Monday, 14 May 2012



The utterly sad thing about being human is to mistake wrong for right, seeing evil deeds as maintaining justice because one is so misguided as to see oneself as superior to others

A man was accused of offending the honour of the King, the Queen, and the Heir-apparent without any clear evidence. He was judged based on the hypothesis that he was guilty. He was sentenced according to the law decreed by the coup group in 1976 and imprisoned for three to five years for an offence that was merely verbal. The penalty was even greater than offences against life or offences relating to sexuality.

He requested eight times to be bailed, and, even though he was sick, all requests were refused by the court, claiming that the offence was acute despite the fact that it was a libel case. The court acted as if granting him temporary bail according to his right would result in Thailand being shattered once he was released.

This is the way that judicial discretion works in the interests of monarchist ideology.

Time after time, Thailand has witnessed a lack of humanity in the implementation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code. Not to mention the fact that a just state, one that observed the rule of law, would respect the right and freedom of the people under the democratic regime…

this barbaric state has ruled without the slightest mercy.

From the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand,

Section 4 states that human dignity, rights, liberty, and equality of the people shall be protected.

Section 26 states that in exercising powers of all state authorities, regard shall be given to human dignity, rights, and liberties in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

Section 30, the first clause, states that all persons are equal before the law and shall enjoy equal protection under the law.

Section 39, the second clause, states that the suspect or the accused in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent.

And, the third clause states that before the passing of a final judgment convicting a person for committing an offence, such a person shall be not be treated as a convict.

Section 40, the second clause, states that basic rights in judicial process which must at least guarantee an open court hearing; right to factual information and sufficient cross-examination of documents; right to present facts, witness or evidence, and express his or her dissent or disagreement with judges or arbitrators; right to require full quorum of judges or arbitrators in the hearing of his or her case; and right to hear the clarification of court decision, judgment, or order.

And, the seventh clause states that an alleged offender and the accused in criminal case shall have the right to correct, prompt and fair investigation or trial with an adequate opportunity in defending his case, the right to examine or to be informed of evidence, right to defend himself through counsel and the right to bail.

Or perhaps these provisions exist only to deceive the people that Thailand is a civilised country?

Why did the court not act in accordance with the law? Should the judges continue to hold their jobs despite this?

At present, those who support amendment of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code feel ashamed as citizens of a country that lets injustice appear naked in front of its citizens.

A man has died in prison without being granted the right that belongs to him. It is the right not only of a citizen under a democratic regime, but the right of a human being.

Although, unfortunately, his death still fails to awaken the human side in many people in this country, the Sang Sumnuek Writers are determined to push for the amendment of this law, and other matters pertaining to it, for a better society.

In whatever way the parliament will turn down the proposal to amend the Article 112 of the Criminal Code, we will keep finding ways to campaign and to campaign permanently.

Until the day that the people have their true representatives,

that day courage will resurrect from mortality.

Sang Sumnuek Writers

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A man who is made disabled at the age of 61

A man who is made disabled at the age of 61

Duanwad Phimwana

He was born normal,
neither physically nor emotionally disabled.
He can love and be loved,
He can hate and be hated,
as an ordinary man.

In 2011,
he is still alive,
alive to see things rise and fall.
In a black and white photo before 1932,
though most men in that photo have gone,
but the undemocratic ghost,
still lives through time,
emerged unashamedly after 1932,
cruel enough to crush ordinary men into pieces.
In the portrait of truth, men died of war,
they died of natural disaster,
of crime,
of accident.
The world is dangerous.
Though my country is even more dangerous.
A man at the age of 61,
convicted of a crime,
convicted of being human,
convicted of not being disabled, physically and mentally,
convicted because he can love, and be loved,
convicted because he can hate, and be hated,
convicted of being born,

born as an ordinary man.

24 Nov 2011


for the story : []

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Elephant for one more time

Whew! It's good to be back to AP again after more than a year of 'doing other things'.

I'm back in Canberra, Australia and ready to roll again.


Lately there are two 'elephants' that I've come across:

The first was a novel. It's Jose Saramago's The Elephant's Journey (2008). I started reading it on the way to Sydney and finished it on the way back to Canberra. The story takes place in the mid-16th century and focuses on an Indian mahout and his elephant.

