Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thai Academics Eating Their Own: Pro-Democracy Jaran Dithapichai Attacks Junta Supporter Thirayuth Boonmi

Thirayuth backs dictators: NHRC's Jaran

Student leader turned academic Thirayuth Boonmi no longer speaks on behalf of democracy, National Human Rights Commissioner Jaran Dithapichai says.

"He is no longer in the pro-democracy camp but on the opposite side," Jaran told The Nation yesterday.

Jaran and Thirayuth - now a lecturer at Thammasat University - were members of the 1973 pro-democracy movement that led to the end of the Thanom Kittikachorn government. They were among those who fled into the jungle and fought with the Communist Party of Thailand.

Thirayuth is now a "supporter of the new dictatorial regime", Jaran said.

"He's essentially trying to tell society the junta is not dictatorial enough. I'm very disappointed.

"Although he was right when it came to criticism of the [Thaksin Shinawatra] government, his stance and aim is now to support the military order," Jaran said.

"He has changed. And, not only that, he has shifted into the camp opposite the people's democratic force," he added.

The commissioner said Thirayuth's alleged exit from the democracy movement had happened some time ago.

"Deep down these [intellectuals] are not pro-democracy. Most intellectuals do not believe in the democratic order. They believe in the individual. They believe the present regime is less evil than the Thaksin regime.

"Actually, the junta is worse. But, that's why they are calling for the current government to become more dictatorial and single-minded," he said.

Jaran also accused the media of siding with the junta, saying 70 per cent of the media supported the junta and the government it appointed.

"People who oppose the junta are branded either pro-Thaksin or accused of having stood by and done nothing while Thaksin was in power.

"Seventy per cent of the news media still criticises Thaksin to shore up the legitimacy of the
military dictatorship. [Journa-lists] dare not criticise the present order, or if they do they do so as supporters [of the junta]," he said.

"There are so many issues not being discussed by the media because it keeps dwelling on Thaksin."

Jaran said the pro-Thaksin PTV, or People's Television, should be allowed to broadcast.

It plans to go on air on Thursday despite government threats to take legal action against it.

"It has the right to communicate and interpret things as it sees them. This is a citizen's right. Nothing stopped community radio from broadcasting [in the past]," Jaran said.

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation

Wow. I am shocked that Jaran is going after one of his own. I agree with his assessment, however. Thirayuth and other Thai academics have whored themselves to the junta. And somebody should finally tell the truth: Most Thai academics are not democrats. They believe in preserving the anti-democratic social order because that protects their feudal privileges(feudal privileges in a modern context).

If people don't know Jaran, he is one of the few Thai intellectuals who consistently espouse liberal and constitutional means to deal with Thailand's political problems.

He has a long history of fighting for civil rights and civil liberties.


anon said...

Not surprising. The former Communists were split in two during the Thaksin years. Some of them saw populist Thaksinomics as a way of achieving their economic goals (rural empowerment, affordable healthcare, poverty reduction, etc.) without the hassle of starving on taro and sweet potatoes in the jungles. These guys were also frustrated with the coup because of you-know-who's hand in it.

Others sold their communist economic ideals out long ago and view Thaksin as just the worst of a not-so-long line of corrupt elected officials, albeit one with an overwhelmingly popular mandate.

Anonymous said...

Read "Cleansing democracy of socialism," by Giles Ungpakorn for another perspective on things.

Bangkok Pundit said...

I meant to blog on this earlier today, but ran out of time. Chang Noi sums up Thirayuth to a tea:

"Thirayuth Boonmee was a leader of the student revolt against military dictatorship in October 1973. Now he has become a kind of lay abbot. He immerses himself in the texts and practices of modern Thai society and politics. He emerges from his ivory kuti once a year to preach a sermon guiding his followers through the world of political illusions in search of a better future. Through the 1990s, he has been largely optimistic about the decline of the military, the growth of political activism, the reform of the constitution. His sermons say: get involved."