I wish to begin by expressing my appreciation to His
Excellency the President of Mongolia for inviting me to speak at this
Conference of the Community of Democracies.
accepted this invitation not only because I wanted to visit a country
that has made many achievements regarding democracy, or to exchange
ideas and views on democracy. But I am here also because democracy is so
important to me, and more importantly, to the people of my beloved
is not a new concept. Over the years, It has brought progress and hope
to a lot of people. At the same time, many people have sacrificed their
blood and lives in order to protect and build a democracy.
government of the people, by the people and for the people does not
come without a price. Rights, liberties and the belief that all men and
women are created equal have to be fought, and sadly, died for.
This is because there are people in this world who do not believe in
democracy. They are ready to grab power and wealth through suppression
of freedom. This means that they are willing to take advantage of other
people without respecting human rights and liberties. They use force
to gain submission and abuse the power. This happened in the past and
still posed challenges for all of us in the present.
many countries, democracy has taken a firm root. And it is definitely
refreshing to see another wave of democracy in modern times, from Arab
Spring to the successful transition in Myanmar through the efforts of
President Thein Sein, and also the changes in my own country where the
people power in Thailand has brought me here today.
the regional level, the key principles in the ASEAN Charter are the
commitment to rule of law, democracy and constitutional government.
However, we must always beware that anti-democratic forces never
subside. Let me share my story.
In 1997, Thailand had a new constitution that was
created through the participation from the people. Because of this, we
all thought a new era of democracy has finally arrived, an era without
the cycle of coups d’?tat.
was not to be. An elected government which won two elections with a
majority was overthrown in 2006. Thailand lost track and the people
spent almost a decade to regain their democratic freedom.
of you here know that the government I am talking about was the one
with my brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, as the rightfully elected Prime
who don’t know me say that why complain? It is a normal process that
governments come and go. And if I and my family were the only ones
suffering, I might just let it be.
it was not. Thailand suffered a setback and lost international
credibility. Rule of law in the country was destroyed. Projects and
programmes started by my brother’s government that came from the
people’s wishes were removed. The people felt their rights and liberties
were wrongly taken away.
means free, and the people of Thailand fought back for their freedom.
In May 2010, a crackdown on the protestors, the Red Shirts Movement, led
to 91 deaths in the heart of the commercial district of Bangkok.
innocent people were shot dead by snipers, and the movement crushed
with the leaders jailed or fled abroad. Even today, many political
victims remain in jail.
the people pushed on, and finally the government then had to call for
an election, which they thought could be manipulated. In the end, the
will of people cannot be denied. I was elected with an absolute
the story is not over. It is clear that elements of anti-democratic
regime still exist. The new constitution, drafted under the coup leaders
led government, put in mechanisms to restrict democracy.
good example of this is that half of the Thai Senate is elected, but
the other half is appointed by a small group of people. In addition, the
so called independent agencies have abused the power that should belong
to the people, for the benefit of the few rather than to the Thai
society at large.
is the challenge of Thai democracy. I would like to see reconciliation
and democracy gaining strength. This can only be achieved through
strengthening of the rule of law and due process. Only then will every
person from all walks of life can feel confident that they will be
treated fairly. I announced this as part of the government policy at
Parliament before I fully assumed my duties as Prime Minister.
democracy will also promote political stability, providing an
environment for investments, creating more jobs and income. And most
importantly, I believe political freedom addresses long term social
disparities by opening economic opportunities that would lead to
reducing the income gap between the rich and the poor.
is why it is so important to strengthen the grassroots. We can achieve
this through education reforms. Education creates opportunities through
knowledge, and democratic culture built into the ways of life of the
then will the people have the knowledge to be able to make informed
choices and defend their beliefs from those wishing to suppress them.
That is why Thailand supported Mongolia’s timely UNGA resolution on
education for democracy.
important is closing gaps between rich and poor. Everyone should be
given opportunities and no one should be left behind. This will allow
the people to become an active stakeholder in building the country’s
economy and democracy.
is why my Government initiated policies to provide the people with the
opportunities to make their own living and contribute to the development
of our society. Some of these include creating the Women Development
Fund, supporting local products and SMEs as well as help raising income
for the farmers.
I believe you need effective and innovative leadership. Effective in
implementing rule of law fairly. Innovative in finding creative peaceful
solutions to address the problems of the people.
need leadership not only on the part of governments but also on the
part of the opposition and all stakeholders. All must respect the rule
of law and contribute to democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
important lesson we have learnt was that international friends matter.
Pressure from countries who value democracy kept democratic forces in
Thailand alive. Sanctions and non-recognition are essential mechanisms
to stop anti-democratic regimes.
international forum like Community of Democracies helps sustain
democracy, seeking to promote and protect democracy through dialogue and
cooperation. More importantly, if any country took the wrong turn
against the principle of democracy, all of us here need to unite to
pressure for change and return freedom to the people.
I will always support the Community of Democracies and the work of the Governing Council. I also welcome the President’s Asian Partnership Initiative for Democracy and will explore how to extend our cooperation with it.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
would like to end my statement by declaring that, I hope that the
sufferings of my family, the families of the political victims, and the
families of the 91 people, who lost their lives in defending democracy
during the bloodshed in May 2010, will be the last.
us continue to support democracy so that the rights and liberties of
all human beings will be protected for future generations to come!