Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Letter from Thailand

Just before the government cracked down on protesters in Bangkok this week, my friend David Abramson, who teaches school in Thailand and lives outside of the capital, sent me this report on what is really going on in that part of the world:

Exiled former Prime Minister Thaxsin Shinawatra AKA Frank Sinatra is trying to overthrow the current government so he can be absolved of his charges and current jail sentence. All the 'Red Shirt" protesters are paid about twice what they would normally make to be at the "demonstrations."  The government recently cut off the money spigot of Sinatra's relatives, friends, cronies and mafioso, better late than never.  The poor can never win, but like a Western movie villain, Sinatra holds them up as a shield while he tries to retake power and plunder as before. Then he can return under the mantle of "savior"

The "men in black" are former Thai army colleagues who kill in order to stir the pot and report directly to former and current military commanders.  No matter what the PM does, the Army opposes because they are aligned with Sinatra -- don't they look terribly incompetent on TV? That is because they're not even trying to fight, they just want to go back to sleeping in their barracks.

I keep thinking about the song, There is Freedom Within, there is  freedom without, try to catch the deluge in a paper cup.  There's a  battle ahead, many battles are lost. But you'll never see the end of  the road when you're traveling with me.  Hey now, hey now, don't dream  its over.....
This war seems very bad because it's brother against  brother and it is just about money and power and nothing will really change after it is over.  I know Thaksin will stop at nothing and this will go on and on and on and on --- as it basically has since 2006. People have an amazing propensity for killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

I'm retaliating by making an Indian lamb dish on the grill and giving scraps of cooked lamb to Woody because there  is no school at all this week. I'm not going into "Bangkok" until they clean it up and that may be some time.  Meanwhile if we could start school we could get closer to the end of term June 18th.

It is somewhat making me morose, but  I'm focused on getting things done I wouldn't ordinarily have time to around the house and trying to not eat too many Jelly Bellys. [My daughter] is planning to visit in July unless things get worse.
I found this message interesting because most of the media reports we are exposed to in the US, even the New York Times, don't get much beyond a superficial reporting of clashes between government forces and anti-government protesters, playing into the theme of the brutal military-style government vs. the dispossessed.  Perhaps this theme has some explanatory power, but reality is always more complex.  David's letter prompted me to do a little more digging until I found this CNN piece which provides a similar background.

(LA Times photo)

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