I am not an expert in Thai law, but I am familiar with laws in developed countries. So I am confused as to why the court ruled that the Pitak Siam rally posed no threat to democracy and to the democratically elected government. If I recall correctly, this newspaper and other media quoted the Pitak Siam leader, retired general Boonlert Kaewprasit, as stating that he wants a military coup and the closing of the country with suspension of democracy for five years.
In most countries, that is known as sedition, which is defined as ''incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority''. Again, in most countries, this is a serious crime punishable by imprisonment.
Why is it deemed acceptable behaviour in Thailand? Who in their right mind would want democracy suspended for five years? Unless, perhaps, they expected to profit from it.
NO SHORTAGE OF ARMS SUPPLIERS
I think Daniel Lawson got a lot of his facts wrong in his letter printed in PostBag yesterday, ''Explosive US hypocrisy''. The letter writer seems to be under the impression that the USA is Israel's sole weapons supplier. When I served in the Israel defence forces in the early 1960s, we had wonderful French equipment, some Russian equipment, and fabulous equipment made in South Africa. At this time, Israel manufactures much of its own arms, from tanks and rifles to jet fighters. Meanwhile, those ''poor, defenceless Palestinians'' are supplied with arms from at least six countries on record.
THAI DEMOCRATIC PACE NOT SO BAD
Thailand changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy in 1932. In the subsequent 80 years Thailand has struggled to articulate its own definition of democracy, a task not made easier by the frequent intervention of the generals and their all too numerous coups.
Many political and social commentators bewail the inability of Thai social and political institutions to come to grips with this and lament the feudalistic state that still lurks, controls and dominates beneath and behind the veneer of democratic institutions. Foremost among these I would place Post columnist Voranai Vanijaka.
But 80 years of experimental democracy is but a tick of the clock in terms of the development of democracy in the Western world. Let's take British democracy as an example, for as the democratic reformer John Bright said in 1865, this is the ''mother of parliaments''.
In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system into his newly conquered territories in England. It took nearly 200 years before this system was challenged and King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. This did little to change feudalism and in hindsight was largely a symbolic limitation of the power of kings. Over the following centuries the powers of the English monarchy were, piece by piece, reduced. Significantly, we need to mention the English Civil War in the 17th century, which ended up with Oliver Cromwell lopping off the head of King Charles I.
Further changes came slowly, but it was not until 1893 that a British colony, New Zealand, became the first country in the world to introduce universal suffrage for both male and females, regardless of their land-owning status.
It took a further 40 years until the ''mother country'' followed the lead and the United Kingdom in 1932 introduced the right to vote for all males and females aged 21 years and over, this largely as a result of the changed status of British women forged during World War I.
So, when anyone laments that Thailand is not a true and pure democracy after 80 years, let's remember the UK only became a true democracy in the same year that Thailand took its first tentative steps towards democracy. And please also remember that the British had nearly a thousand years to experiment and define the process.
PROTEST NOT FOR NON-THAIS
My advice to any non-Thai readers of the Bangkok Post (farang or others) is not to follow the suggestion of JC Wilcox in his letter printed in yesterday's PostBag, when he urges farang to participate in the Siam Pitak rally. I say non-Thais would be wise not to participate in this or any other political rally. It is one thing to support the rally and what it stands for, but it is another to participate, and farang participation will not go unnoticed.
There will be plenty of special picture takers, and this might be followed up a few weeks later with a visit by immigration police giving you seven days in which to leave Thailand ... forever. There are specific clauses in Thai law prohibiting non-Thais from such participation. Many Westerners who live here and who took part in the red shirt rally in Bangkok in 2010 are here no longer. Many tourists who participated ''for fun'' were also escorted to the airport prior to the end of their holidays.
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