Rank stupidity

7 10 2014

PPT has read some awfully daft op-eds in recent years. Many of them have been by foreigners trying to understand Thailand’s contentious politics. Some of the silliest are by those who explain things Thai in deep cultural terms apparently making the place impenetrable to the ordinary non-Thai, although these foolish musings are usually by foreign observers.

Today, the Bangkok Post has published yet another of Stephen B. Young‘s scribblings.  It is without a shadow of doubt, the dumbest op-ed we have ever seen. And, using the word “dumbest” is being generous indeed.

It does seem odd that any member of the royalist elite rewards such a ludicrous propagandist for their cause. We can only assume they are like old men, with their hair colored jet black, and thinking that the young women employed  in expensive gentleman’s clubs really do find them attractive.Young They believe the sweet talk and they believe Young.

We apologize for drawing attention to this ridiculous stuff, but felt we had to comment on a couple of things.

A first point is that Young is a charlatan. He advertises himself as a leader at the Caux Roundtable where the website trumpets “moral capitalism” and mentions” human flourishing and social justice concerns.” You might come away thinking that Young’s creation is about morality, ethics and good governance.

In fact, this is creative and false advertising. The company one keeps is revealing. One story at has Young awarding Malaysian premier Najib Razak a gong. Young sucked up to Najib in the company of “Senior Adviser and former Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Pramoj [and] presented Prime Minister Najib with a certification of recognition and appreciation.”

His other ethical claims are about how wonderful Thailand is under the murderous and repressive military.

With friends and “advisers” like Kasit, it is clear why Young babbles about Thailand being “happier” under the military (as the military has demanded) than ever before!

Like his friends, the “members of the ammart elite,” Young decided everyone was “more relaxed, happier” than ever before from talking with “[a]ll my Thai friends and associates, taxi drivers, wait staff, [and] vendors…”. What, no hair stylists?

If “farang” don’t understand this, it is because it takes someone like Young to conjure the deep cultural meaning of happiness under military repression. If you don’t get it, then you are a dumb and culturally bankrupt “farang.”

Young has vast experience of military repression ethical and cultural rule because he can remember Sarit Thanarat’s military government. He just loved Sarit: “Sarit was then, and still today is for many older Thais, respected and appreciated for getting things done without seemingly endless wrangling and pointless interpersonal entanglements.”

Sarit’s rule was described as “despotic paternalism” by a Thai author and ruled by having his opponents jailed and killed. No doubt having your opponents murdered is the moral approach the Caux Roundtable promotes. We imagine Young also recognizes Sarit’s mammoth corruption and his harem of hundreds of concubines as “moral” and as removng “pointless interpersonal entanglements.”

When he says that “[t]his current military government seems to be delivering something of similar value to many Thais,” he is probably right. The military leadership has been shown to be immensely corrupt, with some of them amassing stupendous fortunes. The regime is also remarkably repressive.

For Young, all this is culturally appropriate because it result in a return to the “proper order.” Jailing, torture and corruption it seems aredefining of the “traditional ‘Thainess’ of his [General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s] government,” with Prayuth, just like the murderous and corrupt Sarit, administering for the “common good…”.

Young, of the moral, ethical and social justice-promoting Caux Roundtable, lauds Prayuth for sidelining political parties, academics, intellectuals and “others who would impose themselves on the decision-making process.” He says the self-promoting Prayuth is “committed to advancing the public good, not private privilege.” His generals seem in a different space, being corrupt bastards, but Young ignores that for the sake of the boot licking praise of The Dictator.

Prayuth may have been responsible for the murderous attacks on red shirts in 2010, but that’s okay for the moralistic man from the Caux Roundtable because Prayuth is getting rid of “money politics.” In fact, the money is still there, and the military brass rakes it in; it is just that the politics is repressed.

The rest of the article is errant nonsense, irrational and bizarre. We can only imagine that his royalist elite buddies love this stuff and like having a dopey farang tell then how culturally Thai they really are. When Young lauds the military dictatorship for returning Thailand to a cultural equilibrium which means the royalists rule, they must be chuffed even if they know he is a fake and a sycophant.


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7 10 2014
A fiction | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The fiction begins with The Dictator, “who heads both bodies,” and dissembles about the junta and government co-operating. They could do nothing else as they are inseparable tools of the military dictatorship. Only a culturally challenged “farang” commentator would miss this. […]