Them Ol'middle class Bangkokian blues

There's a saying from even before Thaksin Shinawatra became prominent in politics: ''Provincial people voted them in, Bangkok people kicked them out.'' The saying refers to the succession of stomach-churning governments during the 1990s democracy experiment. Regime after regime, the provinces voted in the corrupt and incompetent, while Bangkokians pressured each to step down. But for the past seven years, upcountry provincial folks have said, ''no, you're not going to kick this one out''.

Here we're discussing the Bangkok middle class. They are not the elites. The bulk of them are a couple of generations (give or take) removed from an immigrant or refugee boat or rural Thailand. We speak of them in general terms, as there are many exceptions, including those who support Thaksin.

I myself am only one generation removed from a working-class family in Nakhon Ratchasima. This is a testament to opportunities and social mobility in Thailand, with hard work and a bit of luck; building connections doesn't hurt either.

In recent Thai political history, democracy and good governance have always been at odds, and the pattern is frustrating for the Bangkok middle class. Once they thought Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai Party was the answer. People are susceptible to a good marketing campaign, which often paints mere illusions.

After the 2006 military coup, the Bangkok middle class took it for granted that the old elites would sort it out and set Thailand straight. That was a mistake. The old elites have proven to be the least in touch with reality, while the new elites are the most in touch. Meanwhile, the Bangkok middle class remains confused, caught between illusion and reality.

Over the past seven years, the Bangkok middle class has generally seen the Democrat Party as the right choice, but that too was a mistake. In hindsight, it was perhaps more wishful thinking than anything else. Today, they are viewed as merely the lesser of the two evils, except to their die-hard fans.

Confused and frustrated, here are the main complaints of the middle class: If the elites are the backbone of the country, then that's autocracy; if the working class is the backbone, then that's Marxism. It is only when the middle class plays the main role that democracy comes around.

So why is it that the voice of the middle class is so disregarded by the self-proclaimed democracy enthusiasts in favour of the voice of the poor? They must be Marxist agitators in disguise.

In addition, if education is a criterion for a healthy democracy, why then do the least educated in the country get to dictate the course of the country at the ballot box? Furthermore, while everyone pays taxes one way or another, why is it that it's mainly the Bangkok middle class who pay income tax?

One man, one vote is fine in principle. But why in a country with a workforce of 38 million do only two million actually pay income tax? This isn't equality; it's favouritism. You put more in the coffer, but still get the same one vote in return. Where's the line between democracy and Marxism, the middle class asks. Why shouldn't each person put in the same percentage of their income in return for their one vote?

Then there's the person the middle class views as the most corrupt manipulator, a fugitive criminal who controls the ballot box and dictates to the Thai government. He is the darling of the poor because he throws populist policies at them, a portion of which are paid for by the hard-earned money contributed by the middle class in income tax.

It's a masturbatory circle between the new elites and the poor, and they don't even have the courtesy to send the Bangkok middle class an invitation card. So, indeed, they are angry and frustrated. But above all, they are confused. Democracy sounded great in school. But the reality has always been that the corrupt and incompetent are in charge, with the blessing of the poor majority. What the hell is going on here? Thus the Bangkok middle class find themselves in the streets and following the lead of Suthep Thaugsuban, of all people _ an old-school politician with all the baggage that they despise in the first place.

As a member of the Bangkok middle class, allow me to say this: People, get over yourselves. Life was never meant to be fair. You have been too busy making money and dancing to K-pop music, while letting the elites, both old and new, play you for fools, and now the provincial poor see you as the enemy. You are trapped, squeezed and marginalised. Blame no one but yourself.

Do something constructive about it. Protest and rally, but don't overthrow he system of electoral democracy. Don't rely on the old elites, they are outdated. Don't blame the poor; they are being used as you have been used. Take it upon yourself to bring about change.

Do you want to be the backbone, the class that decides the direction of this country? Democracy is strength in numbers, so expand and recruit. Work with the poor. Spread educational opportunities. Expand the opportunities for wealth. Socially and economically, bring the lower classes into the fold of the middle class.

