Mock Parliament Art Exhibit Questions ‘Return to Democracy’

BANGKOK — An art installation launched on Tuesday urge visitors to question whether a democracy has truly returned after five years of direct junta rule. 

Running until Sunday at an art gallery in downtown Bangkok, highlights include a mock parliament of 250 plastic chairs with armrests and 500 stools with no armrest – symbolizing the unequal power 250 Senators handpicked by the junta have over 500 elected MPs. Stools representing the opposition MPs are also lower than the rest. 

“It turns out that the uncomfortable [MP] seats have more votes in support than the comfortable [senate] seats which have zero votes,” Punyisa Suptasan, a staff member at the exhibition, said. 

 

Names of each parliament member is assigned to each seat. Other breakdowns are also available in pieces of paper attached to the seats.

 Only 10.8 percent of senators are women while nearly 90 per cent are men. Fifty-eight percent of senators are from the “Boomer” generation. Over three third of the appointed senate, or 35.6 percent, have military background.

 Elected MPs do not fare much better in terms of gender equality, with only 16 per cent women and 84 percent men. 

Interestingly enough, despite at least two MPs declaring themselves as LGBT, it didn’t show in the breakup at the exhibition organized by Punch Up, a data consultancy firm and The Matter, an online Thai-language news media.

 Then there is an emoji chart representing the 750 members of parliament for visitors to guess. Many show lips, most likely a reference to member of parliaments who pay lip service. Some also show the “See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” monkey emoji.

 “It represents the Democrat Party,” exhibition coordinator Warute Udomrut said. 

 You see baby emoji as well; Warute said it represent the young Future Forward Party.

 Elsewhere in the exhibition, there is a long receipt where you can ask from the staff and peruse at the costs of the March general elections.

 All told, the elections and selections of members of parliament cost 5.38 billion baht. Thais people waited 1,875 days since the May 2014 military coup which was led by junta leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha before the elections.

 “Then we got the same man as prime minister,” 23-year-old staff member Punyisa said.

There is also an inflatable doll of former junta chairman Prayuth with voice recording of him addressing the parliament alternated with a generic snoring sound.

 “I want him to take a rest,” said Warute, the project coordinator.

‘ELECT after Election’ is located on the underground floor of Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre. The venue is accessible from BTS National Stadium. It runs from 10am to 9pm until Sep. 1, 2019. Entry is free. Call 094 436 4471 for more details.