Here are some thoughts I received yesterday from a journalist and human rights advocate from the Philippines. He is reflecting on his visit to Bangkok. Clearly not a fan of The Nation!
Since I arrived, I have been asking people of their opinions and thoughts about the coup. Expectedly, none of those I spoke to seems to have strongly opposed the coup–arguing that had it not been for the coup, Thaksin’s regime would have not ended. Every time I buy a newspaper in the morning, the stories and headlines are more often than not favorable of the coup. Today, the headline of the Nation is “Amnesty for junta wins full support”. I believe this paper is a big joke, if not completely stupid. Of course, when a CDA and NLA is appointed by a coup group, what do they expect? When there was a protest in past days, it was more pro-Thaksin than anti-coup. I am saddened that most people can’t see that the coup is itself taking things far beyond Thaksin’s ouster–this military is stamping on the Constitution and democracy. I also notice double standards by some activists here. While they oppose proposed laws, for instance the Isoc Bill (including Amnesty International), their position on the coup is negligible and most of them, even lawyers, favor the coup. I find this point contradictory. They opposed the said proposed law when in fact the legitimacy of the body that is supposed to pass it is questionable. I think arguing to oppose or pass the bill is meaningless in this context. When I asked a lawyer about how he feels about the coup, being a lawyer, and on principles of jurisprudence, he said that he’s in favor of the coup. I think that discussion on laws and jurisprudence, in particular in law schools, is also meaningless given the present situation. About the referendum, I find it difficult to comprehend how the electorate, within a short period of time, can give an intelligent “yes” or “no” vote. Staying here reminds me of everything during martial rule in the Philippines during the Marcos regime. I feel like I am living in the 70s and 80s back in the Philippines again. I was walking along the street this morning and I saw beggars, persons with mental problems and scavengers. This place is no different from my country. These people are also victims of military power-grabbing. The only difference in our case is that we don’t have a Monarch.