Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What is wrong with an illusion of democracy?

Don't you just love it when you turn on the television set and see pictures of people fleeing their governments? Makes me kind of wish the news could be about a puppy on a surfboard all the time.

This week protests in Thailand and a military dictatorship in Fiji have been gathering pace, and we're about to see two traditional Australian holiday destinations become violent maelstroms of revolution and meanwhile Stephen Smith sits in Canberra and 'expresses concern over the situation'.

In Fiji, one of our close neighbours we have a military dictatorship which has seen the results of a democratic judicial ruling and thought 'nuh, don't like it'. So they (the military dictator in a Prime Minister's clothing Frank Bainimarama) trot out the President who reads from a piece of paper, seemingly bemused as to the powers he's giving himself. Basically, President Josefa Lliolo tore up the constitution and appointed Bainimarama as Prime Minister.

Oh, and about a year ago they promised to hold elections six months ago. Joyous.

Now, they've kicked out the head of the Reserve Bank of Fiji and the Fijian Human Rights Commission because they 'were formed under the constitution'. If that's not bad enough, they've basically shut down all independant media on the island, making it a crime to report 'negative' stories about the government.

So kids, what do you think the media did?

They did the only thing they could ethically do under the situation and refused to broadcast. They're doing their stories or they're doing none at all. Way to stick it to the man Fijian media, right on! Hopefully, the silence will be deafening.

Meanwhile in Thailand, simmering tensions between anti-government supporters and government officials have just started to flow over and the riot police have been called in. So far there no 'reported' casualties, but if you stand back and have a look at the picture in Thailand it may just make you lose your voice out of sheer bewilderment.

The current government, the one elected a while ago has been accused of corruption amongst other nefarious things, and seizing power illegally.

You see, the anti-government protestors are suporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the ex-PM who was ousted about a year and a half ago for 'alleged' massive coruption and supresing democracy in the nation. The military kicked him out, and he's now a criminal in the country.

That's right, the people of Thailand have basically moved from one corupt government to the next, and they're calling for the ex-PM to be re-installed to the office. What a crazy situation.

The paralells between Fiji and Thailand are quite evident at the moment, as both states are dealing with a government which was installed after a military coup, and both appear to be failing tremendously in their quest to 'restore democracy' to what they saw as failed states. Now, they're repeating the same mistakes as their predesessors and finding that power is a dark temptation indeed.

The over riding socio-political question at stake here has to be 'is it possible to violently insist upon democracy?'.

Your thoughts?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It worked for America a few centuries ago. Hell, even America's great inspiration - Rome - violently overthrew their monarch to make a sort of democracy.
People talk about the Ghandi as an example of peaceful resistance winning through; but Ghandi only had to deal with the Brits, a fundamentally less violent group of chaps (relatively speaking) than most world powers in history. Sometimes freedom needs a really big stick.