Readers' Submissions

We Will Always Return To Thailand

  • Written by Anonymous
  • December 4th, 2008
  • 6 min read

All of the many and varied written opinions on the PAD/UDD and what is presently happening in Thailand have not been able to escape one thing. They are ALL farang opinions. In all the stuff I have read on Stickman in the past week, the sense of outrage is palpable, as though the view we all thought we had of Thailand as some gentle idyll has been shattered. If, as I believe, all contributors are familiar with and love Thailand then they should already be familiar with Thai people and their ways. So why be surprised at all? The difference is what attracts us to them, and all their apparent craziness. My opinions of Thailand have not been altered in the slightest.

Whilst the protests have not been free of violent acts, am I the only one who was amazed and delighted that there were no brutal attempts by the police or the army to remove the protestors from the two airports? All the reasoning about why they did not move in, such as there being no ‘money’ in it for the police, or they were having to face doing proper police work is, I’m sure, perfectly sound. On the other hand, a Buddhist philosophy must have had something to do with it, and maybe many of the police and the army had friends and family amongst the occupiers.

I’m sure that in the extremely unlikely event of this ever happening at London LHR, or New York JFK, or Paris CDG (maybe?), the outcome would have been very different. This is reflected in the outrage expressed by us Westerners that the Thai Government did nothing – but I believe this is an indictment of Western thinking and the assumption that a brutal response is the correct one. I know that in the UK they would definitely have labelled the protestors terrorists and the official response would have been savage; many on both sides would have died or been injured and the authorities would have used the terrorism laws as justification and stepped up security to even more absurd levels. We in the West like to assume that we lead the world with our democracy, and by definition our philosophy. But the ever increasing problematical events of all kinds in the last decade are showing us that we are delusional about this.

But what do people do these days in order to protest about something and get governments to listen to their grievances? In the UK, a million people peacefully marched in protest against the Iraq invasion, and it didn’t make a blind bit of difference. The masters had decided there was to be a war, and that was that. Democracy? Another example of our delusions. I laugh when I often read and hear people say that democracy ain’t perfect but it’s the best we’ve got. I can almost smell their terror! The BKK and DMK protests are equally delusional in their own way, but on a much more amateurish and unsophisticated level.

I LIKE the Thai way of muddling through things, their imprecise and confusing bureaucracy, the way everything is primarily geared to face-saving. It can be maddening, but if you understand and accept that this is the way they do things, then none of this should be a problem. And all of you farangs who have written damning Thailand because of these protests should know better. Yes, Thailand has damaged herself economically, but surely not irreparably. The vast majority of the population have no credit cards, bank loans or mortgages of any significance because the banks have not committed any of the stupid acts of the western banks. They know people cannot afford them. People outside of Bangkok (the real Thailand) live for the present, if they have a job it is poorly paid and they tend to think in terms of earning enough money to feed themselves and their family for that day. Their only other outlay would largely be electricity, water and mobile. And the very interesting thing is that so far the Baht has held up on the international markets where many major currencies have not. Do financiers know or believe something we don’t? I do believe Thailand will have severe problems in the time to come, but her people are much more used to hardship than we are in the West. It is quite probable that our own problems will exceed Thailand’s in the next 2-3 years, and we are quite definitely not geared up for hardship – can you believe it, we are asked to go shopping, and to feel sorry for the banks!

I live in the UK, am married to a Thai lady who has lived and worked here with me for the past two years. Her personality and attitude entirely reflects Thailand, and in the past two weeks she has been depressed and angry even though she has not made much attempt to find out the finer details of what is going on back home. It is as though she is emotionally linked to her people in spite of the distance, and I believe this to be true.

The MD and other associates of the company I work for have strong links with Thailand including properties and a business there, which means that the boss and others including myself have travelled between UK and Thailand dozens of times for business or holidays. The poor office staff have had to listen to constant conversations about the current situation in Thailand, but I have not detected any negativity towards Thailand, only realistic opinions about what is going on, or might now happen. This is because we all love Thailand and we all have had great experiences there of all kinds; nobody is going to stop going because of this. In addition, no one wants Thailand to become corporate like America or Britain, life is becoming ever more miserable and stressful in the West. And as far as Thailand becoming a more dangerous place – well America has far more guns, crime and other weapons of mass destruction, and a large proportion of people in her prisons – and in Britain lots of people are knifed in the street. I think a little perspective is needed here.

In short, the completely different environment that is Thailand should be appreciated and celebrated for what it is, and it should take considerably worse occurrences than the present ones to put people off. The Tsunami was a far more devastating event with large loss of life, but did that put anyone off? As has been said, The Thais may have only hurt themselves by this, but I don’t see them failing to overcome it.

Stickman's thoughts:

I admire your optimism but as someone here, on the ground in Bangkok, I would suggest that you're perhaps not aware of how bad things are getting for the Thai people AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THE PAD'S ACTIONS.

I was out with the dirty doctor last night for a couple of quiet drinks and jumped in a cab to go home early, about 9 PM. We got caught in a traffic jam for about 15 minutes and the driver started freaking out, smashing the steering wheel and raving! I asked him what was up and he said that the last two days driving he had only just broken even (taxi drivers usually have to make about 750 baht just to break even, being the cost of car hire for the 12 hour shift of 500 – 550 baht and the rest is gas). He said he had 100 baht to his name – and that was all the money he head in the world.

Thais don't always respond well to pressure, especially financial pressure…