Suthep's rickety ark is going to sink us all

Suthep's rickety ark is going to sink us all

The season of non-reason continues, like the polar vortex that deep-freezes the cerebrum, icing out Bangkok from its Ratchadamnoen core.

It's the season when we realise how easy it is to be unfriended, unfollowed, unloved, un-understood, un-Thai-ed. Unpatriotic is a given, as well as unintelligent. Next, if we show the slightest sign of disagreeing with the Suthep Thaugsuban-led mob, if we sincerely share their grievances but decide to approach the problems from a different angle, if we declare politely that we want to vote even though we'll never vote Pheu Thai, we might be forced to un-be, or to go all the way, unborn.

Shutdown, sure. Shut up, anyone?

Now, when we enter a room full of strangers, in any social context, they'll whisper (if we don't do it first): is your sky blue? Meaning, do you watch Blue Sky channel day and night and night and day, listening to every word of the messiah? Your answer will determine the temperature of the following conversation or meeting or gathering or beer drinking, if anything ever follows at all. If you're not with us, then you're with them. There's the One and there's the Other. There is the mass that waves the Thai flag as proof of sanity, of monarchical love, of democracy, of the true spirit of the still-unexplained reform, and there's the rest. There is the demonstration, licensed only to Mr Suthep, anything else is a demon station. There are whistles, the rest is just noise.

I'm sick, so this is a plea. This Thaug-or-Thak bipolar disorder of ours needs to be addressed, or we're going down the path that mistakes poison for a cure. The world, I mean Thailand, I mean Bangkok, is large enough for more than two gods or two ogres. When someone's not marching with you, it doesn't mean they're dying to march with them. When someone chooses to wield a pen and vote, it doesn't mean they're pro-Thaksin, pro-corruption or that they've painted their bedroom wall red (ghastly). It doesn't mean they're not fed up with the remote-controlled government or the revolting 4am amnesty bill boot-licking. It just means that they're pro-choice and that they think a vote - however Aristotlely flawed it can be - is a sensible way out from choosing between a bucket of vomit and a basket of turd.

As the shutdown looms, the "patient voices" have spoken up. The "third way" has emerged and slowly gained ground, especially at yesterday's forum at Thammasat University led by respected academics and activists, of all stripes and hues, who champion elections and say no-no to military muscle-flexing. Meanwhile, several citizen groups have organised a candle-lighting rendezvous in Bangkok and some other provinces as a means to express their belief in the upcoming election and to oppose the PDRC's passive-aggressive shutdown blackmail. There are similar pro-peace and pro-election voices being heard on TV or in Facebook threads, which is refreshing in this hot-pot of curdled hatred and fire-spitting harangue.

And yet the push-pull bipolar syndrome is too much. The attempt to rein in prejudices is often tossed out like a half-smoked cigarette, and some reactions to these neither-Thaug-nor-Thak track are reactionary: "closet red," they're called, "government spies", "obsessed with elections" (what else should we be obsessed with? Girls' Generation?) and the most puzzling of all, loke suay - "beautiful world" or "Utopian", a term quickly marshalled to dismiss the middle voice as romantic and naive. It is indeed puzzling because those who call the candle lighters loke suay are likely those who came out to sweep the streets and shouted "Together We Can!" four years ago after the Ratchaprasong bloodshed. I suspect the non-loke suay group also prefer watching Love Actually for the 78th time than go to see, say, Bangkok Chainsaw Massacre Part II.

Hold your unfriend button and unlove switch; that's the point of my plea. I'd love to watch Love Actually with anyone for the 79th time, perhaps after we show that we can still believe in something that is a start though not necessarily the end, like an election. A lot of people are as upset as Mr Suthep is about the prime minister's empty smile, the rice mess, the depressing party-list candidates, and on top of Pheu Thai's pyramid, the pharaonic brother ruling from the desert. But it's clear that this Thaug-Thak-thug trinity, this inability of the PDRC to see beyond the narrow duality of our political and social landscapes, and Mr Suthep's vague new hegemony of a people's council that seems to exclude most people in this country - these are taking us straight from the asylum to the graveyard. Mr Suthep might think he is Noah, a prophet chosen by God, but there is no life vest under his rickety ark. And when the water arrives we'll have to hold our breath. But not for very long.

Kong Rithdee is Deputy Life Editor, Bangkok Post.

Kong Rithdee

Bangkok Post columnist

Kong Rithdee is a Bangkok Post columnist. He has written about films for 18 years with the Bangkok Post and other publications, and is one of the most prominent writers on cinema in the region.

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