Sunday, April 11, 2010

Now the people have the power [in Thailand]

A Thai soldier lies on the ground after a clash with anti-government protesters during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand Saturday, April 10, 2010. A hospital says at least 10 people, including a Japanese journalist, have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in the Thai capital. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
An anti-government protester uses a slingshot during clashes with Thai soldiers in Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Wason Wanitchakorn)

Voranai Vanijaka
Bangkok Post

This may not be a popular opinion, but I'm not in a popularity contest. The opinion is: What the yellow shirts have done and what the red shirts are doing is a rather good thing, if one were to consider the grand picture of democratic development.

Could there have been a better way? Of course there could, and yet here we are. The ''could have'' and ''should have'' of this world are irrelevant _ learn from the past, don't live in it.

I don't have to agree with any of their causes, whether it's the yellow's, the red's or the polka-dot's, but I can appreciate they have shown us that in this Kingdom of Thailand, the people can stand up against the government and affect change, for that is a crucial aspect of democracy.

Sure, the yellows may get 300 baht a day, and the reds may get 1,000 (which one is the hi-so mob, again?), but when all is said and done, while the motives are questionable, the actions prove that the people can stand up against the government and affect change.

What Thailand is going through at the moment is simply the growing pains of democracy, as frustrating, as annoying and as silly as it may be. But it's like courting a woman _ before you live in her heart, before you die in her lap and before you're buried in her eyes, you have to get through a bit of the ugly first. Can I get an ''amen'' from the gentlemen in the audience?

Not too long ago, whenever protesters took to the streets, the military put bullets into their skulls. At least we're no longer protesting against military dictatorships _ even if we're only protesting against hapless governments _ whether it's Samak's, Somchai's or Abhisit's.

As I'm writing this, security personnel are cracking down on the protesters at Phan Fah Bridge, but the weapons are tear gas and batons, not bullets, at least.

Not so far. Many would still cry that this is inhumane, but it's still a big improvement from memories as recent as May 1992 and is no crueler than how it's done in the healthiest of this world's democracies.

It's too easy to sit in an air-conditioned room and point fingers.

In the present struggles, the new elites are making pawns of the poor and the old elites are making pawns of the middle class. But everyone starts out ignorant before they become intelligent.

A baby has to first learn to take a step before it can sprint _ and let's face it, Thailand is still a baby _ a crying, whining spoiled child.

What the poor and the middle class should learn and grow from all this is that we, the people, actually have the power to affect change.

And no matter who wins the day, whether it's Thaksin Shinawatra or Abhisit Vejjajiva, at least they know, the elites, whether new or old, they now know that the common people are a force to be reckoned with.

This may be just fanciful wishing, but fanciful wishing is the stuff that makes this world a better place. The wonders of human accomplishments all started out with just a dream, a hope, a fate.

Perhaps the ''silent majority'', whoever and wherever they are, are watch ing the unfolding of this saga and recognise the waning power of the old establishment, the decreasing significance of the military, as well as the dangerous and destructiveness of the new elites under Thaksin Shinawatra.

Hopefully we will realise that none of the above is the answer to the future of this country. There's no quick-fix formula to solve the problems of Thailand. It's dark, deep and sinister _ the tangled web of Thai politics can tie up and pull in even an Oxford-educated young prime minister who once carried the hopes of the new generation.

But change will never start in politics, in government or in the circles of the old or new establishments. Change will have to start in the huts, the homes and the condos of the people of Thailand. That change is the development of a consciousness, in place of apathy _ the consciousness that allows us to recognise the lies we have been living with and the truths that are revealing themselves.

Whoever wins the day, whether it's Abhisit Vejjajiva or Thaksin Shinawatra, we know that the struggles for democracy, for human rights, for justice, for opportunities and for equality will continue _ and we know that the power of the people is a force to be reckoned with.

There's a saying _ a very true saying that mocks Thailand in the cruelest way, which simply is: ''This is Thailand.''

Three seemingly harmless little words, but when put together and placed in a context, the phrase means hopelessness.

This is Thailand [what do you expect?]. This is Thailand [things will never change!]. This is Thailand [snicker and shake head in disgust]. I admit it, I say it all the time.

The phrase rings true because how can there be change when the people of this country do not realise that we can affect change? Also, why would the people in charge affect change, as they are already in charge?

But today we know that if enough of us get together and march in the streets, we can affect change. Today we see a lesson of what it is to be made pawns, whether by the old or the new elites. Today we can learn from the mistakes and make for our children a better tomorrow.

It's easy and convenient to gripe, to whine and to cry. ''Those red &!!%@*#'' or ''Those elites *&^*&%!!'' But we'll leave that for the emotional retards who're only capable of complaining.

There are many perspectives, many angles we can take from Thailand's present political crisis, though perhaps this is the one that we should take with us into the future: That in the Kingdom of Thailand, the people have the power to affect change.

But it's every one of us who will have to march forward together, not only one side, not only one group and not only one faction.

So with all your flaws and even if you've been made pawns, thank you to the yellows and thank you to the reds for showing us the way.

Thank you to the police and the soldiers who are trying their best. But even more important, thank you to those who stood up in May 1992, October 1976 and October 1973.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

There are 60-70% of Thai good people may god blesses them all always. May they win over the wicked one and may they become enlighted when their belief of rights and justice for all. Majority of Thai people love khmer people and they don't like what their did to the khmer. They told their gov't to leave khmer alone because they felt sorry for what had happened to khmer being the wictim of genocite but their gov't had given them the shame! so they have to fight for their rights. Not only that their people don't like being decieved by their gov't. Again they like the truth for the truth shall set us all free. Amen, Wisdom

Anonymous said...

Soon, Cambodian will rises up and take up against their government too due years of curruptions and Youn' occupation.

Go khmer go.

Anonymous said...

Khmers need to learn from Thais. I could not agree more with the author of this piece. Cambodians will need to stand up for their rights and freedom. Freedom is never free.

Anonymous said...

Wish the Red shirt well and win, keep going red!
Very good if you can break into your king's palace!
Go red go! AhbiShit might order his black dog army at the border to atttack Khmer so Bangkok can be calm down.
Our Khmer army please get more attention and ready to kill those bad black dog Siem army.
Thaksin will come back to power soon.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up Red Shirts people! keep up the fight, until your people are free from Rich-yellow- Tycoon and Chakri family...Red Shirts and Yala's people must teams up and continue your fight to the end..!!

Abhishit must resign, dissolve his governments immediately!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Abhishit defiant and stubborn..? he gonna make things getting worse...Red Shirts and Yala's people may use bombs to blow up bangkok city...

Anonymous said...

Abhisit Vejjajiva should step down and disslove everything and restart new the only way to stop this bloody war, if he still a stubborn head, there'will be a bloody civil war break out... in the whole Thailand country...!! these poors-red shirts people, they were mistreated for so long, including people of Yala in the southern part...

Anonymous said...

correction = dissolve

Anonymous said...

Khmers should learn from Thai Red Shirt protesters to overthrown any abusing of power or incompetent govt. Use the people' s power. Khmers wake up please to protect your future.

Anonymous said...

What sup khmer cowards, still online and barking when watching some action movies

Anonymous said...

Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Let them finished themselves Red vs. Yellow and Blue vs. Yala. Yellow is blocking Red until they all die. Blue blocking Yala until the all die.