Nationalism and Right-wing Politics during the Thaksin years

Intimidation of BBC reporters - BBC, December 22, 2004
...The next thing I heard was them mentioning my name as a journalist who had done damage to national unity with my 'unpatriotic reports' on the [Tak Bai] incident.
'She has interviewed people whom she shouldn't have interviewed,' said one of the presenters, a freelancer who had hired airtime on a national radio channel which belongs to the Thai parliament.
I assume they were referring to my attempts to talk, not just to government officials and Buddhists, but to Muslims in the south, whom the authorities regard as being at the heart of the violence.
...But they did give their audience some information about my background, saying that after I had worked as a reporter in the country for some time, I 'fled the country', apparently for no particular reason.
They even mentioned, casually: 'Well, we do quite understand it really. Since she took the money from the outsiders she has to do it.'...
Then the presenters and the listeners who called into the programme discussed how to arrange a protest against any representative of the UN who would want to visit Thailand to investigate the incident.
The tone of the programme sounded very extreme. It reminded me of the atmosphere leading up to the massacre of student activists at Thammasat University in October 1976, when soldiers killed students whom they thought were a communist threat.
And, to my horror, the presenters also stated clearly to their listeners that I was in fact staying in the country "at this moment"'.
To me, that was a clear case of intimidation...

- December 9, 2004

It is election season and academic forums are keeping up the drumbeat against the government. The Bangkok Post even adds the controversial claim that the government executed 19 footballers. The Nation has a further article perhaps illustrating this trend--the police are prohibiting people from possessing video of the Tak Bai incident.

THAMMASAT FORUM: Government’s ‘reign of fear’ spreading: academics - The Nation, December 08 , 2004
...“Fear is no longer confined to vulnerable groups,” she said. “I asked a nurse about the symptoms of a patient who lost his leg in the Tak Bai crackdown. The nurse looked at me and asked in a cold voice, ‘Who are you?’”...

PM reviving culture of fear, warn critics - Kraisak: 19 youths `executed' in South - Bangkok Post, December 9, 2004
...Mr Kraisak said he was most disturbed to learn of the mass slaying of 19 young football players in Sabayoi district of Songkhla. The youths were allegedly blindfolded by ``state authorities'' who shot them in the heads execution style.
" This should not be happening,'' he told the seminar organised by the Peace News Centre, Thammasat University's Foundation for Study of Democracy and Development, and nine civic groups...

Police crackdown on ‘illegal’ Tak Bai VCD - The Nation, December 9, 2004
...Piya Partha-silpine, district chief of Tak Bai, said individuals who possess or distribute VCDs of the crackdown on October 26, which ended in the death of at least 85 unarmed demonstrators, would be considered to have broken the law...
Piya did not elaborate on why it is declaring the Tak Bai VCDs illegal six weeks after the event or on what legal grounds the authorities could prosecute those who possess copies...

Village Scouts gathering at Sanam Luang - November 28, 2004

Despite good intentions, scouts’ planned assembly sparks fears of a nationalist revival. Tens of thousands of village scouts are expected to converge on Bangkok’s Sanam Luang on Sunday to promote peace efforts in the deep South, said the public relations chief for the Village Scout Operation Centre...
It will be the biggest political gathering of the group since they were deployed in 1976 to help suppress pro-democracy students...

'Blood Siam' - November 1, 2004
Last week we mentioned right wing politics in Thai and today Wisarut describes a nationalistic site: Blood Siam is a site where some Thais released their frustration over the Tak Bai tragedy. They are have fed up with the media that shows sympathy toward Muslims while never showing any sympathy toward officers, students and judges who have been murdered by PULO and BRN. They contend senators, NGOs, and media like Matichon, the Nation Group, Naew Na and Thai Post have betrayed their motherland to such extend that sooner or later they will follow those dead Muslims to the crematoriums and graveyards.
(It is a GeoCities site that is already making the rounds by email so it is often down when the bandwidth is exceeded.)

Hidden in Thai: Nationalistic comments - October 28, 2004
Judging only from what is printed in English, the view about the Tak Bai deaths is one of outrage and solemn condemnation mixed with feelings that 'Thaksin is in trouble now.'
However, there is a long-standing nationalistic, rightist strain that goes through Thai political thought that is usually self-censored in English. The prevalence of this strain of thought would probably surprise foreigners who think all Thais are at heart, gentle leftists, and that hard right-wing leanings are confined to military men.
The troubles in the South have brought out hard-line feelings and it would be a mistake to think (as some English-language publications contend) that P.M. Thaksin stands alone in pushing a tough attitude toward Muslim 'troublemakers.'
Wisarut adds: Some people's response to the headlines printed in local newspapers (here, here, and here) are much harsher than responses to foreign corespondents since such opinions would offend human right activists. You can see such responses at Manager Online as well as and Nobody would dare to translate local Thai's reactions which will would offend the human right activists as well as those NGOs [making Thailand look bad]. Some even say, "we should never pay taxes to feed those ingrate Senators who become a bunch of traitors by acting like human right activists!"

While the government is known to have people mass post on opinion boards to sway public opinion, this tough talk in defense of national pride and the desire to harshly stamp out that which threatens the nation is likely a genuine sentiment.
Also: Interesting thread touching on this subject: "Jai Dee is for us only."

'Down With Pax Americana, Long Live Thailand!' - October 29, 2004
Some anti-American rhetoric on the Manager site.

On the forum: In support of the government action
If you do not read Thai, you probably are not aware of the strong nationalistic mutterings in support of tough action against Muslim separatists.

(Source: Channel 9, MCOT)
This entry was posted in High Tension in Thailand 2004-2008. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.