The story is full of wit, symbolic representation, and philosophical questions. I like the poignant sense of humour in his work. Many times he seems to be emphasizing a lot on Christianity and its critique. It's a good book and worth discussing. Type the title of the book in Google search box and you'll find many interesting reviews, such as this piece by Ursula K Le Guin.

The second elephant is about Thailand. The phrase chang u nai hong [ช้างอยู่ในห้อง - elephant in the room] is very much in use nowadays by Thai progressives . It is referred to an issue relating to the Thai monarchy, which is now increasingly becoming the centre of the discussion among observers. The topic has become one of the most controversial debates in Thai political arena. The royalists are willing to fight to their last drop of blood to protect the monarchy being defamed. At the same time, the progressives are pushing hard to create a more open debate among Thais about the monarchy.

It's amazing to see how deeply entrenched the Thai monarchy is in the minds of the conservatives. But it's equally amazing to see how a few years could make such a big change, especially after the 2006 coup.

It's now the time for Thailand to discuss about that elephant in the room. Not only because it's important, but it's also inevitable. To be blunt, it's great to see the Red Shirts becoming a big political body. But it is critical for them to be conscious and not pushing themselves to the verge of a civil war. Some opportunists will, for sure, be happy to see that.

They'll be happy to see the chaos in Thailand, and then they'll ask for the hero, who will come on the white horse to solve all the problems this country ever had.

But I guess it's not going to work no more. Thailand needs different solution.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

That big animal

I've watched a Thai online TV Program about a person who established an elephant corral in Ayutthaya, Thailand. The special thing about it is that he promised to stick to the ancient manual about elephant. (คชศาสตร์)

A good effort. They have a website as well.

The interesting thing to me is an interview. The owner of the corral said that during the late 19th century Siam, a large number of elephants were moved to the north by the British Borneo Company. A large area of teak forest in the north was the major revenue for the British companies.

He insisted that traditionally elephants would be sent to Bangkok to the Kings. We can see that the power of kings was overcome by the British colonialism.

Would love to know from the AP readers who know about this.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Where was the colonial in Siam/Thailand?

One of the general notions about Siam/Thailand - compare to other Southeast Asian countries - is that it is the only country in the region that could escape colonization in the 19th century and could maintain independent.

It is the feature that Thai people always proud of. "Being independent" has always been the apex of "Thainess" for decades. No one can take it away from Thai people.

Hence, being independent (i.e. never been colonized) = being "Thai"

A group of historians in this volume The Ambiguous Allure of the West: Traces of the Colonial in Thailand (2010) are saying that that isn't the whole story.

With a forward by Dipesh Chakrabarty, this volume offers a fresh look at Thai history through the lens of Postcolonial Theory.

There are at least two dimensions that I think it suggests,

1) It has been many decades - at least since the Maoist look at Thai history from the 1950s - that the discourse of Thailand-the-non-colonized-country has begun to be deconstructed. A body of literature, theoretically and empirically, emerged to look at Siam/Thailand as having a 'semicolonial' status. On the one hand, Siam/Thailand was under indirect colony especially in the economic dimension. And on the other hand, the elite themselves acted as an agent of "internal colonization".When the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) ceased its movement in the 1980s, the Marxist framework to Thai history began to decline. This volume aims to reinvigorate and refresh the post-Marxist analysis with the new theoretical force.

2) This volume calls for the more serious consideration of using the Postcolonial framework on looking at Thai history. Previously, Siam/Thailand was in little attention, if not left out, from the powerful dialogue of the Postcolonial debate, just because the general notion of not being a colonized country (this might due to the scholars themselves). But bringing Siam into that dialogue would further create stimulating debates, and eventually would bring about the alternative to the Euro-American centrism framework like "Postcolonial" itself. There is a lot to be done, and this book is one of the powerful attempts in that direction.

As Tony Day put it about this book
"This excellent collection of essays represents a major advance in the application of Western postcolonial theory to the study of Asian History and culture. No other book is more successful at shattering the "uniqueness" of Thailand, or of demonstrating the many ways in which Southeast Asia is comparable to the rest of the world"

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Cultural realization

If you ask the people from a certain country in Southeast Asia about their movies, they might not be able to answer you if you want to know what films from their neighbours are like.

I only have an opportunities to watch quite a number from Southeast Asian films, especially form Indonesia.

