• Will PNoy, like Yingluck, be challenged by the elite?

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    The Thai elite is the envy of anti-Putin elements in Russia and for good reason. Vladimir Putin, one of the civilized world’s most despised strongmen, continues to make a mockery of the shrinking ranks of anti-government protesters while consolidating his power across all fronts.

    There is even a joke that goes like this: A day will come that Gary Kasparov, the former world chess champion, will be the solitary figure in the anti-Putin protests.

    Putin’s grip on power is a mystery to those steeped in democratic traditions. He rules using an iron hand, the economy has been based on the tenuous prices of oil and gas, his invocation of a Western threat and evil designs from the US are what make up his foreign policy. The much-vaunted economic might of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) is now seriously doubted. Yet, Putin has marginalized the protesters and is extra-busy consolidating his hold on power through the blending of xenophobia, authoritarianism and phony populism.

    Protesting on whim
    The Thai elite and middle class based in capital Bangkok and nearby urbanized areas, meanwhile, are the class of protesters at the other end of the spectrum. They have no trouble crippling the capital on a very short notice to demand the ouster of a democratically elected prime minister, this time Yingluck Shinawatra. . And she is not even ruling with an iron hand or raiding the treasury. The guardians of democratic practices have no beef against her. Her sin: She is Thaksin’s sister and a mere Thaksin proxy and therefore, she will do no good.

    Over the past few days, and with no economic meltdown and grievous social problems to speak of, the Thai elite and the middle class, have been precisely doing that, a development that is about to dent the economic robustness of Thailand and destabilize a normally functioning government.

    How can protesters cripple Bangkok based on whim and at the same time suggest an undemocratic way of changing the government leadership? Eat your heart out, Mr. Kasparov. Right now, there is no elite in the world that is as assertive as the Thai elite.

    Yingluck, this is worth pointing out, is not even reviled in the international arena.

    The woes of Yingluck, who some suggest would make a fine First Lady for PNoy, a bachelor only a few years older than Yingluck, inevitably gives rise to this question: Will the rage of Bangkok spill over to Manila?

    Will PNoy be the next Yingluck?

    The answer? No. Not right now. Not in the immediate future.

    Here is the answer to the why. No one would initiate and fund a destabilization plot. The wealthy, from the rentiers to the industrialists, are having the best time of their lives under President Aquino. And there is no vibrant, functioning middle class to speak of. We have some sort of a middle class but millions of them are in overseas work sites. And they are too busy making a living that they do not bother about the most brazen acts of corruption- plus the most impossible acts of incompetence – back home.

    When this middle class was asked to stage a “ no-remittance day” to protest the capers of Janet Napoles and her legislator-cohorts, how did the OFWs react: they just sent more money home.

    Two UC Berkeley-based economists, the French duo of Pikkety and Saez , have made in-depth studies on the level of inequality in the US and this was their saddest finding . The income gains from 2009 to 2012 were gobbled up by the top 1 percent and very little went to the 99 percent. This is the same case here (or it could be worse) year after year but we don’t have the likes of Pikkety/Saez that track down the critical issue of income distribution and the great inequality.

    And why would the Philippine rich and the super rich shake and upend this kind of income distribution?

    The super rich rule
    The largest investment plays in town are the PPP and if you look at how the individual project offerings are structured, they are only for the major players, for the companies owned by people in the list of the Top 40 wealthiest Filipinos . Some Triple AAA construction companies are even inadequate to participate in the bidding for the PPP projects, huge and capital intensive as they are.

    The juiciest contracts designed by government have been designed for the super rich.

    The most lucrative legal practice in town is now in the area of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) because the giants have been acquiring the weaker competitors to tighten their hold on the most strategic and lucrative economic sectors . The business pages of the newspapers don’t even bother to state the full name of the moguls in their stories and commentaries – they go by the first letter of their name, middle name and surname (all caps, of course ).

    Even Jamie Dimon or the Koch brothers have not been elevated to that status by the US business writers .

    The government ‘s regulatory regime is two-tiered. In the provinces, small enterprises cannot get business permits without being bled dry at the LGU level. Here, the regulatory framework has been tailored to suit the needs of the major players.

    The tax drive may be a high-profile one but the targets are those at the level of Manny Pacquiao or ukay-ukay importers or pawnshop owners. The Top 40 wealthiest families are never bothered by the tax people.

    Right now, no one would fire up the embers of government discontent . Those with the capacity and money to organize protests are too busy making their pile—at the expense of you and me, the forgotten 99 percent.



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    1. correct Mr Ronquillo. BS Aquino is supported by the PH’s elites unlike Yingluck who is despised by Thai’s elites. BS Aquino’s policy will always be favorable to the elite since he and his mother former Pres Cory owes their presidency to the elites. This is the reason why we have unstopable price increase in basic needs like electricity and water because the Aquinos don’t have choice but to give in to the wishes of those who supported them to presidency which is to increase the price of their goods and services for profit sake alone. Also the firms formerly owned by the state were all given to the elite supporters. tsk tsk

    2. The remaining part of your article needs a major Thumbs Up !!! I am 100% agree with this part of the article. Our economy is tailored for the big boys. I am aghast with the way business is run. Take for example the selling of “Champoy” at SM. My golly this is a small business and even this business is owned by Henry Sy ? Can’t we give the space for some small time businesmen to sell “Champoy”? Kahit ba naman piso-piso kanila pa rin? Totally opposite here in Thailand. The big business let the small business thrive under their wing. The Thais love to be in business which makes sense because the money is spread around and will have more multiplier effect than being gobbled up by one single conglomerate.