Drop the urban arrogance. Stop looking down on upcountry folks whose ancestors likely came from Laos. Laos might be yesterday's joke. But today, Laos is the new cool. Trust me, I'm a cool dude and only one generation removed from the land of Ya Mo _ the wife of the deputy governor of Nakhon Ratchasima who saved the city from advancing Lao forces in 1826. But the Lao influx and influence in northern Thailand didn't end then; it continues to this day.

It's hard work and it's for the long term, but barring a worldwide meteor-related apocalypse or alien invasion that creates an extinction event, Thailand has time. Build the future instead of tearing apart the present in the hope of a quick fix.

Make enemies of Lao-Thais, and you will lose at the ballot box every time. Make friends with them, and one day the Thaksin machine will lose.

Contact Voranai Vanijaka via email at voranaiv@bangkokpost.co.th.

Share your thoughts

Discussion 1 : 23/12/2013 at 01:36 AM
The time when I told my Thai friends / clients that I like to eat issan food.....the 1st thing that came out from their mouth was "why would I want to eat LOW CLASS" food? Flabbergasted, shocked, surprised........ Unbelievable
Discussion 2 : 18/12/2013 at 01:06 AM
Thai governments or political parties created this political culture where each have its own "citizen army" faction that act as enforcers -- usually pressure groups. When politicians become politically unsatisfied they quit being a politician and become full time citizen to fight against unwanted system. Now a days it is becoming more convenience and more impactful to establish reforms as citizen then as politician. In the ideal world, we are encourage to become politician to make a difference in people's lives. In this country, they quit and become rebels. Tyranny of the majority or Dictatorship of the minority, we are all Thais in the end.
Discussion 3 : 16/12/2013 at 03:45 AM
There's a need for real reform to attain a transparent and graft-free politics in Thailand. We need leader/s who is/are willing to sacrifice, who can resist temptation of wealth and other personal gains and do the right things for the country. At present, we have an excellent Pied Piper who rouses the awareness of majority of populace to come out and protest and demand for changes. Nevertheless, the large percentage of Thais are still leery about this Pied Piper, about how and where he's going to lead us to. Perhaps Khun Voranai and many others with like-minded as him should get involved in this reform. We need a clean start.
Discussion 4 : 16/12/2013 at 02:26 AM
So, you feel the poor are uneducated, why not educate them? I have met many middle class who do not want the poor educated. Cheap workforce. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You reap what you sew. Why not deliver PROPER education to the provinces? Then maybe, just maybe, the people can make informed choices. Corruption is rampant and now these so called leaders want their turn at the trough. Stop all corruption, period. Have you ever paid someone off, a police man? A government official, to make things go smooth? Anyone? If so, and I do not believe yyou if you say never, you are as much a problem as Khun whomever. The corruption must stop
Discussion 5 : 16/12/2013 at 12:34 AM
If my memory is correct, before this so-called election-democracy phase, we used to have a not-so-democracy period (after October uprising and before Chartchai gov't), during which, I believe, Thailand had been more united, less corrupt, higher socially-moral, and less tolerate to wrong doings. And I remembered all the political parties and politicians had pushed so hard towards a so-called more democracy regime... bla bla bla..... And here we are, on the edge of the deadly cliff, at the guidance of our politicians. Any real reform with politicians in control will never be a reform. They will not allow us to do what K.Voranai suggested.
Discussion 6 : 16/12/2013 at 12:21 AM
Why did Thailand not become like South Korea or Taiwan when They should have? Those countries certainly had corruption while they were growing. One big thing was the emphasis they placed on education. I see so little value placed on education here. A college degree is valued merely for photo opportunities with family at graduation and primary education is disturbingly basic. Until this is fixed, no substantial change will take place.
Discussion 7 : 15/12/2013 at 11:58 PM
Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now. -Pretty Woman
Discussion 8 : 15/12/2013 at 11:11 PM
That was one of the first impressions I had when I first came to Thailand. I didn't expect to see such strong status divisions and attitudes.
Discussion 9 : 15/12/2013 at 11:08 PM
In the US it is the same. The upper class enlists the middle class to join in the battles that will benefit the upper class by perpetuating the idea that in America, anyone can achieve the status of upper class. Statistics would suggest otherwise but many in the middle would rather live the dream and continue to make the rich, richer in the hopes that one day they will join them.
