Abhisit unfairly maligned
- Published: 11/11/2012 at 02:10 AM
- Online news:
Re: ``Ministry's panel rules to strip Abhisit of rank, salary'', reported in the Bangkok Post on Thursday _ what impudence! How embarrassing that any defence ministry anywhere in the world should stoop to such a cheap shot and slander a young academic who was ready and willing to offer his superb education and teaching skills to young cadets in place of his military service. Indeed, Abhisit Vejajiva is still offering everything he's got to serve the Thai people, even putting his life on the line.
Many have doubts about the alleged assassination attempt on Thaksin Shinawatra at Tachilek, but we all saw precisely what did happen at the Interior Ministry in 2009 when the red shirts dragged Nibhon Phromphan, the Democrat secretary-general, out of his car and beat him up in broad daylight, and although we didn't see Mr Abhisit personally we could see the deadly situation from which his car had only just managed to escape. And, of course, we had already seen and heard the red shirts baying for Mr Abhisit's blood as they broke into the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel during the Asean Plus Six Summit in Pattaya.
The person Thaksin is most afraid of in Thailand is obviously Mr Abhisit, and this absurd piece of Defence Ministry character assassination is a sign of not just small-mindedness but blind panic.
COLLUSION NOT NEEDED IN 3G RACE
It's been reported that the ombudsman will ask the Administrative Court to determine if the 3G auction was conducted in a free and fair manner, which means that the distribution of frequencies must maximise benefits to the public and be carried out with public participation.
I agree with the ombudsman that the auction failed to generate genuine price competition because two of the three firms did not increase their bids. However, I agree with Col Settapong Malisuwan, chair of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's (NBTC) telecom committee, that no collusion took place _ for in a one-horse race, who needs to collude? And a one-horse race is essentially what we had, for the NBTC's competence was such that we had three bidders for three basically identical prizes (no bidder could win more than 15 megahertz of spectrum, with a total of 45 MHz up for auction).
The NBTC should have required that the number of bidders be greater than the number of awards available, and/or made the awards significantly unequal in value.
If doing so would mean that, for example, foreigners would hold a majority of a given bidder, then the NBTC should have protected against specific acts that would damage national interests, while allowing ownership to be nationality-blind.
Find new and competent NBTC commissioners, insulate them from political interference, and hold the auction again.
Since so much time's been lost on 3G and there's no technological reason that requires having 3G before moving on to 4G, let's leapfrog to 4G.
FOREST SOLUTION NOT SO SIMPLE
If only resolving conflicts over forest land could be so simple as outlined by new Royal Forest Department chief Boonchoob Sutthamanuswong in the story in Tuesday's Post, ``Forest dwellers to get land papers''. The director proposes handing out land rights documents to some 15,000 people currently occupying protected forest land.
The proposal reflects the need for justice for thousands of forest dwellers who have lived in national parks and conservation areas long before these areas were given ``protected'' status by the Thai government. Such common-sense proposals have been on the table for more than two decades, but successful implementation has always eluded policy-makers.
The reality is that conservationists are deeply divided over how best to protect the country's forests. While most agree with the wisdom of the Forest Department chief in recognising the legitimate rights of long-time forest dwellers, many of whom have proven over the years to be exceptionally good stewards of the land and forest resources, a vocal minority insist that no one be allowed to live in the nation's forests under any circumstances. The resulting deadlock has paralysed policy-makers from taking action on forest tenure for nearly as long as the country has had national parks.
As the forest occupancy question seems to be a ``no win'' issue for politicians and senior policy-makers, it would be surprising if the new director succeeds with the latest effort. Of course, if the issuance of land rights papers to poor forest residents somehow becomes a smokescreen for legitimising the villas and resorts of the rich and powerful, then we can expect the programme will in fact move forward.
IS THIS OPENING OF PETRAEUS GATE?
Well, just days after the election, has the Obama White House already managed to poison the post-election well? CIA director David Petraeus resigns, admitting to an extramartial affair, which was already under investigation by the FBI. So, the question arises, what did President Obama know about this and when did he know it?
Certainly long before the election, but for apparently political advantage, he kept this scandal under wraps until after the election. Not a clearly impeachable offence, at least not yet, but if the Democrats should have learned anything from the whole Nixon Watergate episode, it is the coverup aspect of these scandals that gets the administration in trouble, not necessarily the event that is being covered up.
It is too early to know why this situation was under FBI investigation, perhaps Mr Petraeus just made a mistake and got involved in an affair, end of story.
Or were there some more serious national security implications?
The one thing that is clear is that the Obama White House did not allow this situation to become public until after the election.
The hope that there would be a post-election spirit of bipartisanship is clearly endangered. We can only wait and see what other skeletons remain in the closet, and what effects they will have upon the Obama administration.
Dr David V Furman
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