Saturday, May 24, 2014

Democracy versus Corruption: Who's winning?

They fight, they talk and they taunt each other. For several years now in Thailand, Corruption and Democracy have been unable to settle their differences - or some may say, get over their similarities. The removal from office of Yingluck Shinawatra and imposition of martial law have complicated matters. For Democracy at least, because he is confused as hell. Corruption, on the other hand, is vindicated.

The following dialogue followed their countless arguments, in which Corruption asked Democracy to sign a truce - in other words, accept him unconditionally as part of the system:

Democracy: Stop laughing.

Corruption: You should have seen your face. Yingluck's gone and the military's declared martial law, so who do you think has been knocked down here? Me or you?

Democracy: I'm not falling into your trap. Any answer will serve your "Corruption-and-Democracy-are-the-same-thing" nonsense.

Corruption: You're half-right, only it's not nonsense. It's a universal truth. What's happened in Thailand is whatever we call it. It can be a setback to Democracy. Or it can be a fake Democracy getting what was coming. Or it can be a defeat of Corruption. Or it can be a triumph of Corruption over Democracy.

The thing is, no matter how you describe it, we both have won and we both have lost.

Democracy: I always hate it when you get philosophical. But this time can you clarify that please?

Corruption: If ballot boxes mean Democracy, you've lost, in which case I have won. If checks and balances are a big part of Democracy, then you've probably won, in which case I have lost. Ask Suthep and he'll say it's a triumph of good over evil. Ask Thaksin and Jatuporn and they'll say evil has prevailed.

Democracy: This is too confusing.

Corruption: That's obviously your biggest problem. If you cry, it could mean you cry for me, not yourself. If you celebrate, again it could just as well mean you celebrate my victory. It's a lose-lose situation for you.

Democracy: Clever, aren't you? What about you? Are you crying or celebrating?

Corruption: Does it look like I'm crying? What's happening is hilarious.

Democracy: To quote the court and graft-busters, Thawil Pliensri's removal was blatant nepotism and the rice scheme stank to high heaven. Both cases are clean-cut corruption in their books. I wouldn't say it was hilarious if I were you.

And most people say that martial law is against me, but won't you consider the possibility that it was against you as well?

Corruption: If it's bad for me, why aren't you jumping for joy?

Democracy: I'm being polite.

Corruption: All I see is a man sitting on the fence. You are torn between ridiculous ideals, which do nothing more than make one a hypocrite. I'm real. I'm truthful. I'm a humanist. I see Yingluck's rise and fall as they are - human nature. The same with martial law. I never try to romanticise or dramatise them.

Democracy: All you do is ridicule man's attempts to be good, and glorify the darkness inside him.

Corruption: All I'm saying is that I'm the truth and you are a dream. And don't get me started with "man's attempts to be good". Man should first define "good". Is it the ballot box? Or is it checks and balances? Take a pick, Bro.

Democracy: If good was easy, I wouldn't be needed. Man needs a system where all voices are heard and then one day the ultimate idea of good will materialise.

Corruption: You are assuming that the more voices there are, the better the chances of achieving goodness. Have you ever considered the opposite possibility? More voices could simply mean bigger endorsement of the bad.

Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is right, even if you are the only one who's doing it.

Democracy: Wow. Am I actually hearing this from you?

Corruption: What you are actually hearing is "Wake up!"

Democracy: You are basically saying that much of the world is dreaming.

Corruption: Absolutely. That's why I want to cut a deal with you. I want to bring that big part of the world back to reality. Don't get me wrong. You are great, but people have to stop romanticising about you. That's where I come in.

Democracy: If I had signed a pact with you, what would have happened to Yingluck?

Corruption: You should have asked what would have happened to her brother. Our truce would have made it look like Sondhi Limthongkul and Suthep Thaugsuban never happened. General Prayuth would have been playing golf today. Everybody would have stopped pretending that unpaid taxes and the first family's purchase of prime land are unforgivable crimes.

Democracy: I can't throw away checks and balances. You know that.

Corruption: You can keep a semblance of checks and balances. The international press often asks about them when your prime ministers travel overseas, you know.

Democracy: In other words, you want us to fake it.

Corruption: Show me a country with genuine checks and balances and I'll show you 10 pretending to have them.

Democracy: I'm too damn confused to make a decision right now.

Corruption: Earlier you resorted to principles; now you rely on "confusion". Don't take too long. Thailand is Exhibit A of what happens when solid democratic values run amok. Look at that poor Miss Universe Thailand.

And the world, heaven and hell continue to hold their breath...

_______ The Nation
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