How much do we hear about Myanmar these days? Or Italy, or anywhere else for that matter, other than the dominant news from the USA? Since the demise of Berlusconi, we rarely hear about Italy, unless there’s an earthquake. National disasters, terrorist activities, real or imagined, and narcissistic world leaders with toxic tendencies tend to dominate our mainstream media. We are adrift in a polluted sea of fake news.
Against all odds, in 2015, a peaceful election was held in Myanmar, enabling a remarkable transition from a military led dictatorship to an emerging democracy. There is still a long way to go, not that any one cares much, when the eyes of the world are so focussed on the golden-haired beast. I’d rather contemplate these golden temples.
I keep meaning to learn more Thai language but my repertoire is still quite basic, extending to ” good morning, thank you, excuse me, the bill please”. In my defence, I try to say these phrases as often as I can over a day, and with a few polite bows, seem to get by well enough.
Mr T has begun to cart around a Thai phrase book in the hope that we might extend our vocab. We ponder some ridiculous phrases over dinner. I fancied ” This dog is a ridgeback”, but then we found ” You’re only using me for sex”, listed under the romance section, and later we found a really useful phrase, ” I’m a soldier” (ผมเป็นทหาร ), so handy in a coup, since everyone on the street last Sunday seemed to be a soldier!
The street closures were announced in the newspapers early on Sunday morning, giving citizens plenty of opportunity to re-plan their Sunday travel and driving route. The military had prior knowledge of planned demonstrations thanks to social media, such as Facebook, and informers within the world of texting. Nearby, in our quiet precinct, soldiers blocked the main routes to Victory Square and the Democracy Monument, making the inner city traffic absolutely horrendous. It turns out that some of these protests were poorly attended, with more soldiers on the scene than citizens.
Observations from a farang’s ( foreigner) point of view.
what role does social media play in social unrest?
under a ‘silencing’ military coup, are opponents able to express their opposition in any form, including Facebook?
would you really like to have a ‘selfie’ taken with a soldier toting a huge gun?
a coup is not a benign thing, unless you happen to be on the side that benefits from such a move (yellow shirts) in which case it might be.
life continues as usual for most folk: shooting and violence have been eliminated from the streets. (for the time being).
will an election in one to two year’s time solve this nine year old problem? ( doubtful )
foreign interference is not appreciated. American and Australian political intrusion is unwelcome and is seen as naive, arrogant and misinformed. Certainly, simple slogans or principles like ‘restore democracy’ fail to properly appreciate many complexities and subtleties. Sophisicated Thais are aware of the defects, inequalities and contradictions found in most western democracies, particularly in the USA.
foreign media is prone to sensationalism. The Bangkok press seems to offer a balanced view, at least in the Bangkok Post. Read it on line here. The journalism in this newspaper is remarkably sophisticated and engaging, making me wonder about what ever happened to intelligent reporting at home in Australia and to what depths our newspapers have plummeted.