A sinister attempt to tamper with history

opinion April 16, 2017 01:00

By The Nation

The replacement of a historic plaque on the quiet raises disturbing questions



A mirror has been held up for Thai people to look at and what is on view hits at the heart and soul of the nation.

Some of us may want to dismiss it 

as a minor incident – the mysterious removal of a historic peg that marked the start of democracy in Thailand by a revolution in 1932. The revolution changed the country’s ruling system from an absolute to a constitutional 

monarchy.

The People’s Party “Memorial Plaque” (Mhud Khana Ratsadon), which was made of brass, has been replaced with a new one with different wording that says nothing about the 1932 revolution. 

The wording of the original plaque said: “Here, on June 24, 1932 at dawn, the Khana Rassadorn started a constitution for the progress of the country”.

But the new plaque states: “May Siam country have sustainability and the people be happy to be the force of the land. The respect and love in the three gems and their own state, their family, and their loyalty towards their King will bring about progress of their state.”

Social and political activists are demanding that the original plaque be returned to its place at the Royal Plaza. 

It is strange that the removal went undetected by local authorities. What’s even more bizarre is that none of the 

relevant agencies appeared to be eager to take action or to get to the bottom 

of the mysterious disappearance of the old plaque. After all, the plaque 

captured the very moment the nation starts its definitive move towards democratisation. The journey has been a long, winding road. 

Some say we are still on this course – a country in transition – but from what to what is still unclear. We have kept going round in circles, in which military coups have become our reset button. 

We talk about returning the country to democracy but did we ever have democracy? We had general elections but we failed to maintain meaningful institutions to promote and safeguard democracy and its values. And we would be fooling ourselves if we think that the current junta – or any other set of 

military coup plotters – will work to lay the foundation for democracy.

Every time there is a coup, we come together as a nation, cross our fingers, move forward and hope for a better day. We don’t seem to want to learn from the past; we just want to get over the 

current hurdle without looking at the long term, big picture and ask what kind of country we want to be or become? 

Every political conflict and coup has its story. But, sadly, few seem to be disturbed by the long-term outcome. 

Some comfort themselves by 

calling it a “transition” phase where the military will slowly fade away and democracy will be fully restored. 

But we have heard that many times before – a coup to save democracy;  such that it sounds like a broken record. 

Some of us may want to ignore it because we don’t like to get into heated debate with friends or colleagues over history, democracy and the current state of the nation. 

But like it or not, we are all in it together. A Constitution has just been passed – our 20th since 1932 when Siam became Thailand – and our nation is 

still not quite sure of the immediate future. 

This is not to say that we are drifting into uncharted waters. We have been there before – 20 times to be exact.

The ultra-royalist Mhud Khana Ratsadon should know that they can’t change the country’s history just by removing the plaque. And if they want to engage in meaningful debate about the future of the nation, they should come clean and make their case. 

Removing a plaque not only upsets those with opposing views; it is also a violation of the law.

Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of 

the Constitution, noted that the 

change of the historic plaque violated the law and Article 57 (1) of the new Constitution.

If the current junta and the agencies that they oversee respect the law of the land they so much cherish, they need 

to take action. Looking the other way in this case is essentially a position and none of us has the luxury to hide from this.