Wednesday, February 16, 2005
B is for BAAAAACK.
After a year of silence, I'm back with a brand-new site and an even more mysterious name. Please check out สาระสนเท่ห์. (In Thai only for the moment, but the English version will be ready any minute now.)
Update Ladies and gentlemen, สาระสนเท่ห์: The English Edition.
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
B is for BYE FOR
After almost a month, you've probably figured this out by
now. (Anyone still there?) Sorry for waiting so long before
making it "official".
I started this blog because I have things to say and want
people to hear them. My main goal is to do what I can to
help bridge the yawning gulf of
understanding between Thai people and the rational
(e.g. Thai people: There's virtually NO oil in Afghanistan
and the Iraq war was NOT a "direct-sale product demo" for US
weapons. If your media told you otherwise, that's because it
Rational World: Your media, while not stinking,
is mostly way off the mark about Thai politics.
The Economist is particularly bad on this
account: "Chuan's reformist
zeal" sounds just like Gray Davis's charm or Bill Clinton's
chastity. And don't you think it rather weird that the
Thaksin government is simultaneously accused of populism and being
beholden to Big Business? On a different note, you should keep in mind the
scandalously low journalistic and
standards in Thailand (and other countries like it) the next
time you hear someone says "the whole world" thinks this or
"the whole world" is against that.)
Nothing about that has changed. My goal is far from achieved
and I still feel as strongly about it as ever. What's more,
I'm very happy with this blog and with having taken a step,
however small, toward my objective. Overall, this has been
very positive experience.
Each enterprise, however, is not justified by net benefits
alone. Because of opportunity cost, its benefits must be
weighed against those of other options. I'm speaking here
not as a blogger, but as
a reader. The last couple months have seen an emergence of
several excellent Iraqi blogs (like
comparison with those, my blog seems downright trivial, and
of all frivolities (many of them on the net) that waste your
time and mine everyday, I'd rather this not be one. Briefly
put, as things are now, I wouldn't read my own blog.
This blog will resume if and when I have something
worthwhile to say on a daily basis. Until then, I'll just
sit back and try to limit my blog consumption to half
an hour per day.
Thank you having read me up to now. Till next time.
P.S. I really should leave it at that but can't help it when
the Bunkum Post has, for the
second time, published my
letter (third from top) with all the scare quotes
removed! Here's the original version:
Citing a source in the Task Force 976, the Bangkok Post
reported that Camp Lima, where the Thai contingent is based,
is being attacked because the “locals” are “badly treated” (Nov.
Indeed. You go round up criminal suspects (for a fatal
assault on coalition troops, by the way), tying their hands
and covering their heads (quelle horreur!) and the
innocent locals have no choice but to rain 82mm mortar
shells on the people who treat their sickness, build their
schools and police their neighborhoods. There, that’s for
treating us so badly!
This report is typical of the Thai media in failing
miserably to acknowledge the differences among
Iraqis—between whose houses were raided and those whose tips
made the raids possible; between the criminals (not
necessarily Iraqi, actually) who blew up police stations and
the Iraqi officers and civilians who perished as a result;
and between those who would commit the wickedest outrages in
order to frustrate the coalition’s efforts (just as they did
to prolong Saddam’s regime) and those who swore vengeance on
such thugs. According to our “news” professionals, Iraqis
simply stand together on one side and the coalition, on the
With one emphatic exception being our Thai contingent.
Despite growing hostility, the reports go, our soldiers,
unlike “the others”, are well loved. While “the others” are
violent and boorish, we are gentle and civil. We’re here to
help, treating patients and building schools (unlike “the
others”?) and Iraqis appreciate that. Look, of more than a
hundred thousand foreign troops now in Iraq, it’s only to
the 443 of us that children say sawasdee and khob
And the attacks? According to the Post story, that’s fine by
us as long as the perpetrators are “selective”. Shells, it’s
And of course, the all-important last sentence, cut in the
Post version, wouldn't make sense to those ignorant
reference it's making. Didn't I tell you our media
stinks? (Okay, okay, maybe it's my fault that I had in mind
the direct translation of "L'enfer, c'est les autres"
instead of "Hell is other people" which is a lot more current.)
