Oops! Yingluck, Suu Kyi, WEF et al

Literally, that was all this government was contended, or rather able, to do. During the three-day event, Thailand’s political future was also held hostage by the Pheu Thai’s efforts to rush through the National Assembly the amnesty efforts disguised as national reconciliation bills. The ruling party could have delayed the deliberation by a few days to allow the WEF conference t to proceed without the kind of headlines grappling and confusions. While the Thai leaders kept on reiterating the political stability and great prospects to the WEF participants, their country was confronting one of the most serious crisis since 1932.

Kavi Chongkittavorn

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra did not have a clue how it would link to the WEF. Her head and heart were not there in the first place. The instruction for her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was far more important–the government must go all out to push through the bills now. The result was disastrous for all to see with the possibility of another round of bloody polarization. Instead of headlines featuring Thailand’s economic positive outlooks and resurgence, the news of the days was zeroed in on political disorders and of course, leadership inept. That explained why the WEF, which supposed to be a foremost show case of Thailand’s economic development and prospects after the last year’s flood, was turned into cheap theatrical acts and public relations flops.

The government’s economic advisory team also did a sloppy job because the prime minister’s speech at the opening WEF session was mediocre and without any vision. She highlighted Thailand and connectivity along the North-South corridor and touched briefly on the Dawei Deep Sea Port development in Burma but paid more attention on the various high-speed train links from in Northeast Thailand and Laos. Her speech was mainly focused on the connectivity under the APT (Asean plus three) framework, which did not include the development of Dawei as a matter of fact. For the premier audience and the short time available, she should have stressed Thailand’s strategic thinking on the whole comprehensive connectivity plan–with Thailand as the hub–agreed at the East Asia Summit in Bali last November. After all, under the EAS frame, East Asia means Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), India, US, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea. This framework links India to both the mainland and archipelagic Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia with hundreds of infrastructural projects.

Following her speech, during the questions and answers session with Klaus Schwab, the WEF founder, other Asean colleagues from Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos did well in replying the question posed Klaus on their dreams of Asean in the next five years. They were wise responding in their own languages without stumbling in the choices of words in Indonesian, Vietnamese and Laotian respectively. The interpreters gave precise English versions of their answers. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wanted to see Asean that is economic and politically strong and integrated so that it can contribute to the global community. Prime Minister Nguyen Trans Dung reiterated the importance of attaining the three pillars of Asean Community and benefits it would bring while Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong focused on narrowing of the developing gap between the Asean members and their unity. These were excellent answers based on the theme of connectivity which they earlier spoke. Only Yingluck, who chose to speak in English, did poorly. Her few English sentences were awful and incoherent as she had no idea what she was talking about even though she had just finished reading the speech about Asean and its connectivity a while ago. Indeed, she could have repeated those few sentences again that it would easily make up the whole answer. Instead, she was rumbling on Asean without any focus. Worse of all, she thought that the citizens of 10-Asean members, estimated 600 millions, represented half of the world’s population.

While the host was a loser, the greatest winner of WEF was the last-minute decision to have Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, replacing President Thein Sein, as one of the speakers towards the end. The opposition party leader from Myanmar, also known as Burma, was given the full attention and best Thai hospitality from the Thai government and the WEF organizer. It was strange that former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who last year invited the WEF to hold its event here in the first place, was not invited to speak as the Thai opposition party leader. Abhisit, a WEF veteran, could have helped the government articulating challenges Thailand is facing at the moment. Sadden still, she forgot the day when she expressed appreciation of Abhisit’s early acknowledgment of poll defeats–just a few hours after the polling day closed–last July, immediately quelling down coup rumors. But this time around Yingluck did not have the same decency and openness to reciprocate.

With the host in disarray, the WEF turned out to be a God-send opportunity for Suu Kyi to demonstrate her intelligence and charm and uplifting Myanmar’s profile. Her words of wisdom and grace on display during her first foreign visit have made strong impressions on the top business leaders and international community at large. It was not surprising that the WEF on East Asia next year will be held in her country. As such, it is a big stamp of approval of confidence and fine outlook for the country, which just a few months ago was shunned by the global community. It is Suu Kyi’s magic that has generated such goodwill and warm reception.

When she spoke and met with the migrant workers in fishing industries in Mahachai, Samut Sakhon, she was touching on one of the most sensitive issues on Thai-Myanmar relations. More than 40,000 Myanmar nationalities are working days and nights–both registered and unregistered for the fishing trawlers and markets based in this coastal province. Throughout the past decades, nobody paid any attention to their plights as modern slaves working for minimum wages facing with daily abuses and corruptions due to lack of law enforcement. She wisely urged her fellow citizens to understand Thai judicial systems and encourage them to educate their children during their stay in Thailand to prepare for the future. She has done her homework well. At the WEF, she also called on the international community to help her country’s youth for better and balanced education and development – something that the Thai leaders neglected and did not understand.

