Level of Violence...staggers Anand

The Nation, October 30, 2007

Former PM says he wonders whether Thailand could be still be considered Buddhist; hopes things will change

Thais should learn how to reduce violence in society even though complete elimination is probably impossible, former prime minister Anand Panyarachun said yesterday. "Violence in Thailand is so prevalent that I'm not sure that this is a predominantly Buddhist society or not," he said. "There's violence against children, violence against women and violence against animals. "We do hope that violence will decrease but I may not be around to see it as I'm old. But even my children and grand children may not see it if you don't change," said Anand, speaking at a press conference to kick-start a new round of high-profile series of speeches and dialogues to be organised in Thailand and the region by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation.

From November to March next year, the project will bring seven high-calibre speakers to Thailand including the 1999 Nobel laureate for economics Prof Robert A Mundell; Nobel Prize winner for physics in 2004 Prof David Jonathan Gross; former World Bank president James D Wolfensohn; and East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta.

Mundell, the first speaker in Thailand, will deliver a keynote speech at Siam University on November 12 at 2 pm - for more details see www.peace-foundation.net

Anand who is honorary chairman of the project, said it would include similar events in the Philippines and six other countries in Southeast Asia. The project will be able to spread important messages that will lead to peace and stimulate the public to improve their search for truth and knowledge, he said.

The project's chairman is Prime Minister General Surayud Chulanont.

Uwe Morawetz, chairman of the International Peace Foundation declined to comment about the current political situation and the role of Surayud, but said he hoped there would be a general, election on December 23 and that Thailand would become more peaceful. "We chose Surayud for his integrity, which is not so easy to find,” Morawetz said.