Reaction To Thailand’s Omission From Democracy Summit : Churlish Not Classy

Reaction To Thailand’s Omission From Democracy Summit : Churlish Not Classy

Reaction To Thailand’s Omission From Democracy Summit : Churlish Not Classy

Last week, the revelation that Thailand will not be among the 110 nations the Biden administration has invited to its “Summit for Democracy” rocked the country with many asking if we are not a democracy, then what are we?

There is anger, some directed at America itself and some at the leaders of our country for bringing us to this state of affairs.

The ill-feeling towards the US is misguided as even within our country itself, the public is divided on whether we are a democracy in actual practice or not and how can we blame a foreign entity for being confused over our identity?

PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha reply was curiously low-key but rather incomprehensible even to Thai netizens, something about Thai people needing to stick together.
In short, nothing you can hang your hat on, on what the country’s stance and direction would be.

On the other hand, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand has been quite vocal and had a bit to say on the subject, which translates to a straight outright accusation of the US President Joe Biden indulging in politics and nothing else and Thais should not take the rejection seriously and it’s good we were not invited because we would then have to decide whether we should attend or not.

He also warned against throwing a tantrum over it and stamping our feet in anger  for not getting what we want.

The Foreign Minister’s reply comes across as churlish and arrogant, the reaction is not befitting of the topmost diplomatic envoy of our country.

In fact, if this is the way the Foreign Minister wants to behave, why do we need a Foreign Minister at all? 

Shouldn’t a Foreign Minister’s job be to make sure diplomatic ties are maintained in such a way that our country’s best interests are put forward?

However, it could stem out of a guilty conscious on his part for failing the country on two counts. 

Firstly, the positioning of neutrality of our country in this mega war of supremacy between the US and China, regardless of our form of democracy has not been well played.
In the past, Thailand was considered an ally of America and although geopolitics and domestic politics has changed, the country has now moved from relevance to irrelevance and possibly now to obscurity. It can be argued that this is a serious lapse in our diplomacy. We did not bring our A game to the arena and we lost. It’s pointless to now say we did’t even want to be in the game.

Secondly, while the international community was condemning the military coup in Myanmar and being cautious in their approach, Foreign Minister Don decides to land up there bearing gifts of 11 tons of goodies and meeting with Ming Aung Hlaing, the general who sized power.

The foreign minister’s argument is that many countries, including ASEAN countries have urged him to lend a helping hand to the people of Myanmar on humanitarian grounds.

However, first of all Thailand does not have the ASEAN chair this year, why were we asked to go? And secondly, other countries have only sent special envoys not top ranking officials such as a Foreign Minister or a Deputy Prime Minister.

Foreign Minister Don says nothing in politics is absolute and not everything can be revealed to the public. Fair enough, but why then should we send such a public figure to the country where international community’s sentiments are swinging the other way? Wouldn’t a Special Envoy have sufficed?

Is this why we warranted a visit from David S. Cohen, the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to PM Prayuth? 

Are we saying we actually don’t care what the world thinks? That because of our own history of military coups we are sympathetic to the coup makers of Myanmar? That we don’t give two hoots for what the international community feels about our commitment to democracy?
If so, we shouldn’t be surprised by our exclusion from the summit and in that case we really do not need to have a Foreign Minister to create any more controversies instead of calming the storm and moving our country to a position of undeniable relevance in the international community.

Written By - Patra Manas.