Asia Society presents; 63
Why. Right. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your host on this transcribed series is the noted author around the world winning broadcaster Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. One of the most extraordinary countries in Asia in the opinion of many people is Thailand. First of all Thailand is a country of great beauty. Its people are most attractive. It is a progressive country. It has a
city which is most popular with tourists namely Bangkok. And in this country which is about the size of France. Thirty six million people live. Now what they are doing today how their lives have changed. What are their fears and hopes for the future. Among the questions I would like to address out to our guest who is the ambassador from Thailand to the United Nations and to Canada. He is His Excellency on and bonier Rajan who is the acting permanent representative of Thailand to the United Nations. And since we know each other and it's nice to use first names since you represent your country in two ways. Firstly the United Nations and to Canada. How does that come about. Are you a specialist in both fields is that it. Far from it really. I think the real reason is that being us small and developing country we are limited in human resources. Our foreign ministry is short of senior people and with the expanding world
and easy communications we just find that we cannot fill in all the posts that we have established and since all to us not too far from New York my government thought that perhaps I could do both posts at the same time. Well I think they're very fortunate to have one man who could do both and perhaps you could even do one more but I wouldn't suggest that. Because although you seem very calm and composed you probably handle a great deal of work. The largest area of your work at the United Nations. Well it's about half and half. But. On regular telephone contacts at my office in New York after that moment I live in an hour to an hour. I make my residence in Ottawa and I come down to New York each time there is a meeting which requires my personal presence but I would say that the the major work is still the United Nations to because there's a lot of documents to read and many personal contacts to me to be made but we enjoy living in Canada.
You said that you have been at the United Nations about seven years. There's three or four years that the number two man and now as the chief U.S. Do you feel a sense of optimism about the United Nations. Well I'm going to be speaking. We like to be realists and I think that with its shortcomings and inherent weaknesses. The U.N. is still the only international instrument for world order and peace. And while we may make fun of the UN albeit we mean we may even sneer at the U.N. and everybody knows that there is no better alternative. And until and unless we come up with a better alternative I think it's incumbent on all of us to governments and the peoples around the world to give a lot of support to the U.N. and its charter principles I think that is certainly realistic and not idealistic. Since Thailand is one of the few countries in the world certainly in the Asian part of the world which has never been overrun by anyone has always been
free I think the name of your country is wrong time and time I guess meaning land of the free land of free. How you must be especially courageous and clever to have avoided a kind of Congress. Well yes to and I think we have been very fortunate in in in our history. Of course as you know we came down from the southern part of China some 800 years ago and we managed to keep our independence too. But perhaps not our territory integrity we lost practically about half of our original territory and we had to. Play politics in the international feel and sense that both the French and the British are very much in favor of gobbling up Thailand but they can decide among themselves as to who should have it. And in addition to that we had a number of some very great Kings too were able to open up our society to foreigners and never to give them any excuses or any
pretext to send their washed up spot to send US soldiers into Thailand to. At that time was called Siam. So I think we are very lucky and I think it's mainly to the wisdom of our very fast Kings at that time. Yet you have not kept kept yourself from the West and I think from what I hear you are a very marvelous blend of eastern and western ideas. You have a high literacy rate and you know it's a blend of regressive features don't you. Yes we do I don't think we've done too badly as a developing country we have a fairly strong economy and we have a political stability now. We had General elections two years ago. You have an elected parliament which is as lively as any parliament can be. We have free press and the government is under severe attacks from all sectors of the population. Some of the criticisms are justified and some are not justified but that's how we live in the in our own grand democracy. But I think that one of the special characteristics of the Thai people is that we are open
minded. We're not Richard and we're not inflexible. And one of the invalid just what advantages did our people have is our ability to adapt ourselves to the changing conditions in the world and also changing conditions in our own in our own country. We are I would say more liberal than most people would give us the credit. Since you have a monarchy which is a constitutional monarchy I think that is a sign of your liberal and sense of freedom in politics. Do you find that so many people in the West do not understand what is going on in Asian nations in vice versa. It's sometimes incredible. It's seems incredible particularly if you live in that area that you find so many newspaper stories or magazines or statements made by some. Politicians and some professors in other countries do it appears to me to me that there is a large number of people in the western world in particular who just do not bother to learn to understand us to vote. We just do not bother
