WSJ on reconciliation

31 05 2010

The Wall Street Journal (29 May 2010) has an editorial raising important issues about the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. The article is headlined: Thai-Style ‘Reconciliation’, a comment that has resonances with the non-democracy that is Thai-style democracy.

It says that “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is back in public view and busy pushing his ideas for national ‘reconciliation,’ a catchword that he mentioned nine times in opening remarks to foreign diplomats in a speech Saturday.” It seems the WSJ is no longer blind to Abhisit-style propaganda. It observes that Abhisit is trying to take the spotlight of his government’s “bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protestors that resulted in the deaths of at least 88 people. But what little he’s said and done since then suggests his version of reconciliation is so far little different than his military-backed predecessor’s approach.”

Exactly right. This is a point PPT has been making for some time.

Observing that the red shirts’ main demand was “a free and fair national election” the WSJ states that while Abhisit acknowledges the “legitimate grievances” of the poor, he “would not commit to holding an early election. If anything, he’s pushing the date back by putting conditions on its arrival.”

Of course, these are not new conditions; in fact, they are long-standing. The media needs to view Abhisit less as a talking head and more as a hardliner who rarely changes position or policy. As the WSJ notes, his conditions – economic recovery and a “peaceful” election – are a long way off. The despotic Abhisit will be in place quite a while, palace coup aside.

The newspaper also accurately identifies that the “Abhisit administration is making strident efforts to control political speech and give pro-government views a megaphone. Over the past two weeks, government authorities have blocked hundred of pro-democracy websites; banned red-shirt publications; and raided community radio stations across the north and northeastern provinces.”

Such actions are only “legal” because of the draconian use of emergency laws. The WSJ says that the “signal they send … is that of an administration afraid of a lively and open public debate.” Actually, it is worse than this, for Abhisit wants a repressive regime in place.

As PPT pointed out some time ago, “part of Mr. Abhisit’s five-point plan for national reconciliation includes establishing a body to regulate media.” But this is not new, just more draconian and comprehensive, making Thailand sound like Israeli government spokesmen defending the murder of unarmed activists and look like China preventing freepolitical discussion.

The WSJ concludes that all of Abhisit’s repressive actions “show that while Mr. Abhisit may be sincere in his wish to achieve national reconciliation, he wants to achieve it on his terms and on his timetable, without a vibrant and open public debate.”

PPT again observes that this is not Abhisit’s project. That is now repression and control which Abhisit-speak makes “reconciliation.”

And we do agree when the WSJ says that this is “managed democracy [that] will be familiar to those in Russia and Burma, whose leaders also claim to support suffrage. It will also be familiar to Thais, who have heard military-backed rulers call for vaguely defined ‘reconciliation’ umpteen times in the past.”

Abhisit lacks the courage and foresight of a leader who is liekly to overcome his failures and his brutality. His only political future is at the head of a repressive military-backed government; exactly the kind of government Thailand now has to suffer.



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