Topic: Combatting Racism and Xenophobia
Delegate: Quinn Lowry
Much like with the rest of the world, Thailand has had it’s fair share of difficulties in regard to racism in xenophobia. More specifically, Thailand’s hill tribes have faced a long history of stereotyping and prejudice. The hill tribes are those, mostly subsistence farmers, who reside in the mountainous regions of Thailand. These groups are largely treated as outsiders in Thai society and are frequently stereotyped as illiterate and addicted to drugs. This stereotype was only made worse when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra launched his war on drugs in 2003. Under this venture Thai police were found to be intimidating and torturing hill tribe members. But prejudice is not limited to members of hill tribes. There’s also a preference for fairer skinned individuals with multiple ad campaigns using the racist practice of blackface. Specifically, an ad run by Dunkin Donuts faced harsh backlash.
Despite this widespread issue, the nation of Thailand does not have any policy, like hate crime or hate speech, in place to attempt to combat this prejudiced sentiment. This is due to a few reasons. The first being the corruption within the Thai government. This corruption has led to a less representative government overall. Despite multiple government agencies and two “crackdowns” it continues to be an issue for the government. The second reason for lack of action against corruption is more social. While it may be a very prevalent issue in the nation, it is one largely discussed in hushed whispers and behind closed doors. Nobody really wants to talk about it, so it is entirely possible that even if the government was more representative of what the people wanted, they still would not address corruption as it does not seem to be a major concern of the people. Exceptions to this do apply however, like with the Dunkin Donuts ad mentioned previously. Those ads were only pulled because of widespread backlash, and while much of it was from Thai citizens, there was a decent amount that wasn’t even from the country. Ultimately, Thailand wants to protect the freedoms of it’s citizens, and feels that measures against racism and xenophobia could impede upon those freedoms.
Thailand recognizes the growing threat of racism and xenophobia, but we want to protect freedoms before anything. We would be comfortable condemning acts of racism or even potential education programs but hate speech laws or similar ideas would be infringing on the rights of our citizens. Therefore, Thailand has no interest in pursuing either of these options.
Bagenal, Flora. “Blackface Dunkin’ Donuts Ad in Thailand Brings Racism Accusation.” The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor, 5 Sept. 2013, www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2013/0905/Blackface-Dunkin-Donuts-ad-in-Thailand-brings-racism-accusation.
“Grand Plan to Eradicate Corruption Is Ludicrous.” Https://Www.nationthailand.com, 24 Dec. 2015, www.nationthailand.com/opinion/30275615.
Kummetha, Thaweeporn. “Crime of the State: Enforced Disappearance, Killings and Impunity.” Crime of the State: Enforced Disappearance, Killings and Impunity, 25 Mar. 2014, 8:32 PM, prachatai.com/english/node/3904.
“’Racist’ Thailand Skin-Whitening Advert Is Withdrawn.” BBC News, BBC, 8 Jan. 2016, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35261748.
- Quinn Lowry