Crazy nationalism better than conservative monarchism against the “traitors”

6 11 2009

Both The Nation and the Bangkok Post report that an ABAC poll has support for the Abhisit Vejjajiva government tripling and attributing this to the government’s strong reaction to the taunting by Cambodia’s Hun Sen. This may be an unfortunate lesson to the government, suggesting that confronting neighbors is a better political ploy than nonsense royalism for shoring up public support for Abhisit.

Unsurprisingly, the xenophobes at the People’s Alliance for Democracy, who had previously engaged in racist attacks on Cambodia and have repeatedly urged the government to “take back Thai land” also support the government against Cambodia (Bangkok Post, 6 November 2009).

Former mercenary and PAD core leader Major-General Chamlong Srimuang “condemned Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for interfering in Thailand’s internal affairs and impugning its judicial system.” He called on the “international community to condemn the Cambodian government and apply pressure for it to extradite ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand if h[e] turns up there.”

He was joined by PAD key leader and Democrat Party MP Somkiat Pongpaiboon and PAD co-ordinator Suriyasai Katasila in condemning Thaksin Shinawatra, “accusing him of treachery in using a neighbouring nation to help push his personal political agenda in Thailand.”

The Cambodian government has said “that it would not extradite the former prime minister to Thailand as all charges against him were politically motivated.”

The royalist elite and PAD demonstrated their loyalty and nationalism by closing down the airports in 2008, causing billions of baht in damage to the economy and the lives of millions in Thailand and to travelers. Supported by the Democrat Party and the military, that nationalism was designed to bring down a government that was seen as Thaksin-dominated. The damage to the country didn’t matter, so long as the “Thaksin regime” was destroyed. In the end, the judiciary did the job for them. It now remains to be seen if these same groups are prepared to risk even more in their desire to defeat the so-called traitors.

Update: If any reader needs confirmation of the claim made by PPT in the paragraph above, it has been provided by one of the strongest of PAD’s supporters in the government. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is reported in The Nation (7 November 2009: “Maritime pact scrapped”) as saying that the “memorandum of understanding on overlapping maritime areas with Cambodia” has been scrapped by Thailand.

Kasit claimed that “the circumstances surrounding the MoU had changed as Thaksin was now appointed an adviser to the Cambodian government.” The MOU was negotiated by the Thaksin  government in 2001. Kasit opined: “Thaksin knows the Thai position, so Thailand cannot negotiate with Cambodia based on this agreement.” Well, if it is an MOU, presumably the Cambodians know it as well….

Then, remarkably, Kasit explains that the Cabinet hasn’t discussed the MoU’s termination or informed Phnom Penh. What of parliament? Wasn’t an earlier foreign minister sacked for negotiating an agreement that didn’t go to parliament? Here, Kasit and Abhisit seem to have taken unilateral action to announce the scrapping of something that might be considered a “treaty” under the previous (admittedly odd) interpretation.

It is not as if this scrapping has no impacts. Thailand signed the MoU on the area of overlapping maritime claims in the continental shelf and very slow progress has been made, mainly because the Thai side has been unable to get its act together. As the report points out, Kasit acknowledges that the “26,000-square-kilometre area, with abundant natural gas…” He adds that the area “is regarded as being in Thailand’s national interest and everyone involved should participate in the development of the resource in accordance with the new Constitution…”. Both Thailand and Cambodia have already granted concessions in the overlapping area to several companies. The companies can’t do anything until the two governments reach an agreement.

Abhisit has demanded that “Cambodia must make first move to defuse conflict.” Sounding more like a public schoolboy than a statesman, Abhisit said: ” It was not Thailand that had started it [the current dispute] – it was the Cambodians. Therefore, it is they who have to review their position. Right now, we are adopting a wait-and-see approach.” Wait-and-see? Recalling the ambassador, denouncing Cambodia and Hun Sen, threatening to close the border and canceling an MOU hardly fits that description. And, of course, ignore all the brouhaha of the Preah Viharn, insults from the now foreign minister and PAD xenophobia.

Meanwhile, PAD’s Suriyasai “praised the government for the measures taken in response to Cambodia.” He called on the “government to review bilateral agreements between the countries, especially ones that place Thailand at a disadvantage on the issue of overlapping claims.” He means the gas concessions and Preah Viharn.

As we noted above, damage to the country didn’t matter to PAD and the royalist-military coalition in 2008 and it doesn’t matter now. What they are fixated on is destroying the “evil Thaksin” and the “traitors” they see standing with him.



3 responses

7 11 2009
New: Over-reaction and the threat to ASEAN « Political Prisoners in Thailand

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7 11 2009
New: Crazy nationalism and polling « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Crazy nationalism and polling In PPT’s crazy nationalism post, we referred to an ABAC poll reported in both The Nation and the Bangkok Post. Our post […]

12 11 2009
New: Cambodia, Democrat nationalism, double standards and support for PAD « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] observed a few days ago, it is clear that the Democrat Party is learning (if they needed to) that xenophobic nationalism is a powerful weapon in their fight against their enemy. Here we mean Thaksin Shinawatra, not […]

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