To progress as a nation, democratically and economically, Bangkok must cease to behave as an overlord ruling a patchwork of feudal vassals. Under the present system, the provinces are subjugated politically and are shackled economically.
This is hardly a formula for democratic development and economic advancement. The provinces should be tasked with their own responsibilities and accountabilities.
Politically, although the provinces elect local administrative bodies the ultimate authority lies with the Bangkok-appointed governor. This is reminiscent of the ancient Roman empire, but without the engineering and organisational ingenuity, the legal and philosophical traditions, and with a different kind of ‘’bath houses’’.
The appointments and reshuffling of governors is defiled by cronyism. In addition, governors are at the mercy (or make alliances with) regional godfathers - people such as Newin Chidchob, Suwat Litapanlop, Banharn Silapa-archa, to name but a few. The healthier the democracy, the less the undemocratic influence.
The governor is most likely not even a native of the province. He may not even know much about the province he is meant to administrate. The practice of regularly reshuffling appointees - 31 of them this time around - doesn’t help forge relationships and understanding between the governor and the people.
It's more like musical chairs, people taking turns to milk a province and then moving on.
Then there is the centralised budget, wherein each province is economically at the mercy of the capital. To be financially beholden does not make for much freedom. To be economically shackled means the provinces will always be dependencies.
Bangkok is the nanny babysitting 76 children - the provinces. Allowances (budgets) can be given or withheld, depending on whether a child is naughty or nice. For example, a former prime minister famously told his 76 children that if they (a province or region) didn’t vote for him, they shouldn't expect to get anything from him. This is deliciously feudal.
The provinces were either subjugated or subdued, made dependent, and continue to this day to be exploited and/or neglected. Or they were subjugated or subdued, made dependent and now being financed and favoured in exchange for votes. There is no equality in feudalism.
Some readers may be having hissy fits right now, but hold onto your panties as this is not just knocking a certain former prime minister or the Pheu Thai government, although they do bear the burden of being presently in charge. There’s a bigger point.
Unequal regional development is still better than little or no regional development at all. It is still better than development concentrated exclusively on Bangkok. This was the practice in the olden days. But today it’s still feudalistic, while democratic government ought to be the national goal.
Self determination is a vital component of democracy. Economic independence is a key to sustainable growth.
If the Pheu Thai government is to redraw the map of Thailand with a democratic pen, there should be a line granting each province the right to elect its own governor. If it repaints the map of Thailand with the brush of economic opportunities, independence and sustainable growth, it should assist with provincial economic and financial reforms.
Pheu Thai was ushered into power under the banner of democracy. Rather than continuing to exploit the country through feudalistic-like government as in the past, it should instead nurture Thailand towards democratic governance.
Say "no more" to the practice of political subjugation and economic shackles. Clean up the mess. Now.