Thursday, 24 February 2011

Santi Asoke head condemns use of force

via CAAI

Published: 24/02/2011
Deploying military force is not the way to solve the border dispute with Cambodia, says the head of the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect.

"I do not support the call by People's Alliance for Democracy leader [Sondhi Limthongkul] for military force to solve the border problem or seize back the disputed area," Samana Photirak said.

"But it's understandable that people have strong emotions. That's the reason we are here - to remind us that peace is around," he told an audience at the Foreign Correspondents Club yesterday.

Despite his reservations, he said PAD's stance of defending Thai territory and standing up to Cambodia was righteous.

"We all know what [Cambodia Prime Minister] Hun Sen is like, so we have to stop him from acquiring our land.

"The 4.6 square kilometres of disputed area [on the border with Cambodia] is ours and this is not a misunderstanding."

Samana Photirak avoided answering a question about Thailand and Cambodia's agreement to invite Indonesia to deploy observers on the two sides of the disputed border area, saying only that Santi Asoke had no plans to end its protest.

Supporters of the Santi Asoke sect and PAD have been blocking two roads near Government House in protest against the way the government is handling the border dispute.

Samana Photirak said Santi Asoke had come out to push for "real" democracy, and save the disputed land.

He said it was the duty of Asoke supporters to help the nation when it was in trouble and when people in office made a mess of things.

"We succeeded in a non-violent 193-day protest in 2008, and we will succeed again," he said, referring to the protest in which the sect joined forces with the PAD at Government House to dispel the Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat administrations.

He said the situation this time was worse than in 2008.

"This administration fools people through complicated, well-organised and mobilised fronts to appear democratic."

Samana Photirak said no true political party could really serve the people and act democratically.

"Even the New Politics Party [PAD's party] is unlikely to get there.

"It would matter more if we could get a person who is really honest and would manage the country for the benefit of the people. The person could be a dictator or authoritarian, but as long as they govern without greed and desire, that is fine," he said.

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