Samak stops barking!

5 06 2008

Ever since Samak became Thailand Prime Minister I lost my interest in Thai politics. For me, he was not qualified enough to lead. If it was not because the magic power of the former Prime Minister Thaksin, he would never have had a chance to be in this position today. I tried to find answer why him, why he was chosen instead of General Chavalit Yongjaiyuth. Today I have an answer – yes, he can bark…!

His wrong move on last Saturday morning caused him dearly – the coalition parties threathened to consider to withdraw their support should the PM use force to disperse the crowd at Makkawan Rangsan. As a prime minister, he should have thought of a consequence of his words more carefully. To this, some say he has no longer had legitimacy to rule…threathening ordinary citizen with the use of force…

Today, I came acorss an article in one of Thailand leading English newspaper Bangkokpost by By Atiya Achakulwisut, Editorial Pages Editor titled Credibility chasm. I share her view in regards to this unqualified prime minister Samak Sundaravej. Below are excerpts from her article.

…A few months ago, I had that first glimpse of a moment of truth about PM Samak Sundaravej that would not be confirmed until today.

It was when the Cabinet marked the official start of its work by declaring its policy platform to the House of Representatives and having it thoroughly debated.

The first day of the policy debate, however, was eclipsed by a more debatable topic – Prime Minister Samak had just told the world through CNN and repeated it again on Al Jazeera, that only one person was killed during the massacre on October 6, 1976. The assertion was obviously not true. Any photo could prove the gruesome facts of the event. October 6 was not called a massacre for nothing, after all.

On that day, opposition and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva took the opportunity to challenge the PM to explain to the House why he presented history in a less than truthful way? Did he try to meddle with the media by closing down newspapers after the Oct 6 tragedy?

The Prime Minister rose to defend himself against the opposition leader’s challenge. He denied everything, naturally. The way he framed his negation, however, provided me with that first glint of truth about PM Samak. It was not a pretty sight. Indeed, it was a flash of dismay – still tiny and uncertain at that time – that would only grow into a firmly held opinion later on.

PM Samak has no qualities to be a good leader. Not in times of peace. Not in times of conflict, like now. He is just not fit to lead, period…

I didn’t care so much about the PM’s distorting the truth even further by saying that he only told it to CNN as he had seen it. And he could not care less if the truth were otherwise. I expected him to spin it one way or another. And if he was not “intellectually curious” enough to find out what “actually” went on in the world and was content to accept that the world was only as small and narrow as his own eyesight and perception, that was his problem.

What I found revealing was how the PM spent most of his speech blasting the opposition leader for suffering the insolence of youth in making an inquiry into an event that occurred when he was only a child and in daring to question him, who was much older and now a phuyai in the seat of power. Obviously not wanting to have to deign to answer Mr Abhisit’s questions, the 72-year-old PM reproached: “These days, it is probably considered chic and cool for kids to show disrespect towards elders, to openly question their wisdom and action.”

That somehow summarised how PM Samak’s logic works and that’s about all he cares – conformity to the phuyai-ruled and phuyai-knows-best norms.

PM Samak has the kind of mindset and attitude that belongs in the past, in the older, more tradition-bound version of Thailand which no longer exists. Today, merit is becoming as important, or even more so, than seniority. You get by in your job not because you are old enough, but because you are proven to be good at it. PM Samak won’t get this. He will find the notion unbearably arrogant.

The single fact that PM Samak is behind the times and cannot keep up with the realities of the ever-changing world of today, has manifest itself in the many failures, mistakes and gaffes that he has managed to make during a relatively short time: Praising the Burmese junta as good Buddhists; the many insults to members of the press corps and the tendency to blame them for whatever goes wrong; freelancing as host of commercial TV cooking shows while the country’s more pressing problems remain unsolved; the out-of-place and irresponsible remark about two banks being in trouble which caused a small run on one bank… The embarrassing list is long and sure to grow even longer.

The latest incident – Saturday’s threat to break and smash the PAD-led protest that day – is but another confirmation that PM Samak is operating from a different world and in a much more backward time than you or I.


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