Abhisit and ASEAN

27 10 2009

Kavi Chongkittavorn used to be one of just a couple of sensible commentators remaining at The Nation. PPT might have considered his latest article a tongue-in-cheek attack on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (The Nation, 26 October 2009: “Kudos to PM for a successful summit”) hidden in irony because his bosses at The Nation won’t allow a critical report.

It seems, however, that he is serious, demonstrating his inability to distinguish between his admiration for Abhisit and reality. Kavi’s report on the ASEAN summit presents arguments that fly in the face of most international reporting, as Kavi himself acknowledges. It seems that he is trying to “correct” the record.

Kavi’s headline statement is remarkable: “The 15th Asean Summit at Cha-am must go down in history as the most colourful with additional soap opera-like interventions. Only Thailand could have handled such a messy affair and come off with flying colours.” Only Thailand? Flying colors? Really, seriously?

We think that what he means is that there were no demonstrations. This is clear when Kavi says: “Big plaudits should be given to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and their 30,000 nervous officials, both in uniform or plainclothes, for successfully hosting the event.” In fact, Kasit was nearly invisible. We again refer readers to this Reuters video where they can see some of the 30,000.

Kavi thinks that the recent royal health rumors were a political plot: “Worse of all was the most recent spate of rumours about the health of His Majesty the King. It was aimed at undermining, if not destroying, Abhisit’s ability to be an effective host. If the plan had succeeded, his political leadership would have been in tatters.” PPT wonders how Thaksin and his boys managed to get the king to go to hospital for a month in order for them to implement their dastardly plan?

Abhisit is so wonderful and effective that Kavi believes it is “[n]o wonder a number of Asean leaders, especially those who have been in power for a long time, are jealous.” Hun Sen jealous of the new kid?

An example of Abhisit’s success is seen, for Kavi, in the fact that “the much awaited Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights” has been established. The Thai chair is said to have played a major role in seeing this through.” Great achievement, except that the apparently bipolar Kavi then says: “Of course, this rights body in itself is toothless.” So to give it some teeth, “liberal” Thailand tried to get “the participation of civil society organisations.”

But didn’t this civil society deal fail? Well, yes, but Kavi blames the civil society organizations: “Too bad representatives of Asean-based civil society organisations (CSO) from five countries walked away from dialogue with their leaders.” Perhaps they walked away to avoid control, gagging and banning? No mention of that by Kavi. Nevertheless, he admits that “Thailand’s long-term plan to institutionalise the interface between them fell flat.”

Kavi again gives PPT pause for thinking that he’s pulling our collective leg when he observes: “Too bad, the kind of drama and excitement one witnessed throughout the Thai chairmanship will be absent from now on. Vietnam has meticulously mapped out its 12-month chairmanship what it wants to achieve for Asean and for the host.” Doesn’t that sound like a joke? Vietnam has planned meticulously while Thailand presided a circus?

However, it probably isn’t a joke, for Kavi now has a track record of commentary that seems based on an admiration of Abhisit rather than serious reporting. We have previously provided several examples of this. Back in February, Kavi supported Abhisit’s efforts on the repression of Muslims in the South, the handling of the Rohinga issue and lese majeste.  In March, Kavi defended Abhisit on media freedom at the very time that a crackdown was being implemented. In April, he was supportive of lese majeste arrests.

Some readers have suggested to us that we are just wasting good blog space in commenting on The Nation’s declining journalism. Perhaps, but this newspaper is still read internationally, so it deserves critical attention.


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22 08 2011
UN human rights report and lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] some comments about how wonderful Thailand was on human rights under the Democrat Party, a line Kavi has run for some time, he turns to more serious […]

20 08 2012
Kavi goes off, loves Abhisit, hates Yingluck, hates electors « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] It has to be said that Kavi has long displayed an uncritical love and admiration for Abhisit. Back in 2009, PPT commented on another piece of Kavi’s Abhisit posterior polishing: “It seems, […]

20 08 2012
Kavi goes off, loves Abhisit, hates Yingluck, hates electors « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] It has to be said that Kavi has long displayed an uncritical love and admiration for Abhisit. Back in 2009, PPT commented on another piece of Kavi’s Abhisit posterior polishing: “It seems, however, that […]