Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


April 6, 2006

Please forward.

In the August 7, 2001 edition of the Bangkok Post, two days after Thailand’s 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 couldn’t 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. He’ll 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.” Thaksin’s 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, you’re 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.