This is the message of concerned Thai civic groups and individuals who have been holding candle lighting activities mainly in north Thailand to counter the ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ campaign. They are using the Twitter hashtag #RespectMyVote.
The ongoing street protests in Bangkok are aimed primarily at forcing the ouster of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who is accused of being a puppet of her elder brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was ousted by a coup in 2006 but his party has remained victorious in the polls. He is in exile after being found guilty of plunder by a local court.
Yingluck dissolved the parliament to defuse the political crisis. An election is scheduled next month but the opposition said it will boycott the ‘corrupt’ electoral process. Protests have intensified in recent days but the opposition failed to completely paralyze Bangkok and other parts of the country. Protesters were able to occupy 7 major intersections in Bangkok:
— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) January 16, 2014
Because of their rejection of elections, Bangkok protesters are criticized for spearheading an ‘anti-democracy’ movement. The hashtag #RespectMyVote emerged in recent days to encourage protesters to fight for change by voting next month.
I'll vent my frustration in the coming election. It's at least the best way we could do now under the rule of law. #respectmyvote
— l3pinkii (@l3pinkii) January 16, 2014
— Maxim Silentfoot (@silentfoot) January 16, 2014
— Alessio Fratticcioli (@fratticcioli) January 13, 2014
— วีรนันต์ กัณหา (@weeranan) January 14, 2014
people of the Klongsan district unite to wear Respect my Vote shirts and light candles for peace
— วีรนันต์ กัณหา (@weeranan) January 16, 2014
holding a banner Respect My Vote at Benjasiri garden on Sukhumvit rd.
Yes there's lots of ppl in Bangkok, and the tweets are pretty boring if we're honest. How about a bit of focus on the #RespectMyVote side?
— Stevie Gell (@steviegell) January 13, 2014
— Panuwat (@tumbler_p) January 12, 2014
daughter of Chuwit (politician) going to work
— Kimi VoteFeb2 (@mynameiskimi90) January 13, 2014
A heckler was even able to send the #RespectMyVote message directly at former Prime Minister and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Meanwhile, Fuadi Pitsuwan denounced the ‘the tyranny of global commentary’ and defended the ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ protest:
These global commentators should spend more time pondering why some 500,000-1 million people – many of whom used to be quite complacent about and uninterested in politics – have taken to the streets demanding an end to the Thaksin regime. There must be compelling reasons to this uprising against an elected government. Its size alone makes this an unprecedented phenomenon in Thai political history.
In a live interview during a rally, protest leader Dr Seri explained why protesters are not supportive of the coming elections:
Elections is just a process of democracy, but It is not democracy in itself. Being elected doesn’t mean that your corruption will be legalized or legitimized. Even when you are elected but if you do something unlawful, if you violate the laws, you violate the constitution, we have to overthrow you.
But Ryan Zander thinks that the creation of a People’s Council will create more problems for the opposition:
How could such a council claim any authority? Doesn’t it make a million times more sense to try to win a majority of seats in the fresh round of elections so that your side could claim to represent the will of the people?