ASEAN Diplomacy: Prayuth’s Boast & Malaysia’s Snub

Prayuth’s Boast & Malaysia’s Snub!

On this past Sunday, Thai junta head, Prayuth, went on TV and “Boasted” that foreign countries were more understanding of Thailand. However, just a day earlier, Bangkok Post national security journalist twittered, that Malaysia, similar to Thailand in having an elite ruling class governs the country in a very monopolistic way and bordering Thailand’s militant infested Deep South, “Snubbed” Prayuth.

On Saturday, Bangkok Post national security journalist twittered:

Deep Blue Sea @WassanaNanuam • Jun 14

เป็นงง…รมว.กห.มาเลเซีย แจ้งทบ.ของดออกสื่อมาพบพล.อ.ประยุทธ์และผบ.สส.จันทร์นี้ ทบ.สั่งยกเลิกนักข่าวไทย-เทศทำข่าว หลังแจ้งช่วยตีปี๊บมาเลฯหนุน

(Translation: Confused….Malaysia’s Defense Minister cancel press appearance for this Monday meeting with Prayuth and Thailand’s Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff so Thai Army, canceled all invited journalist, local and foreign, after asking journalist to help public relations the meeting)

Even with that news on Saturday, on Sunday with Prayuth went on TV for a national address, Thailand Tribune reported (source):

“Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has said a number of foreign countries have started to understand Thailand better, about three weeks after the military seized power in the country. Speaking during a televised address, Gen Prayuth, leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which took over the country in the May 22 bloodless coup, said the attitude of friendly countries has gradually improved and they understand Thailand better. This could be seen from an official visit to China by the permanent secretary of Defense and the visit to Australia by Justice Ministry officials, he said, adding that the NCPO is preparing to invite the US and Japanese officials for discussions soon.”

Worse for Prayuth:

ASEAN as a whole is undergoing a transformation, from stressing iin the ASEAN formation charter, that each country will not interfear in the internal affairs of other ASEAN state, to a new focus.

AS Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pointed out, the new ASEAN Charter dictates that members must respect democratic values and rights.

An objective in Article 1 of the charter is to strengthen democracy, good government and rule of law, and to promote and protect rights and fundamental freedoms. All members are obliged to strengthen democracy ahead of their integration as a common market by the end of 2015.

The term “democracy, good governance, rule of law and rights” might be interpreted differently in different countries, but ASEAN members should be on common ground on the definition of democracy as respecting the “will and rights of the people.” Any form of governance that goes against the people’s will and rights should not be considered democratic. Hence, any attempt within its member countries to seize the reins of power and defy the will of the people should be met by ASEAN’s collective disapproval.

It is important to note that, shortly before the coup, Thailand had volunteered to take a leading role in pushing key tasks to promote democracy and rights across the region. ASEAN must take this opportunity to set democracy and democratic values as norms in the region, using Thailand as the test case. Otherwise, its charter should be amended.

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