log: politics:

Saprang to shoot “dog” with machine gun | 16.04.07

General Saprang Kalayanamitr is a well-accomplished man. Besides his day-to-day responsibilities as a Coup God, he is the head honcho of the shadowy Special Operations Center, the newly-appointed chairman of the board of three key SOEs, an indulging brother of Chianchuang Kalayanamitr, and a veritable hero to, um, himself. An overachiever that he is, however, he is already envisioning for himself another role that will eclipse all those that he’s taken on so far — the machine gunner of “dogs”.

From Thai Rath (cache), April 8, 2006 (see my note on translation):

บางครั้งอาจต้องใช้ปืนกลไล่ยิงหมา

เมื่อถามว่า กลุ่มคนวันเสาร์ยังล่ารายชื่อเพื่อถอดถอน พล.อ.เปรม ติณสูลานนท์ ประธานองคมนตรีและรัฐบุรุษ ทาง คมช.จะดำเนินการอย่างไร พล.อ.สพรั่งตอบว่า ในเบื้องต้น คมช.ไม่ได้ให้ความสนใจกับกลุ่มคนเหล่านี้มากนัก เหมือนกับหนามที่เกี่ยวขาก็เจ็บบ้างนิดๆ แต่บางสิ่งบางอย่าง ถ้าก้าวล่วงจาบจ้วงสถาบันต้องตบปากมัน อย่าจาบจ้วงถึงสถาบันเบื้องสูง แต่ถ้ามันด่าเราบ้างแล้วเราพอรับได้ ก็ไม่ต้องด่ารายวัน ถ้าด่าเราสิบวันแล้วเราเห็นว่าชักเหิมเกริม หลังๆเราดูแล้วว่าอย่าไปเสียเวลากับมันเลย หันมาทำงานด้านหลักๆดีกว่า

“ตอนนี้มันเริ่มเบนเป้าไปยังสถาบันสูงสุดที่เราเคารพ จึงต้องงัดมาตรการเครื่องไม้เครื่องมือที่สำคัญมาจัดการ บางครั้งอาจต้องใช้ปืนกลยิงหมาตัวหนึ่ง ปกติเขาจะไม่ใช้กัน แต่บางครั้งมันจำเป็น เพราะถ้าเป็นหมาบ้าเดี๋ยวจะไปกัดคนอื่นเขาเดือดร้อน จึงจำเป็นต้องใช้อาวุธที่ร้ายแรงเด็ดขาด ที่พูดนี่เป็นการยกตัวอย่างให้ฟังเท่านั้น เพราะต่อไปข้างหน้าเราไม่รู้ว่าจะมีอะไรเกิดขึ้น แต่เราก็ไม่ได้บุ่มบ่ามต้องดูเขาว่าจะทำอะไร เราก็ต้องเด็ดขาดเช่นกัน เพื่อให้ประชาชนเชื่อว่า ธรรมะชนะอธรรม” พล.อ.สพรั่งกล่าว

Sometimes necessary to use a machine gun to kill a dog

When asked what action the CNS will take against the Saturday Group, which is still gathering signatures to remove Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council and statesman, from his post, Gen. Saprang replied that in the beginning the CNS didn’t pay much attention to this group of people, [who are] like a thorn that occasionally snags one’s leg and causes slight pain , but something […] if they affront the [royal] institution then [we] have to slap their mouths; don’t insult the high institution; if they bad-mouth us, we can more or less take it [but] don’t bad-mouth us everyday; if they bad-mouth us for ten days, we will notice that they’re getting cocky; [but] most recently we judge better not to waste time with that, better to [re]turn to the main areas of [our] work .

“[But] now they start to shift target to the highest institution that we respect, so [we] have to dig out our important [potent] tools. Sometimes it may be necessary to use a machine gun to kill* a dog. Normally they don’t do this, but sometimes it’s necessary because if it’s a mad dog, it may bite other people [and] cause them trouble. So it’s necessary to use decisive heavy weapons. [I] say this just as an example [metaphor], because we don’t know what will happen in the days to come. We are not rash; [we] have to see what they are doing [but] we have to act decisively, too, so that people believe that good prevails over evil.

