Published on July 21, 2007
"Open it if you dare," he said in a telephone interview with The Nation. "But don't forget that the number of people who want the sluice gates to be closed are more than you."
However, Surin, who was assigned by the military-appointed government working to oversee the Pak Mun Dam through the Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc), did not reply when asked what would happen if the villagers really used force to open the gates as they had vowed.
Surin insisted that the Cabinet resolution late last month to let the dam store water to its full capacity, rather than open the gates as decided by the Thaksin administration three years ago, was just. He said it was based on the demand by more than 20,000 villagers from 85 villages. He claimed that only 400 villagers under the Assembly of the Poor had demanded the sluice gates be opened. His argument was countered by political scientists who have monitored the issue for more than a decade.
Prapas Pintobtaeng of Chulalongkorn University said the government was trying to distort facts with the politics of numbers. Prapas, also part of two national committees set up by both the Chuan Leekpai and Thaksin Shinawatra administrations to solve problems related to the dam, criticised the logic of numbers Surin used to justify the future of the dam and the villagers as "irrational".
"Using mathematical figures without a rational foundation is nothing but crude force," he said.
He was supported by his Chulalongkorn colleague, Surichai Wangaeo, who said that justice could not be measured by numbers.
"Mathematics knows no justice," he said, adding that social justice must be created and measured by history and reason. "If we used numbers to calculate justice, this means we would allow a group of people with bigger numbers to kill another group that has smaller numbers," he said.