Discussion 10 : 15/12/2013 at 11:03 PM
A low level of expectation and a mass form of attention deficit disorder go a long way to explain why change seldom comes and the justice system delays sensitive issues for ever.
Discussion 11 : 15/12/2013 at 09:30 PM
Khun Vorani. If only corruption and ignorance were the cause behind the political woes in Thailand. The sad reality is that the middle class, elites and other like-minded people of Thailand simply can't stomach the thought of having to sit at the table with those whom they believe to be inferior to themselves.
Discussion 12 : 15/12/2013 at 09:25 PM
...the inherited racism. Sounds great. Inherited = more than one generation. What did K'Voranai write where these racists came from?
Discussion 13 : 15/12/2013 at 09:11 PM
I didn't know there was any class in Bangkok.
Discussion 14 : 15/12/2013 at 06:38 PM
Khun Voranai, I read your editorials every Sunday and you seem to be the only one that makes good common sense here and has a real perspective of Thailand. Thailand needs a savior, Step up to the plate for the sake of Thailand , You're the man.
Discussion 15 : 15/12/2013 at 06:34 PM
"Those with good hearts should be happy to see the poor with more money and a better education" Absolutely correct! One reason the parties representing Thaksin have stayed in power is based on your statement. Critics call them populist policies or vote buying. In reality it is a redistribution of wealth policy. This is why it is being met with such opposition. I wonder who the black hearts are?
Discussion 16 : 15/12/2013 at 06:21 PM
People in the countryside know more about agriculture and how to grow the banana tree more than city people. I come from the city and like the countryside people and want to learn from them all the time, how to grow the tree and rice. They are more educate than me, and I always learn something. Actually they seem more fair and kind to me.
Discussion 17 : 15/12/2013 at 05:59 PM
Somebody should write a "Declaration of Rejection to Oligarchy and Corruptcy" in Thai. So Bangkokians can sign or vote or referendum on it. So the voices can at least be put on record in a stronger democratic form. Perhaps later, others in the country might be inspired to sign on too.
Discussion 18 : 15/12/2013 at 05:53 PM
Why is it so important to have control of government that causes people to go to these extremes. MONEY. If your party is in the drivers seat the countries bank account distributes out through you, the special interest first, then the crumbs are sprinkled out to the remainder. Who has been in power the most and how is the system structured to their benefit ensuring max returns. Now that an outside power has figured out how to play the game those whom have always been comfortable are starting to feel the pinch in the pocket. MONEY< MONEY. Sharing the countries wealth, allowing others equal opprotunities will make a strong democarcy.
Discussion 19 : 15/12/2013 at 05:31 PM
The fact is, few are really educated in Thailand. Thais are woefully ignorant of much that is necessary for survival in the modern world. What's worse is that a century of an atrocious education system has numbed them into a stupor of disinterest. The number one focus of reform must be education before anything else can effectively improve. Unfortunately, there just doesn't seem to be any will at any level of Thai society to improve education.
Discussion 20 : 15/12/2013 at 05:27 PM
What middle class ?
Discussion 21 : 15/12/2013 at 04:55 PM
Wow. so much common sense being talked here from both sides .What on earth has been going on in the capital.? V V you get my vote.
Discussion 22 : 15/12/2013 at 04:24 PM
FYI: By comparison, central region has 17% population, 43% GDP and 7.2% expenditure. The South has 13% population, 9.6% GDP and 7.5% expenditure. The North has 18.1% population, 9.5% GDP and 7.5% expenditure received… Thus the while the Central region receives the least compared to GDP, the Northeast receives the least in absolute terms, and less than the South despite having almost 3 times the population.
Discussion 23 : 15/12/2013 at 04:16 PM
julie28 - with no tears in my eyes I question if you are Thai. To say the rest of the population (49% by these numbers) are not involved in this crisis is at best naive and at worst a stinging rebuke of the meaning of nationhood which includes all citizens.
Discussion 24 : 15/12/2013 at 03:39 PM
Too much generalization based on stereotypical view of middle class and assuming they are all in Bangkok.Urban centres in provinces are full of new middle class seeing the shortcomings of voting for a populist idol who's actually very dishonest. Fact: Middle class in thailand doubles every decade, fed by the working class, if this trend continues they will in due course get to choose the next govt and future direction of this country and they will be unforgiving of the likes of Suthep. Puea Thai"s present strategy has no long term future. When you are rich enough to pay taxes you pay much more attention to a politician's integrity.
