Editorial: May 2006
I actually spluttered out my morning coffee earlier in the year, on first reading of the Political Stress Syndrome, which The Nation said was affecting a large chunk of the Thai population. Granted, politics is everywhere you turn these days, but why stress?
I consider myself a fairly happy-go-lucky type of person, and apart from a few teenage heartbreaks, death of grandparents and occasional episodes of near-bankruptcy in my early working years, have hardly spent much emotional energy wallowing in depression.
As a matter of fact, I have always been of the firm opinion — echoing Voltaire’s famous quote in Candide — that everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. To me, life is pretty splendid.
Sure Thai Rak Thai is riddled with corruption, of course our country is being hijacked by a bunch of kleptocrats, naturally it is regretable that on the anniversary of His Majesty the King’s 60th year on the throne, such ugly political turmoil is ripping the country in half, and I know full well that there are no fast draw solutions for Thailand’s political future, as nepotism and corruption are so deeply ingrained.
But to me, these are also exciting times, with much cause for celebration. It has been wonderful having lunch every day at work, listening to a previously politically apathetic staff debate heatedly over each day’s headlines; it’s been almost tear-jerking, answering my friends’ eight year old children’s questions about what is going on with the elections; and it’s been most novel wandering through the village and being asked by the som tam vendor, the grilled chicken man and even the local ya dong booze bloke what my thoughts are about Thai Rak Thai and arguing with them as to whom to vote for. Such conversations did not exist five months ago.
Our nation’s political awareness and consciousness has risen to a level which I have only ever seen before when I lived in Israel (there, everyone is a politician). This is a good thing.
At the end of the day we must remind ourselves that we are a new democracy, and the fact that we have so far tackled our current growing pains with peace is something of which we should be infinitely proud.
The current government may enjoy their bubble of arrogance and invincibility for now, but as more and more people begin to take notice of political shenanigans, as a new generation of children grow up in a culture which is infused with discourse, as more voices join in debate – all of which this government has, incidentally, been the impetus for – the shield surrounding those in power will erode. Call it karma, justice, or simple truth, but history will not remember this administration kindly. They may reap their unjust rewards now, but they will leave a legacy of shame. And let’s not forget the ghosts of those thousands who have been summarily executed, disappeared, or, let’s call it for what it is…murdered, during various drug wars and other government ‘initiatives’.
It would do Thaksin Shinawatra well to remember that there is a recently-evacuated cell available at The Hague.
Citylife this month:
After a hot and hectic Songkran, we are rushing to press with an eclectic assortment of articles for your reading pleasure. Oliver Benjamin, having returned from a holiday to his hometown of Los Angeles, writes our cover feature article on the massive Thai expatriate population in LA, while Julie Seibt takes US to the laid back destination of Koh Jum in the south of Thailand. Even closer to home, Nichole Huck introduces us to the world of the kathoey, or lady boy, looking at their roles in, and acceptance by, society, and Anna Wons scratches her head over the tad-too-laid-back approach to medical care here in Thailand.