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[ 2015-02-08 ]

A more appropriate US policy toward Thailand

As an American citizen who has lived in Thailand for the past 12 years, I propose an alternative and hopefully more beneficial US policy toward Thailand. These comments are prompted by the visit of the Deputy Undersecretary of State Daniel Russel.

Having observed the political protests over the years, I believe there is a strong likelihood that that internal chaos would have only worsened and perhaps led to civil war. Much as I do not like the coup, I believe its leaders had no choice. 

The US policy toward Thailand should have the following ingredients and could be stated as follows:

1. We understand that democracies have many variations and that Thai democracy will be what best suits Thailand. We are ready to aid in this transition to an elected government but realise that this has to be done on a Thai timetable. A premature rush to elections would be detrimental to the Thai nation.

2. Rule of law, whereby all are equal in the eyes of the law, is essential to a functioning democracy. If called upon we will assist in whatever way possible to aid the further development of the organisations responsible for maintaining the rule of law.

3. An educated citizenry is critical to both a strong democracy and the future development of Thailand. We are ready to aid in the reform of Thai education to prepare all Thais to be citizens of a fully functioning democracy with the knowledge and skills for the 21st century.

4. Finally, a free press is important in maintaining the checks and balances in society and in educating the citizenry. We do encourage the removal as soon as possible of any constraints on the press and support constitutional safeguards to maintain the independence of the press.

5. Sometimes we forget in the US that our democracy has been in development since 1783, when the constitution was signed, and in fact is still a work in process. We know this transition in Thailand will take time, and as a longstanding ally of Thailand, we offer to work together with Thailand on this journey so that it can be completed as expeditiously and inclusively as possible.

William B Shaw

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