A number of comments in Christopher Johnson’s May 30 article, “Healing Thailand’s broken spirit,” could be misleading to readers. The Royal Thai Government made an all-out effort to avoid confrontation and to refrain from violence during the recent protests. On May 3, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva proposed a five-point reconciliation plan and an early election, and invited all sides to join in resolving the political situation. Unfortunately the protest leaders rejected the proposal, and their prolongation of the demonstrations immensely impacted the public and the economy.
Violent provocations by a few of the more radical protesters caused casualties to bystanders and innocent people, including security officers, health volunteers and emergency medical workers. When it became clear that the demonstrations were no longer peaceful assemblies allowed under the Constitution, the government had no other option but to enforce the law and restore peace and order for the benefit of the people.
The statement in Johnson’s article that the military had “secret detentions” and shot “live rounds at Thai citizens” is misleading. The authority’s May 19 decision was to end acts of terrorism and sabotage, resolve the situation, restore order, and prevent armed elements among the demonstrators from harming more lives.
It should be emphasized that Abhisit has never ruled out the option of dissolving the House before his term ends in late 2011. An early election would be achieved with mutually acceptable election rules put in place, and the overall atmosphere made conducive to political campaigns that are conducted free from threats by any groups.
The recent lifting of curfew reflects a return to normalcy. A short-term relief measure has begun reconciliation and reconstruction. At the same time, there will be an independent investigation of events that have taken place over the past two months. Due process in terms of criminal prosecution will proceed transparently without government interference.
The fact remains that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is a fugitive of the law. He has refused to serve his sentence while continuing to use the justice system against others, a system he had formerly criticized as unjust. There are suspicions that he may have been involved with terrorlike acts that occurred in Bangkok and other provinces.
It is true that the whole nation must now go through a painful learning process. Johnson, who has covered Thailand for years, might have experienced Big Cleanup Day, when volunteers, Thais and foreigners helped officials of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration clean up the streets. Johnson may understand that this activity shows the resilience of Thais and their willingness to come together to move our country forward.
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