26 February, 2010

Morality VS Democracy: The crime scene, the morning after Thaksin gets a long-overdue lesson

Compassion Central: Funkypix2’s offer to poor Mr Thaksin should adequately compensate him for the Supreme Court's confiscation of "his" U$1.4 billion.

U$1,400,000,000, now returned to its rightful owner, the Thai people. That's enough to create 1,400 millionaires, and it won't fit on my calculator. Gosh, now he has to personally scrape by on a mere ONE billion $1,000,000,000 or so... how will he manage to pay the rent? ...hence FunkyPix2's heartfelt rescue package (first made way back in 2007).

Ironic. Now Mr Thaksin is grudgingly advising politicians to stay out of politics. Is he at last perhaps beginning to cotton on to the idea that being involved in politics DOES necessarily require a disengagement from personal gain? I don't think so. It underlines his persisting attitude that he was entitled to be the bonus-grabbing CEO of Thailand, not a fair-dealing even-handed prime minister. A statesman is supposed to help the State, not steal from it.

Unaccountably, these Redshirts are upset that their own stolen  money (1.4 billion baht) has now been legally returned to themselves. Perversely, they wanted the thief to keep the loot. Er, am I missing something here? Maybe they're worried about no longer getting their regular bribe to attend demonstrations? Truth is that Thai people are accustomed to admiring anyone who is street-savvy enough to get rich - by fair means OR foul. One Redshirt recently said in a newspaper that it didn't matter to her that Thaksin was corrupt ...because he is a charismatic leader. That's hardly what I'd call a principled position to assist a struggling democracy to find its feet. The relevant question Thai people need to ask each other right now is...
"What would Buddha do?"

Kuhn Thaksin swiftly pocketed 76 billion baht from the illegal sale of Shincorp to Singapore, then immediately snuk it out of Thailand and into tax-free havens in the British Virgin Islands. Pure piracy. Let’s get out the calculator and have some fun finding out precisely what that vast amount of cash might look like. For starters, laid in a flat stack of 1000-baht notes (Thailand's largest denomination note), it would create a tower 700 metres higher than Mt Everest.

The redshirts' underlying gripe isn't really about Thaksin's money, however. Like myself, most of them can't begin to imagine that amount of money. The real problem, the oft unspoken subtext, is about social inequity. There's a yawning chasm of wealth separating Thailand's wealthy middle-class urban elites from its rural poor, and I too feel compassion and sympathy about that. The situation in Thailand parallels the wealth gap in Srilanka between Singhalese and Tamils and other ethnically bilateral countries.

The current protests will probably not immediately prompt change, but in the long term may cause the urban middle-classes and Bangkok elites to become more consciously aware of their position of social advantage. Poorer people may begin to put upward pressure on wages so that countries like Japan are less inclined to exploit the present low wages of Thai workers. Workers may eventually unionize. And if education moved from rote-learning to a more "analytical-questioning" model, all Thais would be empowered to think critically and constructively in their evaluation of propaganda. In many such respects, Thailand is still back where the West was in the 1950s.

In the meantime, Thailand's Redshirts continue to simplistically believe that Thaksin Shinawatra is their Shining Robin Hood on a white horse, come to rescue them from poverty... even though his glib promises to relieve farmers' debts never even looked like materializing during his watch. The simple solution for Abhisit, the current PM, is to visibly direct much of Thaksin's confiscated money towards the Poor, especially in the Northern Isaan areas. And to do it ASAP, before riots ensue in Bangkok - again. The Redshirt leaders will hopefully realize that it is in the interests of the rural poor that Thaksin does not delay any such disbursement by appealing the the Supreme Court decision. If their "black-magic-curse" decision to splash blood around Bangkok is anything to go by, however, they aren't much in the business of Deep Thought. History proves that most Revolutionaries are merely Reactionaries in disguise.

Update 1 from the front-line: a video, taken as the Redshirts began converging on Bangkok, mid-March 2010. Each person gets identified and paid 2000 baht. Who was the very kind donor? This was about the time Mr Thaksin left Dubai and flew "secretly" into Siem Riep in Northern Cambodia, from whence he is now close enough to blow raspberries at Bangkok. Anything to stay in the public eye. 

Update 2: No, Update 1 was wrong. It was another planted rumour, no doubt another chess move on Thaksin's part, a deliberate strategy to continue his chronic attention-deficit "Jack-in-the-Box" media stunts of popping up randomly all over the world... rather like some weird global arcade game. No, he wasn't in Cambodia; he was spotted enjoying coffee and cake in Montenegro. Now I desperately need a candid photo and a speech-bubble that reads  Let Them Eat Rice. 

Update 3:  The Thai politics soap-opera gets funnier by the minute. Thaksin, in his shoot-from-the-lip knee-jerk manner, compared PM Abhisit to Hitler. In the very same breath, he accused the PM of being surrounded by homosexuals with emotional problems! (Hey, which decade are we in? I also trust that Thaksin's own son won't 't get too annoyed with his Dad over that minor slur). Next, Thaksin accused Abhisit of being mentally unstable - which instantly triggered a lawsuit from Abhisit, of course, who couldn't possibly have let that one go through to the keeper unchallenged. Soon afterwards, a report from Bangkok police confirming an assassination plot on the PM elicited conspicuous silence from the Thaksin camp. Meanwhile, the Redshirts have splashed 100 litres or so of their own blood around Abhisit's home in Bangkok. Besides being condemned by health authorities as unhealthy, even dangerous, (not to mention sheer waste) this prank is nothing more than a transparent attempt by superstitious farmers at histrionic headline-grabbing... faux "Black Magic".

Note that they stored their blood in ordinary plastic DRINKING bottles (eeew!!), then proceeded to tread in it themselves, thus contradicting their own admonition that the PM didn't respect the blood of Thai people (Thai culture dictates that putting your shoe on anything is disrespectful).  Redshirts, police and photographers alike were all spotted with blood. Small plastic bags of blood sailed gaily over the fence and spattered inside... like a grisly premonition of the forthcoming Songkran water-throwing festival (which is, ironically, supposed to be about respect for one's elders). In all, the Redshirt crusade has been a giant media flop, an embarrassing exercise in shooting themselves (and Thailand) in the foot. So glad we weren't there.

Just good friends. Dr Thaksin & Saddam Hun Sen.

Peaceful protests by Redshirts.

Most Redshirts are now dispersing from Bangkok.

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