The great painter Vincent Van Gogh was known to have been mentally unstable, with bouts of delusions, hallucinations, and bipolar behaviors. While highly productive, he had also cut off his left ear, and most likely had died from suicide from a gunshot wound.
You wouldn’t want to live with such a person right?
What if that person was the government?
I don’t need the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) – the psychiatrists’ bible – to determine that the current government has been exhibiting a lot of ‘mentally unstable’ symptoms.
It is remarkable, if we stop to think, how this government coalition has lasted for so long, and will probably complete its 4-year full term. They have approximately three months to go.
As we are approaching the end of the year in a matter of days, ushering in 2023, let us look back on the government’s bipolar decisions that have left the country perplexed and bewildered.
(1) The Weed Problem
Is it legal? Illegal? Semi-legal? Or depending on the government’s mood?
My view on this is that weed and marijuana should be decriminalized. Where cigarettes and alcohol are concerned, they actually pose greater harm to our society, killing more lives than weed.
But legalizing and commercializing it requires much more thinking and discussion.
Many questions follow: If made legal, what will be the legal minimum age to smoke weed? 18? 21?
Can people smoke joints in public or only in certain places with certifications?Can weed businesses set up shops openly? Or must they sell them in the underground? Because one day I’m seeing police closing down weed shops. The next day the health Minister announces that “Police have no legal authority to close them down.”
Should weed be used for only medicinal purposes, dispensed by medical practitioners?
Can the ‘little people’ use it for cooking and personal home remedies?
Image from Getty images
I will let you in on something: The greatest political sin of Bhumjaithai Party – the coalition party that proposes this bill – is that this policy is so popular that it poses a threat to other political parties vying for votes.
(2) Foreign Land Ownership
Another contested policy. One minute the government said it was considering allowing foreigners to own land in the Land of Smile (with many conditions attached to be sure). The next minute they did a full U-turn as if nothing had happened.
The fact is under the status-quo foreigners are already using their nominees to acquire properties in Thailand anyway. My thinking at this moment is that we should seriously consider foreign land ownership, starting with the Special Economic Zones. If successful, then we can expand on it prudently.
I suspect after next year’s election, the foreign land ownership issue will be brought up again.
The Booze Democracy
Did you know there are more than 7,000 breweries in the US? Image from Punchdrink.com
Booze, booze, booze. Who doesn’t like them? Even Thai monks have been caught drinking Beer Chang to their hearts’ content. Nice heh?
Insofar as Thais and tourists love drinking them, why not let Thais be able to produce their own local beers, wine, and alcoholic beverages?
How cool would it be if Chiang Mai had “Lan Na Beer” with a tinge of local herb, owned by local Chiang Mai entrepreneurs?
People would flock to Chiang Mai to taste our local beer. There would be competition among different provinces to produce the best and most unique beer.
Then we could have Thailand’s Oktoberfest beer festival, with alcoholic beverages from 76 provinces.
Who stands to lose? You already know the answer. The beer monopolies in the Kingdom of Thailand of course.
(4) New Year Countdown.
Last week all state government agencies announced they wouldn’t be celebrating in NY out of respect for a royal family member’s hospitalization.
Then this policy started creeping into the private sector. Khao Sarn road “voluntarily” decided not to go ahead with the NY celebration.
Not happy with this, the public became frustrated and complained. As always, Mr. Prayuth shifted direction according to the wind, and declared that it was up to each business to decide.
Poor Prayuth – getting squeezed by the “establishment” from the top and the people and the business sector from the bottom.
Another image that comes to my mind is him being in the Tokyo subway during rush hour, crushed and packed like sardines.
Must be uncomfortable. An understatement.
My stance on this is that we can have both. We pray for the sick person and at the same time the 70 million Thais must continue on with their lives in the post-covid economy and ‘de-globalized’ world.
Here is an example. I check-in at a temple in the morning. And I check-in at a bar at night. This isn’t hypocrisy. It’s not an either-or decision. I am neither a saint nor a devil. It’s just the separation of religion and the state. I can carry on Thai cultural traditions while enjoying my personal freedom.
Lots to think about.
As we are nearing the beginning of 2023, I wish all of you a Happy New Year. Most importantly is that the next government must overcome their schizophrenic personality and frankly grow up.