Sunday, March 02, 2008

This is a copy of a message I posted on a facebook group. The group is called "I think our new Prime Minister should go back to the kitchen". The group is full of Thai students who speak English very well i.e. middle and upper class Thais.

Thai students, what are YOU going to do about this?

I'm not just talking about Samak. He is, after all, a democratically elected leader (though that is a worry in itself). I'm talking about this cycle we are stuck in of coup, corrupt government, another coup, another corrupt government and so on.

Why do Thai people tolerate this? Some foreigners seem to think Thai people don't care, but I don't think that's true for most Thais.

For certain, the likes of Samak are elected by Thailand's rural people. These people may be less aware of corruption issues and simply prefer the type of politician who speaks in a down to earth, Thai village style.

But it's easy to see that here on Facebook we have a lot of Thai students who are studying abroad or at a good university or school in Thailand. We're talking middle or upper class here. So these are people that give a damn and have some idea what's going on, so why put up with it?

The general message I get from the "upper" classes is simply: "They are all the same. All Thai politicians are corrupt so what can we do?".

Well actually there are things you can do. The only way to make changes in any country is by getting enough people together. Rulers know that a real threat comes when enough people raise their voice. Thailand has groups such as PNET (People's Network for Elections) , PNAC (Peoples' Network Against Corruption) and all sorts of university groups set up. Giles Unpagkorn, for example, is a leader of a political party that will not run for election for at least ten years. They want to build a solid foundation that does not rely on patronage or quick fixes before they run. These are just a few examples of what's out there for those who want to get involved.

What it really comes down to is how much you care. It's easy to say "They're all the same so what's the point?" then go back to reading Facebook and listening to your iPod, but if you really want to do something to help Thailand, then you can. Any effort makes a difference. Yes, sometimes democratic groups have been placed in harm's way, that's what happens when those in power feel threatened. But it is not in vain, changes have happened and will continue to happen.

So to the Thais who have been lucky enough to be born richer than most of their countrymen, what are you going to do to help?

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