Monday, August 04, 2008

The truth about Chamlong

I feel the need to reply to Fearless' recent blog "Class 7 are back again". I have noted that Fearless often uses claims or adjectives that I personally find to be shockingly unfair, in fact I am often surprised that they are not removed for fear of libel action.

However the last blog I felt to be so inaccurate as to be obscene. To that end I felt the need to make some responses, I realise the subject matter will appear dull to most but, in fact, the life of Chamlong Sriamung is anything but dull.

"It is not only weird but plain wrong that we still do not read in Thai history books what the role was of the killers of Class 7, led by the likes of Prem Tinsulonda, Kriangsak and Chamlong."

This implies that the men were old buddies. In fact Chamlong is notably younger than Prem and they did not serve together. Chamlong did not work with Prem until Prem was PM.

"They all had in common that they were just like the old bullies educated by foreigners. In this case the Americans employed them. They gathered intelligence (we all know what Americans mean with gathering intelligence in times of war or looming war) for the Americans in South Vietnam"

Again, Chamlong was not working with Prem at this time. Chamlong served in Laos and Vietnam. He was working for the Thai volunteer division in Vietnam, and Thailand were US allies just as S Korea and Australia were. The Thais were employed more for their knowledge of Jungle warfare than anything else though, and
by his own account Chamlong was in an office most of the time .

I'm not aware that Prem even served in Vietnam.

"Chamlong, Prem and Krangsak did so with as most visible and know achievement the mass murder at Thammasat University at 6 October 1976. "
This is the reason I have been moved to write. The events of Thammasat were horrific - people were burned alive, raped and simply beaten to death while people looked on and smiled. To make flippant, unproven comments about such an event is shocking.

Chamlong did partake in right wing rallies before the events of Oct 6th. His military unit did take part in the coup after the event but there is no evidence to show that he or his men had any part in the violence itself. I am not aware of any source that links Prem with the violence either.

I believe that there is more to be learned about these terrible events but people should use evidence, not blind accusations, to make the case.

"Poor people after all will in general show leftist behaviour. Being robbed by the likes of Chamlong from their dignity they want a honest piece of the economic cake" If there is one thing Class 7 cannot stand is democracy and certainly not democracy influenced by the masses that smells like coming from the left side of the political spectrum. "

During his first run for governor of Bangkok, Chamlong received huge support from food stall owners who felt he had spoken up for them. Chamlong won two Bangkok elections by a considerable margin including votes from many of the working lass.

In his first run as governor, Chamlong would actually go out at night and use his salary to buy food for road sweepers and check they were in good health. He did this not once or twice but many times. He did this not in the eye of the media but in private.

"Make no mistake, the Class 7 alumni are killers, they have showed their disrespect for human life over and over again. Negotiating is not their strongest point. They were behind the mass murder in the 70's and in the 90's. If Chamlong and his friends do not get their way, they will deploy their thugs to get their way. "

Again I find this hard to take. It's one thing to express opinions but words like "killers" and "disrespect for human life over and over again" are not things that should be thrown around lightly simply because you disagree with someone. I think it reflects very poorly on the writer.

In the 90's Chamlong was leading a rally against a dictator who clearly was deeply unpopular. Fearless, how can you call Chamlong undemocratic and a hater of the poor and then blame him for leading a rally that clearly received widespread support against a dictator? You then blame him for the army opening fire on them?

"he blew up his Palang Darma party, after winning a stunning 318 seats in parliament in 1988"

Actually they won only fourteen seats.

"half of them were from his Chanti Asoke sect, unimaginable in any developed country) "
Only one of them was from Santi Asoke.

"he was spit out by the people when they learned about his role in the Thammasat massacre. "

Actually he had spoken publicly about '76 when he first ran for governor. By the time he was PDP leader that was an old issue. He retired from politics twice, both times due to internal issues within his party. I've never heard of him being 'spat out' or of '76 as being an issue in his retirement.

I also feel that if making strong accusations we should be careful with our facts.

Yes, the old elite - especially Prem - have a huge amount to answer for and
Chamlong Srimuang is far from perfect and I do not support the PAD in all doing right now but I do support the protest against amending the constitution.

When we consider that the typical politician - especially in Thailand - is someone whose main interests in life are money, money, more money and perhaps some power in the way, ask yourself who would you prefer? More of the same or a guy who sleeps on a straw mat, gives away the gifts and salary he gets to poor people and spends days on end meditating or running around checking the street sweepers are OK?

Give me the second choice every time.


Bangkok Pundit said...

Good fisking although clearly I differ from you about the conclusions. I think you would strengthen your case if you link to some sources to refute what the other blogger says. Are you getting this from McCargo's book?

Red and White said...

Yes, the source is "Chamlong Srimuang and the new Thai politics" by Duncan McCargo.