Friday, October 30, 2009

Decoration row makes no sense

(Click on picture to zoom in)

By Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation
Published on October 30, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

If you don't know what all this fuss about the royal decoration thing is about, you're in good company. What will the government accomplish from stripping Thaksin Shinawatra of his honours? Why now? And what's the point of Thaksin's hardcore sympathisers trying to oppose the move?

I absolutely have no idea.

Yes, the "Sweet Home Phnom Penh" episode may have embarrassed the Thai government, but if revoking Thaksin's royal decorations is supposed to be some kind of revenge, then it's a short-sighted one. Not only will the idea weaken Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's "reconciliation" agenda, it also just doesn't make any sense.

If he is making this move out of sheer legal conviction, then why did he wait for so long? If it was meant to assuage the embarrassment caused by Cambodia's asylum offer to Thaksin, then shouldn't Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, too, be targeted? After all, he was the messenger in this whole saga and should perhaps be shot first.

After hitting Thaksin with a coup, freezing his assets, dissolving his parties and getting the Criminal Court to declare him guilty, why is it necessary to "deepen" the national divide by removing his honours?

I put "deepen" in quotation marks because I don't get that side of things either. Of course, taking away the royal decorations is not the smartest thing, but why is it making Thaksin supporters so angry that one of them was heard saying that the possibility of a civil war is more real than ever before?

Again, after being ousted in a coup, hit by the freezing of his assets, the dissolution of his parties and a guilty verdict, how would the revocation of royal decorations hurt Thaksin or his followers? Though this question is not as mind-boggling as this one: why do his followers care so much about his royal decorations?

The pro-Thaksin movement - strongly represented by the Pheu Thai Party, which is making a lot of noise about the government's plan to strip Thaksin of his honours - has been campaigning against the elite, the ammart (high-ranking royal servants) and everything associated with political inequality those elements have allegedly generated.

Now aren't royal decorations a strong symbol of the elite or the ammart, the very things that the red-shirt hardliners have been fighting against?

Why would stripping Thaksin of such a symbol embarrass him? Shouldn't the red shirts instead be glad that their hero would now be "pure" and "equal"?

Some may argue that the proposed action signifies great contempt for his past services to the nation.

However, that argument, too, attaches too much importance to a symbol the red-shirt extremists have tried to belittle in the first place.

What next?

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