Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Thailand becoming morally bankrupt?

There are times when observers will be tempted to ask if Thai society is corrupt in its thinking and morally bankrupt beyond redemption. Consider the following examples:
New Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday promoted dozens of Army officers who had taken part in the April-May crackdown on red shirts, which resulted in 91 deaths, even though the government appointed fact-finding panel looking into these deaths is nowhere close to providing details on the exact circumstances on each.

Prayuth apparently cannot and will not wait until the findings "clear" these officers of any possible wrongdoing, despite the fact various sources in the Army say excessive and lethal force was employed.

Apparently Prayuth doesn't care.

Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn, one of the brains behind the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), suggested in his column in the October 11 edition of ASTV-Manager Daily that the so-called symbolic protests on September 19 and October 10 in Bangkok and beyond - initiated by red-shirt supporter Sombat Boon-ngarm-anong - which attracted close to 10,000 people were "more dangerous" than an armed rebellion.

Kamnoon urged the government to stop Sombat and his followers before it was too late.

"The struggle outside the system, outside the frame of law, without form and without a command centre is now spreading widely. It is believed that even if Pol Lt-Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra ordered them to stop, it wouldn't work

There was a time when those who opposed the red shirts said that Thaksin had hired and herded mostly poor and uneducated farmers to come out and protest. Now, people like Kamnoon are worried that the red shirts are acting on their own accord.
This is not "a scarier future", as Kamnoon concludes in his column, if you are all for democracy. A more participatory and democratic transformation of reds ought to be welcomed. Many reds are now taking initiative, forming their own small groups, while people like Kamnoon continue branding as "more dangerous" than armed reds.

Does this writer think the red shirts ought not to have any political voice at all? Or are the red shirts only good if they become yellow? What's the point of being a democracy then?

The continued denial by members of the National Reform Committee that they were appointed by the government. They say only the head of the committee, former premier Anand Panyarachun in this case, was appointed by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Then we must ask: Why did Abhisit appoint Anand and leaders of other committees in the first place? Could it be a political manoeuvre after the 91 deaths?

Doesn't Anand think he would be seen as a bit more independent if he chose not to be appointed by Abhisit and initiated the entire thing himself without using the taxpayers' money?

And what about the three-year mandate the government has given the panel? The red shirts' boycotted it, as well as a parallel event organised last week by academics and activists who felt the project was just a tool of the elite to prolong their rule over society.

There must be some logic in all these three examples. After all, the key characters are shamelessly dedicated in achieving their less-than-democratic goals at whatever price. And they think they can get away with it too.

So who are we to say they are morally bankrupt?
The Nation, Bangkok

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