Newsweek on Thaksin

A very rare and sensible article on Thaksin Shinawatra published in Newsweek.  Surely the government’s e-footsoldiers will leap all over it very soon just like they have with CNN (see Bangkok Pundit’s critique of their absurd stab at censorship via bullying).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t just service to the poor that made Thaksin important for Thailand’s democracy. It was his ability to govern: Thaksin was the first prime minister to lead a government through a full four-year term since the country ended military rule in 1976–every other leader was either overthrown by coup, forced to resign, or abandoned by coalition partners, forcing a new election. (…)

But whatever Thaksin’s flaws, from 2001 until 2006 he incorporated full participation of the masses and offered the country its best shot ever at a functioning democracy. Ordinary people thought he cared about them, even if he alienated the elites. Every nation has opposing classes and factions, and by putting rural voters into play he was creating a check on the power of urban elites. Thaksin’s government was democratic not in spite of his divisiveness but because of it.