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Thailand’s Multi-Coloured Politics: Will Thais Talk to Thais?

Colourless Farang

Red Shirts, pink shirts, yellow shirts… or no shirts…

With Thailand’s political skuffels deepening, I’ve had daily rethinks about the contents of my posts. You see, there are three weeks + of product reviews waiting in the wings. And understandably, no one wants their feature to go live during a time of bloodshed.

Boggles the mind really.

Because when I started blogging, I never thought that second-guessing Thais killing Thais would be a needed skill-set.

With the aim of avoiding the wrong subject matter, or (heaven help me) tripping over a political gaffe, I’ve had to start paying special attention to twitter: Staying Safe in Thailand: Streetwise Advice + Twitter.

But even with twitter alerts, around two weeks ago I missed the boat. Just. Before I could get my intended post live, the Red Shirts preempted my talking point by throwing off their shirts (more on this later). The yellows (pinks?) did a switcheroo too.

Sure, I could have rewritten the darn thing but, but the momentum of the moment was gone.

The loss of momentum is happening a lot in Thailand lately too. Thai politicians start talking about peace, and then POOF! All gone.

I’m not any colour. Just a farang who loves Thailand…

Ok, since I’m playing the waiting game, I decided to rewrite my former post. Apologies in advance. Due to my growing disillusionment over the political situation in Thailand, the original spirit is lacking.

Anyway… here we go…

Several weeks back I overheard a condo guard telling another that I was a เสื้อ แดง /sêua daeng/ (red shirt). His assumption might have come from my early drive to photograph the Red Shirts. Or possibly from my taxi driver proudly telling one and all that, yeah, ฝรั่ง เสื้อ แดง /fà-ràng sêua daeng/. No matter.

When talking to Kaewmala about her post The Reigning Vocabulary of Thai Colored Politics, we got onto the subject of neutral expats and the themed shirts of the time: Red, Pink, Yellow, and Multi-coloured.

I threw out an idea for a catchy slogan, but Kaewmala’s (no surprises there) was the keeper:

ไม่ ใช่เ สื้อ สี ใด
mâi châi sêua sĕe dai
Not any shirt colour.

แค่ ฝรั่ง รัก ไทย
kâe fà-ràng rák tai
Just a farang who loves Thai(land)

ไม่ใช่เสื้อสีใด แค่ฝรั่งรักไทย has a lovely lilt to it, yes?

At MBK, the gal behind the t-shirt counter gave the slogan a thumbs up and a smile. Returning home, my condo manager did as well. But when I flashed my t-shirted teddy at my Thai teacher, she came close to bursting into tears.

Khun Phairo explained how distraught she’s become over the violence and tension in her country; over Thais killing Thais. She went on to say that she wants everyone to stop the killing and hatred. And she wants it NOW!

I do too. And we are not alone.

Disdain. Disgust. Vitriol. Violence. Hatred. Suspicion. Ill Will. Paranoia. These are what fill the air and are spreading like viruses in Thailand at the moment.

No wonder I’ve been feeling so ill of late with headaches that would not go away – not a normal occurrence for me. But it’s not a normal time in the Land of Smiles. What a misnomer now: “Land of Smiles.” It feels more like “Land of Hate.”

The transformation of the Thai national character from a gentle and friendly people to a tribe of venomous and bloodthirsty misanthropes was so swift and drastic as to stagger even the most sober person.

Go ahead and read the rest of Kaewmala’s post: Harmony and Hate: The Strange Thai Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As usual, it’s quality.

Political resources to cruise…

Kaewmala’s post on the ongoing Thai political situation is a classic, so please pass it around:

The Reigning Vocabulary of Thai Colored Politics: I have compiled a set of Thai vocabulary in the current political discourse (วาทกรรมการเมือง waa-thá-kam kaan-mueaang) frequently used by protesters of various colors, government officials, mainstream media, and commentators of all stripes in new media platforms.

Some expressions have been around for some time, others are new. Some are official, formal concepts and terms, others are new concoctions and slang.

The ThaiVisa Thai Forum is getting into it as well: The Thai Political Word Thread.

New Mandala has several posts on Thai signs: “Thailand want ยุบสภา”: Red signs in English and PAD’s last day at Government House.

On a similar subject is my previous post: Red Shirts in Bangkok: Signs of the Time.

Saving this bit for last…

If you can read Thai, Kaewmala twittered:

A baby step: Sensible Yellows & Reds get together & talk on Facebook เหลืองรู้ทันอำมาตย์ แดงไม่เอาทักษิณ:

So now we have Thais talking to Thais. And on Facebook of all things. It’s a good start, right?

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

13 Comments

  1. Catherine, once again another brilliant post. I have hereby started my own ไม่ใช่เสื้อสีใด campaign. I encourage everyone else to do the same!

  2. Thanks Josh. I wanted to get hatbands made up as I don’t wear t’s, but I couldn’t find any blank ones.

    For those in Bangkok… The t-shirts are relatively inexpensive to get done in MBK. You can take a t-shirt of your own, or buy one of theirs. As I needed a tiny one for the teddy, I did both.

