In a recent post PPT focused on the most recent human rights report by the U.S. Department of State that made a case that there was not a single political prisoner in Thailand in 2011. This claim is made about a period when PPT would estimate that there were more than 300 political prisoners in the country. As we mentioned in that post, this claim by the United States is even contradicted by the Thai state.
Why is it that the United States cannot deal with (political) truth in Thailand? One reason is that Thailand is a major ally, and has been for a very long time. We know that the U.S. state is not as critical of major allies as it is of declared enemies. Hence, the Unites States can work hard to get an anti-abortion activist out of China, while Joe Gordon, a U.S. citizen convicted as a lese majeste political prisoner for alleged acts that were legal and carried out in Colorado, is left to rot in a Thai jail. In other words, the U.S. has not principled human rights position.
But the issue of truth and the inability to accept it is also evident in Thailand. The impunity enjoyed by state officials in murdering citizens is one cruel manifestation of this.
Another example of not being able to deal with the truth was seen at the time that the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime was cracking down on red shirt protesters in 2010, killing and injuring many. At the time, ultra-royalists organized a campaign against foreign correspondents for telling the world what was really happening. One example of a campaign is seen here. These complaints were rewarded with the support of Queen Sirikit.
Ironically, the silliest and least serious but probably the most publicized story – to 24 million on Twitter – on the failure to accept truth in Thailand comes from the Lady Gaga visit. The singer said what everyone knows: fake Rolex watches (and every other brand one can think of) are sold on Bangkok’s streets.
Te predictable response from ultra-nationalists is that speaking the truth is a dastardly action. The Telegraph reports on the pathetic reaction:
Now she is stirring nationalist fervour in Thailand, where people tend to get upset when the country’s seedy underworld is highlighted by outsiders.
“We are more civilised than you think,” tweeted Thai DJ Surahit Siamwalla, who has a ticket to Friday’s show in Bangkok but said he plans to boycott.
“She came to our home, but instead of admiring us she insulted us,” said a commentator on popular Thai web board pantip.com.
So the truth is unspeakable, even on illegal knock-offs by a pop star. Imagine if Lady Gaga had said the king was a powerful political figure who has been actively engaged in ousting elected governments. She’d be in jail.
We at PPT imagine that she’ll need to tweet something pro-monarchist so those who feel their house has been slandered by the truth at least feel that the “father” is respected.
The truth really cannot be spoken. Many prefer to hear and purvey lies and fantasies.