand's economy is on the ropes -- freshly winded by the sharp tail-off in tourism as fears over the coronavirus slow travel -- while patience with the army-affiliated government of Prayut Chan-o-Cha is running out.

Prayut led the the 2014 coup against the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

But the gaff-prone former army-chief is openly ridiculed since restrictions on free political expression were eased last year.

Thanathorn, whose wealth had appeared to gift him a shield of sorts, has been a fierce critic of military involvement in politics in a country whose history is peppered with coups.

Future Forward MPs remain lawmakers but have 60 days to find another party in parliament.

The party could also relaunch, but without its charismatic key executives is likely to struggle to keep the same number in their ranks.

Critics say Thailand's army-scripted constitution has created a lop-sided parliament stacked with former generals. - AFP - Star, 21/2/2020

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