Discussion 25 : 15/12/2013 at 03:26 PM
I agree. But then it's a bit strange that pro-government supporters describe Suthep and PDRC as loonies when this exact suggestion is one of their main proposals/demands. Makes one think that personal political bias comes before sound reasoning and the good of the country.
Discussion 26 : 15/12/2013 at 02:44 PM
"Regime after regime, the provinces voted in the corrupt and incompetent, while Bangkokians pressured each to step down". It`s not that easy. In 2005 the international corruption index shows Thailand has rank 59 and a score of 38, which was never achieved before or after Thaksin. (For sure he didn`t cut his own share and was very corrupt himself.) This shows how difficult it is to talk about corruption and fight it. It`s deep inside the system, in the roots and in the pillars. Only sticking to democracy and improving it, making it more transparent will help to make any difference. And more articles like this one will help, too. Thank you V V
Discussion 27 : 15/12/2013 at 01:36 PM
This is a good middle class insider opinion. Why can't you muster the real middle class masses to form an alternative party, away from the old elites and now not so democratic democrats? Are these real middle class citizens so apathetic and self-absorbed in their enjoyment of the spoils of the middle class that they can't be bothered about the future of Thailand? Real reforms can only happen when sincere, patriotic (as in to the country, not any individual) citizens rise up and take responsibility for themselves, and not relying on charismatic individuals who have a hidden agenda. Like the Nike slogan says, Just Do It!
Discussion 28 : 15/12/2013 at 01:30 PM
In fact, it is a very simple fact that the middle class in Thailand is well under the upper class (elite class), and is even fooled and brainwashed by the upper class for many decades, which make the middle class people believe that there are part of the upper class. Very deplorable, right? Indeed. The root cause of this situation is the feudal and landlord system. In fact, in a feudal and landlord system, the class that worries the upper class most is the middle class. Therefore, the upper class has been working very hard to contain the size of the middle class, to disconnect it from the lower class, and so to conquer it .
Discussion 29 : 15/12/2013 at 01:18 PM
The rest of population are not involve in this crisis, I totally agree only the Northeast and Bangkok's statistics should be compared.
Discussion 30 : 15/12/2013 at 01:09 PM
Economic opportunity to the poor would have accomplished alot more than popularist pledges and 'dream talk'. Why haven't there been any BOI projects brought to Isaan or the North? Are the rice farmers content to see their daughters and nieces sell their bodies in Bangkok and resort cities? Where did the billions of baht of the Womens' Empowerment Fund go? Why aren't the red shirts demanding accountability? Khun Voranai, more questions need to be asked.
Discussion 31 : 15/12/2013 at 01:08 PM
Bangkok is not the fastest growing economically. Land constraint, traffic woes, higher salary and workers scarcity and plus the fact that it is prone to flooding have seen more development out of Bangkok. The biggest benefactor is Issan which is growing at triple the rate of Bangkok. The middle class demography has started to change years ago. With the growing affluence outside Bangkok especially in the North, expectancy that their voices be represented also grew.
Discussion 32 : 15/12/2013 at 12:57 PM
Jai di or jai dum? In any civilized, democratic country the difference between the "haves and the have nots" is less than the chasm in Thailand. Greed and corruption maintain the status quo in Thailand and poor education away from the cities ensures things will not change. Those with good hearts should be happy to see the poor with more money and a better education. Those with black hearts do not want things to change as it would result in the economic pie being shared by more.
Discussion 33 : 15/12/2013 at 12:52 PM
Khun dharma, these are the most important facts that all Bangkok people should realized, with tear in my eyes I thank you.
Discussion 34 : 15/12/2013 at 12:29 PM
So by this does it mean that outside of the North East and Bangkok a full 49% of the population producing 63% of the GDP get only 17% of the public expenditures? It would seem then that the North East, and yes of course Bangkok, are treated far better than the rest. I realize this is not all people in the South but they must be a big part of it so no wonder they're feeling disenfranchised.
Discussion 35 : 15/12/2013 at 12:12 PM
