Proscribing Militant Organizations might precipitate blatant acts of International terrorism Senator Kraisak Choonhavan
International Community is hereby forewarned of the tragic consequences that might ensue by the proscription of the militant outfits. They have to be afforded opportunity to renounce violence and terror and a chance to rehabilitate. Therefore, proscribing would not be the healing remedy to terrorism. International community must have to take into consideration the correct remedial measures against militant outfits, but should not take actions that might force militants to turn into international terrorist outfits.
Senator Kraisak Choonhavan, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed his fears and concern, stating that proscribing Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Tamil separatist outfit of Sri Lanka and other 20 organizations under the Terrorism Act 2000, in United Kingdom, might precipitate blatant acts of international terrorism. He said that it was unfortunate that the government of the United Kingdom has come forward to proscribe the LTTE due to pressure exerted by India and Sri Lanka.
Thai Senator said: "British colonized the country, earlier called Ceylon. It is alleged that, they failed to address the reasonable grievances of the Tamils for their administrative convenience, when they ruled, nearly for 150 years. The move to proscribe the Tamil separatist outfit indicates that Britain has simply ignored their earlier colonial legacy, past misadventures, moral obligations and responsibilities towards the Tamil minorities. This was a move to put behind the horrible "divide and rule," - their colonial ploy of the past".
He added that the proscription should at least have been delayed until the commencement and the conclusion of the peace dialogue between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. "If in case," Kraisak Choonhavan pointed out, "the Tigers were to be inflexible and uncompromising during the negotiation, Britain would have used the leverage of the threat, to bring them to reality." He insisted that by proscribing, Britain has lost a great opportunity to tame the Tigers.
Kraisak Choonhavan, born on 1947, son of Late General Chatchai Choonhavan, the former Prime Minister (4 August 1988 23 February 1991) and the grandson of Late Field Marshal Pin Choonhavan. He had his higher education, M.A. (Political Science), at the University of London and was a lecturer for 15 years at Kasetsart University, one of the three best higher educational institutions in Thailand.
He was earlier the Chief Advisor to the Federation of Labors Union and was the Advisor to the Cooperative Group of Farmers, which later turned into the most vociferous organization - "The Forum of The Poor," that was responsible, in a great extent, to make the last Chuan Lekpais Government, unpopular. Subsequently, from 1988 1991, he was the Advisor to his father, General Chatchai Choonhavan, the Prime Minister, who was responsible to turn Thailand with the popular slogan "From the Battlefield to Market Place." From 1996 1999, he was Advisor to the Governor of Bangkok, on environmental and cultural matters. He is also the Chairman of a Bangkok based feminist group.
In the year 2000, he was elected as one of the Two-hundred elected senators, under Thailands 1997 constitution. This was the first time; senators are being elected under non-partisan system and without either political affiliations or vested interests.
"Thamil" - the Dark skinned people
At an exclusive interview, this writer had with Senator Kraisak Choonhavan, Chairman of Thailands prestigious Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, he said: "It is unfortunate that the word Thamil (Tamil) in Thailand has been linked to bad and evil things. This might be due to the influence of Mahavansa and Dipavamsa, the Pali language Buddhist chronicles and might be due to the preaching by the anti-Tamil monks. However, the word Thamil in Thai language means "dark," but do not mean a slur or denote a bad epithet. This word indicates those people who have black skin. Unfortunately, since of late, this word has been used to connote all evil things. For example, "Phrasappah Thamil" in Thai means the Dark May of 1992, indicating the peoples uprising against General Suchinda Kaprayoon, who ousted the democratically elected government of my father, General Chatchai Choonhavan, by staging a military coup."
Senator said that the Chinese integration into the aristocracy made the skin of the aristocracy much lighter than they were before. He continued, "if not for the Chinese integration, we too would be dark skinned people. Otherwise, there would not have been any marked difference between us and the people of the South Indian origin. It all became a reality, due to a process of continuous mixture, admixtures and assimilation, which resulted in Thais being fair skinned people."
Sri Lanka and the Separatist outfit
Senator Kraisak, the only Thai political leader who sports a mustache, said, "I am always appalled at the terrorist action, at times the Tamil militants bring upon the innocent Sinhalese population. I am saying this because, these are actions that are so widely reported, when any thing happens to the Sinhalese in the urban centers in Sri Lanka, despite the other offensive campaigns that might be going on in the other regions against the Tamils. I am equally appalled and always been against the Sinhalese suppression of the Tamils."
The Thai Senator ostracized the Sri Lankan government, saying, "I am totally against the state terrorism unleashed against the Tamil population. Even politically acceptable people like Late Srimavo Bandaranaike - let her soul be blessed, it was alleged that, she was responsible for the extra-judicial killing of more 25,000 JVPers, (Marxist oriented Janata Vimukti Perumuna) and she coming from socialist background, I find the gruesome killings unacceptable and brought about a bad reputation to the socialist."
