Poverty has no place in the legacy of elitism

As much as the minority elites love the political spectacle of absolute power and the stimulation of authoritarianism, there's an obvious neglect of basic rights among the low-income, and the marginalized. I returned home, weary from the humidity and travel, only to find news that the authorities plan to register the poor in a grand exercise of so-called fact-gathering, to feed them into a database of some sort.

Thailand poverty
Boy begging in Bangkok / 2015
When it comes to accountability, what happened to data collected during the times of past prime ministers? Or is it that Thailand, under this absolute rule, has reached a point of carelessly throwing half-baked ideas in meeting rooms? All in the name of anti-poverty, I'm sure, and to top it off, this database proposal creates more questions than actual rights-based, realistic solutions.

With several incidences of the poor protesting, advocating for the rights of land and identity (as a result of statelessness) for the past few months, the authorities have miserably failed to include the concerns into the "road map" of coup-leader Prayuth. So is this latest attempt to register the poor actually a design by the establishment to keep an eye on the masses, for surveillance purposes, and when its convenient to force their leaders towards readjustment of their attitudes? Who knows.

However its clear that the authorities have no national plan of action, a social protection mechanism, in which the poor are part of the decision-making process. Of course, it may be too much to ask that such plan be rights-based, and that accountable standards are placed to enable transparency and accessibility. Aye, far too much to dream about at this time.


Then there's the issue of funding for NGOs, for community-work at grassroot level. A group of outreach workers have complained that the dwindling "public funds" are either mismanaged by officials or there's not much allocated money for poverty reduction programs.

Has there been an open dialogue, along with political will to back its findings, with the poor on what is needed to cope during hard times? Not than I remember, well at least not since the coup. A reversal of progress? Most definitely.

In truth, ever since the coup of 2014, public administration has gone to the gutters, social welfare is redundant, and the rights of the marginalized have been abandoned. There's also the growing concern of corruption that seems to be biting into the allocated funds that are meant for the lower-income, for example the homeless community, and those living in urban and rural slums.

I'm not an economist, nor would I pretend to posses such proficiency. However, its hard to imagine the "government" being efficient in managing a once-proud regional economy. I have reservation on the ability of a group of senior military officers with the fawning cronies to develop their country. No indicators to dispel my concerns.

Then there is the National Legislative Assembly, which claims to function like a parliament, is controlled and motivated by the military, despite the boasts of nepotism-licking politicians that they were "selected" by the people (during martial law, that is). We have the government, which is accurately a regime steered by the ruling military power. Obviously the administrative arm of the regime does not work for the masses. Trickling down to the authorities in the provinces, all are subjected to the will of the regime. I see no participation of the silent masses in this equation.

Army general

In the end, I see the end of reason. General Prayuth, the self-declared prime minister, has lifted martial law on April 1, and the interim constitution is in full effect. The public's reaction towards the military-created constitution seems to emphasize more on Article 44, which grants General Prayuth practically absolute power. As such the election will not materialise this year, and with that the hopes of the poor in Thailand will surely end up in a bloated canal, somewhere and forgotten, as usual.


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