October 29, 2013

Kavi: International community must speak out against the evil one

Featuring Kurt Campbell

Source: Asian Correspondent

Journalist Bangkok Pundit

Kavi in The Nation:

The time has come for the international community to speak out regarding Thaksin’s tendency to manipulateThroughout his exile, for one reason or another, many foreign leaders have strongly supported him and some are even fascinated by his rise and popularity, despite his tarnished record. In the world today, he is perhaps the only leader with the power to conduct business and run a normal government without actually staying in his country. He travels the world in his private jet and “Skypes” the Yingluck government. Thaksin must be ranked as the world’s most innovative and versatile developing-world politician. Just look at the number of tweets and public relations campaigns he has done and commissioned – a Guinness world record, surely 

In particular, Western countries should come clean and urge the Yingluck government to stop pretending that her government is democratic. They should also be frank in commenting on the political situation in Thailand, as they have done with other countries, if they genuinely care about real democratic development, not just form or style as some do.

So far, the West has been muted over the controversy, even though it is a strong case of human-rights violation. The European Union and the US – the great promoters of democracy – are probably stunned by the audacity of Thaksin and his Pheu Thai Party. After all, they have backed the Yingluck government since her party won the election. They have even credited her for bringing political stability, which remains superficial. It would be hard to make a U-turn.

Watching Thailand from the outside, one has a strong feeling that Thais are their own worst enemies.

BP: Kavi, in the words of the US Embassy is “a rabid opponent of TRT” – you can see posts looking at his cheer-leading of the Abhisit government herehere and here - but the above is even a little off the charts even for Kavi. Some comments:

1. Abhisit has tweeted more than 150+ tweets since October 1; Thaksin hasn’t tweeted since August 5. Abhisit’s current Twitter account was only set up after he left office 2 years ago and he has made 4,216 tweets; Thaksin’s account was set up long before that has made 2,261 tweets. Thaksin has tweeted less than 40 times since November 2011. Why even bring up Twitter when it is the one platform that Thaksin has been quite silent on? It is just bizarre…

2. BP has some news for Kavi, if Thaksin was not popular and the pro-Thaksin party was not a political force – actually they are not just a political force, they are the major political force and the main party in the current government and show no signs of losing the next election – Thaksin would not get much traction with the foreign community. It is what you call reality.

3. On the current state of democracy in Thailand, the government is not democratic? If you want to argue that Thailand has not really ever become a democracy well that is an argument, but in April 2011 Kavi stated, “Thailand is a democracy, albeit its defects”. If there was a democracy then, surely he must have viewed the Abhisit government as democratic so what has changed now? It seems Thaksin is the only factor for not considering the Yingluck government to be democratic. Did the people not know what they were getting when they voted for his sister in 2011?

4. On the role of the international community, Kavi had a different view in May 2010 when he stated:

Internally, the two-month political lockdown of the capital’s business centre has also caused confusion and drawn mischievous [BP: Mischievous?] responses from the Bangkok-based diplomatic communities against the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA). Strange as it may seem, the demonstrations have attracted various reactions, including sympathies from the US, Latin America and Europe. Several diplomats met with the protesters and their backers caused red eyes at the MFA. Obviously, Thailand’s widening income gap between the rural and urban areas and hordes of social inequities, highlighted by the protesters, have found empathy among the diplomats here.

Doubtless, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was extremely unhappy after Kurt Campbell, the US Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, held a breakfast meeting with Noppadon Pattama and Chaturon Chaisaeng during his brief stopover in Bangkok recently. The embassy’s first press release identified the two as members of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship but later changed it to members of the opposition party, Pheu Thai. Two days later, Kasit summoned US Ambassador Eric John and lodged his strongest complaint, criticising Campbell’s action as unacceptable. He said it sent the wrong signal to the protesters as the government was working hard to achieve national reconciliation and protect democracy. Most importantly, after the clashes on April 10, the government has branded some of the protest leaders as terrorists.

Kasit also delivered a memo to the diplomatic corps explaining Thailand’s position and political situation. He impressed on them to respect Thailand’s sovereignty and pleaded for better understanding of the delicate political situation his government is confronting. In private, Kasit lamented the international complacency over the role and actions of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been using third countries as base for his sabotage activities to undermine the Abhisit government.

BP: Kavi just channels Kasit. While his only commentary is to state what the US and others did as mischievous, he gives the impression of broadly agreeing with Kasit. And what did the US do then, they met with members of the opposition and and announced it. Yes, they were pushing behind-the-scenes for a settlement, but it was not clear taking of sides.

Yet, right now in 2013 – when there are not any actual large-scale protests – he wants the US and the EU to intervene? Intervene about what? Apparently, Thaksin’s influence over the government (read: manipulation) has somehow become a human-rights violation*. What does Kavi want the international community to do? Forbid Thaksin from talking on Skype? Tell him not to talk to his sister? Tell his sister not to listen to him? If the international community were not going to criticise the formation of the Abhisit government in a military barracks (or if Kavi was meaning amnesty then if the international community were not going to criticise the amnesty given by the military to themselves in 2006 or the de facto amnesty enshrined in Article 309 in the Constitution ), BP doubts they will pay any attention to Kavi’s call now.

It is not April’s fools day, right?

*Strangely, BP doesn’t recall Kavi requesting the international community intervene over the Rohingya who were towed and left to die in 2009 or the crackdown in 2010…


  • Kurt Campbell

    CNAS Co-Founder and former Board Chairman

    Dr. Kurt M. Campbell is the Co-Founder and former Board Chairman of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS)....