This is one of the few times I thoroughly agree with Dom Dunn. De-centralization would radically improve Thailand, and make politicians and government employees accountable. And let's face it, the Democratic Party could have achieved alot, but failed to enact any legislation that would have brought Thailand forward. It's time to find a new political party that works for the nation, not the political leaders.
Discussion 36 : 15/12/2013 at 12:09 PM
Exactly, like I mentioned in another post, the idea that Thailand is complicated and we can't understand it is ludicrous. The problems are very obvious to any outsiders. As for the elite not caring about the poor, they "care" about them very much actually as long as they are very cheap labor: their fortunes were built on those millions of poor. Just like lords in medieval times. Just go around Bangkok and see the elite with their fancy cars, and then think of a farmer barely making 5,000 bath a month. The correlation is clear and direct.
Discussion 37 : 15/12/2013 at 12:02 PM
Your comment brought tears to my eyes. This obsession with skin color is endemic in the world. Every super market, 7-11 in Thailand has an aisle devoted to 'skin whitening' products. In USA, last week, arguing in the media what color are Jesus and Santa Claus? I visited Peru and was told that dark skinned natives of Peru cannot get jobs in restaurants that cater to tourists. Indians of Central and South America are marginalized. People look down on descendants of THEIR SAME ANCESTORS? Educated? There IS a defacto caste system in Thailand. People who uphold or impose it are backward facing human beings. Bravo, for your husband.
Discussion 38 : 15/12/2013 at 11:48 AM
Successful countries have moved from the old elites, to the new elites, to social democracies. Dumping that which is unwholesome in the old and new elites, but keeping that which is wholesome. I commend Khun Voranai for finally elucidating one of the fundamental problems that has Thailand in this mess, and that is crucial it be addressed if Thailand is to move forwards, instead of backwards; The inherited racism of the Bangkokian middle class,
Discussion 39 : 15/12/2013 at 11:43 AM
Thaksin is himself part of the elite. All he did was throw some crumbs to the poor to gain votes. Unfortunately, that was more than most other governments had done.
Discussion 40 : 15/12/2013 at 11:41 AM
Voranai perfectly shows to some so-called "educated" that people from Isaan are also educated and clearly think.
Discussion 41 : 15/12/2013 at 11:41 AM
If the dems had won the previous election I believe there wouldn't be any need for any reforms. People should question the PDRC motive for this people council reform if this is truly necessary. If you believe in the power of the people then let there be a new election.
Discussion 42 : 15/12/2013 at 11:28 AM
Justification and juxtaposition does not make set right one's wants or wishes or shorten time to make one's wishes true. One has to work, literally work with and through democratic systems, to understand and change it -- which may take even a generation to change to a new dimension, but yet, there will be diversity.
Discussion 43 : 15/12/2013 at 11:27 AM
Cart and horse. You can only leave Thaksin's influence behind if you have an alternative to offer. The opposition have wasted 8 years dreaming up schemes to curb Thaksin's influence with voters instead of putting together policies to counter him. Try offering real decentralization with provinces electing state governments in charge of education, health and the police, I think that would turn out to be the mother of all populist policies.
Discussion 44 : 15/12/2013 at 11:22 AM
The rural poor do not pay taxes because their income levels are so low. Voranai may claim to be middle class, but he was educated abroad. How many of the rural poor could afford that? The disparity in income levels is enormous. With the disappointing showing of the Govt, surely the Dems have a great chance to become elected, if only they could find a leader untainted by the 2010 fiasco, and adopt policies that appeal to the many swing voters out there. Agree with Voranai's summary. An electable Democrat Party is the most simple solution. Forget all this baloney about unelected People's Councils.
Discussion 45 : 15/12/2013 at 11:04 AM
The bringing of the lower class to the middle class should be done by the lower class, middle class and upper class.
Discussion 46 : 15/12/2013 at 11:04 AM
So true. The car parked at the mall say it all. The middle classes do live outside of the capital and are obvious target for the Democrats if they start to appeal to and speak on behalf of all parts of society.
Discussion 47 : 15/12/2013 at 10:56 AM
The point Voranai makes about middle class taxes is misunderstood - Its a the myth that the poor suck up these taxes via populist policies. According to the World Bank (worldbank.org); In 2012, Bangkok (17% of the population) received 72% of public expenditures - but produces 26% of the GDP. In contrast, the Northeast, which holds 34% of the country's population, and produces 11% of GDP, receives just 6% of the expenditures.
