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Monday, September 15, 2008


What's happening in Thailand

Some of my friends check my blog from time to time to see what is happening with me. Some have pointed out recently that I have been a little quiet lately and they hear on the news about sometimes violent protests in Bangkok and they have been wondering if I'm OK.

If you too have been wondering let me first say I apologise for the lack of communication. I didn't realise it had been so long since I had posted a blog. Here is what is happening for me: I continue to go to school two days a week. I continue to study Thai. I am making progress but still feel I have a long way to go. My life is busy but not exciting. While I am finding little to blog about I have been quite content with my time here.

About the problems in Thailand. I wish I really understood what was going on but I have to say I don't. I appreciate that for you overseas you understand it even less so to give you a little background, here is how I see it:

As you know there was a coup a few years back to oust Taksin because while he had been taking care of the Thai economy he was also taking care of himself. In Thailand there is a law that says you can't criticise the king. It seemed Taksin thought no one should criticise him either. Anyway they got rid of him, were ruled by the military for a couple of years and got a new constitution and the people elected a new government which just happened to be the supporters of Taksin. Now either the people like Taksin and his supporters or they don't value their votes very highly and were prepared to accept bribes for their votes. Well, that's what people are saying but I have to ask: Are there no whistle blowers? To buy enough votes to win an election there must be a lot of people involved. It just needs one to say no, speak out and someone should be charged. I'm assuming vote buying is illegal in Thailand???

Anyway, there is a group that was against Taksin and played a role in bringing him down. They are called PAD which stands for Peoples Alliance for Democracy. The same people are now protesting against the current government. Perhaps they have a valid argument. The government has never impressed me. But I'm not too sure about the PAD name. I believe their proposal is for the elected members to be only 30% of the seats of the government and the other members to be appointed. One of their leaders has more or less said that Thai people are too stupid to be trusted with a vote. They may be right and they may be wrong but I think their name is wrong. They would be more honest if they called themselves People Against Democracy.

Anyway they've been protesting for a long time and now another group that supports the government has been opposing them and this is what has started the violence. But despite what the media outside Thailand would have you believe the protests are confined to a small area and only affect the streets close to the government buildings. I don't think I would want to be staying in Khao San Road at the moment. That would be a little too close for comfort but I live a long way out of town and so far it's pretty quiet here. It's pretty quiet where I go to school too. Life goes on. People talk about it but in most of Bangkok there is not much happening. I'm comfortable being here. I hope you're comfortable about that too.

If you'd like a little more info on what's happening in Thailand, I suggest you check the Thai English-language newspapers Bangkok Post and The Nation.

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There is an interesting commentary on the current situation by a Thai that you can read online here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/210908_News/21Sep2008_news016.php
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