Thursday, March 12, 2009

Should Aphisit speak at Oxford?

The Nation today highlighted an open letter from Lee Jones to a colleague at Oxford Uni regarding the forthcoming appearence of Khun Aphisit. Lee has a website with some insightful articles on teaching and a blog. As I felt his letter was slightly unfair, I sent him the following as a comment. What do you think? Who was right?

EDIT: Lee has since made a post explaining that actually it was not an open letter but a private email which was leaked. As such, it was slightly harsh for PT to use it in a press conference but can anyone be surprised at politicians exploiting others for personal gain?

Mr Jones,

I am pleased to have found your blog and website, I'm only surprised I didn't discover it sooner, though I am familiar with your work on the esteemed New Mandala blog.

You touch on many issues on which we are in agreement, but because I am located in Thailand it would be unwise for me to comment on all of them. However, please allow me to express my profound disagreement with you on the tone of your letter to Sir Michael.

You strongly imply that there is a link between the rise to power of the Democrats and the PAD street protests. This in itself is a fallacy; the PPP were removed from power because of the outcome of judicial procedures that began well before the street protests were underway. Whilst there may be talk of a 'judicial coup' , it should be noted that the verdict of the courts was aired publicly over several hours, and there is no evidence to suggest that the Democrat Party had any sway over the verdicts. Therefore, I think it is highly unjust to imply a direct link between Aphisit's promotion and the court verdict.

With regards to your comments on the PAD wanting: 'an end to universal suffrage and an unelected PM', this is a wildly embellished paraphrase. I attended a press conference with Kasit - the politician you describe as 'a PAD leader and now foreign minister' - and the policies of the PAD were discussed. At no time was an unelected PM suggested or even implied and the only nod towards 'universal suffrage' was a suggestion - and it was strictly highlighted as a suggestion only - that a person's voting power could be affected by how much tax they pay. Kasit was also careful to distinguish between his role as a Democrat and a PAD supporter. Indeed, he was only a supporter and not one of the seven PAD leaders as you suggest.

As a minor aside, Chidchob Newin is in fact Newin Chidchob.

I stress I do not wish to defend the actions of the PAD, but I do want to express my disagreement with your approach to Aphisit's speech at Oxford, as I sense you wish to encourage a cancellation. I feel your approach is similar to those who disagreed with the appearance of Nick Griffin and David Irving at Oxford Unions some time ago i.e. by utilising an undemocratic approach to counter a perceived anti-democrat. Rather than attempt to stop Aphisit speaking,why not confront him with your concerns?
Thanks again for your work, it is particularly enlightening to read thoughts from a fellow teacher of your calibre and I look forward to reading more.


My lack of bloggage has been mainly due to a bizarre and unpleasant complaint that hopefully has passed. It has bought me into contact with several people and places that I plan to blog about soon.

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