Of course, it is political incorrect these days to comment negatively on Yingluck’s hollowness because she looks good and has never done any wrong or controversial as it would be considered an assault on Thai woman as a whole. To her supporters, she is still an angel who yields no harms and very pleasant to look in. It is her enemies who are bias and evil-minded failing to see her greatness and the confidence Thaksin bestows her. Although the WEF did not benefit the host in any substantive way, it did however provide a rare opportunity for the Thais in general and Yingluck’s supporters in particular, to distinguish the leadership quality between their lady and The Lady.

Kavi Chongkittavornis assistant group editor of Nation Multimedia group in Bangkok. He has been a journalist for over two decades reporting on issues related to human rights, democracy and regionalism. The views expressed in this article are his own.


12 Responses to Oops! Yingluck, Suu Kyi, WEF et al

  1. Why are you picking on Yingluck’s English? Your English is not that great either. Even your very first sentence has a mistake. It should be “content” not “contended”. I do admit that Suu Kyi is a lot more eloquent and convincing, especially when she is speaking in English.
    To come back to the article, I agree that this very messy issue about amnesty for Thaksin might lead to a coup again and Yingluck should be worried!
    Exploiting cheap Burmese labour (not to mention cheap gas for the lights of Bangkok that Suu Kyi so admires) is an important component of the Thai economy and there will be some adjustments to be made on both sides if Burma continues on the path that Suu Kyi outlined in her speeches in Thailand.

    • Good point you made tocharian.

      The light of Bangkok literally at the expense of the Burmese. Ha. ha!

      Is it right to have wealth while exploiting other human beings, be it same or different race and religion?

      Are human still interested in human any more or all are now strictly iPAD’s only?

  2. What are you doing, printing this trash? Are you so desperate for funds?

    • This guy has been desperately cooing about Aung San Suu Kyi non-stop. Yingluck was a collateral damage for Pheu Thai bashing.

      Fact is just about everyone is desperate for the Asians to open up all of their resources including cheap labour (Chinese are stealing rare earth minerals from Burma as well of course, free of charge as Burmese do not know what they are called) and ready markets for dumping their surplus craps for rampant consumerism which they will promote with half naked girls with a pathetic hope that their loot of the world might last a little bit longer.

      When all runs out, there is always cannibalism. Might think about going to martial arts class now and buy some guns!

      WEF and the ports etc. for the “loot tracts” are the “Theme” of this meeting and the fact is that all the gathered dictators who double as thieves and are running the Asian countries are showing their obedient side by opening up fully and “connecting”.

      As Aung San Suu Kyi heartily supports such arrangement, there is no reason she would not be celebrated in such gatherings. Still it is doubtful that they decided there and then to do the next meeting in Burma, the central place of exploitation with most to gain by sheer virginity with the rulers as well as opposition desperate for publicity and recognition.

      But if Thein Sein’s placed was given to Aung San Suu Kyi as last minute arrangement as this article describes, as this definitely gives bigger sound-bite, what is this hoola-baloo about Thein Sein got vexed and he was worried about being overshadowed and all that fabrication?

