This is part XXIII of “Tongue-Thai’ed!”, an ongoing series where we collect the most baffling, amusing, confusing, outrageous and appalling quotes from Thai politicians and other public figures. Check out all past entries here.
With the anti-amnesty bill protests in full swing all week long in the capital Bangkok, the opposition Democrat Party have stepped up their game and apparently also their rhetoric – but not necessarily to new heights.
Nearly all senior party members have come out to rile up the crowd led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thuagsuban, a regular on this section. But today’s “Tongue-Thai’ed!” comes from somebody else in the Democrat Party: Surin Pitsuwan is a seasoned politician with a lot of experience, especially in foreign affairs. No wonder he was deputy foreign minister and until recently secretary-general of ASEAN. He returned from Jakarta to Bangkok and back into the fold of his party earlier this year. Since then he has been mostly in the background but recently took to the stage of the rally at Thammasat University to show his opposition to the flawed broad amnesty bill.
Many statements included the usual rhetoric that, “Thais should stand up and reclaim their honor” however there were more concrete messages such as, “This government is unacceptable for the ASEAN stage“. However, one thing that stood out was a reference to an article by the Council of Foreign Relations that says the ruling Pheu Thai Party is “operating like an elected dictatorship”. Here’s what Noch Hautavanija (the assistant to the recently resigned party deputy Korn Chatikavanij) tweeted:
“ฮิตเลอร์ก็มาจากการเลือกตั้ง และเป็นเผด็จการ” คุณสุรินทร์
— Noch Hautavanija (@NochPH) November 7, 2013
Translation: “Hitler also came [to power] through elections and it was a dictatorship” Mr. Surin
Here we go again! After Suthep and former foreign minister Kasit, we have yet another senior figure of the Democrat Party invoking Godwin’s Law when talking about the government of Thaksin Shinawatra and its associated successors and unfortunately it seems to be one of the more level-headed figures in the party. Seriously, is it now a requirement in the party to draw a Hitler comparison whenever speaking about the political rivals?
For the last time, here’s why the argument the Hitler-came-to-power-through-elections-so-democracy-is-bad is just wrong:
Hitler never had more than 37 percent of the popular vote in the honest elections that occurred before he became Chancellor. (…) Unfortunately, its otherwise sound constitution contained a few fatal flaws. The German leaders also had a weak devotion to democracy, and some were actively plotting to overthrow it. Hitler furthermore enjoyed an almost unbroken string of luck in coming to power. He benefited greatly from the Great Depression, the half-senility of the president, the incompetence of his opposition, and the appearance of an unnecessary back room deal just as the Nazis were starting to lose popular appeal and votes. (source)
Sound familiar? You can criticize the current (and the past Thaksin governments) for being arrogant (especially with the current push on the blanket amnesty bill), or even politically overbearing – but to compare it to one of the darkest periods in German history, and also being factually wrong at that, is not only unworthy of the name the party is bearing, but also of the international standing Surin has.
About the author:
Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and freelance foreign correspondent. He writes about Thai politics and current affairs since 2010 and reports for international news media like Channel NewsAsia. Read his full bio on about.me/saksith.