to to come to terms with that. I think there they have some pre conceived ideas about countries like Thailand they have some preconceived ideas about the situation in that area and they just make up their own conclusions without you know bearing in mind the factual events and the factual developments. I think it's a great pity because. We do have so much to offer. To the outside world. I think we have been able to blend the east and the West. You have heard it all saying that Eastern is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet. But. An impartial observer of Thailand would find that the twins actually met in Thailand. I'm glad you said that because that's really the whole purpose of this Asia Society presents programme to make the east and west understand each other and meet on many levels and to bring information about your part of the world to this part of the world. I dare say Asians know more about Western people than Muslim people
know about Asians. Oh yes I have such great regard for your wisdom and the intellectual capacity not yours personally but also the people from your part of the world are not what you say that there is one country in the West rather than another to whom you feel the closest. Might it be France England United States. Not really before the Second World War I feel. Fairly close to the British not because of anything but because of the fact that many of the young Thais went to study in England. The fact that we were never colonized by the by the British or by the French so we didn't have the kind of context the kind of relationship that Britain or France had today. Ex colonies we have always been independent. But the fact still remains that English is the universally spoken language so most of our students before the second world war if they were to go abroad it would go to England. And a large number would go also to Europe by the France of Germany or some other countries. But it seems to end the Second World War
because of the shall we say more forward looking U.S. attitude toward Southeast Asia. And because of the United States role in in keeping Thailand independent right after the Second World War. More and more Thai people felt attracted to this country. They went to schools here they went universities here. And we had more and more and closer contacts with the American government and American people to such an extent and now they're more than I don't know seven or eight thousand type students in this country more than in Britain more than in Britain yes. Although you received your education in Britain did you go to Cambridge I was at Oxford. I went to Cambridge and I thought I was because you said that. And if we speak about Thailand's position now geographically Who are your neighbors. Well on the western side it would be Burma. And on the eastern side would be Laos and Cambodia and then the South would be Malayasia. We have right in the center of
the of what you might term a stylization Peninsula and. Are all these five or six countries we have the largest population if not also the largest area in that part of the world. Is your relationship with Cambodia a critical one. It used to be when Cambodia was under Sihanouk but after a lapse of no relationship of 10 years. The relationship was restored to about some six months ago. We always held to believe that. This breakdown of relationship between Cambodia and Thailand was a transitory thing and it was only due to one man that will say you know coup was. You had marked on a certain policy which would not allow him to be friendly to Thailand. But now that he's gone. The Cambodian government and Cambodian people in general have. Been very cooperative with us to now the full diplomatic relation has been restored
and we now have an ambassador in Cambodia and they also have full time the bastard in Bangkok. There have been many exchanges of visits and negotiations among the two. Among the representatives between the representatives of the two countries. So I'm very optimistic about our future relationship with Cambodia. I think that. We will continue to promote that relationship and friendship for Cambodia and vice versa. It would be much further strengthen in the future. Why was Prince Sihanouk a stumbling block. Was that his political orientation and more to the left. Yes he claimed to to pursue a policy known as the neutrality or non-alignment but. Unfortunately his brand of neutrality and his brand of non-alignment was always against Assad and against the United States and because of the fact that we also had have had close relationship the United States to be it was more difficult for him to go against the. And the
Chinese. And that is speaking as desire and he was practically a prisoner of the king in his last few years in it when we know when he was ruling the country and he was moving Cambodia more and more towards the Peking regime. He allowed the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese troops to be stationed and to operate inside Cambodia. He and all his family have done some great business with the Viet Cong with the North in amazed and I think that is really the reason why he was. Out of the country now because of the people. People in Cambodia in general. As any people in the world would not like to see the presence of foreign troops against their own wishes. Now if they actually invited a country to send its troops to Cambodia that would have been a different one. But in the case of the north in the meat and the Vietcong the people didn't want them there and the fact that the people did not want them there did not mean that they had to be reactionary or they had to be the rightist or pro-US to
