Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Chaos Continues

I find it funny, having been here in Thailand for 18 months or so, that whenever there is a coups here they always advertise it as a "bloodless coups" or "bloodless takeover".

That's all good that on the day the actual events unfold where the government is taken over and replacement begins there is no blood shed. But the 9 months leading up to the takeover is filled with daily protests where competing factions of protesters (government v. anti-government) inflict bodily harm at a "Fallujah-esque" clip.

It seems like not a day goes by where there aren't front page headlines showing protesters with their faces blown up from riot a police's "gas grenades" or evening news video of police standing idly by as protesters throw rocks at pickup trucks filled with pro government protesters on the freeway.

I'm serious, when the protests turn violent, that's when it begins to be not cool. The supporters of the current Thai government are also fond of the former prime minister Taksin Shinawatra who was recently found guilty of fraud and sentenced (in absentia) to a couple years in Thai prison. He was in exile in England (he bought Manchester City Football Club, probably out of boredom) until the European Union revoked his visa. Now he is holed up in one of his many international residences in Hong Kong. A monkey looking man took his place after the "bloodless coups" two years or so ago. His name is Samak. Long story short, the anti-Taksin people viewed him as a mere puppet to Taksin and demanded he step down. He refused. The began protesting, they found some "abuse of the office of Prime Minister" charges against him and he eventually stepped down, only to be replaced by Taksin's brother-in-law!! Good way to quiet the masses!

Taksin's bro is obviously still seen as standing in proxy for the deposed leader Taksin. So, the protests, the violence, the bloodshed, the killing, the deteriorating image of Thailand to the rest of the world continues. In 3 or 4 months you'll probably hear a 2 minute snippet on the morning news about how "overnight anti-government protesters and the military staged a bloodless coups in the Thai capital Bangkok..." but I assure you that plenty of blood was shed not too far down the road from where I'm sitting right now in the months leading up to the takeover.

I have three basic colors that I wear as a uniform to school, red, yellow and white. School dress code requires yellow on Mondays to respect the King. I was told that the yellow for the King actually started as an anti-government symbol showing that they wanted Taksin out a few years ago...then around the time of the coups or after, they started saying that it was for the King. Now, regardless of its origins, we wear yellow on Mondays to symbolize support, respect and love for the eighty-something year old monarch.

Now, however, the PAD (People's Alliance for Democracy) or anti-government ralliers wear yellow to all protests, mob brawls, etc.

On Tuesdays my school dress code requires pink. I've been wearing a red sports day polo for the past month that I got from school free, rather than wearing my pink polo. The Europeans at my school banded together and refused to wear pink claiming its femininity, so I pretty much where red instead, plus my nipples are visible through the thin material of my pink shirt.

It just so happens that the Taksin people or gov supporters have chosen red as their banner. Every day I wear the red polo to school I have to answer the criticism "Oh, Taksin no good, you wear shirt red, farang (foreigner) like Taksin?" and deal with dirty looks and stares on public buses. I also get the opposite reaction from taxi drivers, who oddly enough tend to be Taksin supporters...I get the thumbs up, "Shirt red, Taksin good, where you from, you like Thai food?", big smiles, and overall a happy taxi ride.

The other days I wear white. As of yet, aliens haven't descended on Bangkok sporting white polos, claiming that they just want to drain all of the fish out of the rivers to fuel their spaceships, to be able to return to their planet and tell their populations of the intelligent life they found on Earth and the social advancement of its people. I'm safe, for now, wearing white.

Today, police lines at the two major Thai airports, both international and domestic, were overpowered and the airports have been shut down. How long will it last? Probably until the gvmt gets the cahones to round these people up with little violence, or just Tienamen square their asses. That's the solution right? Joke!

The government here is elected by the people...and then three months later...ran out by the people. A couple more cycles and I may be close to the top of the queue for the next Prime Minister! In that case, my supporters should run around naked, shouting my name, and doing the hokey pokey...screw this red shirt white shirt crap!

I am really enjoying my time here in Thailand, these protests are just a part of my daily life. Thailand is a great place, the people are for the most part anywhere else in the world you got your good and your bad. Other than the daily Bloods/Crips fashion challenge that I face, I have not once felt in danger or intimidated by the situation that exists in Thailand. I stay away from the religious conflict in the south and I've managed to stay away from the violence this past 3 months.

Thailand is a lovely place, come visit!

Here is today's main headline for Bangkok from msnbc...

Take a gander if you have the time.

1 comment:

Kevin Hanks said...

Not bad! I think the most exciting thing that's happened to me on my daily bus-ride to school is a guy got motion-sick and spewed his cookies on the floor! Ooooh

Look on the bright side though . . . not every day is a pink-shirt-nipple-showing day!

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