  3. Cat, You the woman! :) Thanks for another great post (and for your generous reference and kind words to me).

    Regarding the Yellow-Red Facebook group เหลืองรู้ทันอำมาตย์ แดงไม่เอาทักษิณ [Yellows who are up to the Amarts’ game & Reds who don’t care for Thaksin], it’s growing healthily (though not too speedily). Yesterday pm I saw about 1900+ fans and at the moment there are 2094. People are reasonable and polite to one another – no rabid lizards crawling about there.

    The creator of the page (who’s a yellow) got together with his red friends and realized that they saw political) inequities as a real problem, and found they had more in common with one another than with people in their own color camp. The two positions that Fans of this group agree to:

    1) Respect and preserve the institution of monarchy, but the monarchy must be completely above and outside of politics. Recognize that the privy council, the courts, the military and independent agencies have been truly politicized and agree that certain articles in the constitution must be amended in order to mitigate the conflict and allow for justice in politics. Once done, all sides must abide by the new rules and accept the results of the elections regardless of who wins.

    2) Recognize that Thaksin was corrupt and the extent of damage his actions have done to the country. Accept the verdict of the court [on Thaksin]as just and appropriate. With this understanding of the actions of Thaksin and his cronies and their ultimate aim, do not support Thaksin’s return to power.

    It’s a small but hopeful step. It’s high time different colors found common grounds. Thailand is experiencing a great social transformation, and those who are still blind to the change and keep on regurgitating the old mantra will come to grief. If there’s only one thing I’m sure of these days, it’s that Thailand will never be the same.

    I believe there’s at least one other group led by academics and activists that focuses on building understanding and opening up political space for the Reds to have greater participation, but it hasn’t got much traction as yet. Fingers crossed. (I feel less despair today). :)

  4. Kaewmala, and thank you for the overview of the Yellow-Red Facebook group. What is the name of the group lead by academics and activists? Do you know if anyone in the western or Thai press is covering this? Seems to me it’s relavant news for Thailand. Hot, even.

  5. ‘Because when I started blogging, I never thought that second-guessing Thais killing Thais would be a needed skill-set.’

    How about a falang drinking himself to death in Pattaya, that’s an expensive mindset but fortunately one on a three week time scale.

    The colour in Pattaya is still money.

    I really do enjoy it when you take me out the classroom and beat me hard on the arse with what I hope is an Isaan bammboo cane.

    I’ve seen some lovely red trainers im a shoppimg mall, I’ve just got to find some yellow paint to colour the soles with. Grinding the amataya into Pattaya is my kinda walk in life.

  6. Sorry about the spelling, too much Beer Chang or Beer Chiang. Off to see a red in the bed.

  7. Welcome back to Thailand Martyn :-) And no prob at all with the spelling. Mine is cacca in English (not holding out much hope for my Thai).

  8. Excellent post Cat, it would be nice to see all Thai’s wearing yellow again out of respect for the King instead of a for political reasons.

    There have been other noticeable gatherings of reds in Pattaya and other provinces along with a showing of yellow shirts. Lets hope this all ends soon without further violence from any side.

  9. Thanks Talen. I am SO looking forward to the Monday seas of yellow t’s again. It seems a very distant memory though…

    The latest news looks promising – PM hatches reconciliation plan – but who knows how that’ll pan out.

    Also promising is the rain as it is dumping buckets out here. And while camping in the outdoors to show support for a cause is all well and good, SE Asians do NOT like getting wet.

    I don’t mind the rain (I love it in fact) but all of my Asian friends freak when it pours down. They swear that you can get seriously ill from tropical rain.

    So we’ll just have to see what works faster…

  10. Catherine, Pattaya is booming. Most of the tourists who were heading for Bangkok have redirected to Pattaya and Hua Hin. No sign here (Pattaya) of red or yellow. Having a great time and have bought those red trainers (1000 baht), just got to get some yellow paint. Best wishes and a smashing post.

  11. Thanks Martyn :-) I have heard of tourists being rerouted to Phuket, but not Pattaya and Hua Hin. Closer but not too close is practical.

    Can’t wait to see pics of your red sneakers with trailing yellow paint!

  12. Cat, I saw a news report about such a group a few days back but couldn’t find the source again. (Did a search, but zilch.) Considering that I guess the group didn’t hit with a bang. :-) Both Yellows and Reds, from what I’ve seen, have quite a disdain for academics and intellectuals (worldwide phenomenon) and activists. So… well.

    The Yellow-Red FB group I mentioned is growing but rather slowly. Today the fans number at 2300+ only, compared to 6200+ of the Social Sanction FB group that crucifies people considered disrespectful of the monarchy (mostly Reds).
    .-= kaewmala´s last blog ..Craze for the Nation and Fear =-.

  13. Kaewmala, sometimes google doesn’t work for me either (I’m surprised at how often I come up with zilch looking for something I saw earlier).

    WIth tempers running high, it’s no wonder the Yellow-Red FB group is small. It’s sad, but some just don’t want to see that there is right on both sides. People too busy pointing fingers and hating don’t take the time to talk to each other. But at least those at the Yellow-Red FB group are. They deserve kudos for their efforts.

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