Discussion 48 : 15/12/2013 at 10:41 AM
@bandrew - If you continue to think Thaksin is the problem then you will never see the light. In politics, he was the first to fulfill all election promises. He was the first to have polices for the so called poor that his opponents say are populist policies to buy votes but copied anyway. His TRT was the first to complete full term and went on to win elections with increase majority. Some policies, though may not be perfected, caused the old elites to fear that they will eroded the power and influence. His policies on war on drug and military caused many generals to fear their rice bowls.
Discussion 49 : 15/12/2013 at 10:24 AM
"It is only when the middle class plays the main role that democracy comes around." The mistake in Bangkok is that they still think they're the elite and everyone else is poor. The reason we have this disagreement is because the middle class now extends throughout the country. Issan is becoming middle class- that's why they're demanding to be listened to. Calling them "stupid" is only going to make them angry, as it would any middle class person.
Discussion 50 : 15/12/2013 at 10:23 AM
Perhaps an example would be the NDP (New Democratic Party) in Canada. After many years of struggle and varying degrees of success they are now the official opposition. These things take time (since the early 1960's) and they were up against two dominant parties much as what is happening here.
Discussion 51 : 15/12/2013 at 10:16 AM
At last, thinking beyond the Thai political 'box'. Say no to the current choice of 2 options that are basically the same: Keep the status quo, enabling their elite clique to consolidate their wealth and power. Real reform for the sake of the population as a whole has and will only ever come from the bottom up. It is the ultimate challenge, as the entrenched power and wealth will fight 'tooth and claw' to resist, even to the point of the rival camps joining forces...... Good luck
Discussion 52 : 15/12/2013 at 09:48 AM
I find myself with an 90% agreement of this article written by Voranai. As an Aussie you can not convince me that when Thaksin was in power Thailand did not prosper. You are right the Bangkok Elite does not recognize how democracy works. When Thaksin was in power he did not just rely on the poor but he gave them hope he advanced their living standards. As recognized by Vorani along with elites who complained about populist policies. How out of touch you elites have been I have never seen a government returned to power who brought down policies the people hated. He was in touch with the electorate not the elites.
Discussion 53 : 15/12/2013 at 09:37 AM
Superb journalism indeed. It is just so true. Some of the insults thrown at the poor Issan folk this week are born out of ignorance. My father was a miner who worked down the pit and his father before him. During the mining dispute in the 70"s we were the despised ignorant yobs. Votes on Tyneside weren't so much counted as weighed so heavy was the vote for the socialists.. Education is the key. I"m a retired Sales Director, my sons are Engineers and Teachers, the past few weeks have taken me back to my roots. This article says it all. Move forward together. Ya Mo is in walking distance. Some pretty nice people in the north east.
Discussion 54 : 15/12/2013 at 09:35 AM
This was a very insightful article. I have experienced the Bangkok arrogance at first hand. I look very Lao, very dark skinned. Several years ago while shopping for a wedding dress in an upscale shop in Bangkok with my sister, the owner demanded to look at my hands. This was to confirm I wasn't a farmer and could afford her dresses. It's that kind of behavior which sets the North against the Bangkokians. My American husband, with his then poor Thai went ballistic at the woman, couldn't believe that anyone would have that kind of behavior in the 21st century
Discussion 55 : 15/12/2013 at 09:32 AM
1 agree that this must happen and will happen, but only if the Thaksin inflluence is left behind.
Discussion 56 : 15/12/2013 at 09:25 AM
So true but really there's no interest in the plight of the poor by the haves. Thailand's wealthier families and upper middle class families are happy not to share their business profits even with their own employees and staff in their homes. It just shows that they don't care a bit about others. It's all about money for them. Their maids and workers can live in abject poverty while they buy another car every year, shop only at Paragon, wear Gucci and travel the world every other weekend.
Discussion 57 : 15/12/2013 at 09:19 AM
