TIT: This Is Thailand explained in a brilliant way

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TIT: This Is Thailand explained in a brilliant way

Post by cookie » June 5, 2011, 1:28 pm

the opinions of the author Voranai Vanijaka of Thailand are spot on.
this article is excellent!
How he makes the connection on the patronage system in Thailand is very well though out.
a beauty of an article =D> =D> =D> =D> =D>
A portrait of a dysfunctional family

Published: 5/06/2011 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

When there is action, what follows is reaction.

The initial reaction is an impulse. It's honest. It's raw. However, often it's not well considered. Yet subsequent reactions can be refined and thoughtful _ they can be well considered, if we so choose. This may come through our own realisations, or through someone else stirring our better thoughts.

The Culture Ministry wants to ban the use of Buddha images and religious motifs for commercial purposes to stop the tattooing of these images on the pale, pinkish skin of Western tourists.

My initial reaction was, as might be expected, full of sarcastic venom.

Doesn't the fact that Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaw are major tourist attractions mean that they are debasing Buddha images and religious motifs for commercial purposes? Let's either demolish the temples or ban visitors from entering.

In fact, let's ban the Kingdom of Thailand from practising Buddhism altogether. After all, none of us should debase what is holy and sacred _ it's just bad manners.

Think about it. According to the Four Noble Truths, desire is man's greatest sin. Face it, we are slaves to our desires. We deck out our abodes with fancy home theatre systems and snazzy Xboxes. We drive luxurious European cars. We have sexual relations, whether the straight sort or the bend round the corner kind. We live and breathe to make more and more money.

We lie, we cheat and we exploit. We worship relics and idols. We practise the dark art that is black magic.

And I'm only talking about the yellow-robed monks here.

That was my initial impulse. But such wretched negativity does justice to no one, especially oneself.

Someone said to me, religion is holy and sacred to people. Believers simply do not want to see it debased. It's human nature to protect what we love. You might not love it, but they love it. Why mock what someone else loves?

Those words gave me pause because they rang of a basic truth.

I'm not a religious man. If I were to walk into a temple, thunder would roll. Into a church, lighting would strike. Into a mosque, locusts would storm. Into a synagogue, fireballs would rain down. But to others, religion is sacred. It defines their soul.

The pause caused by that person prompted me to realise that when I see religious images used for commercial purposes, or decorative motifs by careless non-believers, it saddens me also.

But this is a matter of private morals, personal preference _ not a matter for laws and legislation. Freedom of expression _ if we can't handle the worst of it, we don't deserve the best of it.

Our personal prejudices should not triumph over the freedom of society. After all, we live to achieve an ideal for the whole, not to be enslaved by the biases of the few. Hence, freedom of expression is an ideal that must be upheld, for better or for worse, as long as it causes no harm to any person or property.

As well, on the matter of legislation, the Culture Ministry has no legal right to ban tattoo artists from needling Buddha images on any part of any foreign body. There is no law prohibiting it. The parliament, the law-making body of the Kingdom of Thailand, has never passed any related legislation.

As such, the matter should rest there.

But it doesn't, the ministry can only huff and puff and issue threats and demands.

The best move for Thai society is to flush these down the toilet, and shake the can of air freshener.

After all, this is the Kingdom of Thailand. Not the Kingdom of Thai-liban. By definition, we are the ''Land of the Free'', not the ''Land of Fertiliser''.

But let's consider the bigger picture. In our society, the relationship between the people and our representatives in government is not based on democratic principles, where officials and politicians are public servants.

Rather, it's a patronage system, one between a parent and a child that is based on two things: money and connections.

Father is in the hospital. Daughter needs new school books. Son just gradu ated and is applying at Company X,Y,Z. Go to your MP, he or she will give you the cash.

Come to my grandmother's funeral. Come to my daughter's wedding. Come to my dog's birthday party. Don't forget the big, fat envelope; after all, you're my MP.

The patronage system is deeply ingrained in our cultural psyche. The government is the parent. The people are the children. Most importantly, the system is corrupt by its very nature. (Or some might say, it's a relationship between a dirty old man and a gold-digging jezebel. Have it however you like it.)

The parent naturally has a fascist tendency to demand that the child not do this, not to do that. No tattoos. Don't dance topless. Don't play internet games. Don't drink on religious holidays. Don't watch this. Don't listen to that. Blah and blah and blah.

Hence the Thai government comes to be well practised in the art of censoring freedom.

The child, like any child, rebels _ subconsciously or otherwise. The zebra crosswalk is 20m to the left. The overpass is five metres to the right. But the child is going to jump the fence and run right through traffic to cross the street.

Red lights mean stop, so the child will stop for about 30 seconds. Any longer and the child will look to his left and to his right. If he thinks he can get away with it without being flattened by oncoming traffic making a turn, he will step on the gas pedal _ and 50 other motorbikes will do the same.

I contemplate running over a fleet of motorbikes every morning when I attempt to turn right into Klong Toey from Rama IV at the intersection, heading to the offices of the Bangkok Post.

Hence, the mass of Thailand that loves the handouts, but hates to follow any rules set by the parent.

The parent is incompetent and old-fashioned, and also given to violence when at a loss to solve problems.

The child is wayward and irresponsible, and given to disobedience whenever it appeals.

This is a formula for disaster _ as we see in society today.

The patronage system relies on personal relationships and connections. It's the initial reaction when one is faced with confusion and uncertainty, which are the facts of life.

Security comes from a sense of belonging, certainty is what a family provides _ neither of which are necessarily bad things. They are raw. They are honest.

But at the end of the day, they are not suitable for a healthy social structure. This is because the patronage system is corrupt by its very nature. There is little structure and few rules. It's ambiguous and chaotic. It's not based on a set of ideals shared by society as a whole, but on the arbitrary whims of individuals.

That's why the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the yellow shirt People's Alliance for Democracy flaunt the law in whichever manner they like. That's because the law doesn't matter _ their respective patrons do.

That's why politicians, officials, soldiers and police also tend to exercise the law arbitrarily. Because the law doesn't matter, the parent governs his or her child with whips and whims. We as a society need to come to the realisation that to progress as a people, to build a nation, we must base our identity on a set of ideals.

Ask a Thai person what the Thai identity is, and he or she might be hard pressed to explain. The family, the smile and the easygoing nature are the usual suspects that anyone can read off a tourist brochure. But those are generic.

Perhaps someone needs to give us pause and stir us to better thoughts. Like if we base our identity on principles and ideals, we might then lay a solid foundation to stand on and build a strong structure to hold us high.

Ideals based on freedom and humanity, written down as law by the legislature, executed by the judiciary and practised by the people.

These are simple, basic democratic ideals and values that may sound vague on first impression, but will prove worthy on subsequent realisations.
http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opin ... nal-family



splasher
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Joined: May 19, 2011, 3:38 pm

TIT: This Is Thailand explained in a brilliant way

Post by splasher » June 28, 2011, 2:35 pm

Excellent... =D>

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