Tongue-Thai’ed!: Democrats' Surin and Godwin's law, again!

Originally published at Siam Voices on November 8, 2013 This is part XXIII of “Tongue-Thai’ed!”, an ongoing series where we collect the most baffling, amusing, confusing, outrageous and appalling quotes from Thai politicians and other public figures. Check out all past entries here.

With the anti-amnesty bill protests in full swing all week long in the capital Bangkok, the opposition Democrat Party have stepped up their game apparently also their rhetorics - but not necessarily to new heights.

Nearly all senior party members have come out to rile up the crowd led by former deputy prime minister Suthep Thuagsuban, a regular on this section. But today's “Tongue-Thai’ed!” comes from somebody else in the Democrat Party: Surin Pitsuwan is a seasoned politician with a lot of experience, especially in foreign affairs. No wonder, he was deputy foreign minister and just until recently secretary-general of ASEAN, as he came back from Jakarta to Bangkok back into the fold of his party earlier this year. Since then, he was mostly in the background but now also took to the stage of the rally at Thammasat University to show his opposition to the flawed broad amnesty bill.

Apart from saying the usual á la "Thais should stand up and reclaim their honor" and being more concrete along the lines of "This government is unacceptable for the ASEAN stage". However, there was another one that stood out while referring to an article by the Council of Foreign Relations that says the ruling Pheu Thai Party is "operating like an elected dictatorship". Here's what Noch Hautavanija (the assistant to the recently resigned party deputy Korn Chatikavanij) tweeted:

Translation: "Hitler also came [to power] through elections and it was a dictatorship" Mr. Surin

Here we go again! After Suthep and former foreign minister Kasit, we have yet another senior figure of the Democrat Party invoking Godwin's Law when talking about the government of Thaksin Shinawatra and its associated successors and unfortunately it seems to be one of the more level-headed figures in the party. Seriously, is it now a requirement in the party to draw a Hitler comparison whenever speaking about the political rivals?

For the last time, here's why the argument the Hitler-came-to-power-through-elections-so-democracy-is-bad is just wrong:

Hitler never had more than 37 percent of the popular vote in the honest elections that occurred before he became Chancellor. (…) Unfortunately, its otherwise sound constitution contained a few fatal flaws. The German leaders also had a weak devotion to democracy, and some were actively plotting to overthrow it. Hitler furthermore enjoyed an almost unbroken string of luck in coming to power. He benefited greatly from the Great Depression, the half-senility of the president, the incompetence of his opposition, and the appearance of an unnecessary back room deal just as the Nazis were starting to lose popular appeal and votes. (source)

Sounds familiar? You can criticize the current (and the past Thaksin governments) for being arrogant (especially with the current push on the blanket amnesty bill), or even politically overbearing - but to compare it to one of the darkest periods in German history and also being factually wrong at that is not only unworthy of the name the party is bearing, but also of the international standing Surin has.