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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 2. 1963.

Thai Reply

Thai Reply

Sir.—I reply to the article, "Tortured Thailand," which recently appeared in your columns.

As any first-year student of political science or logic knows, one cannot Judge the whole by examining anything less than the sum of its parts. Mr. Alexander's article, by taking out of context various isolated statements and adding to them half-truths and untruths, quite naturally comes to completely erroneous conclusions. His article is not worthy of lengthy reply or rebuttal, but perhaps a few corrections are in order.

In the first place, the working classes are represented in the constituent assembly. It is true, that organised labour—as organised labour—is not represented. However, it should be remembered that more than 90 per cent of Thailand's population is rurally oriented and does not earn its living from "labour" in the sense of the term used in economically advanced countries employing huge labour forces in factory operations. There is no "elite" in Thailand that is fashioning our constitution, unless it can be said to be an elite of patriots and intellectual attainments. I need only point out that His Excellency the Prime Minister. Sarit Thanarat, was born in a small, upcountry semi-impoverished community. From humble beginnings in true "log cabin" style, he rose to the premiership. Surely, such a man could not be classified as the leader of an "elite" group working to hold back democracy in Thailand.

Mr. Alexander substantiates (to use his own word) his charges against Thailand by using a completely untrue example. He says that in order to hold back democracy, the Prime Minister arrested a man tried him on the street and shot him there. This is a base canard, an outright falsehood. There are more than 50,000 Americans and Europeans living in Bangkok. Not one of them substantiates this story. There are more than 20 Western newsmen permanently stationed in Bangkok, including the regional chiefs of International News Service and Associated Press. Not one of them substantiates this story. It is most surprising to find it printed in the Wellington University College newspaper.

Finally, Mr. Alexander says that "according to reliable estimates" there are more than 10,000 political prisoners in Thailand. He conveniently omits to name those "reliable" references, because they do not exist. The fact is that there are no political prisoners in Thailand. There are persons who have been arrested and who are awaiting trial for Communist activities in subversion of the national safety. However, they are the recipients of the full benefits of the modern Courts of Justice and are tried in open court in full view of the Press, faced with the evidence against them, and judged by justices of training, experience and impartiality who do not owe their positions on the court to the present Government. Communist activities are in violation of the law of the land, and the arrest of suspected provacateurs, subversives and foreign agents has always been a prerogative of sovereignty and cannot be said to constitute arrest for political purposes.

Finally, with reference to Mr. Alexander's comment about the appointment of some officials which are generally considered elective officers in the West. I should like to point out that a developing country finds it just as important to allocate scarce personnel resources, as it does to allocate scarce monetary and physical resources. The national progress cannot be delayed by political whimsy in order to pay lip service to a highly sophisticated concept of democracy.

In brief and in conclusion, I trust that it will be possible to print this letter in your newspaper in order that the erroneous and sophomoric article of Mr. Alexander will not be allowed to stand unrefuted.


Dr. Chamnan Yuvapurna,

Member of the Constituent Assembly. Thailand.