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Bangkok Opinion: Crooks come in all colours and masks

BANGKOK: The colour-coded kerfuffle surrounding the death of Akeyuth Anchanbutr makes a strong argument as to why we Thai people need to get a grip.

Voranai Vanijaka

Wednesday 26 June 2013, 12:06PM

If we continue to look at everything through the colour-coded lens stapled to our eyeballs, more likely than not our colour-blindness will also impair other abilities, such as that to think with an ounce of logic or a milligramme of common sense.

The anti-Thaksin Shinawatra crowd of all colours and masks should not make a hero or a martyr out of Akeyuth. Just because someone shares your political alignment doesn’t mean he or she is, or was, saintly, or even a good person.

With all due respect to the deceased and with condolences to his family, as a king of the Ponzi scheme, Akeyuth represented all of the many businessmen in this country who bleed their fellow citizens for personal riches.

As a criminal suspect who fled to another country, only to return after the 20-year statute of limitations expired, he’s but an example of the rich and powerful people who believe they are above the law. His alleged crime wasn’t political; it was straight-up robbery.

As an anti-Thaksin activist, his tactics were neither constructive nor exemplary. They included insulting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and women upcountry as a whole, referring to their supposedly low IQ and loose morals, to put it mildly. 

Remove the colour-coded lens stapled to the eyeballs and please do not confuse the man with his political stance. Look at his life and what he stood for objectively; just because a man hates Thaksin doesn’t make him suddenly a model citizen, in life or in death. 

This doesn't mean he deserved to die or that we should not care about his death. Neither does this mean – for those on the other side of the political fence – that his death should be celebrated. It only means that we should look at his life, and everything else, with objectivity rather than through the colour-coded lens of tribal loyalty. 

That said, the circumstances of his disappearance and death do stink more than a government warehouse full of rotting rice from a certain ill-conceived scheme. It’s not far-fetched to consider that his death may have been politically motivated, but to consider political motives is mere speculation at this point, as evidence to that effect has yet to be found. 

We should also take note that Akeyuth’s sister said she believes it was just a murder and robbery. But with condolences to her, believing in something doesn’t make it true – the truth remains elusive and perhaps will never be found. 

Let the ball swing to the other side of the court and consider the pro-Thaksin crowd.
Just as Akeyuth’s track record is known, so is that of Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung. And just because he came out right away to say that the death was not politically motivated doesn’t make it true, or signal the end of the discussion.  

Mr Chalerm’s past is a matter of record. Just because a few years back he decided it would be politically astute to enter into the service of Thaksin, it doesn’t make him one of the good guys. 

For that matter, everyone – regardless of the colour-coded tribe they belong to – has gripes about the Thai police. The same things we have whined about for decades.
Sure, the chief of the Royal Thai Police is appointed by the Pheu Thai government.
Of course, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau has a portrait of himself and Thaksin hanging on his office wall. Yes, he gave a lifelong pledge to be loyal to the former prime minister. 

C and C Marine

But neither of the two appointments means that the Thai police have suddenly attained the brilliance of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes or the honesty of Dragnet’s Joe Friday. 

With regard to this particular case, the police seemed too willing to chalk it up to simple robbery and homicide by a 24-year-old driver. That doesn't mean we should close our eyes and ears, pat them on the back and say, “Jolly good show, chaps.” 

As mentioned before, facts and evidence are yet to be found with regard to whether or not the disappearance and death were politically motivated. The only thing that we know is that we simply do not know. But yet, too many people are ready to indict Ms Yingluck in a conspiracy to murder. We seriously need to get a grip. To be fair, both Mr Chalerm and the police have said that the investigation will continue. But this brings us back to the earlier point, without the colour-coded lens – does anyone actually think this investigation will go anywhere? Remember, Thailand was Thailand long before there were such things as red, yellow or multi-coloured shirts and Guy Fawkes masks. 

The ordinary citizens of the Kingdom need to realise that our enemy cannot be identified by a particular shirt or mask. Rather, our enemies are crooks – and believe it or not, crooks come in every colour of shirt – green and khaki included. Also, they wear many masks, most of which are not readily apparent to the eye. 

As long as we see one colour only as a lifelong enemy who can do no right, and another as a lifelong loyal friend who can do no wrong, then we the people are divided and weak, mere tools to be made fools of by the powerful and the crooked. 

And if this situation persists we are not only blinded by colour, we are also deaf and dumb.  

The result is that crooks of all colours and masks will continue to get away with their crooked ways. The truth in the Akeyuth case, or any case relating to the rich and powerful, will never be found, as long as ordinary citizens continue to be blinded by tribal loyalties.
There ought to be a united front of Thai people pressuring authorities and demanding that they provide truth and justice, in this or in any case. 

Look at the terrorists who burned and bombed. Look at the authorities who committed extrajudicial killings. Look at the governments that corrupts and abuse freedom and human rights. Look at the ring leaders and the hands of the puppet masters. But first we have to take off the colour-coded lenses attached so firmly to our eyeballs. 

Then and only then will we have our sights straight on what is right and what is wrong.
Neither good nor evil is exclusive to any one colour. 

United we stand against crooks and injustice. Divided by colour-coded tribes, we fall on our hands and knees for the crumbs tossed onto the ground by those crooks, doing a grave injustice to ourselves. 

Voranai Vanijaka is Political and Social Commentator for the Bangkok Post.



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