P.P.S. Now it's the real goodbye.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Better to stick with Garfield
Having committed myself to being a lifelong student of
English, I try to be perceptive to new developments in the
language. Recently I've noticed a few of instances of the
expression "Bizarro world", the latest of which in this Dowd
But why? Are the Bizarro cartoons really that famous? What
for? Being both unsubtle and unfunny? Now that's bizarre,
for that combination is neither intriguing nor rare!
Bizarro in the November 11 issue of the Bangkok Post
features a pair of mother and son. The mother says:
Get packed. Your school just closed, so we're sending you to
the ones we're building in IRAQ.
Ha ha. In the Bizarro world, the extreme Left borrow lines
from the extreme Right.
But that, regrettably, is also the case
in the real world. And I don't turn to the comics page
just to be reminded of how empty the empty half of the world
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
First day in office for
Wattana Muangsuk as full-fledged Minister of Commerce. A
case of blogs getting results?
No? I see you don't believe the Blogging One.
And you complain about your academia?
I'd long been itching to write about Thirayuth Boonmi, but had never thought it worthwhile until reading
a glowing profile of him a few weeks ago in the Bunkum Post.
A professor at the prestigious Thammasat University
(prestige, of course, is relative), Thirayuth is one of those
"academics" whose views can be summed up as: The world is
all fouled up and the West (read America) is singularly to be blamed.
Nothing new there. We're used to those hacks' warped
polemics, which have time and again been
shredded into pieces
by real scholars.
Still, Thirayuth is in a class of his own in sheer
ignorance. Lacking even the most basic knowledge about the
world, he's unfit even to follow the intellectually bankrupt
footsteps of, say, Noam Chomsky, who would only be
embarrassed by him.
Yes, it's possible to be so bad as to embarrass someone
who epitomizes the term "idiotarion". Let
me demonstrate that first by telling you this: Thirayuth
doesn't know what "the West" means.
In his article titled "ทิศทางประเทศไทย:
("Thailand's direction: When the world
stops kowtowing to the West", Matichon Weekly, April
4-10, 2003), he wrote:
... [It] has become obvious to the world community
that the conducts of the US and most other Western nations
are all contradictory to the West's own tenets; like
regard for human's liberty [and] democracy, regard for human
rights; [these] are all the things about which Western
nations have been hypocritical.
US soldiers killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people
in Vietnam, Somalia and Grenada.
French special police killed Algeria's nationalist movement
and tens of thousands of civilians.
Russia killed up to a hundred thousand Muslims in
Afghanistan and Central Asia.
[my translation from Thai, emphasis added]
Yep, that's right. Russia, also known as the Soviet Union at
the time of the Afghan invasion, is part of "the West".
And boy, was it being untrue to its "Western" values!
What is this? Does Thirayuth think "the West" means "white"?
He's really straying into dangerous territory there.
Should we be grateful, then, that he doesn't always
think in racial
terms? Only two paragraphs before the
above-quoted, he wrote:
รัสเซีย และอินเดียก็ควรขยายตัวพอสมควร เช่นเดียวกับประเทศยุโรปตะวันออกและประเทศมุสลิมที่เคยอยู่ใต้อาณัติของรัสเซีย
... the West's economic power and security are
also declining, its wealth decreasing from being 85.6
percent of world GDP in 1900 to merely 50 percent at the end
of of the century. [We] can predict that in the next two
decades, China and the five Asian tigers will continue to
grow rapidly; Japan's, Russia's and India's economies
also should expand satisfactorily, just as [those of]
Eastern European countries and Muslim countries that
used to be under Russia's suzerainty. [my translation from
Thai, emphasis added]
Judge for yourself what's worse: the flagrancy
per se of Thirayut's counting Russia as a Western
country or his
blatant willingness to turn around and contradict himself
in order to degrade "the West", whatever it happens to
be at the time.
