No Bent Copper
Retired Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn is not your average policeman. Apart from winning literary awards, he is regarded as a leading anomaly in the Thai police – an honest copper.
He gives talks on the benefits of Buddhist meditation, commenting that in his youth he unthinkingly, and regretfully, violated the First Precept of Buddhism when he killed chickens and things for his mother to cook. At the same time he advocates imposing the death penalty for corruption, on the argument that nothing else has worked. Clearly the man is a gifted thinker and worth a closer study.
His literary bent has him writing op-eds in Matichon where his theme very often turns to the defence of the monarchy. All well and good and perhaps, given his long career in Palace Security, perfectly understandable.
The problem comes when he goes onto the offensive and makes repeated use of an argumentative ploy that is sadly all too common in the heated political debates in this country. It is a strategy used by parents the world over (my mother was a skilled practitioner). It is the art of reading other people’s minds for them.
Pol Gen Vasit’s ability to do this allows him to expose the lack of understanding and true motives of those who wish to say anything about the monarchy that Pol Gen Vasit himself does not agree with. Just as my mother would say ‘No, you don’t want an ice-cream.’ And if I protested that I did, honestly and truly, want one, she would add ‘You don’t know what you do want.’
Take for example, Pol Gen Vasit’s outrage at criticism by the US of the sentences passed in recent lèse majesté cases. Not for him the easy option of telling foreigners to bug off out of the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. No, he tackles the problem at its source – ignorance, just as paticcasamuppada would tell him.
(Non-Buddhist scholars may need to be informed that paticcasamuppada is normally translated as the Law of Dependent Origination.)
(And all you non-Buddhist scholars are still no better off, are you? See, just proves it. It all starts with ignorance.)
He looks at the knowledge of US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, who Pol Gen Vasit seems to think composes US State Department policy on such things all by herself (and having seen a few of her tweets, I’m not sure he’s altogether wrong).
Now Pol Gen Vasit has been to an American university, so he has the authority to say that no matter how many degrees you get from whatever educational institution, you only get an understanding of foreign people and places that is ‘superficial’. This, and her previous postings around the world, would not make her sufficiently aware that ‘the Thais’ feelings toward their King are completely different from those of Americans toward the President of the United States of America.’
So apart from failing to spot things in Thailand like the 8 o’clock royal news on every channel every night and the photos in every commercial establishment down to the noodle shop, Ambassador Kenney has somehow missed the wall-to-wall anti-Obama diatribes on Fox News and the complete absence of any such equivalent in Thailand. A sad failing in a top diplomat.
Even worse, Pol Gen Vasit believes that foreigners like Kenney may not know that ‘the Thai King has been enthroned by succession in the dynasty, not by election for a four-year term like the American president.’
Fancy an American Ambassador to Thailand thinking that the King was elected! How amazing that the curricula of US schools and universities should have left this out!
And how much superior must be the syllabus in Thai schools where every child studies Section II of Tom Paine’s ‘Common Sense’ (published for the benefit of the American colonists in their struggle against the British – don’t American ambassadors study even their own history?) and the arguments for hereditary succession!
And of course Thai history textbooks accurately portray just what has happened in the glorious 700 years of monarchical rule in Siam where time after time the succession descended into a fratricidal bloodbath.
Even elementary schoolchildren in Thailand know better than foreigners with multiple university degrees. This is because the Thai blood in their veins makes them aware of Thainess. And this is not, as many inescapably ignorant foreigners may think, a racist concept.
It is possible for some Thais to forget their Thainess (whether this involves a concomitant change in their blood chemistry, Pol Gen Vasit does not make clear). People like the Nitirat group, who may appear to be campaigning against the lèse majesté law, but, as Pol Gen Vasit knows, are really and truly campaigning against the monarchy.
Because of their foreign education, they may have forgotten that Thailand has been ruled by Kings since ancient times. Their ignorance may even worse than that. ‘Nitirat probably don’t know that since Sukhothai, when a king ascended to the throne, there was an important royal ceremony called a coronation.’
Oh, the perils of a foreign education, where such basic facts can somehow be deleted from the memory! How could this danger have come about?
Well the good policeman knows. It is because the rok banya on (literally, the disease of feeble-mindedness) which farangs suffer from has infected Thais who have learned to read English, of all the recklessly wrong-headed things to do.
He’s no bent copper. But these ideas are certainly twisted.