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A Week in Review: November 20-26, 2010

There was both good news and bad news in Thailand last week. Can you guess which one tipped the balance? Find out here…

First, the good news. The process by which the National Anti-Corruption Committee works was improved last week. The NACC can now forward cases directly to courts instead of first having to send them to the Office of the Attorney General for approval after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to streamline the pursuit and prosecution of corruption in Thailand. As well as being more efficient, this new system also reduces the possibility for corruption in the fight to tackle corruption. It may be just one small step, but fingers crossed that it is the first of many on a long and winding road in the right direction.

OK, now for the bad news. A case that the NACC finally managed to have forwarded to the courts reached an unsatisfactory conclusion recently when politician Sanoh Thienthong, leader of the Pracharaj Party, was acquitted of profiteering from his role as former deputy interior minister by allegedly engineering the acquisition and sale of land bequeathed to a temple.

Sanoh’s case was dismissed not because his guilt had not been proven, and not even because there was the slightest hint that he may have been innocent, but rather because the statute of limitations had expired. As the offence took place 20 years ago, and the NACC had been in dispute with the Office of the Attorney General over whether or not to proceed with the case, the need for a streamlined process is clearly long overdue.

Thanks to a far freer press and a less tolerant public, British politicians find it much harder to get away with corruption or even lavish lifestyles. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has cancelled his family’s Christmas holiday to the Thai holiday island of Phuket for this very reason.

Spinning their wheel of phantasmagorical fortune, red shirt propagandists claimed the decision was a victory for their cause because it proved that the British PM did not support the human rights abuses of the Thai government’s ‘brutal regime’.

Conveniently, there was no mention of the intimidation, violence and human rights abuses caused by the red shirts over the last few years, nor of the thousands of extrajudicial killings that took place when their benefactor was in power.

Their bonfires were well and truly doused by the British PM’s proverbial urine when he confirmed that the change in his holiday plans was simply because he felt it would be inappropriate for him to take a lavish holiday when his government is cutting spending in the UK.

Also last week, the annual Thai tradition of amending the constitution almost had the reds and yellows protesting together last week until they realised that they might actually agree about something. In the end, only a low yellow shirt turnout gathered outside government house, while the reds stayed at home.

The red shirts chose instead to air their opinions through their political wing. Phuea Thai MPs Chalerm Yubamrung and Sunai Chulapongsathorn claimed that this year’s charter amendments were only being proposed by the current coalition government because they favoured the current coalition government. Instead, Phuea Thai wanted to see a return to the 1997 constitution, because that one rather favoured Phuea Thai.

However, the biggest story of the last couple of weeks didn’t concern politicians but actually took place in the real world. The discovery of over 2,000 aborted foetuses at a temple morgue in Bangkok led to a typical knee-jerk reaction with calls going out from the self-righteous to prosecute somebody – anybody, probably a poor person if possible.

Naked Farang would like to suggest that rather than searching for scapegoats, we use this tragic incident as a catalyst for progressive change. Instead of criminalising abortion and victimising the mostly young and gullible females who seek to end unwanted pregnancies, we would like to see meaningful steps taken to prevent or at least minimise the need for abortion in the first place.

As a first step, sex education should be compulsory in all schools, while non-judgemental counselling should be readily and freely available for both pregnant mothers and their parents. However, the point that everyone in Thailand seems to conveniently overlook is the role of the father in all of this.

Why has nobody ever proposed making fathers legally accountable for their children in Thailand? It’s a simple solution that at least would share the onus of supporting the child, and at best would make Thai boys think before they spread their seed – or Thai girls think before they spread their legs. This would severely reduce not only the number of abortions, but also the number of girls heading to Bangkok from Isaan to work in go-go bars.

Of course, what will happen is that the morally aloof will frown their self-righteous frowns; someone will be prosecuted; and everyone will forget about it in a couple of months after their statute of moral limitations has expired.

Paul Snowdon – November 27, 2010

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