“Thank you, Jonathan. Distinguished members and friends, well, I just want to be more specific on what I have just been through so you understand my situation. I just got out of Khun Prem’s jail. It’s not a general jail. It’s Khun Prem’s jail. It’s Khun Prem’s direct way of communicating to the public that he’s not to be touched. Who is Khun Prem, whom he represents, …...represents him, would be a part of what we can discuss tonight because it involves the current and future of Thailand’s democracy as you know because most of you have been already quite knowledgeable about Thailand and its complex and unnecessary headaches and situations in Thai politics. Jonathan gave me a huge issue on “Democracy and Patronage System of Thailand” as a part of a discussion on Thailand’s democratization. I’ll try to handle it in the best possible way.

In fact, considering the current situation of Thailand, no topic can be more relevant to Thailand these days. Current political crisis in my opinion is the clash between democracy and patronage system directly. It’s a head-on clash, and this would change Thailand and its foundations. The stake is very high for both sides, I mean, democracy and patronage. And if you take the result of the August 19th referendum seriously, you are observing the clash between the 56% and the 41% of the entire population. Never before that such a high number of people came out to say that we no longer need your patronage. It’s simply democracy that we want, not someone to pad in the back, not someone to say that, well, “I’ll make your life a little better but you should feel most grateful to us.” It’s the time that real changes should be the national right of the people of Thailand, no less than most people in a more developed land. I believe we can see this in a life time, the complete change that has started at this very moment.

Well, however, we have started off as a country in patronage system. Most of you who  read about Thailand and its brief history, because we decided to count our history 700 years ago and disregard the 300 years before that because it involved the southern complexity. That’s why the history was chosen to start 700 years ago in Sukhothai period where Sukhothai was the capital city of what would become Thailand. In Sukhothai, at least in one of the reigns of Sukhothai long history, we were led to know and believe that one of the Kings during Sukhothai period, King Ramkhamhaeng, at the time, to be more precisely “Great Brother” –er I’m sorry “Great Father Ramkhamhaeng” at the time because the idea of God-like monarch hasn’t arrived in this land yet during the Sukhothai period. So he was –or they were observed and regarded as “The Great Fathers” who could be benevolent to their people and gave the people what people needed at the time.

One of the noted examples was that Great Father Ramkhamhaeng, or King Ramkhamhaeng just to be in short, proposed to have a bell hung in front of his palace. And anybody with specific problems could come and ring the bell, and he or his people would come out and handle the problems. That was one of the first lessons the Thai students learn about Thai political regime that you have someone to depend upon. When we have problem, turn to someone who can help you. So before we know it, we are led into the patronage system because we ask about dependency before our own capability to do things. These are the very basic concept that makes Thai people different from many peoples around the world. So we started off like that. During the Sukhothai period we had Kings that did things like that. So people had duty to be loyal. People had duty to have faith in the system bestowed on them because that was the working system at the time and there was no competing system. In other word, there was not –there was no better idea how a kingdom could be run so that was the best system at the time.

Later on in Ayudhya period, that was the capital city of a land for 400 and some years. The God-like idea of monarch had been introduced with the Khmer civilization influence. The idea of a King as a demi-God, as a representative from the Hindu Gods and the Gods beyond these Hindu Gods had arrived in our land at the time. So the patronage system of helping people, or being dependable for people, had been changed into the state of protection. If you have loyalty to the King, unquestionable loyalty to the King, you would be protected. In order to show this protection more clearly, people who do otherwise must be punished. So this very system in Ayudhya period shows, or showed that there was an evolution of the system. Some people might call it regressive, some people would call it progressive. Whatever it might be in your opinion, it was a combination between the benevolence of the “Great Fathers” model and the “Great Leaders” model. In other words, Kings of Ayudhya were powerful and a concept of “power” were realized at the time that if people in power could be benevolent, you could benefit from that power as well. In other words, Ayudhya period taught Thai people to live with power, how to live with it, how to survive in it, and how not to be destroyed by it. But Ayudhya period also triggered the new relationships in our land, the master-slave relationship, the noble and commoners relationship. That was Ayudhya.

Then came Rattanakosin period. I would bypass the 12 years of Thonburi period. In Rattanakosin period in which we are now, the Chakri Dynasty was the starter of this so called Rattanakosin period. What it is is the combination of Ayudhya and the new skills of what I would like to call “knowledge management”. In other words, the glory of the Chief Father is combined with the power of Ayudhya period and the demi-God stature of the monarchs, has been added during Rattanakosin period with the so called “knowledge management”. Knowledge is power at the time, it was perceived so.

That’s why King Mongkut spoke English in his court. And he introduced science, and probably technologies, inventions, foreign goods that were completely unknown to Thai people at the time, as one of the sources of his power. King Mongkut was seen, not as a benevolent king, not as the best of Chief Father King, but as the Father of Science and Technology. He’s still regarded that way. So in other words, the system in Thailand has been to the point that leaders and rulers have been finding the best way possible at the time to convince people that they’re dependable. The source of their being dependable varies all the time like I described to you.

And then, here we are in the reign of the current King, King Bhumibhol or Rama IX. We have all of that combined. And because he reigns for so long of a time, 60 some years now, his being in Thailand has been promoted to the state of myth. People don’t know whether or not they’re talking about realities or belief about him. Because he reigns long enough that he could be all of those combined: the traditional King, the scientific King, the developing King, the working monarch, and now so, he can still be the guardian of the new invention to Thailand, democracy. So all of that have been in front of us that we have all those variables that we have to rearrange and put in a new order.

