Contact: Roland Watson, email@example.com
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE PEOPLE OF THAILAND
April 6, 2006
In the August 7, 2001 edition of the Bangkok Post, two days after Thailands
Constitutional Court absolved Thaksin Shinawatra of any wrongdoing in his assets
concealment case, in a letter to the editor, printed under the heading, A long
dictatorship is just beginning, I wrote:
I have thought of a hundred different things to say, but couldnt
come up with anything strong enough - so the following will have to do.
As a firm believer in karma, I hope the Thai people - the majority at least -
enjoy what they are about to get. The hard-fought reforms of the last few years
have been destroyed. You are faced with at least ten years of institutionalized
dictatorship by a criminal elite.
For those few who opposed the Thaksin travesty, although the future is bleak,
please continue your struggle for democracy and equality.
Today, I would like to congratulate the people of Thailand, and your system of
democracy. You proved me wrong. What I thought would take ten or more years, you
accomplished in less than five: the removal of a strongman, and wannabe
dictator. Well done!
Beware, though, because he has not yet formally left office. And even when he
has you should still be on your guard. Thaksin is a world class bastard. He has
lost an astronomical amount of face. Hell want revenge.
We have not heard the last from him. Dictators can come back. The struggle is
in no way complete.
What you should strive for now is justice for his victims, and relief for all
of the other consequences of his misrule. The first covers the individuals killed
at Tak Bai and Krue Sue, disappeared human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit,
and the victims of his drug war. Thaksins worst policies, including
his actions in the south, his support for the Burmese military junta, the destruction
of Koh Chang, etc., also must be reversed. Lastly, you should demand compensation:
you should work to recover all of the financial proceeds of his criminal activities,
including both the crimes such as the sale of Shin and the Alpine land
scandal that are well-documented, and those that have not yet been revealed.
What has happened over the last few months in Thailand is an extraordinary example
of how the last check in a democracy, the power of the people, can function when
all other safeguards have failed. It should be a model for everyone, but particularly
for the people of the Philippines, to reinvigorate their struggle against Arroyo;
for the people of China, who must never forget Tianamen Square and not stop pushing
for democracy until they too are free; and, more than anyone, to the people of
Burma, who are suffering the worst of all.
Burma, youre next!
Thailand proved that the tipping point can be reached, that it may in fact be
much closer than one thinks. Of course, change in Burma is more difficult, and
dangerous. But it is not impossible. The tipping point could be just around the
corner. It could even begin this month.