LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Former FEER journalist urges UK to remember how Thaksin dealt with outsiders
As a British citizen, I would like to express my hope that the British government does not give fugitive former prime minister Thaksin too much of a comfortable ride in my country.
After all, Thaksin was officially only a caretaker prime minister since the annulled April 2 election, though he tried in his usual style to override this and continued to act as if he owned Thailand. So, since he landed in London he was no more than a former caretaker prime minister, and should be treated as such.
I write from the vantage point of having had some personal, historical experience at the hands of the former prime minister. In February 2002, I and my colleague Shawn Crispin were with the then weekly magazine Far Eastern Economic Review's Bangkok bureau, when Thaksin struck. He, of course, later told us it wasn't him but his "senior officials", but we were nevertheless officially accused at the time of being "a threat to national security". The Thaksin government spokesman subsequently said we were "terrorists". We were, of course, nothing of the sort, and were simply the first foreign press victim of Thaksin's war on the critical press, both foreign and domestic.
Luckily, the powerful, good people here, as you would call them, intervened and we successfully petitioned against the deportation order, meaning our passports with new visas and work permits were returned and we were told by immigration authorities we were definitely off the black list. The only word I got from the British embassy was to make my own apology to the government (for what?) and basically to accept deportation.
The official confirmation that we were free men again was fine, but annoyingly I continued to be held-up at Bangkok airport by immigration every time I left and returned. Must be just bureaucratic confusion about my case history, I thought. But I subsequently found out from the Immigration Department itself that it had been decided on March 15 that year we should both be scratched off the black list, and two days later we were officially told such. I also learned that certain individuals in Thaksin's inner circle - still smarting from their defeat - had quietly told immigration to do no such thing, hence my prolonged airport hassles.
So London, I don't ask you to declare Thaksin a "threat to national security", but at least bear in mind what the man did to one your citizens.
A letter to the CDRM from Thai journalists' associations
Although the takeover of state control by the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) has alleviated Thailand's political crisis to a certain extent, it has now caused new concern about the country's future. With our Kingdom in need of a new political structure and mechanisms in order to move forward democratically, the Thai Journalists Association and the Broadcast Journalists Association have come up with the following suggestions and demands for the CDRM with the intent of helping restore the nation to a productive, transparent and united political system as soon as possible:
1) The CDRM must honour its pledge and transfer power back to the people as soon as possible.
2) The interim charter, which is being prepared by the CDRM, must guarantee civil liberty as much as that provided by the 1997 "People's Constitution".
3) Although the CDRM has taken absolute power in administration of the country, this power must not be exercised unilaterally. Normal administrative procedures and processes must be considered and applied as much as possible. Most importantly, the normal judicial process must be utilised regarding issues that involve the justice system.
4) The process of creating Thailand's new Constitution must be totally open to public participation and contribution. The process must give due respect to the will and spirit of the 1997 "People's Constitution".
5) The CDRM must give the interim government, which will be formed in the near future, a free hand to run the country.
The Thai Journalists Association and the Broadcast Journalists Association sincerely hope the CDRM will consider these suggestions for the sake of the interests of our beloved country.
The Thai Journalists Association
The Broadcast Journalists Association
Meechai and other ex-PM cronies must be kept out
We mustn't forget that Meechai Ruchuphan was an adviser to the last junta: the NPKC. And it was he who did the drafting and footwork to get them amnesty for all of the various crimes they committed.
As others have said, Meechai is for Meechai, not Thailand.
He, Wissanu Krea-ngam and Bowornsak Uwanno should not be allowed to play any role whatsoever, given their relationship with the reprehensible Thaksin regime.
Please no "kreng jai" (deference). Transparency and accountability, please.
Coup enables Thailand to take a giant leap forward
Re: "A leap backwards", What Others Say, September 25.
This article needs to be elucidated from a Thai's point of view. First Thaksin is (and was) not the "most popular civilian politician" per se as his mandate came from a franchise of voters motivated or "encouraged" by something other than a genuine desire to see democracy "for the people and by the people" practised in Thailand. Instead, Thaksin's regime promoted cronyism, corruption and a total disregard of democratic principles by his autocratic rule leading to a virtual standstill of true democratic practices. Whatever he wanted, he got, either by manipulation or "gentlemanly" coercion. Does this sound familiar in any self-righteous democracy in the eyes of the Washington Post?
Secondly, the coup led by the military was (and is) what the majority of the Thai population had been hoping for (verified by poll approval ratings of 90 per cent).
We definitely would not call this a "leap backwards". The military's coup is, indeed, an accomplishment of a goal that could not be achieved by the people themselves, even for the next decade to come. If this event had not taken place, how much of this country would we have left which the Thais could proudly call their own?
Our thanks go to the military for freeing us from the bondage of the "Thaksin regime" which was, indeed, a dictatorship under the guise of democracy. We can now look forward to leaping ahead, with proper democratic measures, to enjoy genuine constitutional monarchy again, at long last, in Thailand.
'Washington Post' editorial misguided and selective
Re: "A leap backwards", What Others Say, September 25.
Whilst I agree it is regrettable that it required the military to remove Thaksin from government, frankly I am disappointed by the reaction to the coup as seen in the Western press. I am downright angry when I read rubbish like this: "That agenda [re-writing of the constitution and deferment of elections until next year] may have the support of some Thai political parties whose members have been trying all year to force Thaksin from power through such undemocratic means as street demonstrations." Come again? Since when did peaceful demonstrations become undemocratic? I thought it was a given that the citizens of a democracy had every right to voice their disapproval of corrupt elected officials, so long as they did it in a peaceful way? Where was American disapproval when the Ukraine's peoples revolution, with its mass street protests, took place? Talk about double standards!
Democracy does not automatically equate to good government and it is not a "one-size-fits-all" model of government.
Sonthi's popularity will only wane if elections are delayed
Many people could agree to disagree regarding the recent coup d'etat in Thailand. The outcome is a peaceful and stabilised country, which had been in political turmoil since early this year.
I think General Sonthi Boonyaratglin would not want to stay on the back of that tiger for too long because he might not be able to get down. The new constitution should be drafted quickly. If the committee of elderly academics takes too much time to do it, then they should be replaced by younger academics with more energy. There is no reason why the new election should be postponed until October of next year.
The election should be set before the end of this year. The longer it is held off, the more public protests will increase. By then General Sonthi's popularity could be reversed - the same fate that befell those who came before him as coup leaders and eventually earned the title of "tyrant".
Keep superstitions out of important national matters
There was an exorcism of sorts carried out to rid the new Bangkok airport of ghosts prior to its formal inauguration. During the ritual a man became possessed by spirits that said they wanted a spirit house to be built for them at the airport. The possessed man then collapsed to the floor when the spirit had left his body.
Also in the news is an astrological forecast that the coup will usher in a period of political stability and economic growth and that the evil former prime minister will remain in exile never to return. These news items come on the heel of prior reports that prophecy by a medium in Rangoon had been the basis for the long-term political strategy of the ousted government.
Superstition is fun but I hope, for the sake of Thailand, that it does not actually play a role in decisions that affect the welfare of the country. The country faces real political and economic issues that need to be addressed. Our ability to deal with them may be compromised if we are unable to extricate ourselves from the Middle Ages.