We missed some opportunities in the past like when Predee Panomyong, the civilian leader of the revolution of 1932, 2475 for Thai people, that the system was turned from absolute monarchy into constitutional monarchy. That was still in the reign of King Rama VII, King Prachathipok. Predee said later on, he seized power when he was 32 years old, and at the age of nearly 50, he was out of power completely and resided in Beijing for 10 years and then for the rest of his life in France. He never returned to Thailand, only his ashes. He said at the time that “When I had power, I don’t know what to do with it. When I grew up and know what to do with it, I no longer have power.” The idea of having things at a wrong time has been reminding us that we probably need a leader to rearrange all of that for us.

You see, all of that that I have said to you from the beginning, it leads to a strong belief among Thai people still that, with a benevolent reign like this, we don’t actually need democracy. We are led into believing that the best form of government is guided democracy, or democracy with His Majesty greatest guidance. It has a continual development of ideas and belief into the current situation in which I see as a clash or the clash between democracy and patronage system.

In other words, Thais are made to be comfortable with patronage system. We start to invent the term like ‘ไม่เป็นไร’ or ‘It doesn’t matter.’ or ‘It’s alright.’ because there’s no other way to say it. We invented the system of smiling anyway no matter what happens because smiles are the way out of a problem. There’s simply no other way at the time. And we invented some saying some belief like ‘ค่าของคนคือคนของใคร’ ‘A person’s value’s based on whom he belongs.’ something like that. So the ideas and the terms like these have been based on a feeling --the feeling that to be patronized is alright.

I went to the US as a student in 1992 and I could never understand at the time why people could be angered by being patronized. Some friends of mine responded angrily to me and to the people I saw them talking to, ‘Don’t patronize me.’ I never understood that because the state of being patronized is alright. The state of being flattered is fine because your life depends on others anyway. So to be patronized is not a sin, is not evil. But all that are coming to a big change. That’s why we are clashing now because there are enough people who come out and say that, ‘No, we don’t want it anymore of your damn patronage.’ The 41% that said no to the constitution drafted by the dictators and the dictators’ followers has been the result of the huge lobbying in the bureaucracy of heavy budget investment to turn the whole country to a ‘Yes’ country, you remember that; it’s just a week ago.  And some even believe that there are some irregularities involved in the process of campaigning of the constitution or the counting of the votes.

But with all of that, big brother tactics combined, they got only 56%. And that includes the big billboards around Bangkok, and probably outside Bangkok too --but I haven’t seen any. But I saw a lot of them along the Don Muang Toll Way from the old airport that say something like “Well, we the Thai people have to join the same boat. We have the same fate, we join the same boat.” But what is remarkable is the name that was put at the end of the statement.  It says ‘Yellow shirt people’. In other words, the ‘Yellow shirt people’ combined with all those tactics, you got only 56%. That is your big problem. Thailand is on the verge of change, if so. So what we’re talking about between democracy and patronage system is that people are coming out of age, I think.

I myself grew up in patronage system; I was pampered too. My father served in the air force and he later on became a commercial captain of Thai Airways when they first started the first bunch of local pilots. So he was paid in quite a high salary, enough to feed his family. And I wouldn’t have to go through the misery of life that he went through. He grew up in patronage system too. I treated my dinner for granted that they would always come to the table. I wouldn’t have a feeling of having dinner tonight and having nothing for tomorrow. But my father did experience all that. I grew up in that kind of system comfortably so. I started questioning the notion of patronage system later on when I became a full time journalist in a television, and started to probe Thailand and its society more seriously. I found that something is wrong. It took me years and some experience in the Taksin administration government to understand all of these.

Patronage system is problematic because it encourages inequality among individuals. And that’s the direct conflict to democracy. It encourages one person into thinking of depending on the other or others. It breeds endless number of slaves with a very limited number of masters. It prevents Thailand from coming out of age. That’s why, having been educated for so long of a time, having braved the world for so long of a time, never had any direct discrimination against any foreign cultures for so long of a time, many of us remain children. You can observe political fight in Thai politics and you would find most of them petty. It’s a child’s game –the way that they play of each other, or against each other. Because in a patronage system, you would remain children, you would remain somebody who depends on others. So no wonder pettiness is everywhere in Thailand.

You see one of the latest example happened to the Thai Rak Thai Party. You may have read the news. The election commission have a problem with the name of the new Thai Rak Thai Party. At the time Thai Rak Thai was transforming into a new party called ‘People’s Power Party’ or PPP. It was trying to play a trick of changing name or modifying name so people would know that it remains Thai Rak Thai. So they changed the name and the name was approved by the election commission. And then they found out that the modified name was abbreviated as TRT, just like Thai Rak Thai. They withdrew that endorsement, say that you can no longer use that name –it’s Thai Rak Thai again. My nightmare has returned. So in other words, this pettiness is a sample of how we play of each other in the 21st century.

