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Thai junta will be judged by the outcome of its work
Publication Date : 09-06-2014
They say something is "politically correct" because it is not necessarily morally right. People identifying themselves with one camp or the other in the Thai ideological divide should know this better than anybody else. It has been some kind of a war, and like every war, bad things happen on both sides. If one wants to be politically correct all the time in Thailand, he or she can easily fall off the tightrope.
Concerning Thailand in particular, being politically correct does not equal saying what your heart tells you. After all, no proclaimed human rights advocate has equally treated violent incidents happening in this country over the past few years. The media have toed their ideological lines, amplifying some things and turning a blind eye to others. It's the same, or even worse, for the general activists, who see some deaths as deplorable and others as unavoidable or even well deserved.
Political correctness in its origin must have carried more moral weight. Now, it's all about avoiding saying things or expressing thoughts that may offend those who expect you to be on their side. If you are a hero of the red shirts, you can never wholeheartedly condemn the broad-daylight murder of an anti-government protester. If supporters of Suthep Thaugsuban love you, you cannot say no to the coup or media censorship. The best you can do is say you are saddened by it and that's that.
They call it political correctness for good reason. One wants to be "seen" as being right. One doesn't want to disappoint their political allies, so to speak. The truth is that politics and correctness rarely go together. The truth is that politics involves a lot of vested interests while correctness does not need to be seen. If you worry too much about the fans, chances are you will do what they want, not necessarily what you should do.
It gets even more complicated when you are a diplomat. What's happening in Thailand is by no means a textbook situation. Black is never really black and white is never really white. This explains why many Thais are strongly disappointed with some Western countries or their embassies. Those Thais believe that this country's situation has been over-simplified, with the coup and anti-government protest painted as absolute black while the conspicuous usage of the "democratic mandate" of the overthrown administration was never questioned.
If political correctness as we know it is determining what happens next to Thailand diplomatically, the country may have to brace itself for some repercussions. Australia has initiated some tough anti-coup moves, and the United States and European Union have made a lot of noise. Not that the coup-makers seem to care that much, though, as what happens domestically is far more important to them, at least for now. It's more imperative for Thailand to have political peace and establish a political system that is clean and accountable. In other words, what's most important to Thailand is an all-encompassing reform to guarantee the country will not go back to the past turmoil.
On this, the junta must deliver. If the crisis has taught anyone anything, it's the simple lesson that people should not jump to conclusions. Here, the line is very thin between politically bad and politically good. A democratically elected political party has had its shot and it didn't quite work out and the jury is still pretty much out on the military junta. Trying to be seen as politically correct too soon, therefore, may equal being absolutely wrong one day.