Saturday, January 27, 2007

Kulkumut Singhara Na Ayudhaya jumped the shark

Foreign affairs: friendship and challenges

Last year was an extraordinary one for Thai people as we celebrated the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty the King's Accession to the Throne as well as a pivotal point in Thai politics as our political gridlock was untangled.

During Thailand's prosperous times, our foreign friends rejoice. Through our challenging moments, many show their goodwill and understanding, while others merely point their fingers and preach.


When things are going marginally well, you leave use alone. When we are going through periods of self-destruction, you complain. And why should you farang complain? Tsunamis, floods, terrorism, coups, corruption, and a military dictatorship. Why can't you farang keep your heads buried in the sand like we do when we are destroying ourselves?

Let me begin with the memory of the grave losses we all suffered when the tsunami swept across the Indian Ocean two years ago.

No one can deny that all Thai people extended their hearts and hospitality to help those affected, regardless of nationality or religion. The Thai government not only promptly accommodated our friends' requests, but also went all out to facilitate foreign rescue efforts doing all we could from providing surveillance helicopter around the clock, to expediting the opening of foreign consulate offices in Phuket within a few days in order to send our friends and their love ones home. The Thai people have shown their goodwill and sincerity, and yet our benevolence has been looked upon with suspicion by those we helped. It would be such a pity if we were to let our good deeds be marred or diluted by these doubts. In any case, after meticulous investigations conducted by the Thai police, I hope all misunderstandings and mishandled claims will be cleared up in due course so that we are able to regain the confidence of our foreign friends.


During the Tsunami, thousands of farang died on our beaches. Because a few Thais gave farang drinking water and charged them a 400% markup, that demonstrates Thailand's famous hospitality. And our taxi drivers aka Phuket mafia made sure farang over paid for their transportation on the way back to the airport, because ripping off farang is part of Thai hospitality. You think those fake smiles are for free baby?

But when you farang complain that we stole millions of dollars in Tsunami relief funds we don't like that. We gave you our famous Thai hospitality, indeed. We ripped you off. And even though it is two years later, we continue to botch repatriating the missing bodies. How dare you farang complain about the sincerity of us Thais, especially when we have the Thai police investigating matter?

Speaking of confidence, from my encounters with those in the European private sector both in Thailand and abroad, I have come to learn that they have much confidence in Thailand's strong economic fundamentals and continued progress in our political reform process.

After September 19, it is time to move forward toward a strengthened Thai democracy. Some high business representatives from European countries even offered to convey their direct experiences and opinions to their governments about the political situation in Thailand, to let them know that ours was not just another "textbook" coup d'etat and, therefore, cannot be measured by any benchmark set by foreign governments. It is ironic that the duty has fallen to foreign businesspeople, rather than their embassies in Bangkok, to provide an accurate account about Thailand to their governments.

I also appreciate the efforts of many European representatives who have taken a positive stand on Thailand's issues during European Union consultations when others have been persistently opposed for one reason or another. Time will prove that Thailand is in good hands and on its way to a full-fledged democracy. Elections are expected before the end of this year.


European businessmen are not going to complain about what is happening in Thailand, because they don't to want to face the backlash that Singapore in facing right now, so it is better to keep their mouths shut. Europeans are actually worried about Thailand's economic fundamentals, but it is better they shut up and quietly pull out their investments.

As for the coup and military dictatorship, our European business friends have taken it upon themselves to convey to their government the reality of Thai politics. It is unfortunate, however, that the European embassies are telling the truth to their home governments.

Even though it wasn't a "text book" coup for other countries, it was a text book coup for Thailand. Therefore, this coup must be measured by only one standard, and that is the Thai standard. We Thais have had 17 coups and countless military dictatorships. We really don't have very high democratic standards, but we like to pretend that we do. It is our desire that the farang would help us keep up our charade.

I believe that Thailand is on the right track and many friends have made an effort to demonstrate their goodwill toward us, such as the recent visits made by three former US presidents and a Thai-style wedding ceremony by a high rank European official. Yet, I am saddened to learn that some foreign VIPs have been advised by their embassies in Bangkok to cancel personal trips to Thailand. Hopefully, positive indications of Thailand's political progress will convince these people to change their stance before long.


Though Thailand is falling apart in every way, we are happy that some foreign politicians are still coming to pay respect to King Bumibol, and to check out where the Tsunami funds have gone. It is not surprising many people are canceling their trips to Thailand, though. After all, we do have a civil war going on in the South, our streets are filled with garbage, the traffic is unbearable, our brand new airport is falling apart, and we have a military dictatorship that doesn't guarantee any civil liberties. Plus, they may be blown up in the middle of Bangkok. As you can see, there is nothing to worry about.

In 2007, Germany will assume the EU presidency for the first six months, followed by Portugal. Looking back to our respective histories, Germany and Thailand share some painful lessons that elections do not always lead to so-called "democracy" and, with support and understanding from friends and allies, one can bounce back and be stronger than before. Throughout Germany and Thailand's long lasting relations, Germany has proven to be our trustworthy European partner.

Therefore, I very much hope that under Germany's leadership, the relationship between Thailand and the EU relationships will be more constructive than in the past.


Germany was once a fascist state, so we hope that you fucking Nazis give us Thais a break. Don't be hypocrites and criticize us. Please don't complain about our fascist government or how we rip off businessmen or tourists or how we have a corrupt, bungling military dictatorship. Thaksin may have been good for business, but he was no Nazi. Now that Thailand is run by a fascist military dictatorship, we Nazis have to stick together.

Kulkumut Singhara Na Ayudhya is the director-general of the Foreign Ministry's European Affairs Department. The views expressed in this article are personal and do not reflect the official position of the Royal Thai Government.

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