Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Deconstructing Tulsathit Taptim: A Journalist Unworthy of the Title

A 'champion of democracy' worthy of the title

Tulsathit Taptim

The Nation

"She's 62 now. It feels strange, doesn't it, given that still-youthful image we have held since we last saw her?" a colleague of mine said of Aung San Suu Kyi the other day.

It was a statement that probably best sums up one woman's ideology, courage, endurance, patriotism - and the sad price of having all these qualities.

What does her looks have to do with the political ideology and character?

While the world was distracted by - and then busy with - Thaksin Shinawatra, the self-proclaimed "Aung San Suu Kyi of Thailand", the real heroine turned 62 yesterday. Global ceremonies and rituals are on a special scale, but they will pass. There are some gatherings, the usual calls for her release from house arrest and editorials condemning the Burmese junta, but she looked in her late 40s at best in the photos that the newspapers managed to find, and this says more than a thousand words.

Now that I have been outside of the country I really know what the world thinks of Thaksin: Nothing.

This is perhaps a time of great reflection for all democracy-loving people. We should define a "champion of democracy" by her example - a person of defiance, persecution and sacrifice. A victimised democratic leader is supposed to inspire, not divide.

What does Tulsie know about democracy? He is not a democracy loving person. He believes in illegally overthrowing the government when his personal enemies and political opponents are in power. And what do we know of Aung's democratic record? She has none. Her party was elected. The military nullified the election. She is now under house arrest. Ironically, Tulsie calls Aung a champion of democracy for being the victim of an illegitimate military junta, yet he backs a military junta when it comes to Thai politics.

He or she is supposed to strengthen our faith in genuine righteousness, not make us suspect that there is always a hidden agenda behind every act.

Where in the constitution does it say that politicians are responsible for "genuine righteousness."
The fact is the leaders are freely chosen representatives that serve our interests in government.
There are plenty of politicians on this planet who aren't moral giants.

Defeated as he or she may have been, we should want to continue her fight, to carry the torch.

Burma is Thailand's neighbor. It has had political problems for decades. When the hell has Tulsie ever stood for Burmese democracy or Aung's political legitimacy?

Suu Kyi doesn't make us lose trust in or give up on democracy. Through the silence emanating from her Rangoon house a unique communications line connects her to us because her ideology is so pure and strong that nothing can barricade it. We know that democracy is something she's ready to die for although she has never once said so. And through this connection "democracy" blossoms in our hearts.

What is up with these empty platitudes? Tulsie really is shameless. He should be more concerned with Thailand's junta and its crimes more than what is happening in Burma. If Tulsie really cared about democracy, he would be doing his duty as a journalist and giving us the facts. Instead, we have to hear his champion of democracy rubbish. He sounds like a tool.

What she stands for speaks for her, something no publicist could ever achieve. She has never used democracy as a shield; instead she has been trapped physically by her true love for it. The ideology has consumed her and taken away a large part of her normal adult life, but Suu Kyi has never once made us question its virtue.

More rubbish. More worthless flowery prose that says nothing. And what does Tulsie know of the virtues of democracy? He has never lived in a democracy. Aung never presided over a Burmese democracy.

A "democratic leader" is not supposed to look down on democracy's values, undermine its key principles and yet hide behind it or cling on to it when caught up in sin. He or she is not supposed to propagate the belief that corrupt politicians are the price that has to be paid in every democracy. And he or she is supposed to teach followers that no matter how huge an election victory is, or how big the voter turnout, there are many other things that are just as important if their democracy is to progress.

A journalist in a free society is not supposed to support an illegal military junta and the destruction of the constitution just because his political enemy is in office or because a politician is accused of corruption. A journalist is not supposed to pick and choose democratic principles whenever it it serves his own political agenda. A journalist is not supposed to be a military government's mouthpiece and unquestionably accept every verdict that comes from its hand picked courts when prosecuting its political enemies. A journalist with a just a sliver of professional integrity wouldn't condemn military juntas in neighboring countries yet welcome them with open arms in Thailand. A journalist is supposed to serve the truth and the free flow of information, so that citizens can make informed political decisions. But Tulsie doesn't seem to get that he has any responsibility at all. He seems to think he can keep producing these horrible columns without anybody calling him on his contradictions.

The world surely has not forgotten Suu Kyi, but it has kept one eye on someone far less genuine lately.

Nobody cares about Thaksin outside of Thailand.

Years and years under house arrest and she may not be aware of how much more compromised "democracy" has become outside of Burma. A popular democratically elected leader can invent a blatant tax-evasion scheme, stifle checks and balances, threaten free speech, ignore human rights, commit election fraud and still be considered acceptable.

Again, Tulsie thinks Thaksin's crimes are unacceptable, yet embraces a military dictatorship which is just as bad if not worse than Thaksin. Even if Thaksin is guilty of everything he is accused of, he could have been thrown out by elections or through the court system. The military is not accountable to anybody. And Tulsie has done nothing to make the military accountable.

He can take control of the armed forces, practice brazen nepotism and yet street protests against those ills can be deemed a "blow to democracy". He can initiate a fishy government loan deal with the Burmese junta, which would benefit his private business, and he can still compare himself to her.

Aung had no record. How could she be judged? She could have had a corrupt regime. The fact is that both Thaksin and Aung were illegally overthrown by military juntas. In that sense, they are both the same. But in Tulsie's mind, he believes one junta isn't justified and the other one is based solely on his personal politics.

Suu Kyi probably doesn't know how easy it is now for men like that to come to represent democracy and gain international sympathy in the event of a harsh downfall. As she is confined by her non-negotiable conscience to an endless term of house arrest, she may not realise that a new breed of "democratic leader" is running the show in many places on earth now. They are easy to find, and easy to love. And in today's world, supporting Suu Kyi and damning them may be deemed ironic, if not hypocritical.

The only hypocrite is Tulsie. To him, the word 'democracy" is nothing but a cute mantra to repeat over and over again. As a governing principle of society, he could care less about it.

How does her sweet and kind face look now?

Who cares what she looks like?

Though we so yearn to know, that could be secondary to another question: how would the state of the world's democracy look to her today if she had full access to everything going on? There's so much more we would like to learn from the Great Lady who, through her ongoing silent and peaceful political struggle, has taught us that the true spirit of democracy may exist in the strangest places.

If Burma was a democracy, nobody would care. It would be a struggling 3rd world country with little geo-political significance. Aung is a political icon only because she is a woman, a cause celebre and a Nobel Prize winner. Without those attributes, she probably would have ended up like Gloria Arroyo or Benazair Bhutto.


CTHAI said...

Another crisis...

Unknown said...

Interesting. computer virus ? Interesting euphemism for incompetence. These are the people who are proposing to build nuclear power stations. We should be frightened.

Anonymous said...

"Aung is a political icon only because she is a woman, a cause celebre and a Nobel Prize winner. Without those attributes, she probably would have ended up like Gloria Arroyo or Benazair Bhutto." - Fonzi

You must have misplaced your brains Fonzi at the place where you recently travelled. Or you are back into substance abuse. Or you are simply back to your moronic deconstructing irrelevance.

patiwat said...

Told you give Fonzi a rope he'd hang himself, a gun he'd shoot himself. Computer keyboard and whatever substance he's been using and you get the kind of comments he made about Aung San Su kyi. For all his anti-coup BS he just further mocked himself and whoever sponsoring this nonsense of a blog. Whoever paying Fonzi for this, contact me at the following address. I can do a better job with an eye closed!!!