Thailand Chair Role likely deepening ASEAN scars

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Kok Sap

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Sep 10, 2008, 2:10:52 PM9/10/08
to Cambodia Digital Center
By Kok Sap-10 September 2008

Back in 1967, Prime Minister Thanat Khoman was one of the 5 regional
dictators. He was the ruthless absolute ruler of the 35 year old new
nation Thailand. In that period Thailand was marred by military abuses
in human rights and people political rights. Also the other four
founders: Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia were also
ruled by known dictators as well.
So what’s the fuzz? Well, if you are familiar with the street corner
fast flipped three card game, you shall see how slickly Thailand is
pulling its means justified the ends.

I have to admit, what a TKO in diplomacy for Thailand in light of its
habitually domestic abuses in UN human rights charter, violation of
International Court of Justice and ASEAN charter responsibility and
obligation plus bullying Cambodia over its Khmer temple, Preah
Vihear.

Squarely, as one of the ASEAN bloc leaders, Thailand, is miserably
failing to uphold its honor and pledge to ASEAN charter. Not only
that, at least, it seemingly violates the following articles (2), (5),
(20), (21), (22), and (24).
On 8-09-2008 ASEAN lecture, Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan
thundered,” The world is watching ASEAN very, very intensely. They are
watching the way which we are establishing our community. They are
waiting to see if the ASEAN Charter will be ratified by all ten Member
States so that we can celebrate the full ratification of the Charter
at the 14th ASEAN Summit here in Bangkok under the Chairmanship of
Thailand in the middle of December this year (2008). I have full
confidence, that the three remaining members of ASEAN, including
Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines, will ratify this sacred document
in time for full implementation by the time all Leaders assemble here
in the city of Bangkok in December.”

I wonder, if Charter is a sacred document, why such god fearing
Thailand drags its feet?

Dr. Surin continued, “At the Opening Ceremony of the First Meeting of
the 42nd ASEAN Standing Committee, ASEAN colleagues were informed that
Thailand will focus on 3Rs under her leadership of ASEAN. The first
“R” is to realise the purposes and visions of the Charter. The second
“R” is to revitalise ASEAN as a people-centred community. The third
“R” is to reinforce ASEAN cooperation to better contribute to the
quality of life of our 570 million people. I would like to add one
more “R” this afternoon, that is, to reaffirm the spirit of our
founding fathers 41 years ago here in this city when they signed the
Bangkok Declaration (or ASEAN Declaration) on 8 August 1967.”

3R plus R, of course, it is a sound bite for media consumption. But
Dr. Surin failed to mention over 80 million folks of Thailand and
Cambodia combined are in danger of war in behalf of Thailand over the
International Court of Justice already decided territorial dispute
ruling in 1962. It is urgent for ASEAN action to prevent tragedy. So
far it seems taken aback while Thailand pumps more problems for
Cambodia.

One also note it was Thanat Khoman of same Thailand who waged war with
Cambodia during that period. Because of his faulty foreign policy, he
hoped to lure USA to navigate his agendas through ASEAN formation over
both defunct ASA then SEATO. That’s the truth, but yet Dr.Surin
bemused me as he went to call those dictators including tyrant Thanat
Khoman from the 60 era his founding fathers.

Is this his sincerity or a silvered line of diplomacy?
Also to a sensible mind, it is incredibly to hear Ex Prime Minister
Thao Samak Subdaravej eulogizing such dictator Thanat Khoman as the
revered visionary founder. This raised some eyebrows.

Thaan Nayok Samak lamented,” When Dr. Thanat Khoman first proposed the
idea of regional integration back in 1967, I could not help but wonder
how it could be possible during the Cold War, and with bilateral
disputes between countries in the region still fresh in memory. But he
and his colleagues from the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and
Indonesia were so determined to make it possible. Together, they
addressed previous shortcomings to create a regional organization.
However, with sheer determination and political will, as well as trust
and sincerity, they succeeded and now we have all seen ASEAN evolve
into a major and vibrant organization.”

Now I can see why they said watch for hands that caressed, those
killed too. I am flipped out literally.

I do have suspicion since both Ex-Prime Minister and Secretary General
are rivalry in Thailand domestic politics, but they echoed one another
like cheek and tongue,” ASEAN has gradually evolved and is now on
course to realise the vision and dream of the Founding Fathers. From
five member countries in 1967, it now has ten countries. From a small
forum focusing primarily on security issues, it is now an emerging
ASEAN Community that will touch people’s lives. It was an unknown
entity in Southeast Asia, but is now an internationally recognized and
respected regional grouping.”

In this juncture, what Thao Samak should say now ASEAN has only 3
likely democratic out of 10 member states in the same room. It is an
achievement that bended human decency and laws.

I also want to raise Chair and Secretary General Role to scrutiny,
both positions should not be filled by representatives from same
origin of nationality. Thus next ASEAN Summit shall re-examine these
articles (11), (14), (25), (26), (29) and (32) too. It should state
clearly the roles of Chair and Secretary General in the event of
oddity of both are from the same legitimate nation.

Presently Secretary General and Chair are from Thailand where it is
unclear why the formerly Malay people in southern region are waging
war against Bangkok rule. Besides, Mr. Samak himself has just fell out
of the democratically majority elected government by his foes, the
anarchists, who are endangering Cambodia and Thailand state of peace.

Many experts know ASEAN is synonymous of dictatorship and diverse
ancient cultures. It remains much the same throughout decades. Unlike
European Union where the entire bloc is dominated by same Romanized
culture, civilization and religion. Therefore, it is tough to sell
ASEAN wishful one vision, one community and one identity, which, in
reality, are impossible based on culture, language, and religion not
politics for the majority of 570 million folks.

As it seems 2008 will be much likely a Thailand showcase of real
democracy and transparence in laws abiding in own affairs and good
governance first. So it must bow out of responsibility as ASEAN next
Chairman.

Like he said, indeed, the world and members are watching Secretary
General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan more intensely than Thailand uncertain
future of government. Best at time, what he should do is to motion
that shall be deemed consensus and excuse from the Summit for Thailand
to wait out until next round. It is the right thing to do to by pass
Thailand chairmanship in this rotation .

See Charter at www.asean.org

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