Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thai military threatens private citizen; no comment from the government

Bangkok Post
Top brass warn off Manager founder

The military top brass have expressed dissatisfaction with Manager daily founder Sondhi Limthongkul for his persistent mentioning of His Majesty the King in his
campaign against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, saying their patience has
limits."One day when we can no longer tolerate this, we will have to do something. But I cannot yet tell what it is," Supreme Commander Gen Ruengroj Mahasaranont said yesterday.

Part of the problem with the lip service payed to the concept of democracy in Thailand is that no one in power seems to understand what it is. Imagine a comment such as the above being made by a military commander in a country where democracy is truly in effect. At the very least, there would be immediate censure; even more likely, they would be removed from their post. But here, nothing happens.

The foreign press is unlikely to pick this up, giving safe passage as they do to Thailand on most things. The foreign correspondents based here usually have a vested interest in maintaining their visa status (such as alcholism or a Thai girlfriend) and they manage this by being a lot less critical of the current administration than they would of politicians in their home countries. Just take a look at the resulting coverage in The Economist or the AP newswire service if you have any doubt.