PAD claims to speak for the Thai people

17 11 2009

ASTV/Manager Online (15 November 2009) posts the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s “The Thai People’s Declaration to the World” and includes a video of its delivery. While PAD’s claim to speak for all Thais is grandiose PPT reproduces it in full, with some emphasis added by us, to provide the flavor of PAD’s royalism and nationalism. At the same time, it shows that Thaksin remains the enemy for PAD:

We are the people of the Kingdom of Thailand and are citizens who are loyal to our nation, our religion, and our monarchy. We gather here today at Sanam Luang in the capital city of Bangkok and are joined in spirit and in faith by Thai citizens from across the Kingdom.

We come today to declare our purpose to everyone around the world, the following:

1. The Kingdom of Thailand is one kingdom that cannot and will not be divided. The people of Thailand have always been and continue to be loyal to our nation, our religion, and our monarchy. The Kingdom of Thailand is governed under a constitutional monarchy and will never be ruled by any other system because we, the people of Thailand, are prepared to protect our nation, our religion, our King, our independence, our sovereignty, and our national interests…we protect these institutions with our lives.

2. Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra has been found guilty by the Supreme Court of Thailand for abuse of power and continues to flee and remain on the run. While he is hiding from the law, he is still wanted in many other corruption cases, but continues to create trouble and harm Thailand and its people, increasingly so that he has become the most wanted fugitive in the Kingdom’s recent history. Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra will repay and return all assets that he has acquired through unjust means.

We, the people of Thailand, will continue to monitor and demand those assets until they are rightfully returned to Thailand.

3. We declare that Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra has now become an enemy to the Kingdom of Thailand. He has become a traitor to his motherland by threatening Thailand’s national security and becoming an antagonist to Thailand’s constitutional monarchy. He has conspired with the enemy in undermining Thailand’s dignity.

It has been apparent throughout his years as a fugitive that Thaksin Shinawatra has tried his best to incite political and ideological separation among Thais nationwide and also between the Kingdom of Thailand and its neighbor, Cambodia…a conflict that will not only affect Thai citizens, but also holds repercussions for the people of Cambodia and the citizens of Southeast Asia as a whole.

4. We declare that the Kingdom of Thailand’s justice system is fair and just….a system that utilizes judicial, humanitarian, and compassionate philosophies in deliberating cases. While trying to disgrace and discredit Thailand’s judicial system around the world, Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra uses that same judicial system to file lawsuits against others as well. He has now become the Kingdom’s most frequent plaintiff.

We condemn Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and Mr. Hun Sen for dishonoring the Kingdom of Thailand’s judicial system. In doing so, both have also insulted the people of Thailand in the most shameful way and, for this, should never be forgiven.

5. We declare that the Kingdom of Thailand and the Kingdom of Cambodia and its peoples remain friendly neighbors. We, therefore, call upon Mr. Hun Sen to cease his activities in conspiring with Fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra in turning Thailand into an enemy of Cambodia. Mr. Hun Sen should also immediately strengthen ties with Thailand and urgently act upon what is called for in Former King His Majesty Norodom Sihanu’s [sic] royal missive.

6. Following in our ancestors footsteps, we, the people of Thailand, continue to be at peace with our neighbors and the world. We are dedicated to cooperating with the peoples and governments of nations around the world in protecting world peace, human rights, and the wellbeing of mankind.

Our gathering today reflects a great deal about the current state of the Kingdom of Thailand. Our presence represents Thai citizens who remain devoted to protecting the honor and dignity of our nation, our King, and our constitutional monarchy as stipulated in the Kingdom of Thailand’s constitution.

Declared to those present here and around the world…November 15, 2009 at Sanam Luang, Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand

With Heartfelt Respect and Peace

The People of Thailand

Who remain loyal to our nation, our religion, and our monarchy

Prachatai (17 November 2009: “Fierce PAD nationalism on stage”) has a post that reflects on the PAD rally and its expressions of “nation, religion, monarchy” – and where we found the link for the declaration above. PAD’s speakers took a stage that was adorned with slogans “which read in Thai ‘Unite the Strength of the Land. Protect Nation, Religion and King’, and in English ‘Fight for Thailand. Fight for our King’.”

The speeches were hardly “dedicated to cooperating with the peoples and governments of nations around the world in protecting world peace, human rights, and the wellbeing of mankind” as in the statement above.