[* Gen Saprang’s original Thai word is “ยิง,” which means “to shoot” but the action he meant is clearly “to shoot and kill”. “Kill” sounds more natural in the English translation, just as “shoot” does in the Thai original.]

You may remember that this coup was staged, among other things, in the name of human rights. Of course there’s no contradiction there. “Dogs” are not humans!

การพูดทำให้คนฆ่ากันมาเยอะแล้ว

เมื่อถามว่า สถานการณ์ในขณะนี้ความรุนแรงจะเกิดขึ้นหรือไม่ พล.อ.สพรั่งตอบว่า สงครามบางครั้งวาจาฆ่าคนตายได้ เพราะการพูดก่อให้เกิดการฆ่ากันมาเยอะ ดังนั้น เหตุการณ์จะรุนแรงหรือใหญ่โตหรือไม่ขึ้นอยู่กับปากของคนเลว ที่ไม่รู้จักบันยะบันยัง เริ่มเหิมเกริม หากถามว่าจะรุนแรงหรือไม่ แน่นอนต้องตอบโต้รุนแรง แต่ความรุนแรงขึ้นอยู่กับเหตุที่ก่อให้เกิด ดังนั้นเราต้องตอบโต้รุนแรง หากจะมาถามว่าปัญหาเศรษฐกิจจะรุนแรงหรือไม่ตนไม่รู้ ต้องไปถามผู้เชี่ยวชาญเอา

[Loose] talk has caused people to kill

When asked whether violence will erupt from the present situation, Gen. Saprang replied that war […] sometimes words can kill, because [loose] talk has caused lots of killings; whether events will turn violent or dire depends on the mouth of the scoundrel that doesn’t know restraint; if [you] ask whether this will be violent, of course [our] response will be violent, but violence is based on the cause of it, therefore we have to respond violently [severely]; if you ask whether economic problems will be severe, I don’t know; [you] have to go ask the experts.

Well, this non-expert believes that if Gen. Saprang’s violent response to the “dogs” managed to turn Thailand into an international pariah à la Myanmar, then the Coup Gods’ policies of “sufficiency economy” will be greatly advanced. Just to be sure, though, the general should consult his brother — the pro-Prachai Leophairatana anti-economic reforms (which include, naturally, the Bankruptcy Act) Stern Stewart MD who recently scored a major, shall we say, public relations contract.

PS Long, silly quotes like this is the reason Thai-language newspapers are absolutely essential to understanding Thailand. Journalism in Thailand is so awful that you can only aim to take in as much raw information (that is to say, quotations) as possible and do all the thinking and fact-checking yourself. As horrible as the Nation and the Bangkok Post are in the practice of Who-Says-What stenography, they’re still far too selective.

22:50 ▪ politics ▪ ▪ #

National Human Rights Commission | 28.03.07

The National Human Rights Commission is one institution that has not only survived the coup, but whose staff has also been untouched by the Coup Gods’ relentless purge. This no doubt would be taken by those in the propaganda business, both producers and consumers, as further evidence of the Coup Gods’ commitment to human rights, democracy, check & balance, and all the other good things in life. (Of course, they would have to forget momentarily that deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is supposed to have subverted all government institutions and stuffed them with his “cronies”, which was the justification for the purge to begin with. But that should be easy enough for such well-trained practitioners of doublethink.)

Anyway, what does the NHRC concern itself with these days now that the abuser in chief is gone and the country is humanely governed by a military junta?

