Friday, June 22, 2018

Interview: Than Rittiphan of "New Democracy Movement"

June 22, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - Than Rittiphan who goes by @BKKRickLee on Twitter, is a vocal critic of Thailand's current government and a self-proclaimed member of the anti-government "New Democracy Movement."

A recent exchange helps profile precisely where the so-called "pro-democracy" protesters of Thailand actually stand.

In the exchange - which is far from the first I've had with him - he has made it clear he opposes the 2014 military coup, but has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the abuse, violence, terrorism, corruption, and criminality that prompted the coup. 

His excuse - repeated almost verbatim by other opposition figures - is that he was still studying in school when the abuses occurred, thus has no reason to consider or condemn them.

Despite his movement's obvious affiliation with the regime the 2014 coup ousted from power, he has refused to acknowledge any ties to or affinity for Thaksin Shinawatra, his Pheu Thai Party (PTP), or his United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) street front also known as "red shirts," despite the fact that mostly "red shirts" fill the ranks of protests his organization leads.

Image: Recent protests in Bangkok have been attended mostly by Thaksin Shinawatra's red shirts, many literally wearing their red shirts. Core leaders of the mobs also include overt red shirts and supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra like Sombat Boonngamanong.  

The following impromptu interview exposes yet another US-backed destabilization effort -this one aimed at Thailand - composed of youths who lack even the most elementary understanding of actual representative governance.

The exchange began when Than R. declared the current Thai prime minister must be a "dictator" because he arrested members of the opposition for blocking streets and protesting.

Than R.: He’s clearly a dictator since he kidnapped Sirawith S. and prosecuted Rangsiman Rome. It is likely he will prolong further the election by using the monarchy card. Which would leave a very sensitive burden on the public that no one dare to speak up against it. 
TC: Detaining criminals who are aiding and abetting fugitives is not "kidnapping." Are you denying Thaksin Shinawatra ran the last government? That he used terrorism? That he was the worst human rights offender in modern Thai history? That he's still trying to return to power? 
Than R.: Those actions were done by the military, not the police and you say this is not abduction? I think you have been obsessed with your fantasy that Rome and Sirawith are some sort of Rambo or something. Please live in reality - that someone was abducted by the military.
Than R. insists that these individuals were "abducted." In fact, they have been repeatedly detained, and despite violating the law multiple times, the government has repeatedly released them on bail (paid for by US-funded NGOs) and allowed them to mount further protests. 

At this point, I attempted to get an honest answer from Than R. on whether or not he was a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra and his various proxies.
TC: Do you support Thaksin Shinawatra, his Pheu Thai Party, and his red shirt street front? 
Than R.: How many times do we have to answer to those allegations - that we were studying in school back in those days. We don’t care much about whose in power as long as they are democratic, and can be held accountable for their action. 
It’s simply pathetic to see an old man who can’t see that the entire political system and institutions are more important than one person. Eighteen year olds today were never involved in this conflict and no one has the right to strip away our rights and duty. That's why we demand Thais want elections.

TC: As an adult now - you are able to recognize that what Thaksin did then was criminal & that it is unacceptable for him to be involved in politics today. If we agree to remove Thaksin/PTP/UDD from politics forever, we can agree to no longer delay elections. Yes? 
You also understand that "democracy" is not just about holding elections - those elections must be within the rule of law. If a fugitive and his proxies are involved in an election, it is not legitimate and certainly not "democratic." Right? 
If you don't understand that an election must occur within the rule of law, you are not fit to vote. If the election was held today, Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai would run. No other nation in the world would tolerate a party run by a fugitive running in an election.
So can you agree? We should demand Thaksin Shinawatra and PTP be removed from politics/barred from the election, then there can be a vote.  
Why doesn't your New Democracy Movement make this demand? Don't you want clean elections?

At this point, Than R. refused to engage further. He has previously failed to answer these questions. He, like many others demanding rushed elections in Thailand, refuse to acknowledge that Thaksin Shinawatra is still running PTP and would still be contesting elections by proxy just as he has repeatedly done since the first coup ousted him in 2006.

Many are obvious supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra - have met with Shinawatra's political subordinates and even participated in events organized by Shinawatra. Yet they realize that admitting their support for Shinawatra - a fugitive - would render their protests and demands illegitimate. Thus they avoid at all costs answering questions regarding Shinawatra and his persistent influence in Thai politics. 

Instead of answering the questions, Than R. decided to resort to name-calling. He also attempted to compare his critics to janitors - implying that janitors are low-class but still above his critics. 
Than R.:  Look at this pathetic old man. Screaming and demanding to maintain a dictatorship without asking the entire nation if they want it or not. I’m sure I won’t vote for a person like you even to be a janitor. That would disrespect their profession. Because it is MY CHOICE.
Of course, democracy is much more than simply making choices. Fundamental to any election is an informed and educated electorate.  Also essential is the rule of law. This ensures that voting does not end up violating the rights of the minority. It also ensures that the process of voting is not exploited by criminal elements.

And of course Than R. is well within his rights to demand elections - if those elections fall within the framework of the rule of law. Elections - if held today in Thailand - would include a political opposition party openly run by a fugitive, Thaksin Shinawatra.

In none of the liberal Western nations Than R. thinks Thailand should emulate would a political party led by a fugitive hiding abroad be tolerated. Why do activists like Than R. think Thailand should tolerate such circumstances?

Note: Messages were edited from Twitter shorthand to full sentences. Than R.'s typos were also corrected. 

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