Britain's foolish and high-handed response

your say June 05, 2014 00:00

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Re: "Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebration in Bangkok cancelled", Politics, June 4.

Your report that the British Embassy, obviously on instructions from London, has cancelled Elizabeth II’s birthday reception in Bangkok refers to British concerns over the “deterioration of the democratic environment in Thailand”. Presumably the celebrations could still go ahead if the Thai military immediately announced that a general election would be held over the summer. This would likely result in the return of a very angry pro-Thaksin government, the return to the streets of the whistleblowers, the usual violence and murders of the past six months, collapse of the stock market and annihilation of the baht.
Sorry, but the British response, like the American, is untenable.  It’s just a matter of pulling out of the bottom drawer the speech marked “Response to Coup Anywhere” – unless the country happens to be Egypt, where a coup inexplicably becomes a “people’s revolt”, or Western Ukraine, where, mysteriously, “tyranny is popularly overthrown”. The whole idea that democracy is somehow a spiritual force devoid of all political context is plain daft.
I also wonder what the public reaction in UK would be if huge secret caches of weapons and artillery were suddenly discovered in, say, Newcastle. You can rest assured there would be a gigantic public uproar, concerns that Britain was heading for civil war and demands that the incompetent government be replaced. The point is simply that Thailand and the UK are very different when it comes to politics. Thailand’s best chance is to give Army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha the opportunity to bring about reconciliation and reform. It’s a tall order, of course, but the current alternatives for Thailand are too gruesome to contemplate.
Barry Kenyon
Chon Buri