For well over two decades, the government and parliament have been wildly out of sync with the people they claim to represent. Over the next 10 days, officials and politicians are going to hear this, sometimes in harsh and unpleasant terms. The occasion is the meeting in Bangkok of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
World bodies, representatives of 176 nations and many non-government organisations will be harsh critics of their hosts on what they see as shortcomings in Thai laws and actions. Often, they will be right.
The fact is that Thailand has lost its edge as a protector of its environment. Some even say it never had such an edge. But the truth is that conservation battles in Thailand have taken on a double face. On one side, it is the country that banned the sale of chainsaws, but then watched many of its protected forests and mangroves fall anyway. It set aside tens of thousands of rai of protected land, chased away the traditional inhabitants _ and then allowed resorts and big businesses to intrude.