A Lizard Story: the purpose of being a good person

Many Thais cling to the belief that General Prayut Chan-o-cha is a good man, therefore his incompetence is forgivable.

While a person might be a lovely friend, a nice brother, husband, and uncle. That doesn’t mean he’s a good person. Even if he’s a good person, what’s the point of being good, if he allows everything else to be bad?

At the 27 April cabinet meeting, General Prayut Chan-o-cha had this to say, as reported by Wassana Nanuam:

“Certain ministers speak poorly and gossip about me at meetings. You should be careful. I’m the one who chose you for your job. Whether you like me or not, do not let me hear you gossip. If I hear about it again, I will be forced to fire you. I will confiscate your quota for myself. Again, be careful. I’ve never done you wrong. I have a team that monitors all your Facebook. I do not trust, and I am not happy. Whoever creates conflict, hatred, or corruption, if there are problems, I will consider firing. I will not give you your party quota. I will take the quota back for myself.”

Do these words reflect the characteristics of, never mind a good leader, but a good person?

Banyong Pongpanich is a well-respected man. He’s the Chairman of Phatra Securities, Chairman of Phatra Captial, and a former advisor to General Prayut.

Last week in a Clubhouse session, he said General Prayut is a good and dedicated man who envisions himself like South Korea’s Park Chung-hee or Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew. The general doesn’t corrupt. As for those around him, we don’t even need to go there.

The following is a summary of Banyong’s indictment of the Prayut Regime.

The military-style top-down management. When he disagreed with the general during a meeting, the general’s lackeys would caution him not to disagree because it would obstruct work progress. If he has any disagreement, he should inform them before the meeting.

The book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell tells of a plane crash in South Korea because the junior pilot was too afraid to disagree with the captain. Hence, the ineffectiveness of the Prayut Regime in general and during the time of COVID-19 in particular.

The general is surrounded by bootlickers. As such, the longer he’s the prime minister, the more he thinks of himself as a great leader. Consequently, the general believes the longer he’s in power, the better it is for Thailand.

When Palang Pracharat Party was created, it was with the understanding that the party needed both “white cats” (good people) and “black cats (bad people). Then with time, the black cats would be set aside. But it turned out, at the end of the day, only the black cats are left.

Banyong cited a Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “When a man becomes powerful, lizards flock to him, while good people distant themselves.”

What then is the sum of the general’s character? He’s a bully. He’s selfish, vain, shallow, petty, vindictive, and power-hungry.

Are these the characteristics of a good person? Even if he’s a good person, what’s the point of being good, if he allows everything else to be bad?

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