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News: Not much room left for the benefit of the doubt
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  1. #1
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    Not much room left for the benefit of the doubt

    By Tulsathit Taptim
    The Nation
    Published on April 8, 2009

    Since the Thai political crisis started, one of the most widely quoted arguments in favour of Thaksin Shinawatra has been "Two wrongs don't make a right". If he is evil, it is said, we can't fight him by stepping away from God. He is not perfect, but the coup was definitely worse, and how can tax cheats possibly be worse than the chronic street protests that have prevented a legitimately elected government from doing the basic job of serving the people? What would you prefer - a greedy prime minister who built a glorious but corruption-plagued airport, or belligerent protesters who shut down that airport and paralysed a big part of the economy?

    If all that sounded complicated then, it seems relatively simple now. With the red-shirt movement emulating most things the People's Alliance for Democracy did, a new question may be fast emerging: "Can three wrongs make a right?"

    Although the red camp has not done it yet, besieging Suvarnabhumi Airport is likely to be among its options. If or when that day comes, what would we prefer? A greedy prime minister who built a glorious but corruption-plagued airport? Or belligerent protesters who shut down that airport in order to erase all his influence? Or protesters who wouldn't mind shutting down that airport once again in a bid to bring him back?

    We will continue to chase our tail. Everyone is giving everyone a taste of his own medicine. Today's mega-rally by Thaksin supporters will mean different things to different people. Surely, the tens of thousands of protesters must believe they are doing the right thing. They are fighting for the man they think gave them a true voice, and therefore this is a battle based on principles, not any individual's hidden interests. Others, however, will see the rally as nothing but manipulation of the masses by someone who believes in anything but democracy.

    So, take your pick as we keep on grappling with all the painful lessons. Here we have three main elements of the crisis, namely Thaksin, the anti-Thaksin force, and the red shirts. It's up to you to qualify these elements. They can be, respectively, right-wrong-right, wrong-right-wrong, or wrong-wrong-wrong.

    To an extent, Thaksin is like the priest in the Oscar-nominated movie "Doubt", whose "special attention" to an altar boy, a black kid, triggered a campaign by a rigid nun to oust him from the Church. Father Flynn and Sister Beauvier are characters who divide the audience like never before, and there is no way you can justify one's action if you approve of the other's.

    Sister Beauvier reminds us of the anti-Thaksin force, whereas the black kid could be Thailand's fledging democracy, albeit a "red-tinged" one. His mother doesn't care whether the priest sexually abused the boy or not. Nobody had ever shown him that much love, therefore nothing else matters, she says in a heated argument with the nun. Sister Beauvier, as a result, becomes more determined to bring the priest down, even if she has to do that in hell.

    If Sister Beauvier is wrong, you have to justify the priest giving toys to the boy, meeting him in private, hugging and comforting him in public, and allegedly giving him wine to drink. If you back the nun, you accept her gut instinct that he is in fact exploiting the boy, even though there is no evidence or witness to sexual abuse.

    The similarities between "Doubt" and our political drama end here. The priest, in the end, agrees to leave the Church. The "he's guilty" part of the audience thinks he wants to save his reputation, but the "he's innocent" spectators believe he wants to protect the boy from an anti-gay society and the kid's own homophobic father. Considering that the boy is now safe - from the priest, if he is really a paedophile, or from the nun, who could have dragged the kid through the mud - this could be an intriguing case of wrong-right-right, or right-wrong-right, or, yes, wrong-wrong-right.

    Newin Chidchob's tearful press conference yesterday might look like political play-acting in response to his frequent bashing by the red shirts, but at least one message seems to have come from the heart. Never accusing Thaksin of being corrupt or abusing power, Newin urged his former boss to stop making things worse for the country and its beloved monarchy.

    That will surely fall on Thaksin's deaf ears. He is going for broke and this will keep he and his enemies fighting in a grey zone under the lame pretence that they are divided by black and white.

  2. #2
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    Re: Not much room left for the benefit of the doubt

    Lots of newspaper quotes as one would expectv as the "deadline" approaches. But what do people "think"!

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