Kraisak Choonhavan, a third generation political leader, condemned the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, alleged to be the act of LTTE. He said, "The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the former Indian Prime minister and the allegation that he was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, was the most unfortunate thing that had happened. I have met Rajiv Gandhi on several occasions. I have seen him in his eyes and found the glitter and the glow of an intellectual. He brought fresh air into Indian politics and Indian approach to politics, where political professional dominates. I wish that he had stayed longer."
On a philosophical note, Kraisak added, "In any organization or in any political set-up, the military wing of any organization or any military organization, will obviously come under the prejudice and scrutiny of any government. However, the Tamil Tigers who also double as the political wing of the Tamils, should have been precluded in England, like the Irish Shin Fein. More you push the LTTE, I am afraid that, they may become more of a new brand of blatant terrorists."
Thailand should apologies to its neighbors:
When commenting about the politics of Thailand, the Senator said: "It is time that Thailand get out of its old shell of thoughts. Government should concentrate on modern ideas, encompassing the new ideology of our new nation by embracing the idea of democracy, human rights, to lift the standard of the people. It has to be done beyond the existing functional norms of the bureaucratically led practice of the past. On establishing relations with its neighbors, I have requested the last government of Chuan Lekpai (09 November 1997 February 2001) and the present government, to reconsider our past. Wounds we have inflicted in the past to our neighbors by our uncalled for interventions, which has caused lot of pains on our neighbors. Also by Thailands support of civil wars in the neighboring countries and through unnecessary interventions in their internal affairs."
He castigated: "Thai support to the US massive interventions, which should also be recorded. Hence, once you consider this, Thailand would become more humble as a country. What I am saying is that, the Thai government should recognize what they have done in the past, so that it should not consider itself as a mini-super power in the region, and treat the neighboring countries equally, based upon the ideology of democracy and equality."
Kraisak emphasized: "I came out already with the controversial statement that, Thailand should apologize to our neighbors for our past. People in Thailand were shocked when I said that. This statement has already created controversy. No problem, it is a factual statement, but unfortunately bitter. We have to come to terms with reality by coming forward to reconcile the past by our present actions."
He explained: "The Japanese are trying to do the same thing. They have said in their constitution that, you cannot build the armed forces that would threaten the other nations any more. This is enshrined in their constitution. The Japanese feel very guilty of what they have done during the World War, for massacring innocent people and for other ruthless measures undertaken by them. However, we have not done it directly, but we provided our territory and Thailands sovereignty for others to bomb and attack our neighbors for more than ten years."
When asked about the controversy surrounding the application of personal diplomacy instead of quiet diplomacy, the Chairman of Thailands Senate Foreign Affairs Committee expressed: "I belief in personal diplomacy only on a very intimate negotiation level, but as far as our national interest is concerned, it would have its drawbacks, can have its contradictory effects. For instance if the public wants to show sympathy to the Iraqis against the American bombings, but if you have such an intimate relationship with George W.Bush, US President, then you would show reluctance to represent the countrys feelings and aspirations."
He posed, "Will personal diplomacy be able to mitigate the direct supervision and production of the illegal drugs, that the Burmese government is presently involved? Does personable diplomacy able to stop the massacres and violent repressive actions against minorities and the pro-democratic forces in Burma?"
He explained "This action by the so-called friends of General Chavilit Yongchaiyuth, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense (who is the leader of the National Aspiration Party, one of the two coalition partners of Prime Minister Thakshin Shinwataras government. He was also Prime Minister of Thailand - 25 November 1996 09 November 1997) is doing more harm to our country, than anything else, because Thailand is being used as the major market for illegal drugs. We have now more than one million drug addicts in Thailand. We have now more than two million refugees and displaced people in the Southern provinces, whereby our resources are being drained unnecessarily."
He concluded, "Personal Diplomacy might gain concession for casinos, logging and to the so-called mega projects, but I cant see how personal diplomacy could deviate the Burmese governments determination to maintain continuously a pariah state in Burma."
When explaining the stand he has taken about Burma, he added: "I have always advocated for the past twenty years, for the upholding of the human rights, individual freedom, freedom of expression, rule of law and a government based on democratic principles. I have voiced my strong concern for the plight of the minorities all over, also opposed oppression and suppression. Even in the case of the minorities in Thailand, I have always opposed the violation of the rights and freedom of the minorities. For the last twenty years, I have strongly criticized and condemned against the unauthorized incarceration, extra-judicial killings and massacre with impunity of the minorities in Burma. I support all efforts for the democratization in Burma."
