Thais must resist being dragged into the escalating war of words

national April 11, 2014 00:00


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A few days after Songkran, the anti-government group will probably start counting down the days until the demise of the caretaker Yingluck Shinawatra government.

It is highly likely that the Constitutional Court will make a similar ruling to the one handed down by the Supreme Administrative Court in the case of National Security Council secretary-general Thawil Pliensri, who challenged caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s order to remove him from his post.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled last month that Yingluck must reinstate Thawil on the grounds that her order to transfer him was unlawful and involved nepotism – and therefore was in violation of the charter.

The order to transfer Thawil could cost Yingluck her job – a greater loss than she may have ever expected – if the court rules that she violated the Constitution.

To rub salt into the wound, the National Anti-Corruption Commission is finalising its investigation into the caretaker PM on charges of malfeasance and dereliction of duty for her alleged failure to stop losses and alleged corruption in the rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck faces being suspended from duty if the NACC decides to indict her.

The two cases are so significant that government supporters led by Jatuporn Promphan, chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, have challenged anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to mobilise as many protesters as he can at the court to hear the verdict. Whichever camp comes up with fewer protesters must accept defeat, Jatuporn said.

Both political camps have decided to define defeat or victory by the number of protesters showing up at their rallies, believing it would have a psychological effect on protesters. Neither side is willing to admit to having fewer forces. The leaders of both camps have vowed to notify their followers as soon as they know the time and exact place of the court ruling. If this happens, confrontations are likely, even though officials are expected to blanket the scene with heavy security.

Soothsayers have voiced concern that the country’s political situation after Songkran, at the end of April, is worrisome. Some political observers have predicted that both camps are going to make calculated moves, as in a chess game. They have kicked off the battle with a war of words – sometimes resorting to hate speech – vowing to resort to “heavy weapons on the battlefield”, even though their words could leave them liable to criminal and constitutional charges.

One cannot underestimate or overlook these threats, because both camps have struggled through long, drawn-out conflicts. They have fought fierce legal battles, taking one another to court in several cases. They have attacked each other in social-media networks. And in the worst cases, they have resorted to war weapons, assaulting one another during rallies.

Hate speech, once it goes viral in cyberspace, could bring about the breaking point, provoking anger, riots and clashes.

Thais must exercise the highest degree of prudence and conscience in receiving information and making political decisions from now on. They must not let themselves be dragged into a war of words or hate speech by the rival camp.

Onlookers or bystanders also risk being injured if they get close to areas where the camps are confronting one another or clashing.

Casualties – regardless of which side they are on – will go down in the country’s history as a defeat and a great loss to every single Thai.

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