Sept 19th... What did it achieve ?
answers on a post card please...
will write something more about this soon (probably in the morning when I'm not so sleepy) I promise... But first I need to think of something to write... It's hard to think of what good came out of it. OK, the old square head's gone but have things really improved for most people living here? Has corruption been tackled? Have the new government made any positive steps to demonstate that it really cares about the people who are, presumably going to have to vote for the next one (they didn't vote for this one - Tanks don't tend to be electable...)
So far, the interim government has repeatedly shot itself in the foot, How? By...
* banning (and then changing their minds about) alchohol advertising,
* censoring any website critical of the government, including some BBC and CNN news articles, forums on pantip.com and even the video sharing site youtube,
* getting rid of the lottery (and taking away people's dream of being able to get rich quick)
* starting a belated witchhunt against Taksin, yet being incapable of producing any firm evidence against him.
As far as Taksin goes, the latest news is that Thai lawyers are going to England to work out how to extradite him. Another pointless waste of government money, that once again demonstrates how the new government has more than earnt its reputation for ineptness...
In contrast, Taksin's scoring endless PR victories, ensuring that people in the west continue to see him as a victim; a dynamic, sucessful and, more importantly 'democratically elected leader' who was unfairly ousted from power by old royalist, military elites.
The latest of which, are
* buying Man City (and passing the FA's fit and proper test - though thats not too hard. Have you got a bank account ? Yes. Has it got lots of money in it ? Yes. Can we see where the money came from ? No. OK, That's fine, you're free to buy your chosen your football club.)
* getting a famous 20 something singer, who hangs out with his family to publish a book denying that she ever had a relationship with him.)
*publishing an anniversary letter on the net repeating the story that he was unfairly ousted as a leader.
His lawyers have repeatedly stated how Taksin wants to come back here, but cannot. He fears for his life. It's a perfect PR stunt. It keeps up both the 'innocent victim' image in the west and column inches in Thai newspapers. He ensures that no one can forget who he is.
One sad thing about living here is that most people seem to get bored of politics very quickly. No one I know admits to liking political news. I even have a friend who's studying for a Phd in politics, and media / communications who readily admits that he never follows the news, and has very little interest in current affairs. It's an academic thing, he says. Just for university.
I probably read more Thai news than he does, and I'm a foriegner. Though, most of the time Thai news isn't that great. Political stories are buried deep in middle of the average tabloid paper, in small print with no pictures. Sometimes they're not even printed at all. Why care about things as irrelevant as who runs your country, and trying to find column 3 on page 12, when you can look at pictures of young, female soap or movie stars baring their shoulders (can be a bit risque here), car crash or assasination victims or premiership football scores. These things, the usual kind of front page stories on any Thai daily, are much more exciting that hearing who is on what comitte, who's suing who, or what the latest hairbrained idea the goverment has thought of is.
I guess one reason most people aren't interested in politics is that it has very little effect on their everday lives. Who cares whether its Taksin or the Tanks in charge. For most people, nothing changes. They still have to eek out their living, whilst a new bunch of cronies fight over who controls the purse strings and pockets the cash at the top. In Thailand politics is the preserve of the well educated, rich. 'Playing' politics (yep - in Thai politcs is seen as something that you 'play') is a way for the already influential and rich, to become more powerful, even more influential and even richer.
In Thailand parliamentary candidates must have a degree. This rule means that Thai urban and rural poor have little, but in reality no chance of ever being elected to parliament. The urban elites who do end up being elected rarely care about their rural constituents. They hand out money to the local big wigs and village heads (who then pass it onto the voters) at election time, canvass for votes and then disappear.
Thailand is a country where some people are so poor that their votes can be brought for as little as 200baht (around 3 English pounds for anyone at home) and mobs can be hired to protest against anything and everything for a couple of hundred more. Politicans (and the government) do nothing for these people. They just take advantage of them whenever the need to 'rent a mob.' It doesn't really care about them and the feeling's reciprocated.
Sparing a few says of excitment when people saw tanks on the streets of BKK, and posed for photos with the soldiers, last year's coup waspretty calm. The coup, as all the newspapers back home were keen to report was a bloodless one.
Maybe some people really thought and believed that the coup would be a change for the better. Maybe they really believed that, once Taksin was out, corruption would be tackled, the media would be given more freedom to report the truth and a new constitution put in place to ensure that future PM's could not abuse their power.
I hoped it would, but after a year and a half of living in Thailand, didn't really believe that it would make much difference. I didn't want to be but, unfortunately I was right. So far it's been business as usual. 'Same, same' as they say here.
|Create Date : 19 กันยายน 2550
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