Thailand’s “Big” Generation Vs “New” Generation

Thailand’s “Big” Generation Vs “New” Generation


Thailand’s “Big” Generation Vs “New” Generation

On a superficial level, the optics of Thai politics are such that it looks like a divide of different generations, the older generation and the younger generation, with the so-called generation gap that divides them.

One can be forgiven for thinking so, when you see the “change” movement fronted by  students and youngsters on one hand and the older generation represented by old-school players like PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha (67) General Prawit Wongsuwan (76) and General Anupong (72).

The argument is put forth that the new generation are demanding democratic freedom and equality, which older people fear will destroy the very fabric of Thai tradition and culture. The thought seems to be that the conflict is not the same as earlier times when peasants from the Northeast, the “Red Shirts” clashed with the royalists, the elites and the urban middle classes, “ the Yellow shirts”.

However, if you look closely, is it still not a fight between privileged people and non-privileged people? Privileged people have the system on their side and can progress while non-privileged people feel locked out of the system and have very little access to opportunities that the privileged enjoy?

Is that not why people are protesting? For changes that would make it a more equalized playing field?

Would the youngsters of the privileged class vote for “change” when they have it so good?
Will the non-privileged older generation vote for “conservative values” if it has not helped them or will definitely not help their young? 

In the previous elections, when Palang Pracharath won the popular vote , there is clearly a large following for the traditional, ultra-conservative values that have put military leaders into power. Voters wanted strongmen who would act as protectors of a social and political order that preserves the national and traditional hierarchy of privilege and the authority of “khon dee” or “good people.”

The “Big” generation stand as guardians at the door of privileges and they decide who is in and who is out.

The “Big” generation is represented by the top three military leaders and by looking at their nicknames in Thai society, PM Prayuth is known as “Big Tu”, General Prawit “Big Pom” and General Anupong “Big Pok”, it is clear that “Big” here designates something else.

What makes them “Big” is not their age but the big guns they have behind them, from the powers that be, military (army), judicial (courts), private sector (big corporations), parliamentary system (250 senators) and the privileged class who votes them in.

Recently, two events showed how influential and powerful the “Big” generation leaders have become.

The first was the ruling of the Constitutional Court which limited the ways that protestors can express themselves and for holding future rallies. Demands for amendments to sensitive laws were regarded as trying to overthrow the Monarchy. The ruling not only covered protests in the past but in the future as well and did not only pertain to the accused three protest leaders for inciting unrest but went on to cover any organization who supports them or their networks.

On Wednesday, a draft bill aimed at strengthening democracy was shot down. The draft was backed by 130,000 petitioners and sought to abolish the 250-seat, appointed non elected Senate and restructure the Constitutional Court and key state agencies.

Simply put, the new generation, whose binding force is “change” and includes the younger and the older generation, who want to see a fairer distribution of wealth, opportunities and power, have had barriers and obstructions raised in every possible way in their endeavor to bring about changes by guardians of the “Big” generation who hold the key to the nations privileges, rights and power.

Written By TBB.