THAILAND - Two prominent student leaders of the 1973 uprising yesterday suggested that to achieve a true democracy, Thailand must address the problem of inequality and allow groups with less political power to have more say.
Thirayuth Boonmi, director of Thammasat University's Sanya Dharmasakti Institute for Democracy, said he expected future political change to involve forces from different elements of society, and not just the ruling powers.
He said the capitalist groups, labour groups, the middle class, and the yellow- and red-shirt political groups should all get involved to form a "creative force to push the country in the right direction".
Thirayuth was speaking on the topic of "Resolution of Thailand" at an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the October 14, 1973 student-led uprising that brought down a dictatorial regime. The event was held at the October 14, 1973 Memorial Building.
Assoc Prof Seksan Prasertkul, another prominent student leader in the 1973 uprising, called for the problem of inequality to be seriously addressed so that the country could attain political stability.
"We will never have social stability without an effort to reduce the gap between the social classes," he said during his speech on "October Dreams" at the same event.
"Regrettably over the past 40 years, not only has inequality not decreased - it's actually increased," he added.
Seksan, a Political Science lecturer at Thammasat University, said that the wealthiest Thais make up 10 per cent of the population but they possess half of the country's wealth, while the poorest 10 per cent of the population own only 3.9 per cent of the combined wealth.
Thirayuth, in his lecture, yesterday criticised ruling politicians, conservatives, the military, as well as different political groups.
In his criticism he used the word "khi", which literally means excrement, but is also used in many Thai expressions that describe personality traits. He explained that the Thai language is rich with such words for use in describing people. Some of the words used are from the northern and northeastern dialects.
He compared the political conflict involving fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to the excrement of a constipated person. "It's [been stuck] there for the past six to seven years, despite repeated efforts to remove it," he said.
For Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thirayuth used the northern-dialect words "khi yong" and "khi peh" which he said refer to people who are appearance-conscious but not serious about doing things.
He also said that the conservatives and the military are "khi thong", a northeastern dialect word that means leaving things half-finished. He criticised them for failing to act against corrupt politicians despite the presence of four to five anti-corruption organisations.