Some examples from Prachatai’s report include “Prasert Lertyaso called for the beheading of Hun Sen, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, and Thaksin Shinawatra, alluding to an old Thai saying of shedding blood to wash royal feet.” Saken Sutthiwong said reported to have attacked Cambodia and Cambodians in racist and nationalist terms. A group of students condemned Hun Sen and Thaksin, calling the latter “the traitor.” Reminiscent of similar statements in 1975-76 that led to violence,  a “group of artists also read a statement, referring to both men as ‘non-human’.”

General Preecha Iamsuphan said “it was time to get rid of traitors, adding “We have to quickly finish them off for the sake of our beloved King and ancestors, so that Thais stop quarrelling with one another because of these scoundrels.”

Appointed senator Khamnoon Sitthisaman said that he expected Thaksin to intensify with Thaksin marching into Thailand from Cambodia. The aim would be an election that Thaksin’s supporters would win or a “people’s revolution.” He finished his speech with lines from the king’s anti-communist anthem “We Fight.”

Sondhi Limthongkul drew on figures from Thailand’s past, created in royalist myths, to emphasize nation, religion and monarchy. He claimed that the current king needs the protection of PAD: “We have our duty to protect Nation, Religion and King. As I have always told you, His Majesty has no one else to count on, except us…”. Sondhi also cited a parable that allowed him to join with General Preecha in saying that the traitors needed to be “finished off,” obliquely warning that if this meant invading Cambodia, so be it.

The Prachatai article states that as well as the royal anthem, other nationalist songs were played and sung, including the notorious “Scum of the Earth.” PAD called for another rally on the king’s birthday, 5 December.

Some commentators around the blogs think that PAD are finished as a political force. Certainly, their appeal seems somewhat diminished. However, the calls to xenophobic nationalism remain powerful and PAD is likely to remain useful in the continuing struggle being waged against Thaksin. Calling for another rally on 5 December is an interesting ploy, especially as the government has already arranged the obligatory mammoth celebrations.

Identifying traitors and spies

14 11 2009

The Nation has come up with another of their odd editorials that mixes rightist nationalism and hatred of that “devil” Thaksin Shinawatra. In this missive (The Nation, 14 November 2009: “Trampling on national dignity for Thaksin”) the editorial writer points an accusing finger at more traitors in the Peua Thai Party.

Because Peua Thai lawmakers went to see Thaksin in Cambodia, they are considered to have betrayed the motherland in several ways. Not least, they cozy up with the enemy Cambodian leader Hun Sen, betraying the nation: “Giving Hun Sen full approval for his action, the politicians have all but shown contempt for the sovereignty of Thailand, which is under the control of the Democrats.” These Thais were “with Cambodian leaders … just as a Thai citizen was being arrested and accused of spying.” By doing this, and meeting Thaksin, they are accused of “undermin[ing] the courts that are supposed to represent our political system – the implications are much more profound.”

Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and other Peua Thai politicians “defend their leader, not Thailand’s reputation.” The Nation says: “They are playing a major role in a dangerous diplomatic situation by making it easier for Hun Sen to not take a step back and reconsider his own actions. While Thai reporters covering the controversial Thaksin visit in Cambodia were barred from attending his address to businessmen on Thursday, the red-shirt group’s TV station in Bangkok managed to air the entire speech to its audience in Thailand.”

Wasn’t it Hun Sen who withdrew troops? Oops, sorry, that was a “ploy” that no one could fall for. Of course, The Nation is embellishing on the Thai journalists being hard done by bit. Maybe The Nation should watch more red shirt TV?

The Nation continues to flay about over the incomplete extradition letter to Cambodia. Readers might find this a useful backgrounder on extradition.

Update: The Nation (15 November 2009: “Military denies report about arrest of its spy”) has another one of those immediate and incomplete denials that raises questions. All the more so when it comes from the Thai military who regularly have a kind of Sgt Schultz response to any accusations against their personnel. This time, when the Cambodians claim to have grabbed another Thai spy said to be from the “Armed Forces’ Security Centre” and apprehended at the “City Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap where ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra stayed during his visit to Cambodia…”.

An Armed Forces spokesman “said no one by the name of Manit, as claimed by Cambodia, worked under the centre.” He went on to speculate that the Cambodians “had slandered the Thai Armed Forces and called on Cambodia to identify the last name of the person arrested.” Its when these kind of things are said that suspicions are raised – we’ve got no Manit spying, but we might have spies with other names….

