How to take the heat out of Thailand’s political colours

your say May 16, 2019 01:00

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On my 10-week Thai-language course, I was recently taught about the significance of different colours in Thailand.  



Soon afterwards, as I stared over the drought-hit fields and longed for some nourishing rain, an article in the Isaan Record came to mind. Beneath the headline “Quit the fighting and let’s get to the actual work!”, 30-year-old academic and grassroots activist Saratsanun Unopporn wrote: “I simply want the country to move forward and get over this pro- vs anti-Thaksin or yellow- vs red-shirt conflict.”

The question that follows is, how did the Kingdom get perpetually stuck between the two progress-blocking political colours (yellow and red), while the country continues to observe the tradition of wearing certain colours – yellow and red included – on certain days? 

Perhaps we could drain the tribal hatred associated with the two colours by focusing more on their innocent role in the weekly tradition. Such an effort could do no worse than the supposed political reconciliation, which fizzled almost as soon as it was announced by the junta in 2014, leaving the two sides of the divide still in desperate need of mutual understanding. 

The stakes are high: There is no sign that the 4.0-skilled workforce required to break out of the middle-income trap is being built. 

I second Saratsanun Unopporn’s plea to end the colour-coded political fighting, which blocks real progress in the Kingdom. 

“Let’s get to the actual work!”, starting with the human capital generator – quality education for every child in order to close the equality gap.

Dirk Sumter