In search of a new 'magic eye'
- Published: 28/02/2013 at 09:54 AM
- Online news:
"Magic Eye", back in the 1980s everyone knew how to sing the song: "ah-ah yaa ting ka-ya" or "no-no don’t throw the trash". We sang it and we lived it. Have trash in your hand? Better throw it in the bin, not on the street. Magic Eye is watching!
A Magic Eye poster (File Photo)
Magic Eye was a social campaign to clean up Bangkok created by Khunying Chodchoi Soponpanich in 1984. Everyone knew the Magic Eye logo and poster, they were everywhere. We loved the song. We loved the campaign. We bought the vision.
In the 1980s, Khunying Chodchoi was the moral conscience who molded the capital city’s character in regards to keeping Bangkok clean. She inspired the people not just to dream of a clean Bangkok, but also to learn how to keep the capital clean, to actually do it and become it.
Sadly, 30 years was a long time ago, and today the magic has disappeared from our eyes. In fact, cataracts set in many years ago.
Martin Luther King Jr once said "a genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus". But sadly in Bangkok and Thailand, elections are popularity contests where candidates prostitute themselves in search of consensus, rather than act as molders of consensus, or lead by example, to make a difference.
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader," said John Quincy Adams, the 6th US president. But here we live where actions rather remind us that we are becoming less and less, if we were ever much of anything to begin with.
This coming Sunday Bangkok voters will go to the polls to vote for the next city governor. We have 16 choices, some are politicians, some are academics, some are businessmen and some are policemen.
Are they searching for a consensus by simply telling the voters what they believe voters want to hear? Free this and free that. Green this and green that. Clean this and clean that. Is there a true leader among them who can actually mold a consensus?
Can any of them inspire us to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, or are they mere merchants trying to trade favours for votes, unscrupulous hedge fund managers selling pipe dreams to desperate investors?
The foundation of any city or nation is in its character, inspired by the leader, molded by everyone together. Thailand is a country where opportunities are abundant for political leaders to demonstrate such leadership – to step up with words and actions, to guide the conscience and mold the character of a society.
If, two years ago, a national political leader had stepped forward to be the voice of conscience in the case of lese majeste convict Ampon Tangnoppakul, or Ah Kong, then how we view lese majeste today and all the subsequent cases may have been different.
Not a complete turnaround in such a short time of course, but a path might have been paved for a foundation of our national character grounded on human rights, rather than feudal privileges.
Then there’s last year’s case of the Ferrari-driving son of the Red Bull empire who ran down a policeman on a motorbike and tried to make the family chauffeur the scapegoat, with the collaboration of a senior police officer. This kind of case is all too common and exemplifies elite privileges, police corruption and the decaying moral foundation of society.
Did any political leader, national or local, step up to be the conscience for change, to call it for what it was, or did all those in power just shrug off the case as being nothing and thereby perpetuate social inequality?
Recently, has any political leader, national or local, spoken out against how police, social workers and media exploited and humiliated the Karen girl - a child who was abducted, enslaved and tortured for five years, her body mutilated - all for the sake of our cultural obsession with face, showmanship and selling headlines?
Has any political leader, national or local, brought to light the issue that the Karen girl’s tragedy is not an isolated exception, but an all too common occurrence of how refugees and minorities are exploited and abused? Leading a national conscience, at the front line of cohesive action?
On Monday, 43-year old Prajob Nao-opas, a village headman and environmental activist was murdered by a gunman believed to have been hired by local businessmen and politicians involved in the dumping of toxic industrial waste in Chachoengsao province. Since 2001, more than 30 human rights defenders and environmentalists have been murdered in Thailand
Any words from political leaders, national or local? If anything, political leaders seem to step up and speak out only to censor others.
Who has the magic eye? Who can be the leader to mold a consensus, to inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more? Who can be the moral conscience of a society, the builder of character?
These are the questions we must ask when we go to the voting booths this Sunday, or in any election. Not free this or free that, green this or green that, clean this or clean that. Not hub this or hub that, economic this or populist that. Red this or blue that.
If the answer is that no candidate has such a quality, no magic eye but cataracts all around, then should we all be shocked by the stark horror of the reality of our banal existence that this city and nation is destined for nothing more than the average and the mediocre?
Being average and mediocre is a matter of choice after all, isn’t it?
About the author
- Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
Position: Political and Social Commentator