When we launched the campaign to name Taronga Zoo’s baby elephant in honour of Thai political prisoner Suwicha Thakor we had no real expectation that the first elephant born on Australian soil would be named “Suwicha” (สุวิชา).
Our small hope was that our effort would raise awareness of Suwicha’s plight. Suwicha Thakor’s incarceration is a black mark against Thailand and any claims it makes to be a free or democratic country. His 10-year sentence for lese majeste is an outrage.
We have sadly noticed that compared to the few foreigners who have been locked up in Thailand for similar crimes he, and the other Thais in his predicament, receive scant international attention. This needs to change.
Through the elephant campaign we succeeded in generating some media and blog interest about Suwicha. We don’t know how many people suggested that “Suwicha” was an appropriate name for the elephant but there were plenty of “clicks” from New Mandala to Taronga Zoo.
Today Taronga has announced that instead of “Suwicha” the elephant will be known as “Luuk Chai” (ลูกชาย), meaning “son”. It is a banal choice.
New Mandala wishes the young son a long and happy life. Of course, Suwicha Thakor remains locked up. He too is a luuk chai, and a father of three. More information on his case is available here, here and here. And Political Prisoners in Thailand continues to update its links.
Perhaps, as one reader has suggested, we should turn our attention to the panda.