Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meanwhile, in the Far East

Bangkok Reporting

Our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan files this report on the latest news from Thailand:

Dear Baron,

It’s quiet down here. The temperature is cool. That might account for it. But the political temperature between Thailand and Cambodia is glacial at the moment.

You may recall Thailand and Cambodia have a longstanding border dispute. It dates back to the days when Cambodia was a French colony. French engineers mapped the border between Thailand and their colony, not surprisingly to their advantage.

Currently the problems are focused on the Preah Vihear Temple. This temple is located in Cambodia, but can only be accessed through Thailand.

We had some very minor border clashes, but nothing to worry about. Until, that is, our ousted Prime Minister Thaksin came into view again.

Thaksin was ousted in a bloodless coup a few years ago. He was convicted of fraud and tax evasion, and has to serve a jail sentence of two years. Of course this is a political trial, and naturally he shouts to anyone that he’s innocent.

The poor man wandered all alone over the globe. In his private jet plane, resting in five star plus resorts. After his Thai diplomatic passport was withdrawn he bought a new one, from Nicaragua.

Nice to see that friend of the people Daniel Ortega helps out a poor oppressed soul — if they pay his price. I sincerely hope Mr. Ortega will remember that Thais have memories like elephants. They’re not likely to forget who is a friend of their country and who is not.

Then all of a sudden Prime Minister Hun Sen from Cambodia announces he takes pity on poor old Thaksin, and will allow him to stay in Cambodia. This didn’t sit very well with the Thai government, understandably. But this gets even better. Thaksin is now an economic advisor to the Cambodian government.

Can you imagine George Bush becoming advisor to the government of Iran? Rather difficult.
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But this is exactly what’s happening over here. We don’t hear a lot about it, but you can rest assured that this does not exactly help to ease the tension between our two countries. Practically everything that can be put on hold is put on hold. For example, an international rail link connecting China, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and India needs a stretch of just six kilometers across the border.

It does not sit well at all with the average Thai. The newspaper abounds with letters that Thaksin committed high treason. Not by expats, but by Thais.

Thaksin said a lot of bad things about the present government. Until his defection? trip? to Cambodia, a lot of people stood behind him, as he does have a point. Right now, the “red shirts” (Thaksin supporters) are very red indeed. In the face. Thaksin lost what little credit he had left. Even among them.

Personally, I think the Abhisit government is doing pretty well. The political unrest last year threatened to divide the nation in two. By ably governing the country and letting bygones be bygones they solved that almost completely. Not a minor achievement by a government which was supposed to be caretaker only.

— H. Numan


TomV said...

So Cambodia is now to Thailand what Iran is to the US? Good lord.

To be honest, I do think that the Iranian threat to the US is overblown, but this isn't even close. Cambodia is more like Mexico, without mass immigration.

"Thais have memories like elephant"? And the basis for this remark would be? Well... Thailand, elephant, duh! The thing writes itself!

I myself will never forget the 2006 coup, its apologists, and the agitprop leading up to it. Most of my countrymen, the majority of which had their electoral wish subverted, will simply move on. Can't blame them. The truth is depressing.

As for letting bygones be bygones, that's rather easy to do when you're on the winning side of a coup and a show trial, isn't it? Maybe once Muslims have completely conquered Europe through sheer demographics, they'll be so magnanimous, too.

Cosmopolitanism was once an asset for the European peoples, but it became a liability somewhere in the middle of colonialism, if not from the very beginning. This should be very clear now that reverse colonialism is proceeding full speed ahead. And yet, what's the response from a correspondent of this blog, of all people? Move to another country and pontificate about what's good for its inhabitants.

Well, thanks. The Death of the West is tragic, but this sort of blind arrogance makes it seem less so.

PS Isn't Thaksin the PM who once caused a stir by sending in commandos during a anti-Thai riot in Cambodia? Why, yes it is! Apparently the Thais aren't the only ones with short memory, or who can let bygones be bygones.