Hissy Fit

crane.jpgWhile stamping one’s foot and getting all pouty may be cute if my wife is doing it, it’s somewhat less dignified when done by the highest office holder in the country.

Apparently, neither the Prime Minister has the cajones to explain what is being done in the aftermath of the Tak Bai Massacre, nor do his fellow ASEAN heads of state have the ‘nads to hold Thailand accountable for ensuring either basic human rights or regional security. Pathetic.

From CNN:
Thaksin threatens ASEAN walkout
Thursday, November 25, 2004

Prime Minister Thaksin says internal affairs will not be discussed at ASEAN.

VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — Plans for a major Asian summit to discuss terrorism and European-style integration have been jolted by Thailand’s prime minister who has threatened to walk out if neighbors raised concerns about a Muslim insurgency in his country’s south.

Meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were under way in the Laotian capital Vientiane ahead of next week’s summit when Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters in Bangkok that a country’s internal affairs must be kept off the table.

“If the issue of southern violence is raised during the ASEAN summit, I will fly home immediately,” Thaksin said.

The violence near Thailand’s border with Malaysia has left more than 540 people dead this year, and neighboring countries are concerned it could threaten the entire region’s stability.

Thaksin’s comments were surprising because Thai officials told reporters ahead of the meeting that they were ready to explain the situation in the south if asked by summit partners in Laos.

“It is not right for the multilateral forum to be used to interfere in any country’s domestic affairs,” he told reporters. “My standpoint is clear.”

Predominantly Buddhist Thailand has drawn international criticism over the deaths of 85 Muslims during a crackdown on a protest last month — 78 of them crushed or suffocated after they were arrested and packed into army trucks.

A walkout by Thaksin would be a major embarrassment for ASEAN, which seeks to present a united face, and could derail a summit whose agenda includes a free trade accord between Southeast Asia and China and an ASEAN anti-terrorism pact with Japan.

This year’s ASEAN conference is the first such international event ever to be held in the group’s poorest and most isolated member nation, Laos.

The meeting groups ASEAN’s 10 members and partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand in the region’s major annual meeting.

On Thursday, Laos cordoned off its capital to block troublemakers, following two bomb blasts this month on the Thai border that injured nobody but sparked security fears in this small and normally placid communist nation.

The conference also was likely to address efforts by Myanmar’s neighbors to spur its stalled moves toward democracy to end unwelcome international attention on the region’s human rights record.

ASEAN has a long tradition of not interfering in each other’s domestic affairs. But that protocol could be broken this year, on both the Muslim insurgency in Thailand and Myanmar’s political situation.

Myanmar last month replaced a relatively moderate prime minister with a man widely considered a hard-liner who would halt the country’s pledged moves toward democracy, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. An international outcry over the detention has made Myanmar’s neighbors uneasy.

However, Myanmar officials, like Thaksin, also sought to keep its affairs out of ASEAN.

“I don’t think the ASEAN would want to discuss internal affairs. Everybody has internal affairs, but you know in every country there are transformations, including Myanmar,” Thaung Tun, a senior official of Myanmar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, told The Associated Press.

Talks keep Tak Bai off agenda
Monday, November 29, 2004
Achara Ashayagachat

Vientiane – Thailand yesterday launched diplomatic efforts among its partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to ensure no mention is made of the Tak Bai tragedy in the chairman’s statement to be issued at the end of the meeting.

The 10-member grouping also underlined its principle of non-interference by eliminating from the statement any concern about the lack of democratic progress in Burma. In last year’s statement, Asean called for support of Rangoon’s attempt at national reconciliation.

Talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi were hastily arranged for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to ensure the Tak Bai issue was not raised even at the informal dinner of 10 Asean leaders yesterday, the eve of the summit.

After their talks, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai did not specifically mention the Tak Bai issue, saying only that the three countries discussed economic and security collaboration and pledged to foster cooperation on intelligence information exchanges. They “supported Thailand’s territorial integrity”, he told reporters.

Senior officials of the National Security Council, the National Intelligence Agency and the defence ministries of Thailand and Malaysia will meet today to strengthen security ties, he added.

But diplomatic sources said concern over the death of protesters was part of the meeting between Mr Thaksin, Mr Abdullah and Mr Yudohyono.

Yesterday Mr Surakiart and his senior staff also lobbied their Asean counterparts who were in the Laotian capital to prepare agendas for their leaders, that the violent situation in southern Thailand which has claimed nearly 500 deaths this year, was a domestic issue, diplomatic sources said.

The protest at Tak Bai police station in Narathiwat on Oct 25 alone killed 85 Thai Muslims, 79 of them while in military custody.

Mr Thaksin has threatened to walk out of the meeting if the issue is raised during the two-day meeting. He has made clear his position that the incident is out of the Asean context, though he was willing to clarify the matter in bilateral talks.

However, the Malaysian prime minister said before flying into Vientiane from Kuala Lumpur that questions about the current situation in southern Thailand should not be construed as interference in Thailand’s internal matters.

Malaysia currently chairs the Organisation of Islamic Conference, and Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country.

On Burma, Rangoon successfully toned down Asean’s concern over its recent leadership change and ensured other members that the national reconciliation process was intact.

Even Razali Ismail, the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy on Burma, was considering not urging the Burmese government to release National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, sources said.

His focus has gradually changed, after separate talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura on Saturday and with Mr Surakiart yesterday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sihasak Phuangketkeow said Mr Surakiart and Mr Razali shared the view that Burma still remained committed to the national reconciliation process.

The Burmese junta had demonstrated this by reconvening the second session of the constitution-drafting assembly and by releasing a huge number of detainees, including political prisoners, Mr Sihasak said.

After the next National Convention in February, Burma might be interested in joining the Bangkok Process meeting, sources said.

“After engaging with all the ethnic and political groups, they should be ready to talk with the international community,” the sources said.

The Southeast Asian leaders start their discussions today, to be followed by a meeting with leaders from China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India during the two-day event.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations comprises Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

5 Comments so far

  1. scuba (unregistered) on November 29th, 2004 @ 6:14 pm

    ASEAN ain’t exactly Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch- the group includes Burma, which is basically North Korea with opium instead of nukes; Cambodia, run by ex-Khmer Rouge Hun Sen; and the meeting is taking place in Laos, proudly communist after all these years. The group stood by saying nothing during the Suharto years in Indonesia and the Marcos years in the Philippines. Why the hell would they care about a couple dozen dead Muslims? These are Thaksin’s kind of people!

  2. Ben Harris (unregistered) on November 29th, 2004 @ 6:36 pm

    I was going to post about this but didn’t have the energy. My one question, would anyone really be bothered if Thaksin walked out?

  3. him (unregistered) on November 29th, 2004 @ 7:25 pm

    Politics in S E A is a joke, anyway. I just wonder if Taxi(n) made that crane himself because if he did, it’s probably laced with C4, all ready to drop on the South :)

  4. scuba (unregistered) on November 29th, 2004 @ 7:53 pm

    Did you notice the character in the glasses standing behind Toxin? That’s Adisai, the Minister of Education, who has just announced adding anti-corruption teaching to the national curriculum. He should know a lot about that – according to the Far Eastern Economic Review, he’s been using shadow companies to buy up debt in his own telecoms firm (Jasmine) at a discount. According to Thai law, if you own more than half the debt in a company, you call the shots for all the creditors. So basically, he’s screwing his other shareholders so that he can screw his creditors. How’s that for an Education Minister – impressive, huh?

  5. Lisaya (unregistered) on November 30th, 2004 @ 1:48 am

    Nice post, P’Paul!

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