Friday, April 07, 2006

A Tale of Two Nations

Former Prime Minister: Thailand: Thaksin
Nepal: Koirala/Deuba collective

Financial Undoing: Thaksin: Shin-Corp.
Koirala/Deuba: Lauda Air and others

Elections: Thaksin: Held Snap elections in an effort to hold on to power. Koirala/Deuba: Attempt to cling to power by refusing to hold elections.

Will of the People: Made Thaksin step down as elections became a referendum on his corrupt administration. Koirala/Deuba realize that Nepalis won't act against corruption; they take this as a cue to falsely say they represent the people.

Respect for the System: Thaksin stepped-down Under public pressure and elections, bowing to the democratic process. Koirala/Deuba refuse to admit error or defeat. Respect the electoral and court system only when it works in their favor.

Public Demonstrations: Thailand: Used, in this context, as a tool to alert citizens to unconstitutional acts and corruption. Nepal: Used as a tool for advancing individual agendas with no regard for national unity.

The King: Thailand: Revered and Respected. Has acted As an impartial arbiter and final word on corrupt government practices. Nepal: Held as a pariah by many Western talking heads for, essentially, doing the same thing as Thailand’s King.

So now, on the eve of the big Maoist/Party protests, we try to find some meaning. The bottom line here--and why blogdai has supplied this little comparison--is: Do we believe in democracy? Are we committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes? Can we bear to have our personal agendas made subservient to the greater needs of all citizens? If we in Nepal were truly committed to democracy, then we would have found a democratic solution to our current problems. No lines of communication--Royal or Party--would have been severed. Talks are democratic, constant disruptive demonstrations are not.

The trouble is, Nepalis really don't believe in the democratic system. We demonstrate this every day. The big example is the 7-party/Maoist alliance with their unilateralism and tunnel vision, for sure; yet, the King is at fault as well, hiring a cabinet full of idiots who are no better than the fools they replaced. If we were to be honest with ourselves we would realize that, perhaps, the biggest blame lies with us: The Citizens of Nepal. Democracy means involvement and participation. We have not kept up our end of the bargain in that regard, so we really have no one to blame but ourselves. Apathy kills good ideas. Apathy is the great enabler of corruption.

It is ultimately WE who have allowed the Maoists to flourish; WE who stood by and did nothing while the Koirala's and the Deubas robbed us blind; and WE who try to escape into tribalism instead of speaking with a single, unified national voice.



At 1:59 PM, April 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main difference though is that a majority of Nepalis see the king as part of the problem not the solution.

At 2:23 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

True, but they also see him as the guy best capable of restoring order as well. (Nepali Times survey, supplied by one of our readers.)

I see G. as a stop-gap measure.

Would the Maoists have allied with the parties, sworn off violence, and begun to talk if G. had not used a heavy hand against them?

The Maoists had momentum on their side and clear sailing under the Party administrations. No need for them to change a thing back then. Now, like the parties, they are scrambling for relevance.

Yes, G. may be part of the problem, but he's a problem that will provide an eventual solution to this mess, blogdai believes.

Was there even a HOPE of a solution under the Parties?


At 5:32 AM, April 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai I don't know how you can say that Nepalis see the king as the best person to retore order.

65% think the King's move on Feb 1st 2005 was not positive, 60% think that to overcome the Maoist insurgency you need to involve all sides, 47.8% think that an all party government will end the current political crisis and 61.1% don't think the king's plan for municipal polls next year will succeed.

It may be your opinion that Gyane will solve the problems but I certainly don't think the Himal's survey suggests that Nepalis think the king will restore order.

At 5:41 AM, April 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, while there was widespread accusations of corruption and nepotism in Thaksin's administration, his 'financial undoing' was out of nothing corrupt or wrong. He used a legal loophole which meant that he and his family could sell shares on the stock exchange and pay no capital gains tax.

It has, in effect, meant that mob rule has determined who rules Thailand. And the fact that all parliamentary seats were not filled meant that the parliament could not convene.

At 8:01 AM, April 08, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Prime Ministers are not allowed to use "legal loopholes" or any other means that uses their influence in office to further their personal fortunes.

It's a conflict of interest.


At 8:08 AM, April 08, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

5:32, does that mean to say you feel mob rule is preferrable to democratic reasoning?

Nepali times survey showed that the majority of Nepalis feel that G. should finish the job that he has started. Perhaps this is the discrepancy you refer to. My apologies.

Remember the sampling on the Times poll. While blogdai feels that the Times may have conducted one of the most accurate surveys possible, a cross section of those sampled would indicate somewhat of a pro-party bias. Over half of the respondents were rural men with enough knowledge to comment on political matters. Political training at the rural level strongly suggests these respondents had at least some measure of political affilliation; i.e. party membership.


At 10:55 AM, April 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai, Thaksin and his family were investigated over their use of the loophole by Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission. The only irregularity found was that in regards to Thanksin's son. Claims of insider trading were investigated and proven to be unfounded.

