Thai Unity project launched

20 09 2009

While the red shirts rallied peacefully in Korat and Bangkok, and with clashes prompted by the PAD rally on the Cambodian border, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva talked of government notions of unity. In his weekly television program (reported in Bangkok Post, 20 September 2009: “Govt launches Thai Unity project”) Abhisit extolled the virtues of his latest royalist-nationalist project: Thai Samakkhi (Thai Unity). PPT blogged a little about this earlier.

Abhisit claims that the aim of the project is “to end conflicts in the country” and believes that the project would “bring about peace so the country can move forward.” The premier apparently believes the government-organized “activities to promote unity and patriotism among Thai people” will make all the difference, and he particularly singled out the idea of having people “sing the national anthem together…”. Another report claims that the aim of singing the national anthem is “to ease their [Thais] stress while promoting love, unity and goodness.”

PPT doesn’t think that Abhisit is as naive and as stupid as this all sounds. Rather, we feel that the emphasis on right-wing, conservative and nationalist strategies of the dark past is a reflection of the views of his strongest backers. His position as prime minister, and within the Democrat Party, is insecure. Hence, Abhisit has fallen back on the support of important and highly conservative and royalist backers within the party and at higher levels and they urge these measures that they believe have been successful in the past.

Of course, the “Thai Unity” title reflects the king’s most recent call for “unity” in troubled times. The government’s response may be anachronistic and dim-witted but it reflects the fact that the conservatives are so bereft of ideas about how to deal with the new Thailand that all they can do is fall back on projects that are emblematic of the military-authoritarian governments of past generations.

Update: See comments by Bangkok Pundit on surveys showing limited public support for this measure and little confidence it will have the government’s desired impact.


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