Or perhaps you find even more objectionable his, shall we say,
unorthodox facts and figures. Be warned, though, that those
are ubiquitous in all Thirayuth's utterances and you could go crazy trying
to call him out falsehood by falsehood.
So I won't do that. My point is already well served by
sticking with the very most astounding examples of
Here's another one. Thirayuth being a committed America-hater
and his article being about, insofar as this befuddled
screed is about anything, the world's political
and social landscape after the watershed Iraq war, you'd
have expected him to wax vituperous about the neocons,
right? Wrong, he didn't mention neo-conservatism once in the
But of course, it wouldn't be like Thirayuth to write a
paragraph without an "ism" and here in particular he needs
one to blame for the evil war. So what ism does he turn to?
Well, after that bit about "the West", this shouldn't be too
. . .
หรือแนว neo realism
Realism, or doctrine of power and [self]
interests. This doctrine states that each state, each nation
will be cynical toward each other and gives precedence to
one's own self interests, hence [this cynicism] has led to
many a war in the world.
. . .
This war will compel the world to think along the lines of
realism or neo-realism, which emphasizes clashes
of civilizations. [my translation from Thai, poor word
choices original, emphasis added]
So realism leads to wars, and even clashes of civilizations?
Oh yes, I remember Henry Kissinger's taking America into the
with China and the
clash with the Soviet Union.
Gee, how shocked will Thirayut be when he learns that, in
loathing realism, he has one thing in common with the hawks
who have come to be known as the neoconservatives and who
provided intellectual firepower to the War in Iraq?
That is, of course, hypothetical. He will never learn that,
or anything else. If Thirayuth's anachronistic obsession
with "realism" (mentioned six times in the
article) suggests that this man stopped absorbing new
information long ago, his total misapprehension of it
reveals that he
did so even earlier.
Still, Thirayut didn't completely shut everything out. He
did pick up bits and pieces here and there, which, while far
from constituting "information", do provide him with new ways to
make a fool of himself.
Take neo-conservatism for example. Despite being utterly oblivious
about the doctrine, Thirayut did know a neocon (if only by
the name, as will become obvious) and
even mentioned him in the article:
สำนักระบบโลก... ครอบคลุมหลายสำนักคิด ทั้ง
เช่น ความคิดนาย F. Fukuyama...
The school of Global Order... covers many schools of
thoughts including Liberalism which foresees that the
world will eventually develop and be connected under one
economic system and one ideology that is Liberalism, like
the thinking of Mr. F. Fukuyama...
This war of aggression against Iraq will cause the thinking
of the Global Order school, be it Marxism, Communitism [Communautarisme?],
and globalization lose explaining power. [my translation
from Thai, emphasis added]
While I understand little of this quote (particularly that
"Global Order" bit), this much is clear: Thirayuth thinks
(not "classically liberal", mind you) and implies
that he's against
the war in Iraq.
Yep, and Reagan is a left-winger who opposed the Cold War.
All this should be enough to give you an idea what kind of
person Thirayuth is. No, he's no communist, socialist,
leftist or any other ideological creature, whatever he
thinks of himself and regardless of what the stereotypes
tell you. Just as a color-blind person cannot have a
favorite color, Thirayuth cannot have an ideology.
Nor is he a "romantic" -- a bookish academic out of touch
with the real world -- as his critics in the TRT Party
dismiss him. Such a characterization not only makes a
travesty of the word "academic", but is also slanderous to
the notions of being romantic (like Beethoven), bookish
(like Nietzsche) and even out of touch (like the current
Rather, Thirayuth -- a political science professor who considers
the Soviet Union part of the West, believes realism is about
promoting clashes of civilizations and doesn't know about
neo-conservatism -- can only be described as the composite of a
fraud, an idiot and a madman.