Kraisak reprimanded the Thai government: "Earlier the Thai government, for its own volition, supported the minorities against the Burmese military, but about eight years ago, it stopped and proceeded to facilitate the further suppression of the minorities by providing strategic and tactical support to the Burmese army, on the campaign against the minorities. Due to Thai governments sudden shift in its policy, the minorities in Burma have been so weakened. The Karen, Shan, Mon and Kasson and other groups are all been weakened by the Thai governments help to the Burmese military. So now, what we have is a confrontation between the Thai and Burmese troops, without the buffer. The Shan State Army (SSA) has in fact, attracted this confrontation even further. With the Shan group and others gone, Burmese government is now free to support United Wa State Army (UWSA) and other minorities in their drug production for export in a grand scale and in other nefarious activities. This is raising havoc in India, Bangladesh, Laos and Southern part of China. However, we believe that 80% of these drugs come into Thailand and it is a biggest menace in alarming proportion we are now confronted with."
Thailand and UN protocols:
When asked whether he would advocate the ratification of the UN protocol on refugees, the Senator said that though we provide shelter and protection to more than three to four million refugees, still our country is not resourceful enough to be an asylum granting country. Kraisak explained that, a few million Indo-Chinese refugees, including Sri Lankan Tamils, who fled civil wars in their countries, had already made use of Thailand, as a "Third Country." Once their refugees status confirmed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, they have found resettlement in many Western countries, especially in the United States of America, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Scandinavian countries, Australia and New Zealand. He said that, unfortunately Thailand is not geared to be an asylum granting country. In the years to come, he said that Thailand might come forward to ratify the UN instrument on Refugees.
Kraisak expressed satisfaction, that last year, Thailand had taken the wisest decision to ratify the treaty to ban the anti-personal mines. When commenting about the treaty regarding the International Criminal Court, he said that already the country has made determined effort to protect and preserve the human rights of not only of the Thais, but also of all the other nationals living in Thailand. To ratify the ICC, the country could think over it soon, once the climate is ripe to do so.
About Thais investing in South Asian countries, Kraisak Choonhavan said: "I wish that more attention should be paid to South Asia. Today, the Thai culture has undergone drastic changes. Unfortunately, the Thai-Chinese have developed a negative and uncomfortable view about South Asia. They look more towards Japan, Korea and the West. Thais have lost their way and they have completely forgotten about their origin. In the good of Thailand, determined efforts have to be taken to establish healthy climate and good relationship, politically and economically between, Thailand and South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka."
On religion and Telibans of Afghanistan:
Kraisak castigated the Buddhist monks by saying: "It is unfortunate, the religious preachers of Thailand today are those who have turned into commercial monks. You know, we have all lost our soul due to the commercialization of the religion by our preachers."
He was full of praise to the Muslims of Thailand, who represent 08% (eight) of the total population. He said: " Muslims of Thailand are free of drugs and other crimes. They are webbed together and are free from the Chinese influences."
He condemned the Telibans in Afghanistan for their vandalism: "We strongly condemn the annihilation of ancient Buddhist statutes by Afghanistans ruling Telebans. It is a brutal vandalism, and the world has to take steps to preserve the remaining historical replicas forthwith. These replicas not only belongs to the Afghans but are the historical and cultural heritage of the entire mankind."
He added: "It was unfortunate that the Muslim Telebans have come forward to implement a fatwa (an edict or an order by the Muslim clerics) by the countrys Mullahs to demolish the ancient rock statutes and artifacts of the Lord Buddha in Bamiyan province of Afghanistan. Of the statutes feared destroyed is one of the tallest standing Buddha statute. I urge the world to stop this madness of the Telebans who destruct the replicas representing the entire human civilization and heritage."
Senator Kraisak lamented that up to date, 36 to 38 countries in Asia have failed to be united under one banner. He said that there are so many regional organizations, such as ASEAN (Association of the South East Asian Nations), SARC (South Asian Regional Cooperation), Gulf Regional Council etc., but not an Asian Union, embracing all the countries in Asia. Whereas, in the other continents, it has become a reality; for example, Europe with a diverse ethnicity and culture are united under the European Union and the 58 odd countries in Africa, under the banner of African Unity Organization. He said that the idea of an Asia Pacific Union was born between Late General Chatchai Choonhavan, the Thai Prime Minister and John Hawke of Australia. He added that Japan has insisted on numerous occasions for the launch of an Asian Monetary Fund, unfortunately, so far the Thailand has shied away from it.
Whilst concluding the interview, he said he is toying with idea of organizing an "Asian Forum," consisting of academics, intellectuals, leaders, writers and politicians, which would be the precursor to the future Asian union of the States.