the Cambodian people just didn't want the Presence are not with them its troops and the Vietcong troops in their own territory. Any troops still foreign troops which are not wanted still in Cambodia used quite still there to 10000 years to hide in and they still control. I would say about 30 to 40 percent of the Cambodian territory and their dead refused to leave and they used that part of Cambodia too to attack South Vietnam. And yes it has been used as a tax base and a sanctuary. Is there no way of getting them out without severe military action against them. Well we all hope that that can be done through negotiations. But it takes two sides to negotiate. If the other side is not enemies and if we had going to be king and not in a mood to talk or not in a mood to negotiate. It's difficult to see how negotiations can and can be reached. And why do you think that so many people believe that not
only does it take two to negotiate but that two are willing to do it and they act very surprised when they say we wish to negotiate with the other side doesn't they keep insisting that the other side also wishes to go. And they blame the West in some way. Well the only thing that they want to negotiate about is DAY TO DAY they want to negotiate about the withdrawal of the American the allied forces from Viet from South Vietnam. And they don't even admit that they have their own troops there. So what they really want is to negotiate our surrender to them. Now that doesn't take negotiation it seems so clear cut to anyone who wishes to read that. Aren't you baffled by the fact that many people of apparent intelligence cannot seem to understand this. Yes I'm baffled and I'm confused. Yes. It's not that all the people who don't understand this are particularly communistic in their views. It isn't that where we live anyway. Well to know you some people
I think it's some people who really have preconceived ideas about the hopelessness and that many people in this country in particular just wanted the US to get out of the area without knowing the exact consequences of that action. Well if that's what they want they will get it. But how do Asians feel about this. Oh I would say that practically all Asian leaders but particularly in our area including those to say that they are neutralised or they perceived a nonaligned policy they know that of course that one day the United States will have to get out. But. What we are watching for is the way that we get out of the area and what do you think that the American presence in Asia has accomplished so far. What's the one thing that it has to be lies to the the the political situation and not only in Vietnam but also in many other in many other countries in that area. We sincerely believe that the United States has no colonial attitude towards
their presence in South Vietnam. We do not believe that United States has any all teary motives in being involved in the area and in trying to help the peoples in the area to defend their freedom and their independence. It appears that way to many here is that we have more confidence of the integrity of the United States government than some of your people have. I must agree with you and that so you and I don't mind an amazing it comes to us as a shock that that the people in some people in your country are very vocal against the policies of the government. Let's say on their behalf that they are people very pacifistic in their views don't want war for any reason or let's say don't want a war unless the United States is attacking our toilet and don't see any other callers. Nobody wants a war. And the Thai people don't want war as much just as the United States people American people. But there comes a time when you have to use adopt certain measures for self defense.
And there are many who would agree with you as there are those who do not. But I think what is interesting is to find out what is the Asian viewpoint towards the presence of American military forces and it is a partly in favor of online. Yes I think I know Vietnam and North Korea who object. Yes I would say that most countries in Asia would regard the US presence in Southeast Asia for the time being as the answer as being of advantage to them. And we of course do not want to them to remain there forever and I don't think United States government want to do that either. But I think while we need time to develop our country to develop our resources and to strengthen our economy and to strengthen our capability of resisting companies encroachments. We would definitely Wellcome the continuing presence of the United States. Now this president doesn't have to be exclusively military. The United States troops are being withdrawn and we welcome that too. And we also know that
eventually perhaps in a few years time all of them will have left the area. But we want to make sure that by the time that they leave the area at least they will leave the area in good order that they will we will have sufficient strength to rely completely on our resources too. As I said before to resist and to defend our countries I think that's the most important thing. We look to the United States as a world leader. And I think as a world leader and as a permanent member of the Security Council. Which has to primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security in the world we think that the United States has not only has also a moral obligation to help us. Now we're not asking for mand But as far as Thailand is concerned we're not asking for manpower assistance. We have never once asked the United States to provide as U.S. troops or or anything of that sort. But we do need their economic assistance we do need their military equipment assistance and that's all we need and that's all we are asked for. So our policy is very firm on that. We do not intend to use one single American soldier