He didn't use his 'influence to further personal fortunes,' everything he did was all perfectly legal but it was his opponents who felt they had found an opportunity to further their own personal goals by getting rid of Thaksin. But don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he was completely corruption-free (there are many questions over what he and his cronies did/are doing), I'm just saying that this particaular case was manipulated by mob rule. And no - I'm not in favour of mob rule.

In respect of the sampling of the Himal Media poll here's what the Nepali Times wrote of the methods used:

>>>>>Psephologists selected respondents using Stratified Random Sampling technique, dividing up the counry between himal, hill and tarai, five development zones and 15 ecological development regions. The sample size for each region was determined by population proportions.

Thirty-five percent of respondents were urban, 65 percent rural. Men made up 60 percent, and this adjustment was necessary to compensate for the greater say that Nepali males have over over political issues. Of the 33 questions, most were on the conflict, politics and the economy. These were pre-tested in Kathmandu Valley and finetuned before the actual interviews.<<<<<<<

While it may have been wise to ask if individuals were affiliated with a political party I don't believe we should jump to that conclusion purely on the results. The best method possible was employed (random stratified sampling) to undertake the survey goven present circumstances. While we can be critical of the survey results, lets not automatically start adding our own biases to the analysis because then, of course, we can make the results mean whatever we choose.

At 12:17 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Points taken as presented.

What I'm getting at is, are these results truly representative of the population, or are they biased toward those with political knowledge?

It is also telling from the survey that roughtly one half of all respondents had never heard of the 12-point agreement.

This doesn't seem to be a good saturation level for an alliance that claims to have its finger on the pulse of the nation, does it?


At 12:24 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

I also loved reading the Times stories on how many villagers were fearful, if not threatened, by pollsters and possible subsequent retalliation. Where were their opinions posted?

Those who spoke up were either the brave few or those with enough education to know that a confidential poll would not find its way into the hands of Maoists.

Can we also infer from this that pro-Maoist and party sentiments were offered more freely than their converse? If Maoist eyes are watching you from the bushes, its better to talk them up in front of strangers, I would guess.

Honest opinions are only as good as the environment in which they are fostered.


At 8:05 AM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Nepali Times:

Polling in a time of conflict

Himalmedia’s enumerators are experienced in their work, but even they were aghast at the deterioration of conditions in the hinterland.

Some kept diaries in which they recorded their own impressions of the people they met and the things they saw. Many respondents weren’t just satisfied with giving yes or no answers, they wanted the pollsters to take take their message to rulers in Kathmandu. Most wanted to unburden themselves and needed someone to talk to. Sometimes the enumerators themselves ended up answering questions about the state of the country.

One team was detained for three hours by the security forces in Dolakha and another in Dhading. Blockades meant the team covering the far-west had to travel back to Kathmandu via India like in the old days. Many had to walk past booby-trapped barriers on highways.

In many villages, people requested to sit for interviews would at first refuse. There is a new fear and suspicion of strangers. “We don’t know which side you are from, and maybe we will get into trouble,” some would say. But once enumerators explained the purpose of the poll and ensured anonymity most would agree. Ironically, educated people, especially teachers, were more reluctant.

In Syangja the team was interviewing an elderly man who said he was being harassed by the security forces, and while answering the questions he suddenly broke down and wept. A woman in Morang wanted to read a poem she had written about the hardships and violence. A middle-aged man in Syangja was answering questions openly even though his wife wasn’t happy about it. She kept telling him: “Why are you acting smart, you want to get into trouble?” Half way through the questionnaire, she came out of the house and slapped him in the head. He wouldn’t continue and his answers were not counted.

In Morang, a woman told her son who was being interviewed: “Tell him you don’t know anything.” At Lakuri near Charikot, villagers were distrustful of the pollsters, many would walk past without making eye contact, women looked too scared to speak and others would say: “We don’t like to talk about these things.”

In Dang, a bomb went off nearby while enumerators were conducting an interview, locals looked blasé and continued answering questions. In Dolakha, an elderly man called his neighbours out and instead of answering questions, started asking his own: “Which side are you on? You will write down our answers and go but we have to live here and they will start harassing us. We will help you with food and a place to stay, but the days when we could give others help are gone.”

The Udaypur team walked up to the mountains from Gaighat for a whole day. Two villagers had just been abducted by Maoists and a group of women was nervous but wanted to talk. “They ask us for five percent tax, we don’t have any money, how can we pay them?” asked one. Another woman said the Maoists kept threatening to abduct her but she was determined to finish her drinking water project for the village. She said: “I’m not going anywhere until I bring water to the village.”

At 8:07 AM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous Rohit said...

If recent events are an indication, the general 'will' of the people seems to be to oust Gyanendra and take chances with populist scum. When you've got docs, lawyers and other professionals taking to the streets in condemnation of Gyanendra, I think you can conclude that his time may be up.

