PPT has several times pointed out that Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks uses the monarchy for political purposes (see our post of 7 December 2009) and as a supporter of political repression (see, for example, our post of 4 October 2009).
According to the Bangkok Post, Buranaj’s latest foray into the realms of Orwellian politics is to demand that his party’s government “ban a foreign lawyer [Robert Amsterdam] working for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from entering the country because of his offensive and ill-informed remarks about Thailand…”.
Buranaj calls for a ban on Amsterdam because of the “crime” of criticizing the “government’s reconciliation plan as ‘phoney’ in a press interview in Japan.” Amsterdam’s blog on Thailand which, unlike PPT, is not blocked, has the details posted. In it he says: “It is impossible to reconcile with political opponents who you jail pursuant to an emergency decree, using emergency legislation that is contrary to the rule of law…. The Thai government is doing everything to restrict their access to funds, to restrict their access to travel, to restrict their access to speak, so that this, if you excuse me, phony reconciliation can go on.” Amsterdam went on to call for “reconciliation through an international tribunal and ‘something revolutionary called elections’.”
The Post adds that Amsterdam has “also attacked the Thai government’s imposition of the emergency decree, saying it was contrary to the rule of law.”
None of this sounds like reasonable grounds for banning Amsterdam from Thailand and far more has already been said of this so-called reconciliation by PPT and commentators in Thailand.
But Buranaj is not reasonable, even making the claim that “Amsterdam intentionally made these remarks in Japan because a Japanese reporter was killed in the cross-fire on April 10 during the violence between soldiers and red-shirt protesters.”
PPT has no idea of Amsterdam’s motives and we doubt that Buranaj does either – he’s making it up. But raising the death of the Japanese journalist is interesting as there has been no report of what actually happened to him, despite the government’s earlier promises.
Dedicated royalist Buranaj makes another of his standard charges, claiming that Amsterdam also wants to draw the king into politics. Buranaj claims that Amsterdam wants to “cause misunderstanding” on the monarchy and politics. Despite Buranaj’s regular use of the monarchy for political purposes (search the PPT site on this) it seems that he wants a monopoly on that use. Everyone knows the king and palace are deeply, deeply politicized.
Buranaj’s claims also refer to “rule of law,” so it is with some delight that PPT can link Buranaj’s Orwellianism to his government’s hiring of Martha Stewart to film cooking shows in Thailand.
M&C has a DPA report that the Tourism Authority of Thailand has Stewart “as part of a new campaign to draw more female tourists…” and will pay at least 10 million baht for “Stewart’s help in promoting the country’s travel industry…”. According to the report, the TAT hopes that the “endorsement” by the US celebrity cook will bring tourists back to Thailand.
Stewart still has some following in the US, but the 69 year-old has also served time in jail after being indicted on 9 counts, including charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice in 2003. She served 5 months and was also subject to a 2-year period of supervised release. According to the U.K.’s Telegraph, she was banned from entry to Britain because of her criminal record.
Recall that this Democrat Party-led government cheered long and loud when Thaksin was banned from entry to the U.K. because of his conviction in the Thai courts. PPT wonders if Buranaj can explain his party’s double standards in this regard? Doesn’t it seem odd that he wants to ban someone from entry to Thailand for political purposes but is prepared to accept a convicted criminal to promote Thailand?