“They don’t care about the rule of law, facts or internationally recognised due process”
The BBC reports that Thailand’s former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra (and now the proud owner of Manchester City Football Club) has fled to the UK after going on trial for fraud in Thailand. “They don’t care about the rule of law, facts or internationally recognised due process”, Thaksin reportedly complained of his prosecutors. “If I am fortunate enough, I will return and die on Thai soil, just like other Thais”.
Having lived in Thailand for a year under Thaksin’s rule, this struck me as particularly ironic. While I was there, Thaksin’s government embarked on a novel approach to dealing with the country’s drug problem. Rather than putting suspected drug dealers on trial for their alleged crimes, police were given the green light to go out and shoot anyone whose name appeared on a government ‘blacklist’. In just a few months, more than 2,000 of Thaksin’s fellow Thais were killed “on Thai soil”. Predictably, perhaps, many of the names that made their way onto the government’s list of ‘suspects’ to be eliminated turned out to be people against whom corrupt local officials held some personal grudge. A disproportionate number of those killed were from ethnic minorities. When human rights groups raised concerns that what was going on violated the rule of law, and the internationally recognised right to a fair trial and due process, Thaksin brushed these concerns aside as ‘foreign’ interference.
In “Don’t Get Fooled Again” I look at the circumstances surrounding the 2003 “War on Drugs”, and at the very human tendency to think that social and political problems can be solved effectively by taking shortcuts with basic checks and balances.