Pisan Manawapat is Thailand’s ambassador to the United States. He read the Washington Post’s editorial “Thailand’s ineffective rule by force” (19 February 2015) and was ordered or decided to respond. His is an official response and thus represents the military dictatorship’s position.
He writes of a make believe kingdom located at the bottom of The Dictator’s garden, full of fairies and other imaginaries.
The Feb. 20 editorial “Thailand’s rule by force” grossly misrepresented the situation in the country.
In fact, any fair reader would look at the Post’s editorial and think it rather mild. It could have said more about the draconian lese majeste law and the dozens of people in jail based on flimsy evidence and mad monarchists’ claims. It could have said more about the corruption of the generals and their flunkies. It could have said more about Prayuth’s role in murdering protesters in 2010. More could have been said about the dysfunctional monarchy.
Thailand has not wavered in its commitment to democracy. Progress is being made, and the new constitution’s drafting and consultation process must, by law, be completed by September. After its enactment, Thailand will hold multiparty elections early next year. To prejudge the constitution’s contents or even to presume a referendum will not be held is not appropriate. The talk of election delay was in anticipation of the time needed to organize a referendum.
The Ambassador has lost his marbles and cannot find them. Democracy? Even in its limited electoral format, the military dictatorship and its puppet assemblies has moved to allow an unelected senate and an unelected prime minister. “Democracy” will be controlled by the military, which is winding the clock back to the 1980s and ineffective and incapacitated parliaments dominated by generals and bureaucrats. This will not be democracy.
As with every country, Thailand has to balance its national security with respect for civil liberty. Martial law is necessary to maintain public safety. Fed up with prolonged street protests and random violence, the Thai public is not affected by this deterrence. Martial law will, however, have to be lifted before elections to allow vibrant and participatory campaigning.
Here the Ambassador seems quite mad. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of people have been arrested or detained. The rest of the population is repressed. Censorship is standard practice. Farmers are thrown off their land. Martial law protects the military dictatorship, the monarchy and crony business interests.
There are no political prisoners in Thailand, and former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be accorded due process in our Supreme Court.
Completely bonkers. Dozens of political prisoners languish in squalid jails charged with lese majeste.
Thailand’s goal is to achieve democratic rule, where key principles such as good governance, transparency and accountability are respected. Further, anti-human trafficking and anti-child pornography bills to further improve human rights protections are being pushed into law.
Mad as a hatter. Human rights protections are non-existent. The National Human Rights Commission is a sad joke. “Thailand” does not exist politically. Where the Ambassador says “Thailand” he means the military dictatorship, and its goal is anything but a functioning democracy. Its goal is a political system controlled by the royalist elite under military leadership. Their aim is to retain power for the old ruling classes.