So, Taksin, as Prime Minister that I came to work with and grew to like personally, came in and changed all that. Sleepwalkingly, Taksin has removed power patronage from the powers that be and turned it into public policies most people can benefit. I was with him so I knew that he didn’t launch those policies philosophically. He simply wanted to do his job. He wants to be liked. He wants to be loved. He wants to be a useful rich man. That’s simply the way he operates his money. But then his easy-going way has been in direct conflict with patronage system because it undid most of that –fast-- in only 5 years. People at grassroots started to feel that they have rights. They have the right to feel that they could be much better off than being a little better than last year. In other words, they simply was given a new choice. And Taksin didn’t do it to challenge anyone but some people felt challenged by what he did and what he has done.

When he won the election for the first time with the 377 seats in the Parliament of 500, it was never before and absolute majority. I could tell you behind the scene and off the microphone in future times that the private conversation that I –I’m sorry I couldn’t reveal tonight-- showed that there are some intimidation in the air right after the election result was known that Taksin won 377 seats among 500 in the Parliament. In other words, Taksin was not to be trusted because Taksin has violated the rules of being depending on others. He started to be a Prime Minister that doesn’t have to depend on anyone, and that is a sin in a patronage system. Taksin did right or wrong is up to the history to judge. You can drag him to court or you can…..justice –it doesn’t matter. But the matter is what he has put or imprinted in Thailand is something that people never felt before.

He almost did not do anything for the Bangkok people because he felt that they didn’t need him that much. If you ask Bangkok people, urbanized people, what Taksin had done to them, it could take them two weeks and they couldn’t come up with anything. But when you ask people at grassroots, they can cite ten items that they felt they were given under Taksin new system. Was Taksin patronizing them? In doing that, probably so, but he didn’t mean to do it that way. And I could tell you out of my personal observation of how he came up with that kind of policies. You know that he had planned that in the last two years of his second term, he would be in Thailand only 1/3 of the whole time. He would spend 2/3 of the last two years of his administration traveling the world. According to his word, he would be playing the role of ‘salesman’ for the country in the last two years, but he was deprived from that. He was overthrown while waiting to speak in the assembly in the United Nations. Right after the coup, September 19, 2006, we planned to launch a government in exile. But a telephone call from Bangkok changed all that. In my opinion, there was a mistake, we should have gone with a …… We should have made the CNS –the Surayut government—and the rest of them illegal. We should have made them illegitimate, like the Heng Samren Hun Sen regime of Cambodia years ago. We should have made that. But the telephone call changed all that. So what could we do? I am a small person in this vast entourage. I was at the time Deputy Secretary General to the Prime Minister –an equivalent to Deputy Chief of Staff in the President system of the US. But it was a small place so you could press for it. I would have pressed for government in exile. And if there would be a clash, a physical clash in Thailand –so be it.

So we’re talking in historical sense that even a Prime Minister who was put in power by the people, what he did was to release people from patronage system, but when the most crucial decision comes, even him, made the decision out of patronage system. So the deep root of the patronage system is here and it’s in direct conflict with democratization. We have to undo it. We have to personalize patronage system by saying that, well, who keeps patronizing people. And I believe that the time is near to do that. Once you were put in jail, it’s alright. We can do more time to realize your goal. It’s fine really.

The thing is that I was waiting for the second case that I’m charged with, the so called ‘wire tapping case’. On the 22nd of June, during our daily Sanam Luang protest stage, I was revealing a conversation of three people –a telephone conversation. Two of them were justice –one in the Supreme Court, one is in the Appeal Court. One was known to have a close relationship, presumably homosexual relationship with the powers that be. And they were talking to the sense that how we could manipulate the King’s statement to punish the Taksin administration and the Election Commissioners whom they believe to be siding with Taksin. And the rest of that is history if you follow the details in Thai news. In other words, they were forced to face the reality of how this patronage system which is the main element of aristocracy system of Thailand has been operated.

How they buddy each other and use this personal relationship which change things around. How they insult people by not endorsing the majority of the people. How they think that democracy has to be guided, still. So the tape itself would be a big case from now on. The police charge me and some of my colleagues of illegally wire tapping. It’s not the case. It was intentionally taped by the third person in the conversation that he would be coming out soon. He’s then the Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office. So the case would be brought to court. My intention is not to approve whether or not I wiretapped, but I want to bring Khun Prem, General Prem, and the two judges to court. That would be my intention. Then I could be facing Khun Prem in court and ask him why such a great leader like himself decided to doubt the democracy like this. You were a great leader, Your Excellency, but you changed. So a once indispensable leader is now a leader at a very wrong time….. So Khun Prem symbolizes so many things. We learn from Khun Prem that a good person, when he gets real old --and it’s not the age that matters here, it’s the state of feeling old in the state of mind of not being adventurous anymore, of reversing to the old times, the good old times that he is comfortable with-- is no longer suitable to be influential the country.

So, I’m sorry I have so much of the time that I just want to say that the –what I found lately, in jail and out of jail, that democracy and patronage system are direct conflict. And the election which is upcoming on December 23rd would not resolve anything. The situation would be worse after the election because all of the tactics and covers would have been used up. And the real intention would be revealed why you couldn’t allow democracy in this country. When you went to Sanam Luang –if you did-- you would have the same feeling that I have that people in Thailand are no longer children. They are adults being forced into children’s costumes. They feel frustrated, physically and mentally, and they are struggling to get themselves out of that. I don’t know how they would come about but they will come. So I would end here. I hope that my opinions would attract some questions and some discussion after that. I would like to hear your opinion and your question so much. I want to know how you perceive Thailand because many of you have been in Thailand for so long of a time. Some of you are real Thailand lover –I don’t want to shatter that feeling. So I need to know what you actually feel about it at this point. Thank you very much.

