No shame Abhisit

17 09 2011

A reader points out a report in the Bangkok Post, where former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, now leader of the trounced Democrat Party in opposition, who demands that the new government, led by Yingluck Shinawatra, clarify its position on Cambodia.

It seems Abhisit thinks the government should have a policy closer to that of his administration when he criticizes Yingluck’s government for allowing

Phnom Penh to unilaterally express its stance on sensitive issues – for example, the withdrawal of troops from the Preah Vihear area, its reaction tor the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the ancient Hindu temple, and the release of the two Thais – Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon – imprisoned in Phnom Penh for spying and illegal entry.

We guess that Abhisit is serious in making his claim. We can see that he feels no embarrassment in his position. It seems that being born into an elite family and schooled at upper crust English schools and universities teaches one immense self-confidence and arrogance.

Abhisit’s own “clear position” when he was in charge meant continuous conflict with Cambodia. Looking back through his time in power, we find that at the beginning, Abhisit and his colleagues were only too willing to hitch the Democrat Party to the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s ultra-nationalist ranting on the Preah Vihear temple and its grounds. Despite some mutual slagging off, that position held. Abhisit seemed more intent on talking peace with PAD than in dealing with a sometimes hot war on the border. He never seemed very keen to reign in PAD’s militant efforts on Cambodia.

Abhisit-era cluster bomb (Photo credit: Stéphane De Greef, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor)

The main reason for this position was that Abhisit and his Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya recognized that Hun Sen was sympathetic to Thaksin Shinawatra. In their simplistic view of the world, support for Thaksin meant rejection by the government, anger and threat. It was as dumb as that. This personalistic approach to foreign policy meant: letting Thailand’s racist nationalists off the leash; recalling diplomats; royalists speaking badly of Hun Sen; jingoistic militarism; illegal claims to “ownership” of Preah Vihear by government ministers; the capture of a Thai spy; and Abhisit sending his own spies into Cambodian territory. And we are leaving out the short and sharp military skirmishes on the border that included the Thai use of cluster bombs, several border evacuations and an unknown number of deaths.

Laughing at Abhisit? (Photo credit: Bangkok Post)

In all of this, the only consistency seems to be a Pavlovian Abhisit jumping up and down each time Thaksin is mentioned in the context of Cambodia.

And, oh yes, Abhisit also managed to have his deputy engage in secret talks with the Cambodians on economic zone border treaties….

Exhibiting his usual consistency on this matter, Abhisit yesterday blamed Thaksin. Yingluck, presumably being inconsistent in Abhisit’s eyes,

posted a message on her Facebook page, saying Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to hold formal and open talks about their disputed maritime area and that Prime Minister Hun Sen has promised to help the two jailed yellow-shirt supporters….

She added:

Following the visit to Cambodia yesterday, a new era in Thai-Cambodian relations has begun and this relationship will the foundation for development and cooperation for the benefit of the people in the two countries.

Goodness, she seems to be taking a rational and cool-hearted approach to Cambodia! Presumably Abhisit would rather dust off the cluster bombs and get the artillery going again. PAD and the xenophobes might applaud; few others would.


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