Wie verloor Thailand?

TOKYO – Thailand, de meest ontwikkelde en moderne economie in Zuidoost-Azië, balanceert op de rand van de afgrond. Toch lijkt de rest van Azië zijn hoofd weg te draaien van de groeiende en steeds meer anarchistische onrust in het land. Die onverschilligheid is niet alleen dom, het is gevaarlijk. De Aziatische democratieën riskeren geconfronteerd te worden met dezelfde wrange vraag waar de Verenigde Staten mee te maken kreeg toen Mao Zedong Peking binnenmarcheerde en opnieuw toen Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran de Sjah verdreef. Wie, zullen ze zichzelf af moeten vragen, verloor Thailand?

Een groot deel van de wereld vraagt zich af hoe zo’n succesvolle economie zijn politiek kan toestaan de controle te verliezen. Wat verklaart de legers van demonstranten (die zich als bendes door de kleur van hun shirts onderscheiden) wiens wederzijdse antipathie vaak grenst aan een nihilistische razernij?

De wortels van de huidige onrust liggen meer dan tien jaar terug, bij de eerste verkiezingsoverwinning van premier Thaksin Shinawatra in 2001. Thaksins overwinning representeerde niet de normale overgang van de macht die men in een democratie vindt. In plaats hiervan kondigde zijn overwinning de politieke opkomst van de arme, lang monddood gemaakte plattelandsmeerderheid van het land aan. De zittende elite in Bangkok deinsde in ontsteltenis terug.

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