 

Question :

At one point you said Thailand needed a leader to rearrange the current institutions at one point. I mean, you talk about the patronage system being unacceptable. Yet, you seem to think that Thailand can only be sorted out by a powerful leader –you’re referring to somebody like Khun Taksin that you worked underneath. Wasn’t it as much patronage under Taksin Shinawatra? Doesn’t he rely on patronage to bring people on board as well?

Answer :

It might not be him the leader I’m talking about. Actually, I should be referring to that as leadership instead of leader. What I meant to say is that things have been rearranged and put in the ‘right’ order by the force of the patronage system. But when people start to refuse that, they need a different kind of leadership to tell them to sing all these through. I don’t know any more than you do on what the new leadership would look like. But if you ask me, if I have to –to presume that I know and say something about it, I would say that the new leadership has to continue reducing the inequality of rights people in urbanized areas and the rest of the country have been put upon. In other words, the so called populist policies have to be the key to start making people believe that they have rights. And Khun Taksin, he’s reaching 60 now you know, and he’s quite a happy man, and he’s now happier than ever with the ‘Man City’. So I’m not even sure that Khun Taksin would want to take that role. He enjoys himself being a famous politician in Thailand. But according to him, if the owners don’t like what he did, a professional manager like him could be working for other companies. The kind of attitude is not really revolutionary. So the new leadership that I’m talking about is to be more revolutionary.

Question :

You’re talking about a leader being necessary. Isn’t it the best of thing if Thailand has fairly weak national leaders but start having much more dynamic politics at the local level? Beside you start waiting for a savior leader to come along. You’re surely thinking of the same sort of terms of patronage that was existing today.

Answer :

Oh no! I’m not waiting for the white knight to come and save all of us, no,no. What I’m saying is that this is the state of no white knight. I’m saying the opposite. This is the state of no white knight and yes the current state…..will not end like the May incident of 1992. There’s no one to end it because everyone is involved. You see that there’s no referee. So what would be happening from now on is really unknown. But I guess it would take -- it would take some people’s heavy hands, if you will. For example, to put it in a more tangible, touchable samples, appointed General Saprung’s attitudes, appoint Police General Sereepisut as Police Chief and you’ll see something. Actually you should have done that –they should have done that. They should have appointed the most dictatorial figures into positions that need to be democratized, and then we may see something that happens. When there was a revolution, the leaders of such incident is always unknown. So I don’t know who the leader.

Question :

Khun Jakrapob, something you said about –er—there was an attempt by Taksin to form a government in exile. I’m just curious, could you walk us through when he was planning to do so and when this call came from Thailand to ask him not to move ahead…..

Answer :

Well, I went to jail one time and I would try to refrain myself from doing the same thing again. Well what I could say here is –er—it was not him who came up with the idea of a government exile. It’s from some of us mean to it. And we informally approached certain countries, I don’t want to name countries, but not less than 10 countries on that same night, whether or not they would endorse our government in exile. And they said they would. .In other words, if he would have gone ahead with government exile, I think he would have succeeded. But that’s an ‘if’ clause. What do you call it? If certification? Who made that call–I’m sorry I couldn’t reveal right here but we….

Question :

Would his name begin with ‘P’?

Answer :

(Laugh) Well, it is very much in style, actually. Well, that call changed the idea he was considering it at the time. That was the time before he issued that emergency decree on MCOT, TV channel 9, the time you remember it, about 0920 pm. That was shortly before that. I was in Bangkok because we kind of knew that something would happen but he had to go any way. So he flew from New York to London. And it would be harder to form a government in exile in London as opposed to the United Nations. So I realized that he put an end to the idea but it didn’t come from him.

Question :

Khun Jakrapob, I forgot what you put the word exactly. You said something like ‘sleepwalkingness’ that –describing Taksin’s –what-er-evolution as hero of democracy, yah? Can you elaborate on that? Do you feel that he really had –I mean—was he really interested in promoting democracy in Thailand? And wasn’t he just monopolizing the patronage system? And if he did just sort of sleepwalk into this hero of democracy-er-image that you’re portraying here, I mean, is he really a democratic person? Is he a democratic politician really? And wasn’t this just a very accidental hero we’ve thought you’re promoting at the moment?

Answer :

He, he was a product, he is a product of patronage system and autocracy who tried to be more democratic than he might ever be. He battles all the time between being a liberal business person and a police officer. It is his internal conflict and you need to talk…..about that, not me. But the thing is that he’s good enough for me to work with because I need someone, we need someone to lead a way to the light at the end of the tunnel. If Thailand is deep in patronage system the way that the old timers had brought Thailand about, there’s no need for education. Why do we need to go to schools, I mean? To find some masters and you’ll do fine because you wouldn’t be allowed to show your education and your knowledge any way. If you want to have a country full of people with energy, and people who want to change things, you have to provide them with an equal time, I mean, of yourself, to express yourself in that society.

