Lucky for us Thailand is not a landlocked neighbor
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-12-09

Palace spokesman, Dr. Anthony Golez, has been promoting and protecting the widely-regarded EVIL in the land. It is a heavy burden to try to defend what many people regard as EVIL. It also becomes inevitable that the defender of EVIL will eventually dish out too much bovine ordure.

Indeed, Anthony Golez dished out more bovine ordure than he can swallow. He reaped the vehement protest of the Ambassador of Thailand, His Excellency Kulkumut Singhara Na Ayudhaya, for comments he made about the recent protest actions in Thailand.

When asked if the Thai protest actions will be duplicated here, Golez answered that such is highly unlikely “because our people have reached a high degree of political maturity whereby our people respect due process and the rule of law.”

Perhaps out of fear that the Thais might just inspire the Filipinos to act and remove the EVIL in the land, Golez indirectly branded the Thai protest actions as a sign of political immaturity.

The inference of political immaturity of the Thais is something no Thai Ambassador will take sitting down — especially after the comment was carried in local and Thai national media.

The Thai envoy countered the Golez comment by saying that what has been happening in Thailand is a showcase of democracy. How can any Filipino argue with that when we ourselves have taken great pride in our own People Power Revolution of 1986 — rightfully claiming that we taught the world a new form of non-violent activism that can topple tyrants and despots?

The Thai Ambassador added: “The protest was only an indication that the Thai people are free to exercise their political rights based on democracy. In fact, the protesters were not violent and they did not destroy the two airports’ facilities.”

The diplomatic faux pas of Golez even affected Senator Richard Gordon who was also called to task by the Thai Ambassador.

Dick Gordon merely commented that street protests similar to those in Thailand will happen here if the foolishness about Charter change does not cease. Gordon did not say anything negative about the Thais or their democracy. He was merely predicting a political crisis that can happen here.

Dick Gordon — one of this Chair Wrecker’s top three favorites for 2010 president — was well within his right to challenge the Thai Ambassador’s tirade against him.

Regarding the ‘political immaturity’ issue, Gordon said: “I did not say that. Why should I say that? I do not know where that came from, but I am sure it did not come from me. Maybe it was from another individual.”

Gordon was further quoted: “Far be it from my mind to say anything against a country. Why should I say that Thai people are politically immature? I think the ambassador had been misinformed on this matter.”

Gordon added: “My statement was clear. What I said was that with the present situation here in the Philippines, such as the Charter change issue, which is also very combustible, we may also find ourselves in the midst of a political unrest if we are not careful.”

A diligent student of history, Dick Gordon noted: “I hold Thai people in very high esteem. Thais have always been experts in dancing diplomacy because they have never been colonized by anybody. They have always remained neutral.”

We are indeed lucky that our country is not a landlocked neighbor of Thailand. By no means can the Thai Ambassador’s protest be treated as an exaggerated response. In the 1980s, another Thai Ambassador also protested when a locally-produced television commercial spoofed the 19th century Thai monarch who was featured in the musicale The King and I. That should tell you how seriously the Thais regard their country, culture, traditions, symbols and figureheads.

The Thais have been known to be ferocious warriors and they have long attained a strong sense of nationhood while we Filipinos are still basically tribal. I love our country and if we ever engage the Thais in a real shooting war, I’ll surely fight for our country. But my betting money will have to follow where my better judgment tells me which side will win that war.

When I had the chance to visit Thailand in 1980, when my former business partners and I were seriously considering going into a cut flower enterprise with a Thai orchid grower, I saw for myself how fiercely nationalistic the Thais are.

At that time, there was serious concern over the Domino Theory happening in Indo-China following the US defeat in Vietnam in 1974. South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have fallen to Communist hands and many were holding their breath if Thailand will follow. Tensions were already being felt in the Thailand-Vietnam border.

In 1980, I thought that I will be seeing an exodus of Thai citizens who feared a Vietnamese invasion. After all, who would not fear a country that just roundly defeated the US? What I saw made me admire the Thais.

There was no sense of fear or panic at all in Thailand. I asked our prospective business partner if he was not afraid of a Vietnamese invasion. He answered: “We beat them before. We will beat them again.”

Out shopping, I posed the same question to many shopkeepers. They all gave similar answers. A female shop owner answered me: “We are 50 million. They are only 40 million. They should be afraid, not us.”

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