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Hong Kong's Wong Predicts Insurrection in Bangkok

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Hong Kong political activist Joshua Wong
predicted Thailand's young people will unleash an urban insurrection
"the same as Hong Kong youngsters did in the past four months" if
Thailand's Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong crushes Thai
aspirations for democracy and human rights.

The defiant Mr. Wong was responding to U.S.-trained Gen. Apirat's
harsh condemnation of protests in Hong Kong and his claim that Thais
could duped by Mr. Wong and "brainwashed" to protest in Bangkok.

"Hong Kong is suffering from the threat from Beijing," Mr. Wong said
in a 10-minute audio file emailed to Bangkok-based Prachatai.com news.

"And when the army chief asked Thai youth not to do the same, my only
response is if the government in Thai[land] do the same, the youth in
Thai[land] they will do the same as Hong Kong youngsters did in the
past four months. So it depends on the authorities instead of
depend[ing] on us."

Mr. Wong also proudly defended sharing similar political values and
talking with Thailand's popular opposition politician Thanathorn
Juangroongruangkit who leads the Future Forward party.

Gen. Apirat had lashed out at the two men for posing together in Hong
Kong during Mr. Thanathorn's recent visit to the former British
colony.

"Now, there is unrest in Hong Kong," Gen. Apirat said during his
speech at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters on October 11. "A visit [by
Mr. Thanathorn] can be viewed as giving encouragement and support."

Gen. Apirat's statement was an ominous sign that the Thai government
opposed democratic rights, Mr. Wong said.

"I think it's unreasonable [to denounce the photo] because even [if]
we share the same thoughts and recognize the importance of freedom and
democracy, it does not mean that we can't have any kind of
communication," Mr. Wong said.

"We just show the 'white terror' and how the Thai government do not
respect the voice of dissident, does not respect the voice of free
election."

Mr. Thanathorn however earlier distanced himself from Mr. Wong after
Gen. Apirat's speech.

"That was the first and only time I met Joshua Wong. I have never had
any involvement with any political group in Hong Kong, and I have no
intention to do so in the future," a seemingly nervous Mr. Thanathorn
wrote on his Facebook site.

"A single photograph of me and Joshua Wong was exaggerated out of
proportion without any evidence. Some media and people, including a
commander in the armed forces, tried to link me with unrest in Hong
Kong in order to spread hatred in Thai society."

The Hong Kong activist said Gen. Apirat was wrong to state that Mr.
Wong repeatedly visited Thailand where he met Mr. Thanathorn and
perhaps secretly conspired to create havoc.

"Joshua Wong came to Thailand for, I don't know how many times. Who
did he meet? What kind of people did he meet?" Gen. Apirat said in his
speech attended by 500 university students, academics, local leaders
and the media.

"When they met, what was the secret agenda? Were they conspiring to do
something?"

Mr. Wong responded: "I have never visited Thailand in the past few
years, especially after being detained in Bangkok airport and being
blacklisted by the Thai government in 2016.

"So, it is fake news. And it is a fake accusation to say that I have
been to Thailand for many times. The only travel to Thailand for me is
around 10 years old, having a family trip with my parents to Bangkok
and that's all."

Gen. Apirat's loud, public clash with Mr. Wong and Mr. Thanathorn come
amid speculation by the army chief's supporters that he could become
Thailand's next prime minister.

Widespread criticism of Gen. Apirat by Thai media, analysts, academics
and others however indicates opposition to his views are already
hardening.

Thailand's parliamentary Committee on National Security invited Gen.
Apirat to explain his speech, but that meeting was held behind closed
doors.

Mr. Wong meanwhile expressed confidence the Hong Kong street protests
will continue against Beijing's increasing control.

"The Hong Kong protests have continued for more than four months,
which shows our discontent and our course on free election and
democracy.

"When the Hong Kong government turns such a global city into a police
state with mob violence, it will just trigger more people with
solidarity.

"I wish [the] Thai army chief could realize the importance of
guarantee[ing] people to enjoy freedom and democracy and human rights.
Those are the universal value[s] that we believe in."

Bangkok Post columnist Paritta Wangkiat said Gen. Apirat's speech,
"raised widespread concern that it will deepen and prolong the ongoing
political polarization which has already been fuelled by the army and
its interventions in [Thailand's] politics."

Gen. Apirat presented no evidence to support his views but "some
people actually bought into his claims and threw their support behind
him," she wrote.

***

Richard S. Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist from San Francisco,
California, reporting news from Asia since 1978 and winner of Columbia
University's Foreign Correspondent's Award. He co-authored three
non-fiction books about Thailand, including "'Hello My Big Big Honey!'
Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews," "60
Stories of Royal Lineage," and "Chronicle of Thailand: Headline News
Since 1946." Mr. Ehrlich also contributed to the chapter "Ceremonies
and Regalia" in a book published in English and Thai titled, "King
Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life's Work: Thailand's Monarchy in
Perspective." Mr. Ehrlich's newest book, "Sheila Carfenders, Doctor
Mask & President Akimbo" portrays a 22-year-old American female mental
patient who is abducted to Asia by her abusive San Francisco
psychiatrist.

His online sites are:

https://asia-correspondent.tumblr.com

https://flickr.com/photos/animists/albums

https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Big-Honey-Revealing-Interviews/dp/1717006418

https://www.amazon.com/Sheila-Carfenders-Doctor-President-Akimbo/dp/1973789353/

https://www.facebook.com/SheilaCarfenders


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