To answer Peter’s question, I believe that Khun Taksin has been trying to be democratic. People of his generation is hardly democratic. Even democratic fighters turn out to be very dictatorial when you work with them closely. Some democratic fighters in Thailand beat their wives. That’s terrible. What kind of democracy is that? So it is a battling between democracy and autocracy that he, along with the rest of his generation, has to do. I don’t presume to say what he is, but I’m saying that when I said he’s sleepwalking into changing policies, what I mean is that he did not intend to grasp power from the old patronage system. He did not know that the war was ongoing. He did not know that poor people have been owned by somebody else. That’s why he burst out some words without knowing how hurt it might be to people who heard it. He said at one point before I became spokesman. He said it. He said that I’m tired of this ‘poor man’s brokers’, people who talk about the poor and poverty all the time and didn’t do a damn thing about it. You know you couldn’t give people spirit instead of better life. You cannot give them projects that need results. So that’s how he operates his mind. That’s why I think that sometimes he’s sleepwalking in the sense that he did not know the impact of what he did. But he realized the impact of what he did later on. So what we’re talking about is a collective leadership actually. Taksin was not dictatorial. I was working with him. I would be the one who stepped away from him if he was. But he merely a person who stick to the gun and try to get the job done, no leader in Thailand was ever like that. So it was dictatorial in the minds of people because you stuck to your gun. You insisted that it had to be done under your leadership and that could be construed by some people as being dictatorial. But if you met him in person, you spend some time with him, you would know that he’s no –he’s not—he doesn’t have that grain in his body. So I’m not saying that he’s a superman but he’s better than the old leaders that I was told to respect. I would rather work underneath a half good commoner than an empty noble, you see.

Question (Simon) :

Khun Jakrapob, will you be contesting the upcoming election on December 23rd? If so which party will you be joining? And can you tell us anything about what that party stands for or may do to Thailand? If you decide that you will not be joining this election since you campaign against the constitution, will you be doing any other kind of action, …..or whatever, to, you know, make your political point?

Answer :

Well, thank you, Simon. We had 377 seats in the parliament and we was –we were overthrown. So maybe the victory in the election might not be the whole thing, or the whole point. So all of us, some of us who were campaigning at Sanam Luang are now considering whether or not we should be joining the election. If we would join the election, it means that we would need a new forum to reveal them all. The election campaign for us would be another Sanam Luang stage if we would join the election. But if we would not join the election, it would mean that we would find something outside the electoral process to do in order to protect the system itself if we can, the best way we can. We are not priding ourselves as being, you know, the guardian of anything, but we try, or we would try. The party we would belong, anything Thai Rak Thai, anything Thai Rak Thai. It could be called, you know, Thai Love Chinese, you know, I would belong to that party.

Question (Peter) :

Maybe I can throw a split question to both of you. From what we read, the PPP has lots of former Thai Rak Thai MPs and, I guess, enters the election campaign, something happens as a road runner. So, two-part question: (1) What do you think will be done to stop PPP from winning? And (2) What do you both think about the government or a government party led by Samak?

Answer :

Let me make sure that I got your question right. The first question, what would stop PPP from winning?

Question :

What is it to stop, what is going to be done to stop from winning?

Answer :

The tactics of the other side?

Question :

Yes. And the second one, what do you both think of a governing party or party in the government led by Samak. What sort of person do you think he is?

Answer :

Well, for the first question, they really try to –er –allocate more budget in Isarn. They had people like the former MP of Thai Rak Thai, Wiwattanachai Na Kalasin, coming out and declare that he would form the Isarn group and try to grasp as much votes as possible from PPP, or the former Thai Rak Thai party. This kind of tactics I don’t know –er –there could be a lot more. But I think that the main tactic would be to brand Taksin as an asshole –would be the major tactic. They would continue to do it and what else I think that covers it.

But for the second question, Samak came from the, the, well, if you use the western mode of thought, you would brand Samak as ultra righteous. But if you look closer at him and follow the stories, you would find that he just heavily in patronage system. I mean he is an ultra conservative who can surrender his position easily if asked that what he was….. But then he decided to defend Taksin this time in his early 70’s. He’s in his 70’s now you know. He’s no longer a young politician but he decided to jump in and defended Taksin this time.

