When MPs however find they have hit a brick wall in parliament and choose street protests instead, they call into question the boundary of their duty and responsibility. They push the envelope of their democratic mandate.
Pushing the envelope is important to individuals and society. Nudge it. Shove it. Not only is it fun, it can even lead to progress. But don’t break it. If this envelop is the law, then MPs must not break the law.
Therefore, Democrat MPs (or any MPs over any issue) may hit the streets to protest over the blanket amnesty bill and the so-called Thaksin Shinawatra regime. Smack it. Spank it. However, the problem is that Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban has urged the people not only to break the law, but said he would also lead them in breaking the law.
He has threatened to lead a sit-in at the provincial hall in his home province of Surat Thani, and urged the people to occupy provincial halls across the nation. This would be a breach of Criminal Code 364.
Street politics is street politics. At times civil movements not only push the envelope, they bust it up and break it lose. Such is the nature of things. One has to get a little crazy to force changes. This writer is all about a little insanity. But this is the prerogative of citizens, not MPs, who are supposed to be lawmakers, not lawbreakers.
Therefore, if Mr Suthep is to make real his threats, he should be accountable for his action. In this, he should resign from the parliament. After which, he can go nuts and stage a sit-in wherever he likes.
Break some criminal codes. Bust a few laws. Make your voice heard. Shake this land. Move this nation. It’s the nature of civil movements. Just do it as a private citizen, not as an MP – having said that, there’s a limit to craziness.
If while getting crazy, things get out of hand – violence ensues, chaos and anarchy threaten – then, just like with the red-shirt situation in 2010, the authorities must move in to restore order.
In restoring order, if protesters refuse to disperse and resist arrest, then – as with the red-shirt situation in 2010 – the protesters should be met with the full force of the law, swift, severe and certain.
When the smoke has cleared, dead bodies counted, cries of "murderers" and "terrorists" will follow, although in a role reversal. Perhaps the military will move in to restore order. Perhaps the prime minister will call a snap election. So many "perhaps" could happen.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Mr Suthep only threatened a sit-in, not violence. Truth be told, if it’s just in Surat Thani, then the Pheu Thai government possibly won’t even care.
If, however, the sit-in occurs across the nation, and especially in Bangkok, then it’s a different story. The action would not only paralyse the administration of each province and city it would also undermine the authority of the national government, like in 2010.
If, after a reasonable period of negotiation, the protesters persist with their sit-in, peaceful though it may be, the government must use force to get them out – just as any government in the world would. This scenario is similar to 2010, although back then violence and anarchy reigned long before the authorities moved in.
Provoking the authorities to use force is often a good strategy. Then, of course, we go back to the scenario of possible dead bodies, as well as the so many "perhaps" that could follow.
Has this game been played before? Of course it has, very well played in 2010 by the Thaksin political machine.
With all due respect to the dead and those who will die in the future, whether near or far, and all their families, in real politics there are no murderers, terrorists or victims. There are only game players and pawns, sacrificial lambs and collateral damage – and fools who can’t see this.
At the current stage of the game, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has indicted Abhisit Vejjajiva and Mr Suthep on murder charges. The strategy is to force the Democrat leaders to accept the blanket amnesty bill, which would bring Thaksin home.
To submit is to flush their entire political career down the toilet. So Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep are simply saying – not to the OAG, but to Thaksin – "we’ll see your hand, and we’ll raise the stakes into the streets".
Again, we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Law-abiding protests are cool, for MPs or anyone else. But Mr Suthep – or any other MPs planning on intentionally breaking the law – should first resign from their seats in the House of Representatives.
Of course, this would mean they couldn't claim an MP's immunity against legal prosecution. Bummer.