Friday, January 7, 2011

Abhisit and the Holy Grail

Some of the theater which is Thai politics reminds me of the scene with King Arthur, a woman peasant and Dennis the Peasant in the 1975 Epic Movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”  Part of the dialogue went like this:

King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman Peasant: Well I didn't vote for you.
King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.
Woman Peasant: Well how'd you become king then?
[Angelic music plays... ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis the Peasant: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

There you have it – Profound political insight by Dennis the Peasant when he states that “Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses.”  No literatueur, no auteur, no political scientist ever phrased it better. 
Dennis the Peasant

Now I'm certainly no Hollywood screen writer but I bet if Abhisit replaced King Arthur in this scene, then the dialogue would go something like this:

Abhisit: I am your Prime Minister.
Woman Peasant: Well I didn't vote for you.
Abhisit: You don't vote for Thai Prime Ministers nowadays.
Woman Peasant: Well how'd you become Prime Minister then?
[Angelic music plays... ]
In 2006 the army overthrew the democratically elected government. They tear up the 1997 constitution - Thailand's most democratic - dissolve the ruling political party and foist a clearly undemocratic new constitution on the Thai people. No one is allowed to campaign against the referendum that brings in the new constitution and the army organizes the "yes" campaign.
In 2007 another election is held - once again Thaksin's party (now called the PPP) - by some considerable distance - are the biggest winners, winning 233 seats, 8 short of a majority in Thailand's 480 member parliament.  My party is far behind with 166 - we are roundly trounced. The PPP easily create a coalition and form a government under Samak Sundaravej. But the military, who didn't want to see all the hard work that went into the 2006 military coup go to waste, used their hand-picked justices on Thailand’s courts forced Samak's resignation for getting paid to host a cooking show. They then forced out his successor and for good measure banned the PPP.
That still wasn't enough to push me into power, so at night, the leader of the military, General Paochinda , visits several ex-PPP coalition partners at their homes to coerce them to switch sides.  Remarkably, all these MPs conduct a volte face and join my coalition.  And that is how I earned my place as Prime Minister.
Dennis the Peasant: [interrupting] Listen, bloated and corrupt Thai generals deciding what is only good for themselves is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical whims of power mad military fascists.

And there you have it. Art mirrors reality.  

Incidentally, the actual 1975 movie ends when the police arrive, arresting King Arthur for murder.  We can only hope for a similar happy ending in this Thai political drama.

For your entertainment, below is the entire scene with Dennis the Peasant and King Arthur. Of course, here's the standard disclaimer: "The events depicted in this movie are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental." 

 Thailand Needs Democracy!

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