Author Topic: Poll shows bias and prejudice are major forces in Thai politics  (Read 715 times)

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Offline Johnnie F.

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Poll shows bias and prejudice are major forces in Thai politics

Sometimes, the best eye-opener is the so-called "blind" polls - the kind of surveys that withhold some crucial information in an attempt to remove possible prejudice. One was conducted recently in the Northeast and showed interesting results concerning the July 3 general election. When asked to pick proposed policies that they prefer, without knowing which parties the policies belong to - the majority of Northeastern voters sampled selected platforms of the Democrat Party.

The Khon Kaen University poll, which surveyed over 1,200 people, showed the Democrat Party's policies on the economy, agriculture, education, transport and communications, and social issues including drug suppression all edged out those of Pheu Thai, the most popular party in the region. One may argue that "trust" is also important in opinion polls, and concealing the names of parties removes that crucial element, which influences decisions. That could be true, but it doesn't make the results of this "blind poll" any less interesting.

At the least, the results go to show how much bias and prejudice have been driving Thai politics. If you love one party, it can never do anything wrong, while the one you hate can never do anything right. Due to northeasterners' relatively little access to media information, blind polls are probably possible in their region only. Bangkok, for example, may not be suitable for such a survey, as a lot of voters are likely to know about which policy belongs to which party without pollsters telling them. However, it doesn't mean blatant prejudice is not prevalent in the city as well.

Faith, undeniably, should be an influential factor in any democracy. Pheu Thai supporters who unknowingly endorse the Democrats' policies in the blind poll can always say that although they like the ruling party's platforms, they don't trust them to keep their promises. Pheu Thai, it can be argued, proved in the past that it kept its key pledges when it came to the poverty-stricken region.

Problem is, years of political turmoil have threatened to totally change healthy political faith into a blind one. This applies to all sides in the prolonged conflict, not just Pheu Thai. Even supporters of the "Vote No" campaign are not immune against the "beloved leader syndrome." The black-and-white mentality has consumed much of the populace and has shown no willingness to let go.

The unhealthy phenomenon also feeds on itself. When policies don't matter, political rivals seek to inflame hatred through distortion and shameless self-promotion. They are doing it because they know that hardcore followers - and there are lots and lots of them thanks to the polarity - will not be swayed by real issues. The Democrats can introduce an outrageous plan, saying the country's defence budget will be increased obscenely, and their supporters still will never shift to Pheu Thai. On the other hand, Pheu Thai can last the entire campaign without revealing its economic policies and still none of its supporters will ever vote for the Democrats. Thanks to strong loyalty of their people, yellow-shirt leaders can set up a party, denounce it and start a "Vote No" campaign instead of promoting its own "good" candidates, all the while escaping scrutiny by loyal followers.

We all know what the problem is. What we don't know is how to solve it. Political divide has not only taken away our nation's precious time, it also has reduced our collective ability to reason, to see things the way they should be seen. There have been talks about "deeply red" or "deeply non-red" constituencies hell-bent on voting "power poles" to Parliament as long they come from the party the voters prefer. Candidates' qualifications do not matter in those areas, neither do party policies.

We can't devalue any election even if it is decided by blind faith. After all, democracy is about convincing the majority that what they vote for matters to them, whether the information fed is true or not. And all political rivals lie more or less anyway, so distortions could even themselves out. It's still scary, though, to know that we can be the blindest when our eyes are open.

The Nation
No matter how tall the mountain is, it cannot block the sun. - Chinese Proverb


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Re: Poll shows bias and prejudice are major forces in Thai politics
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2011, 05:07:45 PM »
Is it just bias and prejudice? Or is it that the voters don't trust a party that led a government that allowed its armed forces to open fire on them!