Every person who has visited Thailand from a western country comes to the same conclusion about Thailand's poor. They say what a shame the way they are treated. The problem of the poor has been obvious to everyone from developed countries but for the wealthy, powerful and educated Thais this problem never troubled them. Any party who cares about the poor will gain power in Thailand. The problem is caring about the poor brings up other topics related to society those powerful don't want discussed.
Discussion 58 : 15/12/2013 at 09:13 AM
The world is upside-down, with money the corrupting power. A united Thai middle class could lead an example how values can be turned right-side-up by voting in honest and competent candidates. Who are they?
Discussion 59 : 15/12/2013 at 08:57 AM
I can't more agree with you about what you've said! Hope more and more people in Bangkok will understand that improvement will only come from more democracy, not by getting power from outside. It will only increase antagonism. Instead, why not create a party including people from middle class, the 'elite' and the 'poor' working together for a better Thailand for everybody? Don't be arrogant, Thais should love all Thais whatever their background! And as the author said, then you will win over Thaksin in a democratic way!
Discussion 60 : 15/12/2013 at 08:54 AM
The rural poor do not pay taxes because their income levels are so low. Voranai may claim to be middle class, but he was educated abroad. How many of the rural poor could afford that? The disparity in income levels is enormous. With the disappointing showing of the Govt, surely the Dems have a great chance to become elected, if only they could find a leader untainted by the 2010 fiasco, and adopt policies that appeal to the many swing voters out there. Agree with Voranai's summary. An electable Democrat Party is the most simple solution. Forget all this baloney about unelected People's Councils.
Discussion 61 : 15/12/2013 at 08:40 AM
Looking forward to next week's op-ed complaining about them ol' Korat Blues. Middle Class aren't all in Bangkok, many have Thaksin-loving working class parents, they pay their taxes, try to get by without corruption, generally make responsible decisions, and frankly - haven't the influence to be making policy, nor can they be held responsible for undereducating the poor. Above all, they are informed enough to realise that corruption gives them an advantage over the masses who can't afford bribes, yet they are now forming a critical mass for change. Their place in history will be: driving a paradigm shift away from deep corruption.
Discussion 62 : 15/12/2013 at 08:40 AM
It's a Bangkok myth that said hard earned money from tax payers paid for the populist policies. Income tax is the lowest contributor of tax revenue. Corporate tax followed by Value Added Tax are the biggest contributors. Everyone pay tax in one form or the other.
Discussion 63 : 15/12/2013 at 08:24 AM
Voranai, you've happened on the solution. The middle class needs to ally with and provide leadership for the poor class. They need to realize that the rich don't favor them, simply use them to run the office while they go golfing. There's something perverse in human nature that causes many of us to think that we are better than our poor brothers because we have made it up the next rung of the ladder. "Don't get above your raisin" is a bluegrass country song I have always admired for its good sense. We may not know where we're headed, but we should never forget where we came from.
Discussion 64 : 15/12/2013 at 08:12 AM
It would help if you could be clearer about who you see as being in the middle class in the Thai context, because from what I see the 'middle' class is not just in Bangkok any more. I live in the east where increasing industrialisation has brought a generation of managers and skilled technicians, small business owners and well as government officials who would all seem to fall into the category. BTW the folks who own and run their farms round here are not rural hillbillies and certainly not poor
Discussion 65 : 15/12/2013 at 04:17 AM
Your last article was better.You should never compare the right to vote with income tax.The inequaljty is not that some do not have to pay, the inequality is that so many still earn so little that they always remain below the tax bracket. Everybody paying the same share that was eons ago,governments were inovative and progressive rates are with us for centuries. You should rather ask why with all the many dissappointing experencies over decades does the middle class not have a strong own party. Suthep (don't ask how he made his money) sure is more than middleclass but they follow him blindly - maybe even the middleclass lacks education.
Discussion 66 : 15/12/2013 at 03:02 AM
I've always criticised VV for being all analysis but no solutions but he's finally come off the fence. The middle-class should ditch the Democrats and leave them and the old elite to become Thailand's "Tea Party" and form a social democrat party offering real reform.

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