February 19, 2014 00:00
By Tulsathit Taptim
Seven and a half years is nothing in cosmic terms, a blink of God's eye, or so they say. Here on earth, millions of meaningful things can occur during such a period. This article, inspired by some frustrated football fans, is intended to highlight how pr
A lot of significant world events have occurred since Thaksin Shinawatra was toppled in a bloodless coup in September, 2006. Using the military takeover as the beginning point does not necessarily mean that it triggered our crisis, but, you see, we need to start somewhere.
With Thailand nowhere near having a workable Parliament, let alone government, the current impasse is gunning for new records. Therefore, you, more likely than not, should be able to add to the following list 10 years from now. Here it is, then: “What has happened since Thaksin’s fateful trip to the United Nations”:
l Let’s start with the biggest thing, the Earth itself. Our planet has travelled approximately 6.6 billion kilometres around the sun since Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, virtually by his own admission, acted like a naughty child with a full matchbox back in 2006.
l Two years after Sonthi’s coup, an American talent manager found some interesting videos on YouTube. The videos were posted for family and friends of one little boy named Justin Bieber. The rest is history.
l In between that and the coup (2007 to be exact), “Charlie bit my finger” found its way onto YouTube.
l Just a few months before the coup, a social media tool called Twitter was created. Instagram was launched in 2010. LINE was born in Japan in 2011. If you are bored of them already, spare a thought for yourselves.
l In 2007, Spider-Man III starring Tobey Maguire was released. Now we are on track to view “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, starring a different star. “Crash” won the Oscar the year Thaksin was toppled but Best Director went to “Brokeback Mountain”.
l Take a look at your iPhone. The very first model was unveiled by Steve Jobs after the coup. An iPhone 6 is around the corner and the great innovator has died.
l What computer tablet are you using? The very first version of the iPad was released in early 2010, more or less during the uprising by the pro-Thaksin red shirts.
l Since the Thai coup, the United States has invaded Iraq, captured and executed Saddam Hussein, and killed Osama bin Laden. Muammar Gaddafi has also died.
l When Thaksin was overthrown, Aung Saan Suu Kyi was under house arrest. She was not expected to venture 200 metres from her home, let alone visit Thailand in 2012. (It was a noble, albeit celebrity-like visit, though, not one that sparked “black magic” rumours.)
l Raheem Sterling, arguably Liverpool’s most exciting young prospect of late, was only 12 years old when Sonthi lit the matches. Manchester City were nothing more than Sir Alex Ferguson’s “noisy neighbours”.
l When the coup happened, Sony Wega, which was as thick as your arm is long, was probably the coolest TV set in many Thai households.
l For a few years after Sonthi’s moment of madness, you couldn’t call yourself a teenager if you didn’t go to an Academy Fantasia concert. Today’s teens are more interested in prom nights.
l More than 1 billion people have been born since the coup. More than 400 million have died. Hundreds of billions of e-mails have been sent. It’s a bit tricky to get an approximate number of tweets, but it’s more than 500 million tweets per day at the moment.
l The US has seen its biggest economic bubble in history pop, was accused of trying to print money with abandon to buy its way out, temporarily shut down its government due to unsolved fiscal conflicts and dragged the world onto a financial roller-coaster. Again, when Gen Sonthi opened the matchbox with the most mischievous of smiles, few people had ever heard the word “sub-prime”.
l Just as the curtain caught fire leaving Thaksin homeless in New York, Facebook was made available for anybody aged 13 or older who had a valid e-mail address. Before that, access was limited to students of Harvard and colleges in Boston areas.
l What if someone told you during the coup that, before it was all over, Thais would queue up for hours to buy doughnuts and later do something crazier, like spending more than Bt2,000 on one bucket of popcorn?
l Here’s a personal one. I can’t remember exactly what year, but it’s definitely after the coup. Someone mistook Yingluck Shinawatra’s mugshot in one of my online articles for my photo. “A pretty lady you are” was the comment, though I can’t recall if it was posted on the website or sent to my e-mail. For failing to see gender hints in a name, he must have been a foreigner.
*Writer’s note: This article was written before fresh threats of violence occurred at noon on Tuesday.