April 02, 2014 00:00
By Pravit Rojanaphruk
Who are the victims of Thai politics? Or - are we all victims of politics?
These are disturbing questions that we might want to ask ourselves and try to come up with honest answers to – no matter how ugly the reply might be, as political violence and hatred rage unabated.
Let us first start with the obvious: no one wants to become a political victim. We all would love to think we have free will and are not led by the nose by politicians or leaders of either the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) or the red-shirt movement.
And yet many feel helpless, as if they only have two choices: to support one side or the other, or become utterly apolitical – the latter becoming increasingly difficult as the economy is severely affected and general safety in some public areas is compromised by a series of blasts.
Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from beyond the realm of national politics – from the controversial debate on whether or not Thai sex workers in general are victims of Western sex tourists.
Some say in fact it’s the other way round, with foreign sex tourists and “sexpats” (expats living here for the sex) being duped, manipulated and falling victim to a simulated relationship. Others say the relationship between sex worker and sex buyer can be mutually exploitative.
This is a complex question requiring the consideration of factors including whether the sex worker is forced into prostitution or not and the disparity of income between Western men and Thai sex workers. It gives us a clue however that the “relationships” are far more complex than one might want to readily assume.
Back to politics, it might do well for ordinary citizens not to be manipulated by either Thaksin-Yingluck Shinawatra or People’s Democratic Reform Committee leader Suthep Thaugsuban and his sponsors.
I have a friend who says she never liked Suthep but joined the PDRC protests in order to oust caretaker premier Yingluck. Some red shirts also told me they’re no fans of Thaksin but are trying to use Thaksin and Yingluck to push a democratic agenda.
Are these remarks too good to be true?
Some red shirts have proven they can think for themselves by publicly opposing the proposed blanket amnesty bill late last year. However, honestly, I have not seen PDRC supporters opposing any major stance taken by Suthep.
As Thailand enters yet another dangerous period of political confrontation, we should bear in mind that active citizenship requires more than mindless support for a political movement or party.
Politics is not a spectator sport where you select your team of choice or favourite athlete and cheer for the team or the athlete, come what may.
Alas, many Thais seem content playing the “perfect” spectators or even “pawns” to their political leaders and are now totally consumed by the mutual political hatred spread through hate speech in social media and beyond.
Let us not fall victim and be manipulated by these political leaders. They stand to gain most by making us hate one another. Let us fight for a better society, no matter how you may define it, through love and not hatred and prejudice.
There will always be politicians and political leaders wanting to manipulate the masses. We can hear the war drum. Show them that people can think for themselves and choose love over hatred, peace over violence and reason over propaganda.