Friday, May 21, 2010

Bangkok, why?

No one expected the seemingly peaceful demonstrations the red shirts started about three months ago would conclude with the unconscionable deaths of dozens of people, appalling damage to property, and, worst of all, an undeniably torn Thailand, the ramifications of which are foreseen to last for many years to come.

With the magnitude of what transpired in the past few months, in its wake is a hysteria of finger-pointing among the red shirts, government, yellow shirts, military, media, and casual observers. I doubt if an explanation would satisfy any of these parties, much less if justice would be served or whether a reasonable compromise would be reached at all. As of now, there are no clear winners and losers.

Having observed the events in Thailand not just in the past few months but over the nearly three years of my time here, I could not make my self take sides. It would be far more convenient if I can, but my sentiments vacillate between the many factions of the many opposing sides.

Perhaps in the first place there is no need to choose whose purported truth I should believe in. Just like most cases, there are no black and white in such chaotic episodes.

I just, however, need to take this off my chest. After the despicable events in the recent days, one of the many things that annoyed me is the number of people who expressed (such as in Facebook and Twitter) their dismay over the burning of Central World and who have vilified the people who did it. Some have even said that those who died deserved it after what they have done to their favorite shopping mall.
I certainly do not condone the arsonists' acts; and specifically in the case of Central World, the people who burned the mall should answer to the law (together with those who committed illegal acts during the demonstrations, both on the sides of the reds and the government). Also, clearly many people, mostly minimum-wage earners who work directly or indirectly for the mall, lost their jobs, and that is surely one tragic consequence.

While there are only a number of people, mainly Bangkokians, mourning the demise of Central World (as in the mall as a building), I'm still totally dumbfounded and furious at their insensitivity. For crying out loud, it's just a bloody mall! Nobody deserved to die just because you cannot shop, for heaven's sake.

Why would anyone feel so strongly for a cause that he'd want to die for it? Surely it's not just because he was paid to leave his farm and family to sit under the summer sun in the middle of Bangkok for a measly amount of money? Think of the larger picture, people. Look deeper into what prompted these demonstrations to begin with.

There, I just needed to say that.

Meanwhile, let me share what happened to me when all hell broke lose in BKK since late last week. Well, there's nothing much to say except that I live in a safe area, a few kilometers away from the virtual war zone that was central Bangkok.

On the other hand, Lara Stone's apartment was right in the middle of the violent clashes between the protesters (or terrorists as the government have since labeled them) and the police and military. So he headed to my place last Friday and stayed with me for roughly six days.

During that time, we stayed within my area, while in the distance, visible from my building, tall plumes of smoke from smoldering tires (and eventually buildings such as Central World) painted the Bangkok skyline gray for days.

Work was canceled for the entire week (although for some reason our office decided to open starting last Wednesday, the height of the crackdown).

We monitored the situation mostly through the online newspapers and Twitter (the latter being somewhat up to date and misleading at the same time). We are very much awestruck and repulsed at how the violence just spiraled out of control and hoped it would end soon.

And then last Wednesday evening the government started imposing a curfew, initially at 8 pm to 6 am. That afternoon we dropped by the backpacker haven of Khao San Road and most of the shops in the area were shuttered. I have never seen the mostly rowdy area absolutely desolate. We rushed back home, the tuktuk driving through empty streets.

My family was scheduled to arrive in Bangkok yesterday evening for a few days' holiday but I had to request them to reschedule their trip to a few days later because curfew (now 9 pm to 5 am) was imposed for another three days. So much for my mom celebrating her birthday here. Sayang!


Lyka Bergen said...

My sympathy were for the Red Shirts at first but now, am confused!

But i am glad ur OK.

switful said...

Sayang ang visit nila mother, anyway basta safe. go! go! Visit PP instead? LOL Ingat teh!

Anonymous said...

It was inevitable that this horrible thing would happen. I saw it coming for quite some time. If you asked me how I felt about what they did, I don't feel hatred towards these people. At the end of the day, they are still my fellow countrymen. Yet, as you say, people who committed these crimes and violent acts should be dealt with according to the rule of law and pay for what they did.

Jogels said...

OMG! Im so sad for Thailand... I fell inloved to that busy City and shocked to see images from the rampage.. its so kakalerkey to see this.. but this wont stop me from coming back to the Golden land one day everythings gonna be fine! Choss

Dawn Selya said...

Yeah, what now Bangkok? I loved the city when I went there for a visit not a long time ago. I've always thought that Thai people are ever patient, peaceful people. I just hope that the Thai government and the protestors come together and hammer out a ceasefire. Thailand may not have been under colonial rule, but the continued repression by its own is far worse.

Be safe there, girl.

The Zen Bitch said...

hope you're okay, dear... hope bangkok recovers... i'm sure both of you will...


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