It is not difficult to let go of the old year and say "welcome" to 2013/2556. The past year has been, in large part, a holding year. The economy recovered from the 2011 flood disasters. Politics featured a go-slow programme which gave welcome peace, but only delayed inevitable conflict. Law enforcement and justice took steps that could put the 2008 and 2010 violence in the spotlight. Out in the big world, there were lots of arguments, but thankfully little mortal combat.
The Year of the Snake could end that boredom, even without surprises. And some of those seem inevitable. Experts and academics assured us just last week that extreme weather events are a certainty _ storms, heat waves, droughts and floods for starters. The nation was sorely tested in 2011 by the deadliest, costliest floods in Thai history. We can hope that the response to the next disaster will be better.
That is no certainty. In 2012, a glance at the South of Thailand proved that. The violent gangs increased their barbarity, stepped up their terrorism and pulled off atrocities against peaceful Thais that were often unprecedented.
The bombings, drive-by murders and personal intimidation in the deep South went essentially unpunished. Security forces and justice officials made no important arrests, tracked no leading terrorist or gang leader.
There was not just a lack of political dialogue with the insurgents. There was frank government admission that ministers from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra down had no idea who they might face at a Philippines-style peace parley.
The South is an increasingly dangerous threat to national security, but issues in the capital also must be controlled and managed properly.
Minimum-wage workers get a raise today to 300 baht, and economists are alarmed at the dual threat of inflation and small-business survival. Another rice crop will be harvested next month, and taxpayers will once again purchase paddy at above-market rates.
One man in Dubai will continue to dominate the political discussions. Too many Thais still focus too much on the dangers that Thaksin Shinawatra poses to the country. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. One hopes that 2013 will see more citizens pay attention to the important issues of the day _ such as the need for justice for all, care for the truly unfortunate Thais, the rescue of citizens who have lost their rights. In the last category, it is fair to include migrant workers, the most widely abused group in Thai society.
Without doubt, it is wise to enter this New Year with eyes wide open. It also is possible to be entirely pessimistic.
Our nation is fortunate by world standards. We continue to have one of the greatest monarchs in history. In Thailand, we know that, "in the waters are fish and in the field is rice".
We often forget that we are fortunate and prosperous and diligent enough that we supply much of the world with our surplus.
In the daily grind, we often forget our advantages. This is a good day to remember. Wish your friends, neighbours, family "Happy New Year". Then try to have one.