คำอภิปรายหัวข้อ “ประชาธิปไตยกับระบบอุปถัมภ์ของไทย” ของ จักรภพ เพ็ญแข ฉบับภาษาอังกฤษ
นี่คือเนื้อหาการบรรยายของ “จักรภพ เพ็ญแข” ต่อที่ประชุมชมรมนักข่าวต่างประเทศ เมื่อเดือนกันยายน 2550 ในหัวข้อ “ประชาธิปไตยกับระบบอุปถัมภ์ของไทย” ที่กำลังตกเป็นที่วิพากษ์วิจารณ์กันมากว่า มีเนื้อหาบางช่วงบางตอนที่น่าสนใจและอันตรายอย่างยิ่ง โดยนายจักรภพเองได้อ้างว่า...มีความพยายามจะแปลเนื้อหาแบบผิดๆ เพื่อหาเรื่อง-ใส่ความกัน ซึ่งถือว่าไม่เป็นธรรม และเร็วๆนี้ หากจัดทำคำแปลเป็นภาษาไทยที่ถูกต้อง ก็จะนำมาเผยแพร่ ขณะที่นายอภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ หัวหน้าพรรคประชาธิปัตย์ และผู้นำฝ่ายค้านในสภาผู้แทนราษฎร ก็ออกมาตอบโต้ว่า มีความพยายามเบี่ยงเบนประเด็นว่ามีปัญหาด้านการแปล แต่ความจริงไม่ใช่ เพราะพรรคประชาธิปัตย์มีหลายคนที่คุ้นเคยกับการใช้ภาษาอังกฤษ ก็เข้าใจในประเด็นการปาฐกถาครั้งนี้เป็นอย่างดี และเห็นว่า เป็นทัศนคติที่อันตราย โดยจะมีการนำเนื้อหาดังกล่าวส่งมอบให้นายสมัคร สุนทรเวช นายกรัฐมนตรี ได้พิจารณาด้วยตัวเอง จึงเป็นเรื่องที่ต้องรอคอยกันต่อไปว่า การถอดคำแปลของทั้งพรรคประชาธิปัตย์ และของนายจักรภพ เนื้อหา “การแปล” นั้น จะ “ผิดเพี้ยน-ใส่ความ” กันจริงหรือไม่ แต่ที่แน่ๆ คำพูดที่ถอดคำบรรยายเป็นภาษาอังกฤษ จากปากของ “จักรภพ เพ็ญแข” นั้นมีเนื้อหาดังนี้ (รวมถึงคำแปลฉบับภาษาไทย) ที่รอการเทียบเคียงกับฉบับของพรรคประชาธิปัตย์และของนายจักรภพเอง นับเป็นเรื่องที่ผู้อ่านต้องใช้วิจารณญาณในการตัดสินใจเองว่า "ใครผิด-ใครถูก" และสมควรหรือไม่กับการบรรยายครั้งนี้ของ "จักรภพ เพ็ญแข"

คำอภิปรายหัวข้อ “ประชาธิปไตยกับระบบอุปถัมภ์ของไทย” ของ จักรภพ เพ็ญแข ฉบับภาษาไทย
นี่คือเนื้อหาการบรรยายของ “จักรภพ เพ็ญแข” ต่อที่ประชุมชมรมนักข่าวต่างประเทศ เมื่อเดือนกันยายน 2550 ในหัวข้อ “ประชาธิปไตยกับระบบอุปถัมภ์ของไทย” ที่กำลังตกเป็นที่วิพากษ์วิจารณ์กันมากว่า มีเนื้อหาบางช่วงบางตอนที่น่าสนใจและอันตรายอย่างยิ่ง

โดยนายจักรภพเองได้อ้างว่า...มีความพยายามจะแปลเนื้อหาแบบผิดๆ เพื่อหาเรื่อง-ใส่ความกัน ซึ่งถือว่าไม่เป็นธรรม และเร็วๆนี้ หากจัดทำคำแปลเป็นภาษาไทยที่ถูกต้อง ก็จะนำมาเผยแพร่

ขณะที่นายอภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ หัวหน้าพรรคประชาธิปัตย์ และผู้นำฝ่ายค้านในสภาผู้แทนราษฎร ก็ออกมาตอบโต้ว่า มีความพยายามเบี่ยงเบนประเด็นว่ามีปัญหาด้านการแปล แต่ความจริงไม่ใช่ เพราะพรรคประชาธิปัตย์มีหลายคนที่คุ้นเคยกับการใช้ภาษาอังกฤษ ก็เข้าใจในประเด็นการปาฐกถาครั้งนี้เป็นอย่างดี และเห็นว่า เป็นทัศนคติที่อันตราย โดยจะมีการนำเนื้อหาดังกล่าวส่งมอบให้นายสมัคร สุนทรเวช นายกรัฐมนตรี ได้พิจารณาด้วยตัวเอง

จึงเป็นเรื่องที่ต้องรอคอยกันต่อไปว่า การถอดคำแปลของทั้งพรรคประชาธิปัตย์ และของนายจักรภพ เนื้อหา “การแปล” นั้น จะ “ผิดเพี้ยน-ใส่ความ” กันจริงหรือไม่

แต่ที่แน่ๆ คำพูดที่ถอดคำบรรยายเป็นภาษาอังกฤษ จากปากของ “จักรภพ เพ็ญแข” นั้นมีเนื้อหาดังนี้ (รวมถึงคำแปลฉบับภาษาไทย) ที่รอการเทียบเคียงกับฉบับของพรรคประชาธิปัตย์และของนายจักรภพเอง

นับเป็นเรื่องที่ผู้อ่านต้องใช้วิจารณญาณในการตัดสินใจเองว่า "ใครผิด-ใครถูก" และสมควรหรือไม่กับการบรรยายครั้งนี้ของ "จักรภพ เพ็ญแข"

