Development Without Harmony

Thailand is known to be one of Asian countries experiencing a rapid economic growth; the fact of which the Thai government and business sector are so proud of.  But the question here is: whether all segments of Thai population equally enjoy the economic prosperity of the country!

It seems that the Thai government's urgent attempt is to bring the country into being a newly industrialized country (NIC) by means of promoting unsustainable development.  This current policy has left behind several social problems, namely, unequal income distribution, exploitation of natural environment, influx of rural migrants into big city due to the demolishing of rural communities, and the much-concerned prostitution problem.  These problems tend to grow more complicated as the gap widens between the smaller group of population who are directly benefited from flourishing economy and the majority of disadvantaged people.
It is here and now that the question of harmonious development arises.  Apart from the above obvious problems, the uneven emphasis on economic development partly results in some other issues of social concerns being neglected, particularly the education and politics. With so wide the gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged groups of population, and also the gap between the growth of economics and other social aspects, it is impossible for a country to evolve in harmony.
Regarding the political development, the issue of popular participation has been raised by various Thai social work forces.  The passing of Tambol (sub-district) Council Bill in 1994, allowing the self-governance by local administrative bodies, is a crucial step towards political development in Thailand.   However, it should not be forgotten that at least three 'political disharmony' incidents in modern Thai society in which violent suppression of the people occurred, in October 1973, 1976, and in May 1992.
This report deals with the impacts of the May 1992 Incident upon the people at individual level.  We hope that the attempt of Mahidol University Hotline Centre to search for, record and reveal the truth concerning the disappeared, the dead and the injured in the May 1992 Incident will provide substantial historical evidence for the sake of education of present and future generations.   Nevertheless, the facts revealed in this report are only one aspect of the whole incident.  Other aspects of the truth concerning the May tragedy are as yet to be revealed to fulfill the basic rights of people with the hope that the sad history will not repeat itself.
In addition, this report is meant to bridge political and social disharmony by find out the fact, and make know to public.  It is anticipated that lessons learned from the May 1992 Incident will help generate the awareness of fundamental political rights among people, particularly among those who are in power.  It will also contribute to equitable development for all and achieving unity for people's progress in the Thai society as well as in Asian societies as a whole.
II. Violation Of Thai People's Fundamental Political Rights: A Reflection from the May 1992 Incident
The bloody May Event definitely reveals that at least two basic human rights of Thai people as stipulated in the 1991 Thai Constitution are violated.  They are: (1) right and freedom to take part in a peaceful public rally or march, and (2) right and freedom to present and to receive news.  During the May Crisis, Gen. Suchinda's government openly exploited state-controlled television and radio to distort facts about the pro-democracy rally.  Those media presented only one-side information.  Apart from blacking out the front-page news of International Herald Tribune, May 20, 1992 issue, and the editorial of Bangkok Post of the same date, the government ordered the shut-down of three other newspapers on May 21.  These newspaper's 'crime' was to present the truth!
Another violation of basic human rights during the May Event is the arrest of over 3,500 people, hundreds of them were women and children.   Many arrested protesters gave the same facts on being tortured at various degrees from beaten up, left to sit sweltering in sunlight, soaked with gasoline and with death threatened, and left to starve.
The violation of these two fundamental rights led to the most severe violation of human rights, namely to kill and harm unarmed civilians.   Reports from the Special House Committee and the Fact-Finding Committee led by Mr Sophon Rattanakorn2 share the same conclusion that Gen. Suchinda's government used excessive force to crack down the rally.
It is noticeable that facts concerning the suppression of the pro-democracy protest such as name lists of military officers and military units responsible for rounding up, killing, and torturing the people during the Event, are never revealed to the public.  It is believed that these facts were recorded on the report of the Defense Ministry's Fact Finding Committee led by Gen. Pichit Kullawanit.  Such crucial facts are still kept in secret from Thai people.  This is once more a repeating history.  Whenever the state commits a great crime to the people, a chance to bring out the culprits through a fair trial has never occurred in the Thai political history since 1932.


1 This paper is revised from the paper presented in the 22nd International Conference for World Peace on 'Unity for Asian Progress in the 21st Century' at Imperial Queens Park Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand, December 1-5 1993.
2 A Summary Report on the Investigation of the Political Crisis during 17-20 May 1992 by the Special House Committee submitted to the President of Parliament on 23 June 1992, page 4-6, and A Report on the Investigation of Illegal Use of Power and Survey of Disaster According to the People's Demonstration during 17-20 May 1992 submitted to Prime Minister Anand Punyarachun on 5 August 1992.
Last updated: 30 May 2000 Arrowback.gif (1004 bytes)

arrow.gif (1001 bytes)

Arrownext.gif (999 bytes)






Contact Us
SEAMEO Secretariat, 920 Darakarn Bldg., Sukhumvit Rd., Bangkok 10110, Thailand.
Tel (662) 3910144, 3910256, 3910554  Fax (662) 3812587  E-mail library@seameo.org