That is, of course, not how he was portrayed in the Bunkum
Post's nauseously fawning feature
story. The piece is titled "Thinking is beautiful" and ends
with "his advice to younger people... shows that the teacher
in him is rising."
If whatever it is that's in Thirayuth (I wouldn't call it
"teacher") is rising, then Thailand is
sinking, like that brown stuff in the bowl, waiting
for his "beautiful thinking" to flush it all down
Which might very well be the case, given the alarming
frequency with which Thirayuth's drivels
swamp the front pages of Thai newspapers.
But no, that's NOT the case as long as Thirayuth is still
ranting away on a soapbox while the bully pulpit is occupied
by the two entities for which he reserve most of his
That would be America (of Planet Earth) and PM Thaksin (of
Please support them.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Having read my four
to date, you might be led to believe that this column is only about blatant errors in
Matichon. That is, however, incorrect. The Dateline
Bunkum dishonor may be bestowed on an article from any Thai
newspaper that contains a statement (or statements) so egregiously and
unquestionably wrong that the condemnation of it transcends
all ideologies and viewpoints. You know, I'm talking about
the kind of mistake that makes you wonder how the author
made through college (assuming he or she did), let only
became a journalist.
Matichon's hitherto monopoly of Dateline Bunkum's
space shouldn't fool you into thinking that it's an exceptionally
bad newspaper in Thailand. While Matichon's quality is indeed very,
very poor, that is a norm rather than an exception for Thai
This point is aptly illustrated today by the accession to
the Dateline Bunkum club of the Bangkok Post -- Amnesty International's newspaper
An op-ed by Sanitsuda Ekachai -- the Post's Assistant
Editor -- states:
According to the reproductive health advocacy
group, Population Council, as many as 70% of women have
experienced unwanted pregnancies. Forced by
circumstances, almost 14 % of this number attempted to have
an abortion. [emphasis added]
No need for any explanations; the flagrancy of the error speaks
I'll say something anyway, though, just in case a Post
staffer is reading and, as to be expected, doesn't quite
Gee, how to explain this? I mean, do you really believe that
seven out of ten women have been unintentionally pregnant?
It's not clear whether Khun Sanitsuda's talking about women
all over the world or just Thai women. My rebuttal will be
based on world configurations but the same logic can be
applied to Thailand in isolation and the same conclusion
will be reached -- that Khun Sanitsuda's totally gone
Let's do a quick mental calculation. World population is
about 6 billion, half of which is female: 3 billion. About
30% of population are under 15 and so there are about
2.1 billion women, defined as females aged 15 or over. (Go
here for more precise figures; you may prefer to a
higher age threshold of 18 or 20, but the resulting number
wouldn't be much different.)
That means, according to Khun Sanitsuda, the
number of unintended pregnancies that have occurred to this
current generation is at least 2.1 x 70% = 1.5
billion -- a staggering figure that is roughly one-fourth
of that for world population. ("At least" because a woman
may very well have had more than one unintended pregnancy.)
What happened to all those 1,500,000,000 unwanted fetuses then? A. they
were aborted and thus current world population would be 25%
larger had they not been; B. they lived to become babies but
died soon afterwards, all 1,500,000,000 of them; C. they
live among us today and so one out of every four persons now
living wasn't meant to be conceived; D. a bit of
Is the world really that gloomy? Or is some journalist on
And what am I doing trying to demonstrate the absurdity of
this claim through interpretations when the original
statement already does it best itself? "70% of women have
experienced unwanted pregnancies." CRAZY, period.
And while the assertion is so blatantly wrong that it
doesn't matter who is or is not the source, I did make a quick
search at the Population Council website and found no
Instead, I came across this
report, which puts the percentage at 20% for Peruvian
women. ("Jain found that one-fifth of the Peruvian women had
had unintended pregnancies.") I can't vouch for that
figure, but if it's accurate, then it should be quite representative of
a significant chunk of the world, Peru being a developing
conservative (catholic) country. But then again, if many
countries are like Peru, wouldn't the percentages in the remaining
countries have to be much higher than 70 (and probably
even 100) in order to pull the world average up to Khun Sanitsuda's 70%?