    3. An article worthy to think about but needs some fact-checks about Thailand and their govt.
      I live here (25 yrs) so I know what I am talking about.

      a) “And she is not even ruling with an iron hand or raiding the treasury”. The
      Yingluck govt is one of the most brazenly corrupt govt in the history of
      Thailand. The Rice Scam – 780 Billion bht, The 350 Billion bht Flood Scam and
      other smaller scams. The closing down of Websites critical of the government
      while giving free reign to anti-Monarchy radio/ctv/websites which is against the
      law. So much for no iron hand – lets just say “golden hand in a velvet glove”.
      b) ” Her sin: She is Thaksin’s sister and a mere Thaksin proxy and therefore, she
      will do no good.” – She being the Prime Minister has been “Absent” from all major
      decisions of govt. She has not answered all relevent questions herself. When
      ask says she does not know. She has been out of the country whenever difficult
      debates are on. She is the head of the No.1 Govt Policy which is the Rice
      Scheme but she has not attended not one – I repeat not attended any Meetings
      of the Council in charge of directing Policy for this scheme. The Rice scam has
      cost the country hundreds of billions of bht due to corruption. The latest is they
      could not even pay the farmers since the money is already gone. Sounds
      familiar? Yes dshe is a quite literally a dummy.
      c) ‘no economic meltdown and grievous social problems to speak of, the Thai elite
      and the middle class, have been precisely doing that, a development that is
      about to dent the economic robustness of Thailand and destabilize a normally
      functioning government” – The Thai econmy is going down thanks to this
      government. From 5% growth it will be 2.5 to 3% by the end of the year. It was
      technically on a recession early in the year. Govt debt has ballooned. Exports
      are down. The policies of the govt put more people in debt thats why nobody is
      buying much stuff. This protest did not just happen. People are fed up with
      brazen corruption.
      d) “How can protesters cripple Bangkok based on whim and at the same time
      suggest an undemocratic way of changing the government leadership? ” This
      protest has been boiling over for the past 10 years under succesive corrupt
      govt under Thaksin’s control. Her sister is basically a “dumb-ass” beauty”. She
      could not pronounce and read Thai properly even with a script. When ask about
      some govt policy her normal reply is I will check first with my deputys. She does
      not even understand what she is reading. If your govt is run by an imbecile will
      you wait forever?
      e) “some suggest would make a fine First Lady for PNoy” – Yeah this could be a
      match made in heaven for BS Aquino and Yingluck – A Sinto-sinto paired with a
      clueless dumbass.
      Btw, Yingluck is actually married with one son to a Thai businessman.
      Lastly, please stop using the “Thai Elite” as if its a slogan. The protesters who number in the millions are not the Elite – They ordinary govt workers, small time businessmen, housewives, office workers , students, soldiers etc. And its not only Bangkok but also other north & ne provinces.

    4. Here in Thailand it is easy to call on people to protest..WHY? Food and drinks with dessert is free. And, mostly the protesters are composed of plain housewife…senior citizens who are bored staying home, jobless and people who just listen to whoever lead a protest…for another event that they can join. The protest won’t happen in the Philippines, because the rich people in the Philippines will not spend a peso to support any protest. Not like here…those who are ambitious of power and who are filthy rich, like the business and bankers, will support…that eventually they can be of great influence in politics.

    5. The practice started by FVR of rampaging increases in taxes and prices of commodities by the monopolies/cartels were merrily continued with more impunity in the Gloria regime and the current tuwid na daan. The new kid on the block – the pmayers were included in the corruption to pre-empt armed protest. The 99% citizenry is now left with their bare hands to fight the legally armed thieves (govt and monopolies) in its den. The judiciary which are all appointed by the elite politicians is completely useless to protect the masa. Hay naku saan pa kaya tayo pupunta.

    6. we the ordinary people can only wish that we have Yingluck in the Phils and Thailand can have boy sisi.Our country is the very poor version of the USA in where big business determines the govt policies at our expense.So we just continue to toil day in day out to feed the trapos who are dictated to by the elites.

    7. Mr. Ronquillo, you hit it bulls-eye! Unfortunately, Philippine politics and economy are tightly intertwined and controlled by a few in both government and private sectors for decades while majority of the people continue to live in poverty. Change can be elusive if Filipinos do not learn from their past mistakes come elections by allowing themselves to be blinded by the popularity and/or vote-buying.

      • Wake Up Mga Pinoy on

        Naku, magpapalit lang yan ng pangalan ng partido..alam na natin, mas marami sa atin ang mahirap at silaw ang mga yan sa sintemos, bigyan mo yan ng isang daan, diba gagawin nila kahit ano ipagawa mo. Kaya nga ayaw nilang umasenso ang pilipinas, dahil wala ng boboto sa knila pag wala ng masisilaw sa sandakot nila.