Tag Archives: Sonthi

Thailand’s army leaders not better than Burma’s

Many of Burma’s democracy advocates place Thailand’s army in a favorable light when compared to their own. But as their familiarity with the abuse of military power at home vastly outweighs their knowledge of that abroad, their appraisals too are imbalanced and detrimental.

The latest cause for contrast has been Burma’s May 10 referendum. It comes less than a year after a similar army-sponsored poll in Thailand. Various groups have been critical, among other things, of the delay in the draft Constitution’s public release, and now that it is available, its high cost.

“When Thailand held its election, their government distributed the Constitution free of charge to every household and let Thai citizens and the media discuss it freely,” U Thein Nyunt, a spokesperson for the National League for Democracy, said in a radio interview.

Thein Nyunt evidently knows nothing about how the draft charter in Thailand was disseminated as part of a Yes vote agenda under strict military control, how the outcome was rigged by the threat of “anything goes” if a No vote succeeded, or how opponents to the draft were denied public space. Yet his willingness to make ill-informed comments about government in Thailand is a regrettably common feature of talk among Burma’s political activists. Continue reading


Selective justice for drug-war killers



A high-level committee in Thailand is gearing up to recommend that people who enabled the killing of thousands in 2004 and thereafter be held criminally liable. It has in its sights former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and other parties to his “war on drugs.”

The committee is waiting for a new government to be formed in 2008 before presenting its findings.

At a glance, the committee seems like a good idea. Lots of people were killed thanks to government policies at the time [like the victim shown above], yet no one has been prosecuted. The anti-drugs war has quickly become another yawning hole in the country’s modern history. Any efforts to do something about it should be welcomed.

But the question that it begs is why did the thousands of murders, and a government policy to encourage them, not rouse Thailand’s existing multifarious investigating agencies? Why must this committee, with no actual authority, do their work for them?

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Thailand imperilled by masculinity, not pregnancy


Thailand’s coup leader has uncovered a new and serious threat to national security. No, it’s not imminent bloodshed of the sort that was supposedly about to tear the country asunder last year, obliging him to play the part of reluctant gentleman usurper.

Nor is it yet another clique of the former prime minister’s tricky supporters, hoping to sneak back into government via the forthcoming general election. This time the threat has come not from within but from abroad.

Is it the military regime in neighboring Burma? Unlikely, given that the army general felt that it used “correct procedure” in handling recent mass protests, and he didn’t believe the photos anyhow.

How about religious zealots hoping to stoke the flames of unrest in the south? Uh-uh, too difficult, not them either. No, the latest astonishing problem that General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has uncovered is childbirth.

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