Waiting for Yingluck to start giving back

In March this year, there was an article detailing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s globetrotting. It concluded that since she took office in August 2011 she had visited about 30 nations - that's about 1.6 foreign trips for each of her 19 months on the job.

Since March, she has continued spending a lot of taxpayers’ time and money globetrotting. She’s the number one public servant, so it’s our time and money she’s spending. 

Understandably, it’s good public relations. And politically, it’s a sound strategy to stay away from Thailand, far away from the mud slinging, the scandals and the controversies. Keep her image clean, at least relatively, and get through to the next general election. 

Meanwhile, let the Democrats scuffle in parliament and sweat in the streets, with its party leader embroiled in the "stupid" comment controversy. 

It’s a good strategy – perhaps not for Thailand, but definitely for family, friends and political party. Certainly better than staying at home and answering reporters’ questions with the proverbial, "I will set up a committee to look into it, na ka." Two years in office, there must be at least 200 committees looking into various things, stumbling in the dark. 

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra tours the office of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where she delivered a speech. (File photo)

But while it’s a good strategy for the political machine, it simply is not constructive for Thailand. Some may argue otherwise, but I beg to differ. Look at the mountains of problems inside the country that need her attention. Any lady or gentleman, smart or stupid, should realise domestic crises trump international public relations. It’s a matter of priorities.  

However, I can live with her globetrotting if the prime minister gives more on these trips. 

I’m a citizen of this nation and I support her and her government if they do wonderful things for Thailand, as I would also benefit. Conversely, I criticise her and her government (or is it "his" government? Ah, never mind, that’s an old story) if they do poorly by the country, after all I would lose out. 

It’s very selfish of me, but it’s democracy, so it’s all about me. Better yet, it’s about us, the 65 million people of Thailand. So she’s our prime minister, whether we like it or not. Therefore we should insist. Nay, we should demand.  

For example, we should insist that the next time she’s in Geneva (lovely city, by the way) to speak at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), she should finish her sentences. When she was there early this week, she simply did not finish her sentences, so I feel my, excuse me, our time and tax money were wasted even more than usual. 

For instance, she said, "we must continue to support democratic values by protecting people's rights and liberties…" 

Those were lovely words, but she should also have finished the sentence by adding, "…and therefore I will pursue with boundless energy bringing to justice those people who abused the rights of others by seizing, destroying, bombing, killing and burning – no matter which colour shirt they wore, yellow or red, khaki or green – this is because I am the prime minister of Thailand, not beholden to any one colour shirt. 

"In fact, ladies and gentlemen of the UNHRC, soon as I get home, I will order my political party to cease efforts to push through any amnesty bill. In fact, somebody get me on Skype right now!" 

The prime minister also told the UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay that lese majeste defendants and convicts should have fair trials, legal representation and proper treatment. 

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj after she addressed the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies. (Reuters photo)

Again, lovely words, but she should have finished the conversation by saying: "Therefore, with the testimonials of former lese majeste convict Thanthawut Aweewarodomkul on the lack of legal assistance and cruel prison treatment, I will launch a full investigation into the Thai legal and prison systems, punishing wrongdoers (if any are found) to the full extent of the law.

"In fact, Ms Pillay, as soon as I get back to Thailand I will personally sponsor a bill to reform the lese majeste law. Hold on, somebody book my ticket home now! Economy class!" 

These are just a couple of examples. Both missions are difficult and dangerous no doubt, which is why the prime minister should be in Thailand, surrounding herself with the best legal and political minds, hammering out strategies that will accomplish the missions.

Of course, we all realise that it’s family tradition to run a government, or a country, from foreign soil. But surely, we all recognise the value of actually being in a country to run a country. 

Yes, I support my, excuse me, our prime minister in doing wonderful things for Thailand. It’s just a matter of actually doing it. Handouts and free money are good. If the government wants to subsidise my salary by 10% I would gladly accept, and possibly demand even more. 

But there is more to running a country. Two more years left, prime minister, I, excuse me, we are still waiting – don’t let our time and tax money waste away. 

Related search: Opinion, Voranai Vanijaka, thai politics, Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin Shinawatra,

About the author

Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
Position: Political and Social Commentator