Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thailand... An Excellent [but challenging] Overview of the Issues

Aidan Hartley of Channel 4's fantastic 'Unreported World' programme has done an incredibly interesting and challenging job with last week's half-hour documentary about the unfolding situation in Thailand.

It is usually the case that we are encouraged to see the urban 'Yellow Shirt' elite as the only viable future for Thailand. But this programme presents largely the rural 'Red Shirt' case.

Granted, Hartley cleverly manages to avoid much discussion about the Red Shirts' connection to their deposed/exiled Prime Minister Thaksin. But, that said, the case he presents for the cause of the Red Shirts challenges many of our preconceptions about them.

Up to now we have been drawn into thinking of the rural majority of Thailand as the great uneducated, unwashed horde of country bumpkins who were perhaps stupidly and so easily lead astray[and bribed] by the über-corrupt Thaksin.

But the rural poor ARE the vast majority of Thailand's electorate and when they vote a certain way that must carry a certain weight, shouldn't it?
Even if we ourselves tend to disagree with their choice, isn't this the perennial question 'What on earth can you do when the majority vote the wrong way in an election'?
It is so exasperating, but this is the same obstacle we have been facing for generations here in Ireland too whereby the rural population and some urban voters habitually re-elect the Fianna Fáil party - and just look where that has lead us... endless corruption, politicians and bankers creating booms and busts, and all their crimes being above the law of the land.

But with respect to Thailand's future, it has to be said that this Channel 4 documentary can only serve to clarify confusion - even if it tends to disagree with what we previously believed. And all this in under 30 minutes of primetime viewing.

The biggest issue, as ever, is what will happen after His Majesty the King [now in his 80s] passes away? Unfortunately, that day will surely come in the near future.
This short programme excellently investigates the background of what is likely to happen thereafter.

If it is available in your particular region, you can watch this Channel 4 documentary online HERE