Malaysia's "Malaysia My Second Home" programme allows foreigners hassle-free visa, land ownership, free participation in business, among many other benefits. Maybe Thaksin decided to apply for the programme when he was there last week.
With such xenophobic sentiment going on in Thailand, many foreigners who write to The Nation condemning Malaysia for welcoming Thaksin may one day find themselves moving there, and with luck, become neighbours of Thailand's Public Enemy No 1.
TIU NIA SENG
He can pass off as a victim
It all started on September 19, 2006. Had there been no coup and Thaksin had been convicted while in office and if he had run, those countries would have been happy to extradite him. Instead, the coup has made Thaksin into a political victim rather than a fugitive.
Only a few backward countries see coups d'état as a political choice; the rest of the world see them as a barbaric, nasty thing.
Maybe now the US will pay attention to Asean
The Obama administration has shown determination to upgrade the strategically important ties with traditional allies and cultivate relations with others in Southeast Asia. Now is an opportunity for the US to step up engagement with nations in the region for mutual benefits. However, the missing link is paying attention to and intensifying cooperation with Asean.
The US can push forward many important issues in its foreign-policy agenda through Asean-led meetings, especially with developments such as its new charter and the soon-to-be established Human Rights Body. For Asean to build a community by 2015, it needs, at the very least, more awareness and attention from its US friends.
More coverage in the Washington press of Asean's open regionalism and central role, as well as Asean-US ties, will bring a wider scope of awareness in the US. I hope that coverage by Southeast Asian newspapers of US involvement in the region's diplomatic life will not be in Clinton's encouraging words of commitment followed by the lacklustre participation we saw during the last US administration.
Word of advice: check all your sources
To me, the hallmark of a quality newspaper is that its reporters do not accept what their sources say at face value. Instead, reporters probe as deep as possible within their limited time frame in order to give readers the balanced information they need to participate in a robust democratic process. This would be in keeping with James Madison, who said: "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both."
Therefore, for example, when convicted felon Thaksin Shinawatra told a community radio station that his private jet had stopped in Kuala Lumpur on July 4 for refuelling and that 20 Special Branch police had been sent to protect him because "they love and care about me", a quality newspaper would have telephoned Special Branch in KL to confirm.
In the very same article reporting Thaksin's claim, the newspaper would have noted that Malaysia's top cop, Inspector-Gen Tan Sri Musa Hassan, categorically denied Thaksin's claim, saying that the fugitive was never in Malaysia and had never been given special protection. This would have allowed readers to judge for themselves how truthful the felon was being, rather than have the convict's claim make front-page headlines and the Malaysian denial be hidden on page three several days later. Similarly, when red-shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn claimed to have seen red shirts with bullet wounds during the Songkran riots, reporters should have interviewed directors of nearby hospitals and reported that no hospital had had any patients with such injuries from the riots.
If, due to pressing deadlines, a newspaper/TV station is unable to verify claims or the party being referred to refuses to comment, the article should state this, so readers can see the media have tried to be impartial and balanced. (Being impartial/balanced does not mean giving equal space to both sides; it means giving equal opportunity.)