ขอบคุณ โจนาธาน สมาชิกผู้ทรงเกียรติ และเพื่อนๆ ผมอยากเล่าเจาะจงลงไปว่า ผมได้ผ่านอะไรมาบ้าง พวกคุณจะได้เข้าใจสถานการณ์ของผม ผมเพิ่งออกจากคุกคุณเปรม ไม่ใช่คุกทั่วไป แต่เป็นคุกคุณเปรม ซึ่งเป็นวิธีการของคุณเปรมในการสื่อสารกับประชาชนว่าเขาเป็นบุคคลที่แตะต้องไม่ได้คุณเปรมเป็นใคร เขาเป็นตัวแทนของใคร...เป็นส่วนหนึ่งของสิ่งที่เราจะอภิปรายกันในคืนนี้ เพราะมันเกี่ยวข้องกับประชาธิปไตยในปัจจุบันและในอนาคตของประเทศไทย อย่างที่พวกคุณทราบกันเพราะพวกคุณส่วนใหญ่ก็มีความรู้ดีอยู่แล้วเกี่ยวกับประเทศไทย ตลอดจนความซับซ้อนเรื่องปวดหัวที่ไม่จำเป็นและสถานการณ์ทางการเมืองของไทย โจนาธานกำหนดหัวข้อใหญ่มากให้ผมคือ“ประชาธิปไตยกับระบบอุปถัมภ์ของไทย” ให้เป็นส่วนหนึ่งของการอภิปรายเกี่ยวกับการทำให้ประเทศไทยเป็นประชาธิปไตย ซึ่งผมจะพยายามทำให้ดีที่สุด

ที่จริงหากพิจารณาสถานการณ์ของประเทศในปัจจุบัน ก็คงไม่มีหัวข้อไหนเหมาะสมไปกว่านี้อีกแล้ว วิกฤตทางการเมืองในปัจจุบันตามความเห็นของผม คือความขัดแย้งกันระหว่างประชาธิปไตยกับระบบอุปถัมภ์ ซึ่งเป็นความขัดแย้งแบบเผชิญหน้า และจะทำให้เกิดการเปลี่ยนแปลงประเทศไทยและรากฐานของประเทศ ซึ่งเดิมพันสูงมากทั้งสองฝ่ายทั้งประชาธิปไตยและระบบอุปถัมภ์ และถ้าท่านพิจารณาผลการลงประชามติเมื่อวันที่ 19 สิงหาคมอย่างจริงจัง ท่านจะเห็นว่าเป็นการเผชิญหน้ากันระหว่างประชาชนจำนวน 56% และ 41% ของประชากรทั้งหมด ไม่เคยปรากฏมาก่อนที่ประชาชนจำนวนมากออกมาบอกว่า “เราไม่ต้องการการอุปถัมภ์ของท่านอีกต่อไป” เราต้องการประชาธิปไตย มิใช่คนที่มาตบหลังเรา ไม่ใช่คนที่บอกเราว่า “เราจะทำให้ชีวิตคุณดีขึ้นเล็กน้อย แต่คุณต้องสำนึกในบุญคุณของเรา” ถึงเวลาแล้วที่การเปลี่ยนแปลงที่แท้จริงควรเป็นสิทธิ์ระดับชาติของประชาชนไทยไม่ยิ่งหย่อนไปกว่าประชาชนส่วนใหญ่ในประเทศที่พัฒนาแล้ว ผมเชื่อว่าเราจะสามารถเห็นการเปลี่ยนแปลงนี้ได้ภายในชั่วชีวิตของเรา การเปลี่ยนแปลงโดยสิ้นเชิงซึ่งกำลังเริ่มขึ้นในขณะนี้

อย่างไรก็ตาม เราเริ่มต้นด้วยการเป็นประเทศในระบบอุปถัมภ์ พวกคุณส่วนใหญ่คงเคยอ่านเรื่องราวเกี่ยวกับประเทศไทยและประวัติศาสตร์สั้นๆของประเทศไทย เพราะเราตัดสินใจที่จะนับประวัติศาสตร์ไทยย้อนหลังไปเพียง 700 ปี โดยไม่สนใจช่วง 300 ปีก่อนหน้านั้น เพราะเป็นช่วงเวลาที่เกี่ยวข้องกับเหตุการณ์ความยุ่งยากทางภาคใต้ ดังนั้นประวัติศาสตร์ชาติไทยจึงถูกเลือกให้เริ่มต้นเมื่อ 700 ปีที่แล้วในสมัยสุโขทัยซึ่งมีสุโขทัยเป็นเมืองหลวง ในรัชสมัยหนึ่งในยุคสุโขทัยเราถูกชักนำให้เชื่อว่ากษัตริย์องค์หนึ่งในสมัยสุโขทัยคือพ่อขุนรามคำแหง เป็น “พี่ชายที่ยิ่งใหญ่” ขอโทษ “พ่อขุนรามคำแหงที่ยิ่งใหญ่” เนื่องจากแนวคิดที่ว่ากษัตริย์เปรียบเหมือนพระเจ้ายังมิได้เข้ามาในแผ่นดินไทยในสมัยสุโขทัย ดังนั้นกษัตริย์ในสมัยสุโขทัยจึงถูกมองว่าเป็น “พ่อที่ยิ่งใหญ่” ผู้ที่มีความเมตตากรุณาต่อประชาชนและให้สิ่งที่ประชาชนต้องการ