in Thailand. You may have heard that there are 40000 U.S. airmen in Thailand but then they're not not at the request of the Thai government. They are there at the request of the U.S. government and we agreed to it and they are there for the sole purpose of supporting the allied forces in South Vietnam. They have never been involved in the guerrilla operations that we are conducting against the communist guerrillas in Thailand. How far have the guerrillas gone. Indeed Thailand territorially speaking. Well I'm quite optimistic because they have no areas under their control because they move about there just like a gang of bandits and they move about from one mountain to the other. They don't have certainly didn't have the legions of population the number of guerrillas has been kept at a minimum. About 2000 they have been able of course to do certain ambushes or to assassinate local leaders. But that's the most you can do in fact in the past year and a half and even had to enlist the help of some mountain tribesmen from
Laos. They brought in about 400 male. It drives men into into Thailand to help in the organizing the so-called insurgency. I don't think that we have reached the stage of insurgency. It's to a serious guerrilla problem and it has forced our government to expend a lot of money in in in fighting against them. It is it is a great nuisance but I think the problem can be contained as he has been contained in the past. And nonsense you know quite well aside from your own country would you say there is more popular support for communism in any particular country in Asia. I would say that most Asian countries do not welcome communist ideology. But at the same time it doesn't mean that we embraced capitalism or some other ideological policy. And I think most Asian people want is to be left alone to live a free life to conduct their business in accordance with their desires in accordance with their. An
understanding of the word democracy. I think that we have different sets of values. Certainly the democratic system as is known in this country or as it's known in in the United Kingdom cannot be imposed on us on a piecemeal basis. We have to drive to adapt the parliamentary system to our own needs into our requirements. It will take time but I think we are on the road to towards that objective. And every society has its own weaknesses including my own including the American society. But we just have to try to solve those problems by ourselves within within our own means. What we gain is one ideology whether it's communist or capitalism trying to overtake us to want to overrun overrun us by force and that is something we cannot do. All right. Yes the guerrilla activity and the sneak attacks are the method used to impose an
ideology upon people who do not want it. And when people try to defend themselves against it they often need help. And this has been the crux of the problem. Some people think they should be given help and other people in other parts world think they should not. It is your opinion that military help or any other kind of help is necessary these days and what all these guerrilla attacks and attempts to take over. Yes military assistance is still necessary I would say. And because we don't have. We are not rich enough to buy you know planes or Tang's or even some rifles. But. I myself would be against requesting and help. As you know for human power all soldiers from this country from the United States. What would you say that this is something that Asians themselves want or do something that the United States has said this is what is good for you and we'll give this. This is really what Asians want just really what Thailand has been saying for years and years and years
when the Americans wanted someone what you might call instant success in South Vietnam we fail to understand why was it that the Americans had not been able to train itself in the midst him self-sufficiently to God you know to fight for their own country. I think this is. Part of the American mentality that if you wanted to do a job you want to do it yourself and exclusively by yourself and it is if possible Much better to do it with a combination and a gradual definitely because you are using what we have to contribute. Would you say then now that Cambodia has a different government that your relations will continue to be good. I would say so yes definitely yes. Will you have any help to Cambodia in getting rid of foreign troops. Yes. We don't have troops in Cambodia. We have been training their officers in their soul just you know our country and we have given them some assistance in the form of.
Economic as well as military equipment. We believe that the present government in Cambodia which is still a neutral government and which still wants to maintain its independence and its neutrality has a good chance of succeeding. If she manages to obtain the necessary military equipment and economic assistance to. I thank you very much for coming to this program because I know how occupied you are having to go to the United Nations as the ambassador from Thailand and Canada as well. You are a man who has to be in many places and we greatly appreciate your being here. But if I was present on an American program and on business may I say that you've had the pleasure of listening to his Excellency Panya Rajan. Ambassador upon your watch in Susie's country of Thailand both at the United Nations and in Canada. We wish him well and I thank him again for being here. Goodbye.
That concludes tonight's edition of The Asia full fire the presents with Lee Graham. Listener ease comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7. I make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents. This is the national educational radio network.
- Asia Society presents
- Episode Number
- Producing Organization
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-63 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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