Simon's, ‘Why I would never marry a Thai woman, lack of intellectual curiosity’, and consecutive contributions by Nam-anator, Hua Hin Harry and Farang Dave.
I still find Simon's contribution a brilliant and friendly analysis, moving to the root of the matter. Harry, living in Thailand for many years, some of them with plenty of Thai family members around reported similar experiences.
I’m a European living in Bangkok, being more than 10 years happily(!) married to a Thai woman from a well doing middle-class family we care for when necessary but who do not live with. We have, however, intellectual parity as we are both academics, she with a PhD from the US. However, even within this relationship some discussions move to a certain point but not further, because she is not so interested in issues not regarding Thailand or her family.
Simon humorously and with distinctive deep sympathy for the country and its people addressed one of Thailand’s most significant problems: the unwillingness of its people to discuss issues not directly related to their personal interests or problems and their inability to deal with opposing opinions in a civil manner. The result of this attitude is either ignorance or violence. In his contemplations, Harry added a lot of typical examples from daily life, based on his experiences with his Thai family, and though his marriage obviously failed, he did it without any ‘Look back in anger’. Simon and Harry, both, wrote their articles using civilized language, which was in no way inappropriate or degrading. Neither did they say that Thais are stupid, nor that they are without talent. By no means did they state that Thais are inferior. Simon praised the Thai women; he obviously loves them, not only due to physical attraction. However, he explained why he as an individual wouldn’t marry one; he did not generalize. His argumentation emphasizes communication as a key element for any kind of long term relationship. His fictitious conversation, ‘where are you working?’ – ‘I’m working on the moon right now’, etc. will be a classic one day. It’s too bad that it is so near to reality.
As expected, somebody calling himself Farang Dave and his wife took offence resulting in a typical tit-for-tat-response; the title, ‘Why I would never marry a westerner: Lack of everything’ tells it all. The article – sorry, typical Thai-style – does not offer exchanging objective arguments. It does not even try to prove Simon (and Harry) wrong, based on data or comprehensible examples. Instead it’s a classic example of inadequate generalization, based on a boring succession of trivialities regarding bad experiences with western men. The follow-up of the couple called ‘Generalizations Regarding Harry’s Generalizations’ ends in the usual rebuke and insinuations, such as ‘Yeah, it’s hard to understand the real Thailand when you spend most of your time in the unreal ex-pat areas where life is perverse version of life in your home country. Only here, you don’t understand the culture or the language and all your girlfriends are rented by the hour.’ The intellectual level of Farang Dave and his wife’s contributions and its partly abusive language doesn’t really ‘fertilize’ the issue, which is sad, because it’s interesting and important. It is, however, another example about the difficulties of a straight but civil argument in this country. One remark though: Thailand’s strategy during WWII has nothing to do with intellectual curiosity; nobody will ever deny that Thais are outstandingly cunning. However, ask your Thai friends and their offspring what they know about WWII in general, the massacre of Nanking, the purpose of a university, or simply their ASEAN allies, starting with who they are and what form of government they have. You will be surprised, they know nothing. Not because they are stupid, but because they don’t care – they are not curious.
Summarizing from the point of view of an individual with no ties to the bar scene, but many to the intellectual (not financial) upper-class in Thailand.
1. Typical communications of Thais don’t exercise an atmosphere of constructive debate; Germans call this ‘Streitkultur’.
2. Common knowledge in Thailand is incomprehensibly low. Lack of intellectual curiosity may be a consequence of it, as people are worried to make a fool of themself when discussing a general matter, thus losing face. It’s some kind of vicious circle.
Though gifted with many outstanding talents including intellectual potential, within most ASEAN-rankings Thailand is at the end of the queue, and nobody seems to care. From the beginning of their existence it is hammered into Thais, that their culture is superior to others. Rationale – None! Evidence – None!
This is, please forgive, an intentional generalization: Thais estimate their country as the centre of the world – no need to gain knowledge about the rest of the universe. Foreigners, many of them eager to contribute to the progress of this wonderful country, are tolerated but never truly accepted; their advice is neither wanted nor appreciated.
Do I see a change after so many years living here? Not really.
Why? Because the lack of intellectual curiosity being ‘kept alive’ by a substandard educational system.