Violence, monarchy, people

25 04 2010

At (25 April 2010) there is a report of an academic discussion on Thailand in Singapore. Some interesting elements include the observation that violence is deep-rooted in Thai society: “In terms of the carnival atmosphere turning into violence, this comes from very deep in Thai society…. This is the whole Thai society that we are seeing here. There is a lot of violence under the surface.” This has often included deadly confrontations between security forces and demonstrators (Michael Montesano, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies).

Paul Chambers, who is said to be “a Thailand expert at Germany’s Heidelberg University” makes doubtful comments about the monarchy. PPT thinks this one is simply silly: “Given the country’s cultural affinity for obedience to monarchy, Thailand’s palace can facilitate moves toward consensus…. Absent such intervention, polarisation and violence may well continue.” We wonder what Mr. Chambers has been doing over the past few years. The idea of a “cultural affinity for obedience to the monarchy” is something that royalists sprout in their propaganda, but is hardly academic thinking.

The report refers to a “sense of resentment has now spread to the working poor in urban areas.” We at PPT would suggest that this is something that is also deep-rooted and that we are seeing it again.

Montesano makes an excellent point about the current situation: “The hatred of Thaksin is much more dangerous to Thailand than Thaksin [himself]…”. Talk to members of the Democrat Party and to the various yellow-shirted intellectuals and this personal hatred of Thaksin is the fundamental basis of their political position. Montesano adds: “Because the government believes Thaksin is behind all this, there is no compromise.”

Jacques Ivanoff, said to be from the Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia, is reported as saying: “When citizens take matters into their own hands, the outcome is never very good.” Not quite sure what this refers to. People in the Philippines and Indonesia might disagree as might many Thais when they think of their country’s long history of uprisings against authoritarianism.



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