Like I said, CRAZY.
[YOU MAY WANT TO TAKE A BREAK HERE. SANITSUDA'S ARTICLE
STILL CONTAINS TWO MORE MIND-BOGGLINGLY OBVIOUS BUSHWAS.]
Khun Sanitsuda went on:
According to the Public Health Ministry,
300,000 women had abortions in 2000, most at illegal
clinics or through dangerous means at home alone...[emphasis
Holy Baloney, common sense is really not common.
Let me make one thing clear first. Here, Khun Sanitsuda is
certainly talking only about women in Thailand, not
worldwide, since legal induced abortions in the US alone are
three times the quoted figure.
Time for another quick calculation: Thailand's
population is about 60 million, half of which is female: 30
million, of which 300,000 is one percent. Hence, according
to Khun Sanitsuda, one out of a hundred Thai females had an
abortion in 2000!
Females, mind you, include everyone from my toddling niece
to my 81-year-old grandmother and beyond. And Khun Sanitsuda is not
claiming "only" that one percent of them have ever had an
abortion, but that one percent did so in that one year!
Another way to look at it: since Thailand's 2000 birth rate was
17 per 1,000 people, that means there were about
17/1,000 x 60 million = 1 million live births in 2000. Ignoring
for simplicity's sake the possibilities of some women
undergoing more than one abortion in that year (which would
raise the percentage even higher), Khun Sanitsuda's
300,000 figure means that 300,000/(1,000,000+300,000) =
23% of all Thai pregnancies in 2000 were aborted.
That's one out of five, ladies and gentlemen!
Khun Sanitsuda, may I remind you that crack cocaine is
illegal in Thailand?
Yet another approach to this: Khun Sanisuda clearly means
her 300,000 figure to represent mostly (or even entirely)
induced abortions. For comparison with a country of similar
population size, the UK recorded
197,370 (185,375 + 11,995) cases of induced abortions in
2000. Are induced abortions 50% more prevalent in Thailand,
where they're banned and people are more conservative, than
in Britain, where they're legally available and people are
more progressive? Sure, I grant that the Brits are probably
much better informed about protection but, still, Khun
Sanitsuda and the Bunkum Post are absolutely NUTS.
Here's the most relevant paper on the subject I found on
the net. It quotes the official figure of 56,369 for
abortions of all types in 1996 and reports 45,990 cases from
the authors' own survey in 1999. While those numbers are
almost certainly underreported, they are likely to be
much closer to the actual counts than anything dreamed up by Khun Sanitsuda.
To be fair, the 300,000 figure did indeed show up in the
report, but it is for the year 1991 and is one
of those unsupported guesstimates. I strongly believe it is
overstated and, in any case, Thailand's induced abortion
rate appears to have been falling substantially in recent
years following the global trend as women's contraceptive needs are
increasingly being met.
[HANG IN THERE, JUST ONE MORE UNBELIEVABLY STUPID GUFF.]
Twelve percent died as a result of
It is natural that the death of Baby Apec has stirred moral
indignation. But it escapes me how we can allow 36,000
women -- yes, 36,000 -- a year to die without doing
anything to prevent it. [emphasis added]
It is natural that you make yet another glaring error, Khun
Sanitsuda, but it escapes me how your editor... No, no
surprise there, either. This is the Bunkum Post
we're talking about.
Most sane people, however, would see right away that it's simply not
possible for so many as 36,000 Thai women -- oh no, not 36,000 --
to die each year because of unsafe abortions.
Here's another simple calculation the Post editors
are incapable of. Thailand's crude death rate is
6.86/1,000 population, which means every year there are
about 6.86/1,000 x 60 million = 411,600 deaths in Thailand.