Why, the problems in the South, of course. Note of the plural. This isn’t just about the daily murders and arsons, said the NHRC, but a whole host of larger problems. In a press conference on February 21, after dutifully commending the coup-installed prime minister, General Surayuth Chulanont, for the “courage” he displayed by apologizing on behalf of the previous government (as opposed to the military that put him in power), the NHRC pointed the way forward:

คณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ อยากให้รัฐบาลแก้ปัญหาภาคใต้รอบด้านมากกว่าที่เป็นอยู่ คือ นอกจากเรื่องความรุนแรง รัฐบาลควรมองปัญหาภาคใต้ในมุมประชาชนส่วนใหญ่ ประกาศนโยบายให้ชัดเจนในการแก้ปัญหาให้คนส่วนใหญ่ เช่น ชาวประมงที่ได้รับผลกระทบจากเรือลากอวน เพื่อขจัดความไม่เป็นธรรม เพราะคนภาคใต้รู้สึกไม่ได้รับความเป็นธรรมมาตลอด ความร่วมมือกับรัฐบาลจึงไม่มี รัฐบาลต้องเริ่มต้นประกาศแก้ปัญหาออกมาให้ชัดเจน ในมิติความรุนแรงแง่เศรษฐกิจ สังคม วัฒนธรรม นอกเหนือจากการขอโทษ

The National Human Rights Commission wants the government to solve the Southern problems in a more holistic fashion. That is to say, besides violence, the government should look at Southern problems through the eyes of the majority [The commission is talking here about the majority of locals rather than citizens at large — its dubious assumption being that local violence is less pressing a problem for locals! – ed.]. [It should] announce clear policies to solve problems for the majority, for example fishermen who face a negative impact from trawlers, to eradicate injustice. Because Southerners have always felt that they receive no justice, so there’s no cooperation with the government. The government must start clearly addressing problems in the matrix of economic, social, cultural violence.

Of all the available villains — Big Oil, free trade, the USA, and global warming, to name just several standard ones — they chose to highlight trawling. This isn’t just a laughably limited issue (remember “majority”?), but also one in which our Southern fishermen are well known not as victims, but aggressors!

The commission redeemed itself somewhat by talking about the more comprehensible “matrix of economic, social, cultural violence” (presumably linguistic violence, which the government has started cracking down on, is included in the last vector.) But still, The NHRC could have saved itself much trouble simply by sticking with the familiar NGO refrains, as Chairman Saneh Chamarik’s message did in his message on the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2005 (in original English):

Individualism and liberalism, together with property rights, once historically, very well did serve as a means to promoting and protecting human rights. But it all now turns against them. And that makes human rights, as social learning process, a good deal more complicated and somewhat beyond understanding for common people. For all the material prosperity and consumerism coming along with globalization and economic growth so-called, human predicaments keep worsening. Unbridled individualism and free market ideology, as supreme and exclusive virtue of contemporary capitalism equipped with technological superiority, turn humankind into mutual distrust, intolerance and discrimination. Hence mutual destruction becomes the norm of the day! One cannot but help suspect that there is a certain inter-relatedness and interaction between current globalization and the phenomenon of terrorism. And each obviously works against human rights and dignity.

Now that’s more like a list of “root causes”. Individualism, check. Liberalism, check. Prosperity, consumerism, and economic growth — check, check, and check! Globalization as the equally evil twin of terrorism, emphatic CHECK!

Don’t you think, however, that Chairman Saneh is just a mindless parrot. For one thing, he deserves credit here for driving home what others only dare imply — that human rights are “complicated” and “beyond understanding for common people”. Yes, we simple souls need constantly to be reminded of our right to be lorded over by our betters. O, Comrade Sangharaja, I bow to thee.

His Righteousness also made clear that the secular faith brooks no separation between church and state, between the personal and the political, or between merely meddlesome activism and unapologetic power grab. It’s all so very… holistic.

The two set of human rights, civil and political liberties and economic, social, and cultural rights, come to be increasingly and holistically integrated. On top of traditional individualism, various forms of collective rights come to be increasingly exerted: minority culture, indigenous peoples and communities, and what not [sic]. New areas of human rights also come within the purview of those peoples and communities concerned: ecosystem, natural resources, traditional knowledge and wisdom for instance [Don’t forget reality TV, – ed.]. All this extension and proliferation of human rights is the new phenomenon.

