Respond to the argument, not the nationality

your say March 16, 2017 01:00

For once, I fully agree with Eric Bahrt when he writes “a Thai criticising the US, or an expat complaining about the Thai junta, has a right to give his opinion. And if you don’t like those opinions, then attack the arguments of the writer, not his nationality.”

When our foreign friends point out inconvenient truths, instead of arguing their points, we Thais tend to say, “It’s none of your business.” That’s the exclusionary approach used by African countries seeking to prevent Chulalongkorn law professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’s first independent investigator into violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, from working on their cases.

But unlike the Africans, Thailand seeks to achieve international standards in various areas and help others do likewise. Thus, for example, we lobbied for and were elected to the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council (2010-2011) – and just as a doctor who advises cancer patients must not himself smoke, so we, too, must be role models in the areas we chose.  

Only close friends will dare to risk your wrath by telling you where you err, since they love you enough to want you to do what is right. If those friends are non-Thai, all the better, so that we may know how we look to the world, not just to ourselves. 

Burin Kantabutra