ตัวอย่างหนึ่งที่เป็นที่รู้จักกันทั่วไปก็คือพ่อขุนรามคำแหงให้นำระฆังมาแขวนไว้หน้าวัง ผู้ใดมีปัญหาก็สามารถมาเคาะระฆังได้และพระองค์หรือคนของพระองค์ ก็จะออกมาช่วยจัดการแก้ปัญหาให้ เรื่องนี้เป็นหนึ่งในบทเรียนแรกๆ ที่นักเรียนไทยได้เรียนเกี่ยวกับระบอบการปกครองของไทย ว่าเราสามารถที่จะพึ่งพาใครได้ เมื่อเรามีปัญหาก็หันไปหาผู้ที่สามารถช่วยเราได้ ด้วยเหตุนี้ก่อนที่เราจะรู้ตัว เราก็ถูกชักนำเข้าไปสู่ระบบอุปถัมภ์เสียแล้ว เพราะเราเรียกหาการพึ่งพาอาศัย การอุปการะก่อนที่จะใช้ความสามารถของตนเอง สิ่งเหล่านี้เป็นแนวคิดพื้นฐานที่ทำให้คนไทยแตกต่างจากชนชาติอื่นในโลกเราเริ่มต้นมาเช่นนั้น ในสมัยสุโขทัยเรามีกษัตริย์ที่ทำเช่นนั้น ดังนั้นประชาชนจึงมีหน้าที่ที่จะซื่อสัตย์ ประชาชนมีหน้าที่ที่จะต้องมีความศรัทธาในระบบซึ่งมีผู้มอบให้แก่พวกเขาเพราะเป็นระบบที่ใช้ได้ผล ในช่วงเวลานั้นและไม่มีระบบอื่นที่สามารถแข่งได้ กล่าวอีกนัยหนึ่งก็คือ ไม่มีแนวคิดที่ดีกว่านี้ในการปกครองอาณาจักรไทย ระบบดังกล่าวจึงเป็นระบบที่ดีที่สุดในขณะนั้น

ต่อมาในสมัยอยุธยาซึ่งมีอยุธยาเป็นเมืองหลวงเป็นเวลา 400 กว่าปีแนวคิดที่ว่ากษัตริย์เปรียบเหมือนพระเจ้าถูกนำเข้ามาโดยได้รับอิทธิพลจากอารยธรรมเขมร กษัตริย์เป็นกึ่งเทพเจ้า เป็นตัวแทนของเทพในศาสนาฮินดูและพระเจ้าที่อยู่เหนือเทพทั้งหลาย ดังนั้นระบบอุปถัมภ์ซึ่งให้ความช่วยเหลือประชาชน เป็นที่พึ่งของประชาชน ได้ถูกเปลี่ยนมาเป็นการปกป้อง ถ้าคุณมีความซื่อสัตย์ต่อกษัตริย์ ความซื่อสัตย์โดยไม่มีความเคลือบแคลงสงสัยใดๆทั้งสิ้น คุณจะได้รับการปกป้อง และเพื่อแสดงให้เห็นการปกป้องอย่างชัดเจน ประชาชนที่ทำในทางตรงกันข้ามจะถูกลงโทษ ดังนั้นจะเห็นได้ว่าระบบในสมัยอยุธยาเป็นการแสดงให้เห็นถึงพัฒนาการของระบบ ประชาชนบางกลุ่มอาจเห็นว่าเป็นการถดถอย บางกลุ่มอาจเห็นว่าเป็นการพัฒนา ไม่ว่าคุณจะเห็นว่าเป็นอะไรก็ตามมันเป็นการผสมผสานระหว่างความเมตตากรุณาของพ่อผู้ยิ่งใหญ่” และ “ผู้นำที่ยิ่งใหญ่” กล่าวคือกษัตริย์สมัยอยุธยามีอำนาจและหลักการของอำนาจในสมัยนั้น ก็คือถ้าผู้มีอำนาจมีความเมตตา คุณก็จะได้รับประโยชน์จากอำนาจนั้นด้วย กล่าวอีกนัยหนึ่งก็คือสมัยอยุธยาสอนให้คนไทยมีชีวิตอยู่กับอำนาจ จะดำเนินชีวิตอยู่กับอำนาจได้อย่างไรจะเอาตัวรอดจากอำนาจได้อย่างไร และจะทำอย่างไรจึงจะไม่ถูกอำนาจทำลาย แต่สมัยอยุธยาก็ได้ก่อให้เกิดความสัมพันธ์รูปแบบใหม่ขึ้นในประเทศไทยคือความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างนายกับทาสความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างชนชั้นผู้ดีผู้มียศศักดิ์กับสามัญชน นั่นคือสมัยอยุธยา

ต่อมาก็เป็นสมัยรัตนโกสินทร์ผมจะขอข้ามสมัยธนบุรีช่วง 12 ปีไป ในสมัยรัตนโกสินทร์ซึ่งเป็นสมัยปัจจุบันนั้น ราชวงศ์จักรีเป็นราชวงศ์ที่เริ่มต้นสมัยรัตนโกสินทร์ ซึ่งเป็นการผสมผสานระหว่างสมัยอยุธยาและทักษะใหม่ๆซึ่งผมจะขอเรียกว่า “การบริหารจัดการความรู้” กล่าวคือความรุ่งเรืองของ “พ่อผู้ยิ่งใหญ่” ผสมผสานกับอำนาจสมัยอยุธยาและความสำคัญของความเป็นกษัตริย์กึ่งเทพเจ้า รวมเข้ากับการบริหารจัดการความรู้ในสมัยรัตนโกสินทร์ โดยเข้าใจกันว่าความรู้คืออำนาจ ดังนั้นพระบาทสมเด็จพระมงกุฎเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว จึงพูดภาษาอังกฤษในราชสำนัก พระองค์