A blow to Thai unity

A blow to Thai unity

A workman surveys the window at the Starbucks outlet next the site of a bombing in Hua Hin on Friday. (AFP photo)
A workman surveys the window at the Starbucks outlet next the site of a bombing in Hua Hin on Friday. (AFP photo)

The Mother's Day bombings came as a shock in so many ways. The attackers not only attacked multiple sites throughout the South, they conducted their killing spree at one of the most auspicious times of the year. They chose not just to kill and maim innocent people, but to desecrate the birthday celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen and Mother's Day. Every civilised person must condemn such despicable assaults on decency and happiness.

There have been attempts in some quarters to try to minimise the intent of the attacks. Some analysts have said the bombs may have been meant to cause shock rather than casualties. The outcome was otherwise; four people are dead, others are in ICU. The "double-tap" bombs, filled with deadly shrapnel tell a clear story of homicidal intent, and as a consequence, the lives of hundreds of people in dozens of families lie shattered or forever changed.

A major question is, just who stooped so low. In addition to the bombers, the builders and helpers, there is at least one mastermind -- perhaps several -- who planned, organised and coordinated the atrocities. Speculation, needless to say, is rife, and cheap. Yet police and top government officials have done a disservice by eliminating possible suspects without plausible forensic reason.

Even more pertinent, arguably, are two unasked and intimately linked questions. How could such widespread attacks occur? How could they take such a security-heavy government and its support team by surprise? Merely by the number of attacks, it is obvious that dozens of people must have been involved. The surprise was so complete that the government has had to admit that it has no real clue as to where to begin its investigation.

At the highest levels, officials claim to know that neither terrorists nor southern separatists were involved. Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul told this newspaper that "this was not a terrorist attack". That was echoed and then magnified by Krisana Pattanacharoen, the deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police and the face of the government response team. "We are sure it is not linked to terrorism," he said.

This is the equivalent of claiming to have proved a negative. When the facts are unclear, it is an error to rule out any possibility. It also is a facetious denial to state that Thailand is safe from terrorism because the country is not involved in any unfriendly activities. In fact, Thailand has been the target of international terrorists on many occasions, most recently the 2014 Valentine's Day bombs set off by an Iranian gang.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is right about one important point. Speculation is of little use in the absence of hard evidence. The correct course is to allow police on the street to do the hard yards, to take the investigation in any direction it leads. There are hundreds of witnesses to interview and many hours of forensics work ahead. The real work is only just beginning.

This is a time when Thai unity is most clear, as well as necessary. The bombers' contempt for the holiday period, their targeting of innocent people, their attacks directed at tourist sites.

The authorities have failed in their prime responsibility to protect the people. The best of our investigators now must find those responsible. The military regime cannot use the violence as an excuse to further divide the nation with insinuations about politics. Whether terrorism or sabotage, the attacks were against us all.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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