Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Tuesday, June 18, 1974
News Phone: 764-0552
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AL, TH6 tXX)'H -
Resignations, royal decrees, reappointments,
rumors of a new coup - the sudden and confusing
activity in Thailand only reveals the real effects
of last fall's student-led coup.
The collapse of Thailand's military regime fol-
lowing massive student demonstrations last Oc-
tober was hailed as a first step on the road to
democracy for this Southeast Asian monarchy of
35 million. But in terms of power, the real win-
'ners have been the king and royal family.
At the same time, the country's "new left" now
enjoys unprecedented freedoms, and in large
parts of the country, insurgent forces operate
without fear of military attack in countless "quiet
The large American community here has tend-
ed to be cynical about these changes. They see
the caretaker government of Premier Sanya as
purely transitional - not to some new freedom
but back to the pattern of militarist leaders who
saw their interests as one with United States
economic and political interests.
THE MAN counted upon to return things to the
"good old days" is General Kris Sivara, present
head of Thailand's armed forces. Unlike Prem-
ier Sanya, who comes from the rarefied atmos-
phere of the university (and has said he wants
to retire to a Buddhist monastery), Kris has
strong ties with U.S. military and economic
This view ignores the new and independent poli-
tical role assumed by the king after he stepped
into the power vacuum created when the military
failed to back the regime against the students.
The king's support of the students at that point
proved decisive. After the coup, he appointeO
Sanya and selected the pool of notables from
which Sanya chose the National Assembly, whose
members are drawing up the new constitution.
Not surprisingly, the first draft of this con-
stitution gives the monarchy considerable power.
For it provides an upper house appointed by the
"Privy Council" - which will be named by the
king. Only the lower house will be democratically
ON THE other side of the picture is a resurg-
ence of political activism in all segments of Thai
Perhaps rost important for the country as a
whole, peasants in central Thailand are now
organizing without fear of being jailed. Demon-
strators in front of Government House in Bangkok
have demande dreal action about peasants' prob-
lems. Chief among these problems is land. Ten
years ago, there was no land problem in.central
Thailand. Now, with the changes brought by large
amounts of capital, principally from Bangkok, and
rapid population growth, the picture is very dif-
ferent. In the province of Phitsanulok, for exam-
ple, at least half the peasants have lost their
land to money lenders and most of the rest
are heavily in debt.
PEASANT ISSUES have sparked new interest
among Thai students. In October, students came
by the trainload from technical schools and high
schools in far reaching provinces to join the
demonstrations in Bangkok. Now thousands of city
stdents have spent their summer vacations
(March through May) visiting remote villages,
and talking with country people. Many have
browght back first hand accounts of massacres
and village burnings by the U.S. trained and'
eqtuisnped Thai army and border police, engaged
in Vietnam-style "anti-communist" clearing oper-
ations. The most publicized of these, at the vil-
lge of Baan Na Sai, created a national scandal
on the scale of My Lai.
Thousands of student-produced books and pam-
phlets, outlinging the actions of Thailand's "coun-
ter insurgency forces" are on sale at bookstands
in Bangkok and other cities.
LOOKING TOWARD the elections (scheduled
sometime before the end of the year) the stu-
dent-led New Left has agreed to unite behind a
common platform: out with foreign (U.S.) bases,
foreign (U.S. and Japanese) investment, neutral-
ity and land reform, and the nationalization of
The underground left is also in a strong posi-
tion: The Thai Patriotic Front (TPF) has bases
operating in 41 of 71 provinces ranging along the
border from Burma and Laos along the Mekong
River down to Cambodia. The TPF calls them
not liberated but "quiet zones" - quiet in the
-sense that the government can't make anything
In the quiet zones particularly in the north-
east, the social transformation is already in pro-
gress. Cattle rustling has been eliminated, dykes
and irrigation channels built, and technical advice
offered to peasants. Schools and health services
have been set up.
THE TPF also runs a radio station which re-
ports on Thai events within 24 hours. A law
against listening to the station has had little ef-
In the southern Moslem provinces bordering
Malaysia, the situation is more complicated.
Three insurgent groups operate here alongside
the TPF: the Thai Bandits Associatian, which
specializes in robbery and kidnapping business
people for ransom; the Pattani (Moslem) inde-
pendence movement, itself divided over the ques-
tion of secession from Thailand; and the Malayan
Communist Party, which is the best equipped
force of the three and has the most military
The TPF is now consolidating; it 'ias no desire
for any offensive for fear that such action might
be used as an excuse for a new militry takeover.
As things are, the army cannot claim "tbe peo-
ple are tired of democracy" - at least until
after the election.
Doss de Canspos has written widely on South-
east Asian political affairs, particularly in the
European press, and recently visited Thailand.
Copyright, Pacific News Service, 1974.
I tl&V ARE RPR1
O k -
3 0 1 7 1 A T & . 0 J
PE C00- '
MEDICATING THE MEDIA
By DICK WEST
WASHINGTON (UPI) -
BEING EVER grateful f or
free medical advice, I wish
to thank the West Virginia Med-
ical Journal for its recent exam-
ination of the news media.
The prognosis, alas, is unfav-
orable, but it only hurts when I
The Journal said uncovering
the Watergate scandals had pro-
duced an "orgy of self-adulta-
tion and self-inflation" on -the
part of the media.
It "makes one ponder the
depths of news gatherers' need
for appreciation and the empti-
ness of their callings," the Jour-
nal said. And it "engenders clin-
ical curiosity about mob psy-
Well, the doctor knows best, I
suppose. But while reading this
analysis of the journalist psyche,
I developed a nonclinical curio-
sity of my own.
SPECIFICALLY, I began won-
dering what might have happen-
ed in the Watergate case if the
two investigative reporters who
exposed many of the scandals
had been trained as doctors
My guess is that the sources
who were feeding them informa-
tion never would have gotten
past the answering service. But
in event the call did come
"Good morning. Washington
"Let me speak to Dr. Wood-
"Dr. Woodward is in confer-
ence and cannot be disturbed."
"How about Dr. Bernstein? Is
"Do you have an appoint-
"No. I tried to call.earlier but
it never seemed to be during
"I'M SORRY. Dr. Bernstein's
schedule is full for today."
"Look, this is an emergency.
I've got a hot tip that won't
"One moment, please. I'll try
to locate them ."
"Burning Bush Country Club."
"This is Dr. Bernstein's of-
fice. I'm trying to locate him
for- an emergency. Would you
have him paged, please."
"I'm sorry, Dr. Bernstein is
already out on the course."
Too late for the first edition,
the source finally makes contact
with Dr.. Woodward at his hunt-
ing lodge in the backwoods of
"Dr. Woodward speaking."
"Thank heavens. I have reach-
ed you in time for the last
edition. I've got a news leak
that will blow someone right rut
of the water."
"WHAT IS the nature of the
"It's a major development in
the Watergate case."
- "Take two aspirin and call
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