Khun Phra Chuai [good lord], I've just realized that I have no idea about Indonesian films before.

I appreciated Truffaut, Rosellini, Woody Allen, Hitchcock, and the list can go on. But I don't have a clue what are the big names of Southeast Asian filmmakers (well, maybe Apichatpong but that's not an excuse).

Recently I've watched Opera Jawa (2006) by Garin Nugroho, which is a reinterpretation of Ramayana into the modern style. The film is a part of the event arranged partly by the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra. I've also met Garin in flesh.

The movie is almost exactly what I wanted to do in my writing! What's good about a reinterpretation of classic texts is that you not only see how this age is like, but also to see how something can prevail through time...

Now I've seen all three movies commissioned by the New Crowned Hope Festival in 2006. Others are: Apichatpong's Syndrome of a Century and Tsai Ming-Liang's I don't want to sleep alone (both watched in London in 2008)

I recommend you to watch this movie. It is based on a classic text that connects Southeast Asia together, and it gives us a voice in this world.

Sita was gorgeous in this movie, I tell you.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

What time is it?

Ever imagine what was it like before we live our lives on the 24 hours clock time?

Clark Blaise, Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time (2000) could give us some answers.

In this book he traces how power relation among European countries in the 19th century resulted in the adoption of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Of course, GMT was used in the colonies.

Southeast Asian countries, one by one, followed the GMT from around them late 19th century onwards.

GMT reflected that power centre of the world in the 19th century; London.

We are still adopting GMT today.

See? that's why we have to learn history.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

31 planes of existence

An article by Aung Zaw in the Irrawaddy Feb. issue is quite interesting. (the online version is here)

It is about how Naypidaw is seen by Myanmar's junta leader Than Shwe as the monument of his rule.

The project of building the Hluttaw, or Parliament in Naypidaw has an interesting fact: it is planned to be consisted of 31 buildings.
According to Buddhist cosmology, 31 is the number of planes of existence into which we can reborn. Human belongs to the fifth plane, above other beings such as animal and hungry ghosts, but below the devas-the god-like beings who exists in the realms of form and formlessness.
The important thing to remember about the 31 planes of existence is that they are all subject to suffering. By following the Buddha's teachings, however, one can escape the rounds of rebirth and attain a state that is completely beyond suffering, known as Nirvana.
It began to be even more interesting when it continues (my emphasis) :
In his youth, Than Shwe devoted almost as much time to the study of Buddhist scriptures as he did to learning psychological warfare, the military field in which he has excelled throughout his career. According to one army general who worked with him years ago, the young Than Shwe was "half monk and half army officer"
It reminds me of the interconnection between religion and politics in Buddhist countries ( Southeast Asia). The ruler will project himself, and, in history, he was also projected, as Buddha. It is the Brahmic believe which influenced mainland Southeast Asia for centuries.

One of the important questions is how should this concept be adapted in the midst of the modern, 21st century world?

Friday, 19 February 2010

Ajarn Ishii

I only knew of Prof.Yoneo Ishii's death (12th Feb) from ajarn Nidhi's article in Matichon Weekly this week.

Ajarn Nidhi talks about ajarn Ishii's love for Thailand and Thai studies and how his skills in Southeast Asian studies were trained in a different way, unlike the very specialized way as it is at the present. (sorry I couldn't bring the whole article here)

True, love creates illusion. But what does not? as far as we are bounded in this gigantic web?

As a student in a new generation, I could only imagine what it was like in the times of our predecessors. The best we can do is to read their works with our eyes open, and to try to comprehend them in the context that they were written.

The foundation has been laid. The next generation steps further.
Dr. Yoneo Ishii is President of The National Institutes for the Humanities. He taught Southeast Asian History at Kyoto University (1965-1990), where he also served as director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (1985-1990). He then became professor of Southeast Asian History at Sophia University (1990-1997), and became the chair of the Japan UNESCO National Commission from 1998-1999, and President of Kanda University of International Studies. His major publications in English include Thailand: A Rice-growing Society; Sangha, State and Society: Thai Buddhism in History; and Junk Trade from Southeast Asia.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy New Year

Farewell to the first decade of the 21st century. The TIME magazine calls the passing decade as "hell".

Terrorism, Natural disaster, Financial Crisis and etc.

Yeah, such a decade it was, I must say.

But we have to move on.

AP is now two years old.