The spokesman “urged the public to use discretion and not believe any information without checking, as the country may fall victim to ill-intentioned groups.” There’s those traitors again.

As relations get worse between the two governments, Thailand is preparing to evacuate its people.

Sneaky Cambodians

14 11 2009

Those damned sneaky Cambodians have withdrawn troops form the border near the Preah Vihear temple area.

Fortunately, according to the Bangkok Post (14 November 2009: “Abhisit won’t cut troops”), Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva is not fooled by the sneaky Cambodians and their ploys.

Abhisit understands their tricks and he won’t allow Thailand to be duped. Indeed, Thailand will put “more pressure  on Cambodia next week.” Having huddled with the likes of Kasit Piromya, Abhisit knows that the Cambodians are in a corner and this is the time to pressure them. Abhisit said the government was reviewing projects with Cambodia and some of them might be put forward to the cabinet for consideration next week.

He said the government was not distracted by the diplomatic spat with Cambodia and its diplomatic response was in line with proper procedure.

By withdrawing his troops, the devious Hun Sen was taking yet another action that fits a pattern that Abhisit characterized as “intentionally provocative.” This was clear to all.

So conniving are the Cambodians that: “Relations between Thai and Cambodian soldiers deployed in the disputed area seem to have remained undisturbed by the diplomatic flare-up.” One soldier said that: “We eat together. We talk. There is no strain or tension. And now they have pulled out, so there is nothing to be tense about…”.

It must be difficult for the brains trust at the Democrat Party and in its government to deal with such devious bastards.

Royalists flocking together

13 11 2009

Prawase Wasi, sometimes said to be a “liberal royalist,” has made an interesting statement that The Nation (14 November 2009: “Beware of the Thaksin-Hun Sen trap – Prawase”) reports.

Prawase, who has a considerable audience amongst Bangkok’s middle class and NGOs, “warned the government yesterday not to fall into a trap set by fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Cambodian leader Hun Sen,” who he sees as being in a “temporary alliance for some purposes.”

Prawase warned “against fuelling feelings of patriotism among the people, which he said could lead to hatred against people in the neighbouring country and even a war between the two nations.” He sees this diplomatic spat as being essentially a matter of disagreements between politicians. He added that “ordinary citizens should not allow themselves to become victims of politicians, and politicians should not lead their people to war.”

That might all sound reasonable and in line with the “liberal royalist” position that politicians are not to be trusted are venile and cause problems.

But Prawase then seems to get a bit odd, saying “he suspected Hun Sen’s trump card would be to lead his country into a war with Thailand in order to deflect the public’s attention from his faults.” He also urges “Thais to view the Cambodians with kindness as Thailand is like an adult while Cambodia is a child. Thailand has more population, greater military might and economic power…”.

In the end, then, if reported correctly, while Prawase urges restraint, he sounds little different from the old-fashioned paternalistic “big Thai brother” lecturing the Cambodians. That mixes his message.

Meanwhile, PAD is set to rally, in the same places that the red shirts have recently held mass rallies. But, as noted previously, without the huge military presence and Internal Security Act. This is because PAD is pro-government, and its rally is claimed to be “an expression of loyalty to the Royal Family and to show its readiness to protect the country’s dignity.” The Nation’s headline, claims a “huge” police presence, but it is miniscule compared with the turnout for red shirt rallies and the newspaper is simply trying to convey evenhandedness by the government. But it is biased.

Update: Just to help out, the Office of the Attorney-General has suddenly decided to revive some cases against Thai Rak Thai politicians from the annulled 2006 election. No surpise in this as it is a regular pattern of post-2006 coup governments to attack the “Thaksin regime.” The Democrat Party and its powerful backers must be feeling pressured and need their judicial system backers back in the game.

The Nation attacks Hun Sen

25 10 2009

Oops, someone let the racist nationalists out at The Nation. Sure, they have always been there, but it is not often that they express their sentiments in an editorial. The editorial for 25 October 2009 (“Hun Sen shows lack of class and tact”), the editorial writer has displayed some of the nastiest characteristics of Thai nationalism.

The Nation is upset that Hun Sen, the Cambodian premier and one of the longest serving ASEAN leaders, made remarks that the current Democrat Party-led government finds provocative and the editorialist believes these remarks will damage ASEAN and bilateral relations between Thailand and Cambodia.

