At the end of one of his posts this week, Thai academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun ended with the words, “Am I fucking dreaming?”, he can be forgiven for wondering, a thought that of late has more often than not been the reaction to the military junta’s antics in Thailand.
The person that most of these reactions have been to is of course, prayut chan-o-cha, the ‘defacto’ dictator.
To question aspects of any dictators demeanor is normal, par for the course, make a mistake and the world finds out, simple as that. Except that in the case of Thailand’s frontman he is challenging the capacity of information technology with a catalog of schoolboy errors that would make his dead role models turn in their graves. But are they even error?
It is an accepted fact that prayut chan-o-cha was in cahoots with the Democrat Party from around 2008, he led the 2010 massacre, working closely with suthep thaugsuban and the then PM, abhisit vejjajiva and as we all know following suthep thaugsuban’s drunken boasts after the 2014 coup, he was also instrumental in planning, organizing and facilitating the demonstrations that led to the downfall of the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.
prayut’s platforms on taking control, so obviously similar to the frenzied stage rantings of suthep and his PDRC core leadership, left us in no doubt, even without suthep’s drunken admissions, it was all choreographed, albeit very badly.
But then resistance and the rule book got thrown from the steamroller, suthep consigned to doing penance in a remote temple and prayut orchestrating not only the most egregious human rights violations in recent history but also presiding over a national public relations disaster. Recently described as the ‘sick patient’ of SE Asia, Thailand really is on it’s last legs and if the tenure of this current gang doesn’t end soon it has no hope of survival.
They constantly say that this or that has no effect, Thailand is different, we can survive. The various negative rights groups reports, discovery of mass graves, exposure of slavery, cruelty and the shocking extent of clearly very open human trafficking, NONE of these tragedies impact Thailand negatively in any way. And they are right, there is no negative impact for THEM, the already poor and once emerging middle class though are taking a hit, that if the truth was known and reported has and is leading to abject poverty, homelessness and bankruptcy to an extent previously unseen in Thailand. “Unseen Thailand”, once the buzz words for TAT marketing teams around the world, now a worrying reality.
In creating this ‘reassigned state’ atrocities have been committed, some are out in the open, some not yet but it would be naive to think that a strong resident diplomatic corps such as we know exists in Bangkok are not fully aware and have not imparted the correct imformation to their respective governments. At this point criticism is fair, allowing the dictator a world stage not only in person but through various groups has empowered the regime and it appears afforded all of them a sense of invincibility, never to be called to task or ultimately held accountable for their actions.
To have a real sense of Thailand’s direction we would have to step into the shoes of it’s latest victims, we all know the names, victims of a regime that are bent on gaining proficiency in mans inhumanity to man, they aspire to greatness and places in history reserved for those best forgotten.
History will ask of world leaders, “Thailand; knowing what the world knows now, what should we have done differently?”
There is only one course of action to answer that question and it is not too late yet.
The US and EU MUST impose harsh sanctions on the prayut regime, on an ascending scale, strictly controlled by the Thai governments own actions, deviation from moral, ethical and governmental responsibility punishable by the imposition of further restrictions.
There is no other answer.