Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 5. Monday, April 29, 1963
Sir,—Dr. Yuvapurna's "rebuttal" of my article, "Tortured Thailand," in Salient, makes five points. Firstly he claims I contravene the rules of logic. Despite his academic title he is guilty of this crime himself: he claims Marshal Sarit Thanarat's humble beginnings prevent him leading any ruling elite!
On the contrary, the militaristic leanings of Sarit make him an admirable leader for the present government. Frank C. Darling, of the University of Colorado (long time resident of Thailand) explains the rise of the militarist government in Christian Science Monitor of April 21, 1962. He claims the "Thai militarists have not orientated their political system towards constitutional democracy nor promoted the freedom of the Thai people."
Instead "they have converted the weak but promising democratic system" of 1947 "into one of the most monolithic and militant police states in the non-western world," "they have consistently sought to consolidate their political power and to liquidate all internal political opposition."
The above also answers Yuvapurna's second point, that there is no ruling elite "working to hold back democracy in Thailand."
His third point concerns my example of the shooting of a man without trial. I did not say Marshal Sarit actually shot the man but this is one of Yuvapurna's minor errors. In support of my argument Darling's article in C.S.M. quoted above could be used. He said anyone Marshal Sarit considered a danger to the security of the nation was "invariably labelled" a Communist and Darling gives seven examples of executions without "recourse to the established channels of justice which have existed in Thailand since the 19th century."
Yuvapurna's elaborate description of the present processes of justice in Thailand counts for little in the face of political scientist Darling's statement that Marshal Sarit "has continued (after 1958 to rule the country under martial law."
Yuvapurna's fourth point concerns my statement that "reliable estimates" set the number of Thai political prisoners at 10,000. He ridicules my omission of the details of my reliable source. The estimate of 10,000 was put forward in personal conversation as a conservative one by a well qualified scholar of Asian politics.
It is interesting to note that Yuvapurna claims all political prisoners are suspected Communists or sympathisers (10,000 in: the above estimate). Thompson and Adloff in "Left Wing in South-East Asia" conclude, "Probably at no time has the number of militant Communists in Thailand exceeded a few hundred."
Finally Yuvapuma makes the type of statement characteristic of present Thai political leaders: "The national progress cannot be delayed by political whimsy in order to pay lip service to a highly sophisticated concept of democracy." This concept is simply the idea that government members should be elected.
Yuvapurna says his country's "scarce personal resources" preclude elections. The truth of the matter is obvious when the fact that Sarit "has imprisoned former assembly representatives, newspaper editors, writers, labour leaders, teachers, students and businessmen who have been accused . . . of being Communists" is made clear. I am, etc.,
F. C. Darling in Christian Science Monitor of April 21, 1962.
The Editors apologise to Miss J. Shand for unnecessary remarks made last issue in the news report headed. "Jill Shand Barracked."
Applications are hereby called for the position of Public Relations Officer of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Applications should be handed to the Secretary, VUWSA.