The editorial begins: “You can take the man out of the jungle but you cannot take the jungle out of the man, or so the saying goes. At this moment, that could be said about mercurial Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen after the verbal sparring of the last few days.”

This is racism. It is a variety of Thai nationalist racism.

Various regimes have long considered Cambodia and Cambodians as inferior and less civilized. As the respected Historian says, “Thais have also felt considerable hatred for the Khmer…”. His article on the relationship is well worth reading  at the Kyoto Review, from March 2003, prompted by the sacking of the Thai embassy in Cambodia.

The Nation is clearly upset by the support Hun Sen gave to Thaksin Shinawatra. And when Thaksin seems to make any ground, The Nation comes out fighting, accusing and denigrating.

The editorial writer observes: “Perhaps the Cambodian premier thought he was still leading some Khmer Rouge faction, and did not think that as prime minister of his country there was a need to be considerate to others’ feelings, much less diplomatic protocol.” The writer claims that Hun Sen’s support for Thaksin and the red shirts “really ripped at the heart of so many Thais at a time when the country is bogged down with internal strife. One wonders what Hun Sen would have got out of rubbing more salt on open wounds.”

The Khmer Rouge affiliation is brought up again later in the editorial in the context the UN tribunal. The Nation claims that Hun Sen is stalling, delaying. Why?: “Is it because the Cambodian leader does not want the tribunal to reach too far as some of his Cabinet members might be named? After nearly 2 million deaths, a lot of people have blood on their hands, so it seems.”

As is usual when referring to Thaksin supporters, The Nation claims that Thaksin has duped Hun Sen.

The Nation then decides to judge Cambodian politics: “Holding on to power by any means and turning his once war-torn country into his personal playground would not count for much in terms of achievements in this day and age. Under his rule, Cambodia continues to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world. We think the Cambodian people deserve better.”

Just in case anyone wanted to compare the Cambodian government with that in Thailand, the writer claims that “the current Thai government came through a parliamentary process, not because of the 2006 coup.” No one would describe Cambodia as a model democracy, especially not domestic opponents of the regime. And one would expect Thailand to do better than Cambodia on most indices. That said, on both the Reporters Without Borders Index and the Transparency International index of the perception of corruption, while still ranked lower than Thailand, Cambodia is rising while Thailand is falling.

Worse still, for this commentator at The Nation, Hun Sen is ungrateful: “it was the Thai government that was instrumental in helping him and Cambodia’s return to the Asean fold and eventually the grouping’s membership.” The implication is that “little brothers” should know their place and be respectful of their “big brothers” in Thailand.

The writer is also aggrieved because Hun Sen broke the ASEAN rules – don’t criticize anyone: “[the] Asean Summit should have been an occasion to consolidate among members. But instead, it has been sidetracked into trivial personal issues.” We added the emphasis because the racist writer suggests, stupidly, that the  Cambodian leader is personally upset with Thailand.

Leave out all the recent border incidents, the racist attacks on Cambodians by PAD and the attacks on Hun Sen and Cambodia by Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. Could they can have something to do with Hun Sen’s comments? And, if the Khmer Rouge case is to be brought up, forget the Thai government’s long support of the Khmer Rouge and the military and other aide that was provided to prolong the conflict in Cambodia.

It is worth looking at the government’s site, I Love Thailand and its approach to “Thai” territory. This is the kind of nationalism promoted by the government and undoubtedly drives some of the racist nationalism at The Nation. Readers might find this article by historian Milton Osborne of interest.

Just for good measure, the writer attacks General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, “who … should be condemned for internationalising a domestic issue for his own benefit.” Chavalit is then demeaned as “[g]iggling” and “puerile” and “low,” even “desperate.”

Finally, breathless with rage, the editorial writer has this parting shot: “Perhaps it would be better for Hun Sen to keep his friendship with fugitive Thaksin, and their mutual admiration, in the closet. It could be a case of twisted minds thinking alike.”

We at PPT have been critical of journalists The Nation for their inability to take their personal hatred of Thaksin out of their reporting and editorials. We could just say that this is a terrible editorial and be done with it.

In this case, however, we think that they do their readers a favor by displaying the racism that underpins their particular variety of nationalism. It is a rabid nationalism that was also seen on the PAD stage and which can be more vicious in application domestically than in its international use. The Nation has again reminded readers that this kind of dangerous nationalism remains in the arsenal of those who fight for king and country.

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