Updated: Recycling 2006 propaganda

11 07 2014

At the Bangkok Post it is reported that “Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow has urged US media to gain a better understanding of Thai politics, explaining the latest putsch in Thailand differed from coups in other countries in several ways, especially the ‘benevolent intentions’ behind seizing power.”

Sihasak has a record of switching sides, having once been an avid supporter of Thaksin and then deftly switching to the royalist side around the time of the 2006 coup and then the election of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. He was the one who was asked to defend lese majeste and a trail of human rights violations (murder of red shirts by his current bosses, cluster bombs, human trafficking, etc.) when he was posted to Geneva.His great ability is his English language. He now “serves as acting foreign minister…”.

So he’s a slippery and unprincipled character. Just the kind of person a military dictatorship would want to send out to defend its 2014 coup.

Sihasak landed in New York to tell “US journalists about the background of Thai politics and the coup’s motivations, as well as the junta’s three-step plan leading to democracy.” Only a deluded junta can imagine that journalists in the US covering Thailand will be fooled by a throwback junta’s Orwellian doublespeak. That his propaganda exercise was directed at “two senior representatives from The New York Times” speaks volumes for the impact Thomas Fuller’s accurate and incisive reporting has had.

Sihasak says: “I tried to explain why the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] had to seize power. I told them the coup was aimed at restoring peace and moving democracy forward…. It was Thailand’s last resort to bring the country back to normalcy and the coup helped maintain democracy, not destroy it…”.

Right. So the repression, crackdowns, arrests, intolerance of dissent, trashing of the law and constitution, and the implementation of a lese majeste regime is about restoring democracy (after the junta has destroyed its opposition).

The New York Times is not, we expect, so gullible as to believe such errant nonsense.

Sihasak’s recycling of 2006 justifications for the military-palace coup must amuse the journalists. He says he told them: “If there was no change on May 22, there may have been bloodshed. The army had no choice…”. Lacking ideas and justification for a coup, the military dictatorship makes it up, using words that are exactly the same as in 2006.

Sihasak reportedly also “met the Asia Society’s executive vice-president Tom Nagorski, and proposed a joint meeting on the Thai-US relationship, inviting American policy-makers, members of Congress and think tanks familiar with Thailand.”

This sounds remarkably like the deal Abhisit and his government engaged in back in 2009 and 2010. The appearance at the Asia Society by then Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in 2009 was a disaster when he was unprepared and spoke in yellow-shirt style.  Yingluck appeared there as well after her election and had an easy task, not having to defend a pathetic unelected regime or a bunch of military despots.

Still, the junta seems to think that a bit of the ancien regime’s blarney might convince those who have had the scales removed from their eyes. Treating the foreign audience as political nincompoops is unlikely to be a viable strategy in 2014.

Update: More horse manure from Sihasak reported at the Bangkok Post. The Post says that the Sihasak reckons “United Nations agencies are still confident in Thailand’s role as a leader in the region despite the military coup…”. Sihasak “met the president of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly John W Ashe, the chef de cabinet of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Susana Malcorra, and president of the Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) Martin Sajdik.” We are unsure how Sihasak came to his conclusion when the report states that all he met said that Thailand should return to democracy. That might be what the military dictatorship says but no reasonable U.N. official could believe them. The claim that “Ecosoc chairman Sajdik saw Thailand achieving success by adhering to the rule of law, justice and transparency” seems a bizarre interpretation and suggests that Sihasak is making stuff up or the report is missing something.



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