A yellow spleen

14 07 2013

Some time ago, PPT used to seek out a joke – as in funny or odd –  for each Sunday posting. We stopped doing that as so much of the stuff happening in Thailand wasn’t very funny.

However, we return to the decidedly (political) peculiar theme today, with reference to an op-ed in the Bangkok Post by the notoriously yellow-shirted propagandist Philip J. Cunningham.And it is about as odd as op-eds come.

In the only post where PPT ever commented on Cunningham’s drivel, we stated that so anodyne and driven by royalist hatred of Thaksin Shinawatra that we felt that ignoring his bile meant nothing was lost. Yet the Bangkok Post continues to publish his nonsensical rants. And this one takes the cake for seriously odd.

Cunningham discovers that “Bangkok has just become the world’s No.1 tourist destination,” but decides that this is not a measure of a return to relative political  calm and that tourists no longer have to worry about Cunningham’s yellow-shirted brethren closing the country’s airports, but because, Cunningham decides, “it couldn’t have come at a worse time”! Why? Because, he says, “because Thai society is brimming with contradictions that could break into conflict at any time.”

As an aside, Cunningham’s political diatribe is not even remotely as clever as, say, the Reporters Without Borders anti-tourism adverts about censorship and repression.

Cunningham seems to be taking the position of one-man anti-tourism activist and saying: “The risk of tourists becoming collateral damage is real.” The last time tourists really became “collateral damage” was when hundreds of thousands were stranded by the People’s Alliance for Democracy closed the airports.

Don’t come because you are just encouraging the Yingluck Shinawatra government and that’s folly because:

the ship of state is in crisis. Coming to terms with the fractious forces that divide the nation is imperative before things crack up.

He talks of the need for:

better transportation, safer streets, improved infrastructure, less social parasitism, and above of all, a fully functioning, reassuring government that can enforce rule of law and maintain political calm.

This is largely what the Yingluck government seeks to deliver after several years of nothingness under military and military-backed regimes. Flood protection, high-speed railways, highways and urban mass transport.

Of course, the naysayers on the Cunningham side mire infrastructural development in all kinds of political and judicial messes (to which the government contributes as well).

Cunningham’s point is really to blame all problems, including the weather, on Thaksin.

In hating Thaksin, Cunningham supports coups, and especially the 2006 military putsch, using the military junta’s own line from that time: “Coups, for better or worse, have come to be seen as social ‘reset’ buttons.” In case you missed that, he adds:

Democratic or not, the talk of coups and the complex machinations of colour-coded Thai politics continues to distract the nation’s lawmakers from tackling more pressing problems….

The only good word for politicians is, naturally enough for a yellow-shirted propagandist, is for former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva described as “vulnerable as the leader of the political opposition…”, and facing “trumped up capital charge…”.

Responsible for the charges against this good man [who presided over the deaths of almost 100 political protesters] is:

the restless fugitive gaming the system can’t overcome his seemingly heartless lust for power, Thailand loses, and all bets are off. Political strife will be rife and tourists won’t be able to get to the airport fast enough.

Perhaps, but only if Cunningham’s buddies allow the airports to stay open.

More seriously, though, Cunningham is suggesting that millions of tourists are wrong to be visiting Thailand. His motivation seems to be that the huge inflow of cash they bring is bolstering a government that he hates. As his political allies split and decline, he seems to want a coup to defeat the Thaksinites, completely ignoring multiple elections, the will of the people and legalities.


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