Totalitarian, elitist, pro-coup, and anti-Thaksin. The question here isn’t why the Coup Gods didn’t disband the NHRC, but why it didn’t give it more power.

(Answer: there are too many totalitarian, elitist and pro-coup and anti-Thaksin operatives out there whose impacts are far greater. Those need to be rewarded first.)

13:29 ▪ politics ▪ ▪ #

There’s “pro-democracy”… | 18.03.07

And there’s pro-democracy.

The Thai media is so rotten that when reading the “pro-democracy” description, one has to ask whether it means pro-coup or anti-coup, junta-hugging or junta-hating.

Anyway, here’s an anti-coup, junta-hating kind of pro-democracy protest:

Anti-coup groups staged a rally at Sanam Luang yesterday to renew their attacks against the Sept 19 coup and vowed to continue their protest today outside the residence of Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda. Statesman Gen Prem is among the key figures targeted by pro-democracy groups.

They allege he played an active role in opposing deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and was influential in securing the appointment of current Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.

21:37 ▪ politics, media ▪ ▪ #

Tax return | 16.03.07

Today, four days after filing my tax over the internet, I received a check from the Revenue Department.

Thaksin haters have been blaming everything from the shortage of toilets at Suvarnabhumi Airport to the lack of tsunami warnings on the deposed prime minister, but who do we credit for something like this?

21:00 ▪ politics ▪ ▪ #

Thailand’s Strategy toward the Muslim… | 5.03.07

An item in the February 20 cabinet resolution:

การใช้ถ้อยคำต่าง ๆ ในภาพรวม ควรปรับปรุงให้สื่อความหมายในเชิงบวก โดยหลีกเลี่ยงข้อความเชิงลบหรือปฏิเสธ เช่น ข้อความในบทนำที่กล่าวถึงอารยธรรมตะวันตก ข้อความในยุทธศาสตร์ด้านการเมืองที่ใช้คำว่า”…เพื่อป้องกันไม่ให้ปัญหาจังหวัดชายแดน…” และข้อความในยุทธศาสตร์ด้านสังคมที่ใช้คำว่า “…ที่ไม่มีปัจจัยด้านเชื้อชาติ…” เป็นต้น รวมทั้งให้เปลี่ยนถ้อยคำใหม่ให้เหมาะสมถูกต้อง ดังนี้ คำเดิม “โลกมุสลิม” เปลี่ยนเป็น “ประชาคมมุสลิม” คำเดิม “เขตเศรษฐกิจพิเศษ” เปลี่ยนเป็น “เขตพัฒนาพิเศษเฉพาะกิจ” และคำเดิม”ประเทศอิสลาม” เปลี่ยนเป็น “ประเทศมุสลิม”

Words and expressions in general should be improved to convey a positive meaning by avoiding negative message or negation, for example the text in a preamble that mentions Western civilization, the text in political strategy [policy papers] that uses the phrase “in order to prevent problems in southern border provinces”, and the text in social strategy [policy papers] that uses the phrase “without ethnic factors”. [It is unclear whether these are examples of what to do or what not to do.] In addition, the following words and phrases should be substituted in order to be more appropriate and accurate. “Muslim world” should be substituted with “Muslim community”, “special economic zone” with “special ad hoc development zone” and “Islamic country” with “Muslim country”.

Cosmetic though it is, this new “strategy” will take some getting used to. The title of this very bulletin, for starters, is “Thaliand’s Strategy toward the Muslim World” (ยุทธศาสตร์ไทยต่อโลกมุสลิม). Besides, the OIC and its member states are probably wondering what’s wrong with describing a country as “Islamic” (see especially the charter’s second paragraph — “REFERING…”).

15:04 ▪ politics, language ▪ ▪ #

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