Gyane, for his part, is doing nothing to help himself. He's been holed up in Pokhara, meeting a tantric or something. Why does this man act like he doesn't give a damn? If he wants to give the impression that he cares for the country, he'd better stop acting so cool and unconcerned.

Thing is that Gyane promised law and order. Can anyone say that things have not gotten worse since he came? And then you've got morons like that Information Minister who says of the Malangwa incident that it was a minor thing. People aren't so stupid, you know. If Gyane wanted to show that he was qualitatively different from the politicians, he hasn't done so.

I think everyone's about had it with the Royalists. Sure, Maha-dull Nepal, Greedy-ja, Shere Bahadur Duh-ba and others make us all depressed, but I think people have decided to take their chances with them. Gyane took a gamble, and didn't deliver. People look like trying to hold him accountable.

At 10:16 AM, April 09, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

Took a gamble and didn't deliver after one year and now everyone's "had it" eh? How shortsighted and simple.

What about 10 years of politicians who not only didn't deliver but moved Nepal in a negative direction. G. took over because he'd "had it" himself.

Only the most ideological simpleton feels that things will be better if we return to the Girija/Deuba style.

If you don't deal with the Maoists now, severely and with brutal authority, then Nepal will never be better.


At 11:30 AM, April 09, 2006, Blogger Blueye said...

This is what I would like to tell the king of Nepal.

Dear King,

Please step out of your shoes and walk in those of your people. You could be a great king of a great country. You just have to step out of your self. I wish you could see that. I wish you would have this dream where you saw yourself walking among your people being one of them. One can never be one of something without being on the same level as those one wishes to be one with. Maybe you do not want to be one with your people? I do not believe that. Think what a miracle if you could heal your people. But it is my conviction that the highest must step into the shoes of the lowest to be the highest in reality. Please King of of Nepal, give them your helping hand. But maybe you are afraid of something incorrect you have done. Onle people with fright answer with violence. You have a lot of frigthened people in your country. Somebody has to be brave. Show them, your people that you are brave. Step into their shoes, try to think of them, if you were one of them, what would you do?

At 11:43 AM, April 09, 2006, Blogger blogdai said...

I wonder if G. was trying this when he went on his big meet-and-greet the villagers tour a few months ago.

Even if it was just a gesture, he still made the attempt. Have we seen anything even remotely close to this from the Alliance?

It is also interesting when we hear comments about "the people" being tired of the King and "the people" want democracy. Under a democracy, the people are supposed to be heard through elections that select representative who echo their needs.

The Parties have refused to call any elections; in fact we haven't had them in over 8 years, so how in the world can we honestly say what "the people" want?

The truth is, there were no foundations laid for democracy during the last 10 years. So, maybe Nepalis should ask another question: What's a democracy?


At 12:43 PM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous g said...

Only the most ideological simpleton feels that things will be better if we return to the Girija/Deuba style.

if current agitation by SPAM is for returning to deuba/girija style, then these ideological simpletons seem to include doctors, professors/teachers, journalists/writes, and lot of those so called intellectuals of nepal.

are they all such a fool, or suffer from political blindness. do they believe bringing back politcal hyenas back will really work for nepal, or they really dont care a shit about the country and are only looking after their own 'behind'.

At 2:07 PM, April 09, 2006, Anonymous Rohit said...

One year? October 2002 is where we start from in my book.

But even if its one year, that's long enough. One year's a long, long time to at least get the pretence of getting something done.

He appoints idiots like Giri and Shishir Rana. What can I say? Maoists are now reduced to 'petty crimes' he says, and two days later they go and sack a town.

He wants to project a no-nonsense image. Unfortunately, events on the ground reveal him to be every bit as incompetent as the politicians before him. And what's all this tantric stuff? Makes him look like a bit of a dinosaur. Nepalis want a guy with his ear to the ground, not a hocus-pocus believing 17th century retrograde

At 1:21 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think no one has their thing together. G is in POkhara living in a tent as he has been told not to live in a pukka house and not to come to Katmandu before new years. The parties are paying 50 rupees to street children to throw stones. and the army is buying helicopters at a profit of 1.5 million dollars per helicopter. Raja Kumar brings in 17 APC's with a margin of USD 200,00 per APC.
Every contract in the army is sought after by the people from the palace. 30,000 euros in cash was taken during P's visit to Austria by Member sec Rajouria aka Banga in spite of the visit being sponsored by the foreign Ministry. Money meant to be used to rehabilitate Maoist victims has been used by mandlas. The problem is that G is surrounded by yes men, people like prabu smasher determine who will be ministers and ambassadors, a lot of old scores have been apparently settled by him. People like Bharat Keshari and Shahit smasher while expounding hate against India have already bought apartments in Delhi. The king is not as smart as we thought he was. He cannot throw the politicians out and the politicians cannot get rid of the king. It is the Nepalese people who are suffering not anyone else.
So blog dai u need to stop supporting the king so much, I really believed in G but I feel that for him to ever become successful he needs to get over his ego and get rid of his yes men.


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