Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 12:29 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 12:29 | SYDNEY

Thaksin for the Albright Award


Malcolm Cook

8 April 2010 14:37

Last year The Interpreter launched the Madeleine Albright Award for the use of symbol, stunt, prop, gesture or jest in international affairs.

A new Lowy Institute paper on the Patani Malay insurgency in Thailand's 'deep south' throws up a strong candidate for the award, even if it does stretch the international affairs criterion. Then-Prime Minister Thaksin's action, however, was a symbol, stunt, prop, gesture and jest all in one.

Quoting from page 57:

The dismissive manner in which the Thaksin Administration dealt with the conflict was further compounded by misplaced populist policies that did little more than further amplify the ignorance on the part of the Thai state of the challenges confronting it. This was demonstrated most profoundly in Thaksin’s bizarre move to drop millions of paper cranes from military transport as a ‘gesture’ of peace...

...Paradoxically, while this act boosted Thaksin’s popularity nationwide, it did virtually nothing to improve the relations between the Malay-Muslim south and the rest of the country, or the Thai state for that matter. A leading Thai-Muslim academic, Chaiwat Satha-anand, had already warned that Muslims would perceive Thaksin’s gesture of peace differently, cryptically drawing attention to the fact that the Qur’an in Sura 105 (‘al Feil´or ‘The Elephant’) that flocks of birds would be unleashed from the sky to strike at the enemy of Islam and flatten them like blades of grass. The irony would not be lost of Malay-Muslim minds.

Photo by Flickr user Terriko, used under a Creative Commons license.