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    Today is time to start the change Published: by Voranai 2


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

    Today is time to start the change Published: by Voranai 2 Empty Today is time to start the change Published: by Voranai 2

    Post by WTF on 19th September 2010, 4:26 pm

    Today is time to start the change

    By Voranai
    Today is Sept 19, the anniversary of the military coup four years ago that toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra government. It's also the four-month anniversary of May 19, when Operation Ratchaprasong reached its climax: 91 people died, many buildings in Bangkok and upcountry were burned.

    Since 1932, we have had 78 years of democracy, although some would say we're not a democracy, even if we are trying to be or pretending to be.

    For example, how democratic are we when 23 is the number of attempted military coups in Thailand during these 78 years? That's one coup attempt every three years or so.

    How democratic are we when 11 is the number of successful military coups in these 78 years? That's one successful coup every seven years.

    How democratic are we when 47 of those 78 years is the number in which Thailand was headed by a military strongman, whether through a coup or from appointment by the cowed and submissive civilian parliament?

    In the past 20 years, there have been two military coups. There have four incidents of blood and chaos: Bloody May in 1992, the yellow shirts in 2008, the red shirts in 2009 and the red shirts in 2010.

    In the last 20 years, only one government actually served out its term - the first Thaksin government.

    Take into account the country's past 78 years, and whenever there's been political turmoil in Thailand and someone living abroad called me up, troubled and concerned, my reply was always: ''No worries. We do this every few years. It's tradition. It's seasonal. Like durian and mango.''

    Does Thailand have democracy and political stability? The numbers don't lie. People do. Thailand is never politically stable - at best, governments rise and fall amidst scandals of corruption; at worst the tanks come rolling in.

    Over the past two months I have been invited to lunch by a total of four embassies. The topic of discussion is, of course, always Thai politics, past, present and most importantly, the future.

    Will there be more bombs and violence? I have no idea. It depends on the backroom negotiations between the government, the opposition, the military and the establishment. If agreements are reached, deals are made and the spoils divided properly, then there won't be more bombs and violence.

    Will there be peace among the factions after the general election? I have no idea. It depends on the back room negotiations between the government, the military and the establishment. If agreements are reached, deals are made and the spoils divided properly, then there won't be.

    We should not fool ourselves. No expert, analyst or fortune teller can predict Thai politics, because the answers to the two above questions are exactly how politics in this country works. We, the people, simply have to sit and wait, cross our fingers and pray.

    When I asked the diplomats from those embassies what they want from Thailand, one gave the answer that I like the most.

    Citing the example of Map Ta Phut, he said we just want to see the Thai government - not just this government, but any government, since it's the problem that plagues every Thai government - to make a decision. Make a decision. Make it a law. Let everyone know that this is the law. Make sure everyone understands every letter of it. Enforce the law. Execute the law. Make it sensible and transparent so that everyone will know to abide by the law.

    Sounds simple, doesn't it? Just good old transparency and efficiency, which means keeping the corruption at a minimum. But such requests aren't so easily granted in Thailand. Take a look at the mess Map Ta Phut is still in. Not to mention the 3G business. On Friday I gave a talk for the Automative Focus Group in Pattaya about political stability. Never mind what I said, because I want to share something that I think is more important.

    It has always been a personal philosophy of mine that if you want to know what someone actually thinks, then have a drink or 10 with them. Or 20, if need be.

    After the talk, we all went for that drink or 20 and had a lively exchange of opinions. Now these are foreign investors, expats who have been here four, eight, 10, 20 years. Thailand is their home. It's not only their money that is invested here. It is also their minds, their emotions. They have a strong bond with the Kingdom.

    What I received from them was that, sure there are criticisms of this country, as anyone would have, but at the end of the day there's a genuine care for this country, a sincere wish for good things for Thailand, not to mention the efforts to help.

    This perhaps doesn't describe all foreign investors in the Kingdom. There's the good, the bad and the downright ugly in everything, after all. But it at least describes this group, as far as that one experience goes.

    They are not happy with the unfair portrayal of Thailand by the international media. They are concerned for the welfare of the people of Thailand. They want to see this country advanced and developed and they are willing to do what they can to help - from sponsoring under-privileged kids in their education to other charity work.

    Two hours passed and we ended up stripping off our shirts, comparing tattoos. Because that's what men do - we get drunk and compare tattoos. I still feel I have the coolest tattoos. One more thing I found out, however, was that a young Thai can out-drink old expats.

    At the end of the night, one thing stuck with me the most - a 69-year-old American expat grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes and said: ''Education, Voranai. You and people like you have to teach them [the young]. Education is what will make this country strong.''

    So as I'm sitting here writing this column I realise one thing: foreigners want what Thais need. The foreign diplomats want to see transparency in Thai politics. We Thais not only want, but need our politics to be clean. Foreign investors want Thailand to have education reform. We Thais not only want, but need education reform.

    But at the end of the day, the future of Thailand is still being decided in backroom negotiations between powerful interest factions.

    On that night a question was asked: ''When will Thailand change?'' Not the first time I have been asked the question, won't be the last. But it's never an easy one to answer.

    Though if there is one thing I've learned from talking with the diplomats and the expats, well, let's make it two things. First, they seem to care more about Thailand than many Thais I know. That's rather sad. Secondly, perhaps we Thais shouldn't just look outward only for foreign money.

    The money will come naturally, because investors would rather be in Thailand than anywhere else. Despite the many flaws, this is a beautiful and wonderful country - culturally, logistically and aesthetically.

    But perhaps other than only wanting their money, we should open up and learn from their knowledge and experience, and vice versa they can learn from us.

    We take the good, we leave the bad, and that's a fact of life. When there's a group of people who genuinely care for and want to help their adopted home, it speaks volumes of their sincerity and also of Thailand's charm and magnetism as a country. That's something we should be proud of.

    Today is Sept 19, the four-year anniversary of the military coup and the four-month anniversary of the military operations in May of this year. And I believe the future of Thailand has wonderful possibilities, if we learn to open our hearts and minds just a little bit more, the change won't come tomorrow, but the process of change can start today.
    Great insight, truly written as usual frim this man Very Happy

      Current date/time is 21st May 2019, 5:30 pm