Since 36,000 is roughly 9% of 411,600, Khun Sanitsuda is
effectively saying that 9 out of a hundred deaths in
Thailand are caused by unsafe abortions!
And even that would still be understating abortion's
deadliness, if the 36,000 figure were correct. Nature being
unfair, only females can get pregnant and hence only they
can die from abortions. Thus that means, according to Khun
Sanitsuda, unsafe abortions cause more than 18% of
Thailand's female deaths or one out of five! ("More than"
because annual deaths aren't split evenly between males and
females -- the rate being
significantly lower for the latter.)
Are you still following, Mr. Post staffer?
Let me emphasize, Khun Sanitsuda in effect wants us to
believe that at least one out of five Thai women dies of unsafe
abortion. That's just INSANE. "The
Newspaper You Can Trust", my foot!
Here's another approach toward the same conclusion: Take
Khun Sanitsuda's 36,000 figure for unsafe abortion deaths
and, without even adding all sorts of other
pregnancy-related deaths (which would be dwarfed by the
36,000, anyway), compute the
Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) for Thailand. As our live
births are about one million per year, the Sanitsuda-based
MMR would be 3,600 (per 100,000 live births). That is
about 88 times as large as the Malaysian figure (41), 38
times the Vietnamese one (95) and twice the world's (second)
worst (1,800; Sierra Leone). Yeah, Thailand's finally No. 1!
In mothers' deaths!
And now one last angle: the WHO estimates
worldwide deaths annually from unsafe abortions. Is Khun Sanitsuda suggesting that Thai women make up more than half
of that? What are we, the world's
One word: MAD
[AND, YEP, THAT'S ALL OF THE PREPOSTEROUS ERRORS.]
There are three figures in the article and all of them are
fantastically erroneous. How did Khun Sanitsuda and the
Bunkum Post manage that?
A Post staffer once told me most blogs are
If that were indeed the case, then the Bunkum
Post should start a blog for it would fit right in.
That is, however, NOT the case and the Post would
stink as a blog, just as it now stinks as a newspaper.
And all this, mind you, is just about the "factual" part of
op-ed. I haven't yet gotten to its arguments,
which happen to be exceedingly imbecile, too.
never will. So much nonsense to counter, so little time.
update According to the Population Council's answer to my inquiry, the 70% figure is from a study of two villages in Central Thailand and is a life-time estimate. Now the life-time possibility of males in my family experiencing hair loss problems is probably 100%, but that's light-years away from saying 100% have experienced hair losses already. (I know I haven't. Knock on wood.) Now imagine leaping from that to the conclusion that 100% of Thai males are battling hair loss right now...
Sunday, November 02, 2003
Dem-agogues will be Dem-agogues
see this coming or what? [from the
Mr Jurin doubted the government's claim the
United Nations had requested military assistance in
Claim? I wonder what Jurin and the story's reporters
think of the claim that the earth is round.
B is for
BEETHOVEN, BOLERO and BSO (all in one setting!)
A typical Bunkum Post editorial
Iraq is in bad need of a lasting peace
Aren't we all? The question is how to achieve that.
Extract: [print edition only]
The attack on the headquarters of the International
Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad sent a chill right
around the world. Was it the US-led war on Iraq that brought
us to this?
Yes, we're in this predicament because of the war and we
waged the war because Saddam had proved himself capable and
willing to inflict much worse devastations upon humanity,
not least of all the Iraqi people. Your point is?
Is it time to initiate a political process with peace as its
A political process? Like a cease-fire negotiation
with Saddam, Bathist remnants and foreign jihadis? Well, I
guess we'll have to
nail, um, bring them to
the negotiating table first, and then I'm sure any processes
will proceed smoothly.
