Sure-Fire recipe to mock truth
Over the past seven months or so, the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration appears to have perfected the recipe to make a mockery of truth and reconciliation when it comes to the handling of red-shirt protests and their aftermath, which led to 91 deaths and two thousands injuries.
Here's what their recipe looks like:
First, the government must ensure that conflict of interest persists at multiple levels. After the deaths of mostly red shirts, it assigned the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), whose chief is a member of the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which played the leading role in the bloody military operations against the red shirts. Consequently, there would be every incentive for DSI chief Tharit Pengdit not to reveal the truth - because nobody in his right mind would want to declare himself guilty.
Then the prime minister, himself a chief party in the conflict, must personally appoint the chairman of a body called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, leading to allegations that the commission is biased or has conflicts of interest that cannot be totally discounted.
Second (to support its mockery of truth), the government must ensure secrecy and make sure there is no transparency when it comes to the investigations. Relatives of those killed, both Thais and foreigners, have repeatedly complained that the DSI is withholding crucial access to forensic and other information.
Third, in the case of leaked information, simply deny, deny, and repeat the denial again until, it is hoped, the public and the news media become bored or forgetful and the denial sounds more consistent and believable than other claims to the truth.
This is what we have been hearing over the past two weeks or so since leaked reports raised doubts about the Army's role in the deaths of protesters and foreign journalists.
In case some "lapses of judgement" occur - such as admission of the authenticity of the leaked DSI documents by the prime minister or the DSI chief - then quickly revert to denial mode. Then repeat the denial again and again.
Never mind if evidence is growing, keep denying.
By comparison, with WikiLeak's leaked cables detailing Thai politics over the past five years, those at the top echelon of Thai society alleged to be unduly interfering in politics will more likely keep mum - then try to have all related websites blocked and simply hope the Thai public has a fleeting attention span. The mainstream media may be afraid to report WikiLeak's details for fear of breaking some laws - but an increasing number of Thais have the message already and are becoming increasingly sceptical of the Thai elite's role and their alleged manipulation of Thai politics, while insisting otherwise.
Step 4, insist that everything is fine. This is the "perfect" way to deny the mounting reality while at the same time rubbing salt into the political wounds of opponents. Never mind if some ask why, if there existed no intention to kill or maim protesters on the streets, soldiers were issued automatic weapons with live ammunition and designated some areas as "live-fire zones", and were accompanied by armoured vehicles.
Fifth, maintain some draconian "laws" - such as an emergency decree or the Internal Security Act - to keep a lid on certain political discussions and opposition media and to ensure that gossip and distrust become widespread, making reconciliation unattainable.
When in doubt, add more ingredients from steps 3, 4 and 5 as desired. Wait until the cooking is overdone - and repeat the whole process by sticking to the recipe again next year if required.