  3. I wish I could disagree with you.

  4. George Than Setkyar Heine

    Although the WEF did not benefit the host in any substantive way, it did however provide a rare opportunity for the Thais in general and Yingluck’s supporters in particular, to distinguish the leadership quality between their lady and The Lady.
    That ILK of LEADERSHIP had MADE BURMA since 1044 until today, lest you guys forget!
    Daw Suu is the LIVING EXAMPLE of that STOCK of PEOPLE abundant in Burma as well.
    U Thant, former two term Secretary General of the United Nations, was also a DISTINGUISHED SON of Burma, who gave his native land a place in the annals of world history no less.
    Even a lowly group of WARPED MINDED men in uniform has RATTLED the WHOLE WORLD with their MEAN MENTALITY and WICKED WAYS, of course BACKED by the communists in Beijing for decades until today.
    They BROUGHT BURMA TO SHAME as ONE OF THE PAUPER STATES on this earth from that of the RICHEST in Southeast Asia, in addition to being members of the most CRUEL and VICIOUS regime characterized by BRUTALITY no less.
    On the brighter side of the coin was Gen. Aung San, DEEMED and LOVED as the FOUNDER of FOURTH Burma after the British colonialists officially annexed his country as a PROVINCE of INDIA on January 1, 1886, was INSTRUMENTAL in gaining Burma’s independence from the British colonialist rule on January 4, 1948.
    King Anaw-ra-hta, Ba-yint-naung and Alaung-pa-ya were the First, Second and Third founders of Burma as known in history.
    Than Shwe led lot at Naypyidaw are REINING IN Daw Suu from getting her much deserved and erstwhile distinction – the WINNER of the SECOND INDEPENDENCE of BURMA – this time from home grown/town militarists doing their best to establish their own military dynasty in Burma today.
    They did keep Daw Suu UNDER WRAPS for a decade and a half before she has her first chance to SHOW HER METTLE, at the WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, and the WORLD HAILED HER as the TRUE and RIGHTFUL LEADER of BURMA no less by giving her a STANDING OVATION when she entered the hall, not to mention the captain of her flight inviting her to sit in the COCKPIT, a RARE HONOR indeed as well, while on her way to the Thai capital, her first venture out of Burma after 24 years restricted residence in her own country recently.
    Daw Suu has a tight schedule ahead of her in a couple of weeks hence, when she leaves the country for Europe where she will give a speech in both HOUSES of BRITISH PARLIAMENT as scheduled already.
    And the WORLD IS LOOKING FORWARD TO and WAITING WHAT SHE HAS TO SAY after a decade and half under HOUSE ARREST by the ruling military in Burma.
    I have NO QUALMS OVER the OUTCOME of HER forthcoming FOREIGN TOUR, HAILED/HERALDED as a SUCCESS and ACCORDED PRIVILEGES and HONORS NO LESS THAN ANY of the OTHER WORLD LEADERS for that matter given her CHARACTER, CHARISMA,COMPASSION, COURAGE etc. OFT-SHOWN and WITNESSED by the WORLD COMMUNITY on many occasions and times since 1988 until today.
    However, Salai Tun Than, a former political prisoner was BARRED from RETURNING to his homeland until today after visiting his family in the US; that’s a FACT as well.
    Hence, I WILL KEEP MY FINGERS CROSSED and PRAY UNTIL the DAY, THE LADY RETURNS, after concluding her sojourn in Europe.

  5. Yingluck is very green; we all know this; please do not compare her to The Lady who is beyond the yonder…and it is unfair. Give Yingluck a chance to blossom.

  6. sathitphongse lenevat

    Great article Khun Kavi.

  7. A humble piece of writing by a reputable Thai Journalist.
    But let me present the point of view of an ordinary Burmese guy, who have been overseas the whole of his working life (or rather forced to run away and seek employment overseas immediately after graduation) and been to Thailand numerous times for family vacation during the past 2 decades.
    Despite going through numerous rounds of coup d’edat in the past decades, Thai civil institutions and their administrative systems, businesses and Thai society as a whole have grown up and mature to the extent that they suffer little or no effect at all from such catastrophic political events. Businesses are as usual, tourists continue streaming in, beaches and all tourist attractions remain jam-packed, democracy in its essence continues flourishing and economy continue growing. Of course there are reports now and then of unequal wealth distribution between urban elite and rural poor, which is beyond the reach of analytical power of the brain of a layman like me. We cannot deny the fact that sophistication of Thai economy and their businesses and the maturity of Thai democracy are now hundreds or thousands of time better than and even beyond the reach of Burma, porbably not in the next 2-3 decades. We have a lot to learn from Thailand, our business can copy Thai corporations’ success stories, our institutions can study and even plagiarise the way Thais operate theirs, etc. In this sense, Thailand do not necessarily need quality leaders to continue marching to greater success, Thai society is self-regulating and will continue to do so no matter whatever political upheavals come along. As such, Thailand can afford having a stupid leader with a mediocre quality, just like any other matured democracies and developed countries do. They can laugh him off and vote him down in the next election.
    For Burma, the whole population having been cowed by the cruel and stupid military for more than half a century, our institutions are in total disarray and civic societies are non-existent. Just look at the case of the rights of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, they were totally neglected and nobody from any Burmese administration paid attention to their plight and bother to come to Thailand and raise the issue. I am sure Thai authorities would have positively responded should any Burmese leader ever raised the matter officially. We are more than enough of cruel and stupid leaders and seriously need someone like Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who we all can trust, love and lead us to start standing on our own feet. If she possess intelligence, charm and good leadership qualities as you has judged as an outsider, we are extreme happy and see our immediate future even brighter. Than you, Mr Kavi Chongkittavorn.

    • I agree with your point that Thailand can afford another stupid leader as long as we can elect him and vote him down. But the nature of Thai people is that they like a smart leader who they cannot elect. Especially, a leader from coup is the best.

  8. It might not be good to criticize someone because of one’s choice in life. Everyone has freedom of choice and they are free to choose what they want. Su Kyi has made her decision to lead Burma into one direction and Yinkluck has made her decision to lead Thailand into one direction. Let them try their best according to their ideologies and see what happen in the long run. After all, both of them are not totally free to make their own decisions. Both of them are operating below certain systems.

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