Yada yada yada
France, a staunch opponent of the war, has a
point when it stresses the need to restore sovereignty to
the Iraqi people as soon as possible and with its calls for
a political process towards this end. With Iraq still
reeling, and its people's nerves badly on edge after 23
years of war and uncertain survival, it is time to start
talking with all the immediate protagonists, non-partisans
and regional states involved under the chairmanship of a
country free of vested interest.
Thailand must follow the political and
security developments in Iraq because the country has
committed 443 men and women to helping rebuild that nation.
Though the contingent based in Karbala, 100km southwest
of Baghdad, is safe for the time being, its members must be
brought home at the first indication that this is no longer
the case. [emphasis added]
What the..? Where's this coming from? How is withdrawing
stabilizing forces in face danger and chaos going to
contribute to "lasting peace" in anyway?
Oh, I see. The Bunkum Post editors are once again
showing off their uncanny ability to conclude even the most
incoherent, all-over-the place commentary with an outright non
Friday, October 24, 2003
Off to a foreign country
Bon weekend, everyone. See you next Friday. No boxing
matches while I'm away, okay?
Yet another incidental, isolated case
A lot of
comments there two posts below. I have no idea how to
start responding (and I've tried) and so I won't. The blog,
though, must go on.
The Bunkum Post
is at it again: [From an
editorial titled "Is it hubris that defines Thaksin?"]
Mr Thaksin propagates the line that any
criticism of him is unpatriotic, and any dissent to his
views undermines the national interest.
I challenge you, the Bunkum Post, to cite a single
instance of Thaksin's propagating such a "line".
I can, however, point to countless cases in which the Post
manipulated quotes and distorted facts in order to paint a
despotic picture of the PM. The above is one and there are
more in the immediately preceding paragraph:
Mr Thaksin arrested dissidents who picketed
the Burmese embassy last month, praised the Rangoon military
junta for positive steps towards democracy even though it
continues to hold Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest,...
The praise came not from Thaksin, but the
ASEAN as a whole.
How can the Thai PM be singled out and blamed for the
spinelessness of an organization whose willingness to uphold
the "non-interference" principle at any cost long preceded
him? Is Thaksin now so domineering on the ASEAN stage that "L'ASEAN,
c'est Thaksin"? (Ooh, his dictatorship isn't just
domestic, but regional!) And even supposing that,
wouldn't this craven appeasement of the Burmese junta
reflect just the opposite of "hubris", which the Post
accuses Thaksin of?
If you were smarter (and more logical), the Bunkum Post,
you would leave that whole Burma bit out of this "hubris"
piece, wait a few of days and then turn around to attack
Thaksin for being soft on our western neighbor.
Be careful, though, when debating Burma policies. Some
blogger with good memory may point out that the last time
Thaksin took a tough stance against the Burmese, the Post's
beloved Mr. Chuan seemed even more
indignant than the junta itself ("they have honor and
... attempted to ban all protests during the
Aww, not this canard again! But, ah, it's a little different
this time. Thaksin didn't "ban" protests, he merely
"attempted" to do so. What kind of dictator can't even
affect a "protest ban" (which incidentally had already been
lavishly reported by numerous Post stories)? Perhaps
Mr. Chuan's "honor and dignity" folk can teach him a thing
For now, though, there's no ban -- not even an attempted one
-- just an
appeal by Thaksin for people not to protest during that
one APEC week (which the Post itself happens to echo,
albeit with its familiar spin). Does that impinge on free
speech? I don't think so, as people could and did go ahead
with their demonstrations. But if you think it does, do
answer this: Who are all those protests are aimed at?
The editorial doesn't say, but given that the subject matter
is Thaksin's intolerance, it certainly appears as though the
PM wants to gag his critics during his showcase event. That,
however, can't be further from the truth. The protests are
aimed first and foremost at America and its president.
Particularly, the protesters originally planned a big rally
at the World Trade Center, just
across the street from the Grand Hyatt Erawan, where
President Bush was staying. That wouldn't have been a way to
treat a royal guest (Bush was officially invited for an
audience with the King) and, more importantly still, the
gathering would've posed an enormous security risk.
