I offered my opinion, based on what I know of the hotel staff demographics, of Thai culture, and of workplace propriety. (I too have worked in hospitality.)
Thai management and supervisory positions on the islands are most often held by people from the southern and northern provinces, and Bangkok. I attribute the fewer number of northeasterners in management to a lack of formal education. Morever, I think educated people from Isaan if given the choice, are more comfortable working in Bangkok than here in the South. But this was not part of my response to her.
She told me that on the one occasion she was asked her view by a Thai co worker, she responded by saying she didn't yet feel well enough informed to choose sides. Her questioner was not happy with her answer, because she did not endorse the side on which the woman clearly stood.
In my home and work these days I move mostly amongst the provincial working class. I have found people willing to state their opinion guardedly when I am alone with them. But I sense that if we were in a group the subject would be avoided. I agree that by and large people don't seem to be talking.
Is it because they are ever aware of the danger that in expressing an opinion, or attempting to elicit another's, the conversation could and probably would quickly degenerate into a display of anger? The latter as we know, is to be avoided at all cost. While amongst many others, Mai dtong kit maak and mai dtong phut maak continue to be rules to live by. But for how much longer?
In the case of your typical resort (to use just one example), while management may be in full agreement on who is at fault in today's divide, do perhaps some of the housekeepers and gardeners hold altogether another viewpoint? Who knows? People aren't talking.
This non confrontational aspect of Thai culture and the relevance it has in moving towards compromise, not just in politics but in society, worries me. On one hand it is part of the reason we have so far largely and fortunately avoided bloodshed, on the other I'm afraid it will inevitably retard progress towards a fairer society and more inclusive political system.
By the time enough people's anger boils over for the conflict to escalate and spread, will it be too late for people to start talking?
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In my opinion, this event is the culmination of what is wrong in Thailand. The crisis is a reflection of a country that gloomed on binary thinking and shallow hatred, where people are thought to be believers than thinkers. From my personal experience of Thai education, it is not surprising, when in Thai curriculum you are thought to adhere to beliefs rather than being thought thinking skills, things supposed to be a certain ways, this is bad and this is good. This create people to be followers rather than individualists. People has to follow certain symbol, certain person and certain shirt colours in order to survive. We have a culture of dependency, which is dangerous because that dependency can be used. The education(red and yellow alike, elites or mass, ammart or prai) also gloom us not to think of shade of grey and thus think of things as only good and bad just like in one of those shallow morale lessons in Thai schools. Now people hate each other on the basis of thinking the other side is bad, and that the side that they are on is good, but the world is not like that. I think this is also reflected by the mass media and especially the infamous soap opera, which tries to force certain beliefs and certain stereotypes through images of utter hatred.
The only way to solve the crisis is for people to be an existentialist, to have an independence of thought and break way from the black and white image of the world.
sorry for the rant
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Do you think what is really happening is that the feudal system which those in the countryside has suffered for so long, is now starting to fall apart?
We talk about poverty, but isn't it really the case that so many thai citizens have been 'locked in time' in an agrarian society based within a lingering feudal system without any chance of sharing in the wealth generated in the cities?
Isn't it the case that those living within that agrarian are so oppressed by their way of life that they do not see the benefit of education for their children? and isn't it the case that many of those children move to the cities to become part of the urban poor, the underpaid, and the exploited?
I don't think it's simply a matter of poverty, I think it a goes a lot deeper than that - I think that the fracture line between those living in the 'past' (feudalism), and those living in modern thailand, is finally (and inevitably) starting to tear the country apart.
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In Australia we have to make voting compulsory or the vast majority might not turn up to vote!!
When I live in Thailand I mainly live in Bangkok but I do live for extended periods with the extended family in a small villiage in Udon Thani. Sleeping and eating on the floor as is normal there.
I know that the majority support the red shirts uprising and i argue the pros and cons of their political position with them. When we have a few drinks in us we can entertain a very vocal and robust discussion on the topic. The people there do value a good education for their sons and daughters. However, they can't get it. That is their problem. The education system in the villages is no where near as good as in Bangkok.
Thay will argue how much they have gone backwards since Thaksin left. And they are right they have suffered. Gone are the government funded projects to bring income to the villages, Gone are the improvements to health care, gone are the improvements in education. Gone are the opportunities to get out of growing rice and corn. They feel that they are condemed to a life of poverty.
But in bangkok I talk to Yellow shirt supporters and can understand where they are coming from. They totally support the , you know who (mind you so do the reds). They argue that the problem with democracy is that everybody has one vote. Even the uneducated people. Everybody is equal and that clearly is not the case. A University Professor or teacher in bangkok becasue of their intellect is better able to make a proper decision in the election and therefore should have more voting power. Same arguement for senior police and generals. To this end they propose to have a large proportion of the parliament appointed rather than voted in. I cna understand this position but it is not democracy!
IN the end, whether we like it or not, what is happenning with yellow and red protests is a process that Thailand has to go through if it is to develop into a great nation and support the concept of democracy.
People have to gain a voice and start talking. At the moment it is only those invloved in the protests but it must spread to all in the Kingdom.
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I also believe that ordinary red shirts have their points about inequality, except they are targetting their hatred wrongly, it is not Abhisit and his cos that cause inequality, but it is years and years of inefficient and selfish parliamentary representatives who did not create policies that will help the poor if they get nothing in return.
Education would ideally solve the problems so people would not choose selfish parliamentary representatives to represent them. But the education i talked about is not just getting people into school, but education with substance that teaches people to think rather than follow, because even the educated people in Bangkok...they are still followers and they have to follow certain movement like the PAD instead of being themselves with their own personal views.
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