English articles > PM Abhisit must be brave and have a vision: Phra Paisal
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PM Abhisit must be brave and have a vision: Phra Paisal

Published on August 22, 2010
The Nation
อ่านข่าวที่ The Nation

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Phra Paisal Visalo, a thinker, writer and dhamma practitioner who is a member of the committee on national reform led by Anand Panyarachun, shares his views with The Nation's Somroutai Sapsomboon and Kornchanok Raksaseri about the rifts in Thai society. He also advises how to deal with the problems mentally, and proposes ways to bring Thailand back to peace. This is the first of a two-part interview.

Q: Amidst the current severe conflicts in Thai society, what dhamma principles do you think Thais should keep in mind?

A: In general, Thai society is facing a big change, with mobilised movements by many groups. Although the conflicts are focused on people such as Thaksin (former prime minister Shinawatra), the root of the problems are the changes in the structure of Thai society in various dimensions. For example, Thais have more political sense They might be the lower class, the poor or the lower middle class. They might have accepted the disparity in the past, but not anymore.

Likewise in many circles such as medicine. In the past, people accepted it when their family member died after a doctor's treatment. But now they feel they have the right to sue the doctor. In a way, the relationship between the doctor and patients changed. Another point is the level of acceptance.

Q: Is it a good change that people realise more about their rights?

A: Whether a change is good or not depends on the stance and the practice. If you have your rights, but you think only about yours without thinking of others, that can be a problem.

For example, a child dies. But the doctor did his best under the high pressure circumstances such as the huge number of patients.

"Double standard" is another example. If the people who protest against double standards also have double standards themselves, that's not right. The red shirts might protest against double standards, but they see everything they do as always right and the government as always wrong. That's not good.

Q: How do you see Abhisit Vejjajiva as a leader?

A: A leader must have courage and a vision. Abhisit has courage to some extent. But he hasn't shown it enough, especially during crises. This might be partly because he lacks vision and fears that if he really leads the change, it will bring trouble in the future. If he has the vision, he can see that despite problems in the short term, it might be good change in long term.

In the King Rama V era, he decided to cut some parts [of Thailand, then Siam] to England and France. It needed courage as the people didn't want it. He faced the pain but with his vision, he saw that sacrificing small parts to keep the majority was necessary. Otherwise, we might have lost all.

Unfortunately, it's understandable that Abhisit is not the real power-holder. Unlike during the King Rama V era, which was absolute monarchy. So Abhisit cannot do much. Although he is brave, he cannot do much as he must compromise to the real power-holder. That might be some limitations.

Q: Who is the real power holder?

A: In my opinion it is the military. If the military threatened to stage a coup and I'm in Abhisit's place, I might have to think hard. A coup will ruin everything. For example, the military might give the choices whether to yield to the red shirts or a military coup.

Actually there's no absolute power in Thailand nowadays. I just believe that if a clever man like Abhisit can find some allies, he might have enough power to push for the change although it's not what the power-holder needs.

To what I know, Abhisit is not trying to find allies. The Democrats also complained. Pichai [former party leader Rattakul] complained that Abhisit has not sought his advice. Others in the party said Abhisit just mingles with his own group. I think Abhisit might have long vision, but he might be surrounded by the short-visioned power-holders. He needs to draw allies like King Rama V did to balance the "old power clique". King Rama V found allies from the Siam Noom (Young Siam) group to balance the power with the old power clique of Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Si Suriyawong [Chuang Bunnag]. He then gradually derived or drew the power from the Old Power Clique until the group lost its power. They underestimated the young king who took the throne since the age of 14 or 15. If Abhisit can draw allies like that, he will be able to create more concrete changes. Thai society needs changes.

Thai society really needs change. It's in a very bad condition. Abhisit needs to be brave and go against the will of those people to facilitate the change. The red shirts are an accel

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