In the beginning, when PAD stood for the termination of Thaksin’s government through peaceful means, I would have proudly worn a yellow shirt (had it not clashed with my skin tone). I admired their dogged digging of the government’s wrong doings and their startling exposés of the depths of depravity of the then administration. We were up against something so insidious and so far reaching that I felt that PAD with their tenacity was the only means towards cleansing us of the man and his tentacles.
So for many months, because myself and our production manager (two old school friends) are both anti the government’s shenanigans, our lunch hours were filled with outraged soliloquies about the evils of government – the source of the prime minister’s wealth, his human rights records, his intimidation of the free press (thankfully he has never heard of Citylife), his purchase of power, his policy corruption, his transparently fake rhetoric…yada yada. They were grand times. Such discourse, such debate.
It took me a while to realise that lurking among the nodding heads were a few naysayers, a couple of dissenting voices, in short, an underground clique of red shirts! It all came about one day after work when I was waxing political, as I tend to do when provided with an audience, and someone said, “I love Thaksin, and I voted for him. Who are you to say that my vote is wrong?” Suddenly programmers, messengers and all sorts of other people at work began to reveal their love for Thaksin and their divergence from Citylife’s mainstream rhetoric.
Well, that was interesting. I felt most sheepish that I had created an environment where the reds didn’t feel comfortable speaking up, and immediately (and admittedly, slightly reluctantly) rectified the situation. So we all rubbed along as always, and while we knew which side of the political divide we were on, it was never an issue. Jokes began to emerge. When the television was brought in to work for big ASTV events, the red lot would make a point of putting on their earphones. When, a parade of reds walked past our office on the way to greet the ex Prime Minister at the airport, our reds clapped their hands while the yellows threatened to withhold Secret Santa presents.
But as time went by, things got even more confusing. I had long stopped supporting PAD’s actions, though I maintain that I support their goal of rooting out insidious corruption, and wish for an alternative means. The PAD spectrum at work became as diverse as that within the nation. PAD extremes: those who got hourly updates on their mobile phones, gleefully announcing the latest developments by instant messaging to computer screens throughout the office, and those who sympathised, but disapproved of the methods being deployed and were disgusted at the airport raid. DAAD extremes: those who would wear red to protest sites, clapping their feet and shouting slogans, to those who loved Thaksin, but saw that the government was misbehaving and would drop their loyalties to Thaksin in a heartbeat for the sake of peace. One long term loyal DAAD clapped his hands in glee when he heard of Suvarnabhumi’s closing. Startled, I asked him why he was clapping, to which he answered, “sa jai” – serves them right.
I was terribly confused at this point as he was one of our staunchest pro Thaksin supporters. “It is not so simple anymore,” he said, “the government should have sacrificed themselves for the country by now.”
And that is the sad truth. Red. Yellow. PAD. DAAD. We are all feeling so disillusioned at the lack of those worthy of our support. Fewer of us are now identifying with these labels. We simply just want to be Citylifers at work and get on with things. We simply want to be Thai.