And when all is said and done, demonstrations did take place
-- not at the WTC, but in other places including the
National Police Headquarters -- and with absolute impunity.
I wonder if the Post editors are disappointed. Why
can't Thaksin be a bit more despotic!?
... banned reporters from asking him
questions on politics and NGO protests
Yet another ban! And this time he succeeded! Think about it,
a ban on questions! What is it, a year term for each
question asked? Apparently, you can scream Thaksin is a US
lackey but you can't ask him how he feels.
That's quite strange, to say the least. So let's take a look
at how the PM actually
issued this ban: [Notice how the Post calls
(virtually all anti-US) protesters "democracy
activists". There are many other problems with this story,
but I don't have time for them.]
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has forbidden the media
from asking questions about politics and the entry ban on
foreign NGOs until after the Apec summit.
"Can we agree that from Monday, Oct 13, you will be
forbidden from asking about politics or the NGOs?"
Hmmmm, is that a "ban"? If so, it's a rather uncommon sort.
Why seek agreement from those will be "forbidden" from doing
something? What if the reporters say, "No deal"? Is
something lost in the translation?
find out: [from Matchon]
หากไม่ถูกก็เชิญให้ย้ายที่ แต่อย่าไปสนใจ อย่าให้ความสำคัญ
ถามแต่เรื่องสร้างสรรค์ได้ไหม เรื่องปรับ ครม.ก็ถามวันที่ 23
Aha! While "ห้าม" does normally mean "forbid" or
"forbidden", that interpretation is very much belied by
"นี่เราตกลงกันได้หรือไม่" ("Can we make a deal"). Rather,
the most accurate translation of this remark (according to
meaning instead of letter) would be, "Can we make a deal
that from Monday, October 13, you won't ask [me] about
politics and NGOs". A minor discrepancy perhaps, but it does
make the "ban" talk that so much more far-fetched.
And we haven't even gotten to the context: [translated from
the above citation]
Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin said that Thai demonstrators are asked
to protest at the right place at the right time; if not [at
the right place] then please move; but don't pay attention
to them, don't give them significance, don't give them so
much price [weight]; the price [significance] is Thailand
which the government will today build into a Thailand that
is reputable; don't give significance to these trivial
"Write about other things. I've said a lot today. Why write
about such crazy stuff? To write these things are a waste of
time. Can we make a deal that from Monday, October 13, you
won't ask [me] about politics and NGOs? Can you ask only
constructive things? About the cabinet reshuffle, [you can]
ask on October 23."
Rather irritable there, isn't he? Right before the most
high-profile political gathering Thailand has ever hosted,
the man is clearly under enormous strain and instead of
cutting him some slack the Bunkum Post distorted one
exasperated remark into a "ban", which, according to my
dictionary, means "legal prohibition : official interdict".
Gee, you are really running out of issues, aren't you?
[Continuing with the editorial]
...and accused his critics of harbouring personal jealousies
against him and damaging the national interest through their
criticisms at a time he is playing host to the Apec summit.
I'm not sure where this is coming from and after all we've
been through, I certainly wouldn't take it at face value.
But in the highly unlikely case that every word is true and
precise, BIG DEAL! This prime minister has been called "Hitler
sans mustache" by his critics, and the Bunkum Post
is faulting him for hitting back with
"jealousies" and "damaging national interest"? It truly
baffles me that you're so desperately in lack of ammunition
and yet keep attacking regardless.
Writing all this, I'm flabbergasted. It's all very
incredible -- and highly disturbing.
Let me end this post with a quote from someone who
thinks I'm obsessively attacking the Bangkok Post
in search of publicity:
The old rules still apply - by which I mean, write
unreasonable nonsense and expect a reaction. Not necessarily
from the victim concerned, but from readers, who find such
blatant unfairness objectionable. It offends our basic sense
, please see the