Further reactions on Abhisit at Oxford

15 03 2009

The lead-up to Abhisit’s speech at Oxford and the various accounts of his rise to power have caused a considerable flurry of media reporting. PPT blogged on this earlier and we recently updated the report. Now a number of other reports have emerged. First, there is a statement in the Bangkok Post (15 March 2009: “Intellectual Dishonesty”) by Voranai Vanijaka who accuses Richard Lloyd Parry and Lee Jones of the intellectual dishonesty of the title. Readers may judge the charge for themselves by examining Voranai’s opinion piece.

Meanwhile, the British Ambassador to Thailand has decided to act as a booster on Abhisit’s visit to the UK. The Nation (16 March 2009: “PM wins hearts in UK by engaging in open and frank discussion”) states that Ambassador Quinton Quayle claimed that “Abhisit’s perceived willingness to address the problems of Thai democracy was well noted,” adding that “He showed, both by his words and actions, that he wants to promote democratic debate about the future of Thailand.” Further, “His willingness to engage in an open and frank discussion, including on sensitive issues, impressed his audience. He showed that he is ready to listen to the point of view both of those who agree and disagree with his government and to give answers to the key questions of most concern in Thailand” and asserted that “The discussion that took place at Oxford University on March 14 is a good model for future debate in Thailand.”

Kavi Chongkittavorn (The Nation, 16 March 2009: “Is Thailand ready for its un human rights peer review?”) seems less sure about the prime minister’s handling of human rights issues, especially on substance rather than image. He asks whether Thailand will be ready to appear before the UN Universal Periodic Review panel in 2011. Kavi concludes: “The prime minister has to be extraordinarily vigilant with law enforcement officials. He must not leave any room for ambiguity. Otherwise, when the time comes for the peer review, whether he is still the prime minister, his name will be ostracised and condemned.”

Also at The Nation (14 March 2009: “Thai Oxford students to petition Thai PM”) Pravit Rojanaphruk reports on a series of demands made by a group of Thai students at Oxford University. Pictures of the event are also available at Prachatai (15 March 2009: “Pictures from Abhisit’s talk at Oxford”).