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    Thailand: It's only in your mind (Voranai)

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    WTF

    Posts : 163
    Join date : 2010-08-06
    Location : Thailand

    Thailand: It's only in your mind (Voranai)

    Post by WTF on 5th September 2010, 8:26 am

    Published: 5/09/2010 at 12:00 AM
    The government would like to rebrand Thailand, in accordance with the slogan "Thailand in your mind". Citizens are invited to vote on four choices: Thailand as a country of open-minded people with a positive attitude, or as a country with local wisdom that is still open to the world, or as the place where business, culture and nature converge into one destination, or as a hub for investment and exemplary service. And why not?

    Walk the streets, sit in the restaurants or dance at the clubs and you will see both young and old, and people from different corners of the world. You will see a melting pot.
    Turn on the television and watch MTV, Hollywood movies, Asian films, CNN or BBC. You can watch an entire channel in French or in Chinese. You can switch on the original audio.
    Look around and admire the luxury malls, the state-of-the-art theatres, the high-rise buildings, the international brands and the multi-national companies - yuppie white collar office workers of various ethnicities and nationalities mingling.

    Think of the international schools, the international communities and the middle class Thais with degrees from abroad. The mixing of languages, the fusing of lifestyle and the society that embraces popular cultures imported from the world over. The open arms, the welcoming smile and the courteous hospitality _ we display it all. Visit Thailand. Invest in Thailand. We are open to the world. We want you to come to Thailand.

    All of the above are true, very true. But not everything is as it seems. Underneath the openness, there lies a mystery within.
    Every day we talk education reforms, but at the end of the day we demand obedience and conformity. Every day we preach creativity, but at the end of the day we censor and ban.
    Every day we rant against corruption, but at the end of the day we corrupt. Every day we speak of change, but at the end of the day we make sure things remain the same.

    Every day we smile and open our arms to foreigners, but at the end of the day we refuse to let them buy land, buy houses or actually own their own businesses, because we are afraid they would cut out a piece of Thailand, put it into their backpacks and take it back to their home countries. This is our collective psyche. We don't intend to misrepresent or misinform. We don't mean to cause confusion, dilemmas or paradoxes. We don't, by design, intend to be untruthful or hypocritical.

    Make no mistake _ we do sincerely want to open up. We want to be creative, we want reform and we want change. We want to spread our arms wide and embrace the new and the foreign.
    But we just can't because in the backs of our mind, in the depths of our souls and underneath the surface we are ruled by fear and paranoia. We are suspicious. Which, if we were to understand our own mysteries within, then perhaps the confusion, the dilemmas and the paradoxes of modern-day Bangkok and Thailand would make sense. It would be understandable that it is only natural. And then, we can make proper changes.

    We Thais are not big on history, even if we like to make big movies on history. Be that as it may, the authorities, the schools and society made sure to hammer into our hearts and minds from a young age two issues that play a crucial role in shaping our national psyche. First, the Burmese - there's no need to elaborate, anyone who knows anything about Thai history understands exactly.
    Second, foreign powers in general, and western powers in particular - we learned how they cheated, robbed and stole from us. Chipped away our land and undermined our sovereignty. We were taught about our heroes who stood up against their encroachments, those individuals who preserved our independence against the odds.

    Through history we have learned to fiercely protect what is ours. This is our proud history and celebrated heritage that we should never forget and our heroes whose names and deeds should be sung in praise through the ages. But we have learned little else other than this. Importantly, we haven't learned that times have changed. That what was before, is now no more.

    Through the second half of the 20th century we were ruled by a succession of military dictators who _ for all their flaws, fallacies and atrocities _ did keep the country from falling into the hands of anarchy and communism. They did it through perhaps not the best of methods - that of rigid obedience and strict conformity under the banner of fierce nationalism, and that led to the shedding of blood and the abuse of human rights.

    Take all of that into the equation, with the addition of fear and the multiplication of paranoia, and we have the sum of deep-rooted suspicion suspicion of things that are new, things that are different and consequently, an ingrained resistance to change.
    Our better senses tell us to open up and to embrace, to free the mind and liberate the soul. That is why on the surface we see the melting pot the MTV, the foreign art and culture and the foreign faces, brands and, of course, money.

    But underneath we still fiercely guard what we consider ours _ and we do so by intolerance and prejudices. We do so by banning and censoring. We do so by demanding obedience and conformity. We do so by laws and regulations that aim only to take, but hardly to give.

    Our proud history and heritage is something we should celebrate as a beacon of light. But instead, we use it to instill fear and paranoia that lead to an ingrained suspicion of all things, thus the consequent resistance to change. And this has been embedded into our national psyche, no matter what our better senses tell us.

    ''Thailand in your mind'' is a dream of what we can become. But at the moment, if we don't make the proper changes, it is simply another useless PR attempt that achieves nothing more than painting a portrait of ''Thailand, only in your mind''.

    So instead of just making it a PR campaign, let's make it a reality.
    ---------------------------------------------------
    As usual, the writer has an honest view about things Thai. It's my personal opinion (and experience) that Thais are basically ruled by fear, "what can the other do to me" as this is a class society. Hence the often fake smile, psychologist have figured long time ago that if you smile you will usually not be attacked or a target. This being a country where the law may not be favorable to (non influential) lower classes readily smiling is a defense tactic which one me not even know himself. Neutral

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