Stickman Readers' Submissions March 22nd, 2004

Farang vs Thai Again

Stickman’s weekly column 21/3/2004 regarding the notion of “keeping our traps shut” was quite interesting to me, particularly the opening which described a fight over a traffic accident in his hometown NZ where local NZ boys had been at fault and bullied the innocent Asian students into retreat. Over the last 10 years I have seen numerous incidents of anonymous Thais get together for a little “beat up the falang” sport. I am a big guy and I have had to rescue a number of falangs from time to time and this has made me somewhat jaded with Thai people. It seems to me that Thai people just don’t posses in their hearts and minds the basic ideal of “fairness”. Perhaps the “fairness” ideal is a luxury of a wealthy Western society but in a poor Asian society the ideal of “survival” is more prevalent. Still the opening story in the weekly column shows that perhaps my theory is actually wrong and there is evil in all men of all cultures. Who knows?

Stickman’s column centered on the idea that falangs living and visiting Thailand spend a great deal of their time and energy complaining about the kingdom.

He Clinic Bangkok

In the past I have associated with a number of overseas students studying in Australia and I rarely hear them complaining to me about the shortcomings of Australia. I believe this is because they feel it is embarrassing to complain and they lose face when they do. They also cause Australia to lose face and they do not want to cause another individual or entity to loose face. Carrying on from that I believe that Asians (particularly Chinese) are generally taught to bottle up their problems and not show discomfort with anybody or anything. But I don’t believe for a second that they don’t have equally as many major problems with our society as we do theirs.

In fact I believe that Asians in general are in awe of some elements of Western popular culture whilst paradoxically they despise and scorn many examples of decadent immoral corrupt promiscuous Western culture. Their contempt and disdain for the West is commonly acknowledged amongst themselves but never openly spoken of. It is simply a universal understanding.

Westerners on the other hand (particularly the Brits) have the completely opposite universal understanding. This is to find fault in anything possible and then complain bitterly to all in earshot until the situation is rectified or nobody will listen anymore.

CBD bangkok

Both examples of human behaviour are equally as bizarre and also pathetically endearing.

Many people pose the question: “Do falangs have the right to complain?” I don’t know the answer to this but I can say that we are permitted the right to travel to and enter Thailand. We are permitted the right to see the amazing sights and wonders of Thailand and get ripped off when doing so. We are permitted the right to engage, interact, communicate and trade with the Thai people and get ripped off when doing so. We are permitted the right to argue with Thais and get beaten up by hoards of Thai when they don’t like what we are saying and then get thrown in jail and have to pay a bribe to the police to get out because it was obviously our fault in the first place. It seems a small gesture of their kindness and generosity to permit us the right to actually complain about the wonderful things they do to us when they have advertised “Amazing Thailand” in the brochures and invited us to their wonderful country.

As far as Thai people saying to the falang: “you just don’t understand Thai people or culture” I always reinterpret this to mean: “you just don’t understand that when you come to Thailand we consider you to be an inferior second class citizen and we believe we have the right to treat you as such and you should not complain when we do”.

I think the endless continual complaints of Westerners about every perceived shortcoming they observe and experience around them no matter what part of the world they are living in derives from a desire to peruse constant improvement and strive for excellence and achievement in all aspects of life. I don’t believe the same pursuit for advancement and development exists in Thailand. Thais are generally quite content with a mediocre society and are not prepared to take the steps to improve the situation. When they do try to fix a perceived problem it is always with short sighted, misguided solutions. Conservative Thais do not feel able to control their youth so they look to the current government to solve the problem with short sighted policies that do not look at the heart of the social problems facing Thailand today.

wonderland clinic

Notwithstanding the potential midnight closings, the reality is that we will all continue to travel to and live in amazing Thailand, we will all continue to get ripped off by the Thais and be subjected to poor service standards and we will all continue to complain about it. Whether we have the right to do so or not, that's just the way of the falang.

Stickman says:

I think we'll hear even more about this.

nana plaza