Kavi Chongkittavorn at The Nation has never been shy about promoting Abhisit Vejjajiva as his most loved politician. In a post not that long ago, we pointed out Kavi’s unreserved admiration for Abhisit and the distaste he felt for elected politicians who seemed to be more popular with voters than the man he admires most. Hence it is no surprise that Kavi should produce a wholly uncritical and syrupy appreciation of Abhisit’s recently published book that claims to set the story straight and tell the truth of the events of April and May 2010.
While the book is titled “Truth has no color,” and Kavi claims it is a “tell-it-all” account, Kavi doesn’t actually tell his readers if there is any truth in Abhisit’s account or whether it is simply a self-serving gloss. PPT hasn’t yet seen the book although the cover apparently claims that the book rebuts the claims of all the “liars.”
We can only assess Kavi’s account of a 174 page “memoir” that has, astoundingly, 44 chapters. This alone suggests that, at less than 4 pages a chapter, the book is not providing any deep analysis. So much for Abhisit the “academic.” A reader tells us it is “so badly written, so poorly substantiated … it’s actually impossible to satirise as it sets a new benchmark for unconscious self-parody.” At least Kavi explains that the book contains “simple thoughts.” Nowhere is Kavi even close to being critical, being accepting of every claim Abhisit makes, including the notion that the brave leader worked “to ensure that Thailand would not become a failed state.” The regime Abhisit created, built on royalist ideology, brute force, repression, and censorship and rejecting opponents as ignorant, duped and paid buffaloes says more about a failed ideology and ruling class than a failed state.
Referring to Abhisit as a “young leader,” Kavi claims that Abhisit struggled with “fears of losing innocent lives…”. He says that Abhisit includes “his thoughts and surroundings along with his close aides and soldiers who guarded him” at the headquarters of the 11th Army Regiment which became the offices of the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations during the events of April and May 2010, and where Abhisit and his team sort the military’s protection.
In fact, Abhisit’s military protection included his being hoisted to power in a deal concocted by the military and he is apparently unhappy that he was criticized for not having won government via the ballot box. This causes him to claim his “premiership was legitimate and went through the parliamentarian approval as in other countries.” Nothing new there, as this was his claim from the beginning. That it also hides the military’s role in his rise haunts Abhisit.
Abhisit expresses his personal disdain for Thaksin Shinawatra and believes that his “only serious mistake” was in rejecting Thaksin. Like a spoiled child, Abhisit blames his failures and his unpopularity on the evil mastermind of every single thing, Thaksin. His claim that his infamous “televised negotiation [sic.] between … Abhisit’s government and opponents … was a publicity stunt for the opponents even though he thought the government could reach agreement with them.”
Our memory of the event is that it was Abhisit who decided to make the televised meeting with red shirt leaders a stunt. He had repeatedly refused any negotiation and abruptly changed his mind at the last minute. In the talks, he repeatedly denied the red shirt claim for a new elections, saying that “elections will solve nothing.” While Abhisit was intransigent, in the book he blames Thaksin.
Kavi makes claims regarding the book that has Abhisit portraying himself as following “rule of law” or following international standards on military engagement with protesters and the like. This leads Kavi to claim that Abhisit displayed “strength and decency.” Unfortunately, Kavi provides no evidence from the book for this and fails to reflect critically on these claims by a man accused of ordering the military to establish live fire zones and to use snipers. That evidence suggests that the idea that Abhisit was “a concerned leader constantly fearing bloodshed and tried to prevent the loss of lives” is a self-serving nonsense.
There are other claims that are apparently from the realm of fairy tale. Abhisit says that “with all the propaganda that went on against the government, Abhisit and his team were not able to counter them efficiently and sufficiently.” How ludicrous is this when it is considered that the state controlled all media or had it on side and shut down virtually all of the red shirt media.
Abhisit is living in a fantasy world where he now believes his own propaganda. Kavi wants to live next door.