Comparisons are odorous Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3 Scene 5

A bomb goes off at Phramongkutklao Hospital and 25 are injured.  The Prime Minister next day says that if such things go on, the election (in the most optimistic scenario at least 18 months away) may have to be delayed.

A bomb goes off the next day at the Manchester Arena and, at the time of writing, 22 are killed and over 50 injured.  There is not one whiff of a suggestion that the general election on June 8 (16 days away) (note: days, not months) needs to be postponed.  In fact, the sentiment is that a failure to carry on as normal will signal surrender to the bombers.

Of course, the UK election is organized according to the laws of a transparent political system.

A double bomb goes off in Pattani Big C and 60 are injured.  The Prime Minister next day says nothing about delaying the election ‘as long as the situation continues this way -- bombings, use of war weapons, conflicts among people and other such problems’ even though that more or less exactly sums up the situation in the Deep South over the last decade and more.

Of course, bombs, violence and loss of life are a normal everyday occurrence in the south, despite the massive resources deployed by the military in terms of personnel and equipment, including the outrageously expensive GT200 bomb-non-detectors and the never-found-anything-yet and equally outrageously expensive airship.  It is only when bombs go off in Bangkok that the government gets its electoral knickers in a twist.

The casualty toll in the Big C bombing was kept to a minimum by trained staff who locked the exits after the first bomb exploded and told everyone to keep down and away from the bomb in the pickup outside that was waiting for them.

The casualty toll in the Phramongkutklao Hospital was not minimized.  A written warning had been received by the National Cancer Institute that a terrorist attack was planned at 3 state-run hospitals in the area, including Phramongkutklao Hospital, and was passed on the local police.  And still the administration of the Phramongkutklao Hospital left 9 of the 13 CCTV cameras at the site of the explosion out of commission.

Of course the trained staff at Pattani Big C are civilians, whereas Phramongkutklao Hospital is run by the Army.

The May bomb in front of the National Theatre was initially blamed by Pol Lt Gen Sanit Mahatavorn on a ‘falling sign’ with no trace of explosives.  He later explained that this was a piece of make-believe so that police could conduct a secret investigation that involved cordoning off a wide area and widespread newspaper reports that all talked of a bomb.  The secret lasted all of 24 hours.

The identity of the suicide bomber in Manchester was kept secret by investigators to enable them to move against suspected accomplices without warning.  The bomber’s identity was shared with US security agencies who promptly leaked it to the media.

Of course some investigations do not disclose information for a specific purpose.  Others leak for the kick of it and tell lies that no one believes.

On the wider subject of terrorism, President Trump gave a speech in Riyadh on 21 May on US-Muslim relations to the leaders of 55 Muslim countries.  He berated Iran for funding, arming and training terrorists.  He called on ‘all nations of conscience’ to ‘pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.’

This came just 2 days after presidential and local elections in Iran (where women could vote freely), resulting in the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani.  He received the congratulations of the UN, EU, UK, France, Germany, Japan, China, Iraq and even Turkey among others.  But not the US.  Or Israel.

Trump was speaking in a country allows no national elections or political parties.  There are municipal elections (to manage garbage collection and such) and in a massive leap forward for Saudi politics, women were allowed to stand and vote for the first time in 2015.  Just as long as they get permission from their male guardian.  In January last year, a cleric who called for democracy and free elections in Saudi Arabia was executed.

Trump’s audience included such luminaries of freedom and democracy as Uzbekistan (‘Uzbekistan's record of cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms is arguably the among worst in the world’ says Human Rights Watch), Egypt (an international centre for torture according to Amnesty International) and Uganda (where homosexual activity is illegal and outings of LGBTs in the media are common with calls to ‘hang them’).

Of course, among ‘just and righteous governments’, some are more just and righteous than others.  And sign multi-billion arms deals with Trump.


About author:  Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).