Thailand, Thailand,

3 03 2009



.Blog N0 13

.Well , hello Dear World. Here I am again. I am dripping in the Bangkok heat . The inner source of all this liquid oozing out of me must be drawing on the brain because I can’t even think.I have another five days of dripping until my next dental appointment after which I can scuttle away into the countryside to see if there is anywhere cooler, though at this time of the year even the seas are like bathwater and not very effective as coolants. But February has gone. Another February. Dear old Feb fading away like the view from the car’s rear window—littered with candy wrappers, coke bottles, forgotten acquaintances, Mc Donald’s chip boxes dancing in the tail wind, disconsolate lovers, broken technology, lost keys, un-consummated opportunities, abandoned dreams,and resolutions lying everywhere like broken toys in pools of cold inspiration , wheels off, steering smashed and bent and useless as the grasshopper mind leaps into March with unrestrained agility and expectations.Bye Old Feb! Hello Young March! Aaah! how the months flash by.And I have another fifteen days in dear old Thailand which is going through one of it’s traditional coups and power struggles that it performs so eloquently at an average rate of four per decade..Externally Thailand has tended to maintain a policy of bending before the strongest off-border political wind. Internally the dance of power is complicated. The main players presently are the military who several times have assumed power, and who , as the most organized power clique maintain a silent presence-in-waiting, the police, the various and changing Bangkok cliques usually headed by corrupt leaderships , the Theravada Buddhists and the spiritual and political centre of His Majesty King  Bumibol Adulyadej whose iconic power is represented by the status of kingship and occupancy of the palace, the white umbrella and the sacred sword. The king does not engage in political action except to function as the spiritual lodestone to remind the political players of the spiritual compass bearing, as when, during the prime minister-ship of the now exiled prime minister Thaksin, the king called him to the palace. Energized by George Bush’s War on Drugs policy the Thai police, following Thaksin’s orders, had committed in excess of 1500 extra judicial killings. The government’s head honchos and Police were forced to squirm on their bellies—literally and on national T.V- into the King’s Presence where they were publically reprimanded . It was an impressive pre-modern display of the arcane Thai Power of Majesty and ended the murders.Amazingly, during the periodic political dramas of governmental coups the bureaucracy keeps the ship of state on its course regardless of political changes so that Thailand is doing as well or better than most of it’s ethnically similar neighbours. It has also benefitted from not having been subjected to colonization although the Japanese occupied the country during the war with tscit Thai consent..

Nevertheless Thailand , despite its air of stability is riven with competing political groups and ethnic strife. The three southern states along the Malay border are basically muslim and radical groups in those states are involved in an ongoing war of assassinations and bombings to call attention to perceived inequities which , under Thaksin were dealt with by police and military brutality, torture,and killings, with the result that the present situation is an ongoing trouble spot. Bombs are regularly exploded usually beneath police vehicles. The Burmese unrest is a growing problem and the current one million refugees living in camps on the Thai/Burma borders swell with people escaping the Burmese junta. The Karen tribes-people who have been in an ongoing war of independence in Burma,  never having recognized the Burmese governments legitimacy are being squeezed into Thailand by the Burmese military.The remnants of the refugees from China’s communist conquest of 1949—the Kuomintang-have been tolerated and contained in small ethnic language ghettoes in the north-western countryside, the Shan tribes people of North East Burma ebb and flow across the borders and the movement of opium is a constant from Burma and  China. Of more concern even than opium is the methamphetamine trade operating with full knowledge of the Burmese military junta. And now boatloads of Rohinga –muslim refugees from Burma- are a constant on the southern coast. All of these pressures have perhaps created a balance of social energies resembling the balances of powers envisioned by the U.S.founding fathers. What hasn’t been eliminated is the ancient and seemingly ineradicable game of political corruption. The latest of these dramas is connected with the Dec 2008 airport shut-down which was staged by the present ruling political party that succeeded in ejecting the existing government and preventing the return of ex-Prime minister Thaksin Shinawata who fled the country to escape the enactment of a prison sentence for some of the largest political peculations since Mr Marcos of the Phillipines. Thaksin however, like the ghost of Hamlet’s father, won’t go away and continues to command the loyalties of the Northern provinces whom he enriched in his pork-barrel political system. Bangkok’s streets have seen protracted peaceful demonstrations of red-shirt Thaksin supporters who claim that the dismissal of the old government and the appointment of the new Abhisit PAD government were unconstitutional. The fact that the  demonstrations were so peaceful must surely commend the police who arrived unarmed to supervise the meeting and ensure its legality. The police however were on the side of Thaksin and in rivalry with the military.It is all quite complicated.But one cannot help imagining  the kind of donnybrook the  R.C.M.P of Canada or the U.S cops would have created with their swat teams, tasers , firehoses and all the other tricky little toys we have been buying for them with taxpayer’s money to frustrate democracy.In the interim , life goes on. The lovely leggy girls still saunter past, the young guys drive motorcycles too fast, the Tuk-tuks continue to destroy all semblance of tranquility or possibility of conversation, the street stalls open their wonderful cornucopia’s of delicious food and most people seem happy, except the decapitated head of an Italian architect who, despairing of finding employment, jumped off the wonderful Rama 8 bridge over rhe Chao Praya river with a noose around his neck. “Pray for us now in the hour of our need…”T.S.Eliot . “No leaf of the tree turns yellow without the silent consent of the whole tree” The Prophet.Kalil Gibran

It is said to take a whole community to raise a child.—- And a city to  destroy him? But as I sat chatting with two expat friends as they drank their beer the old woman whose back nature is already bending like a staple and who lives in a tiny nest of old bags on the corner of the market came past pushing her barrow full of stuff. It was two a.m. She recycles all the plastic in and around the market—and the cardboard and a bakers dozen other throw-aways. And I couldn’t help reflecting that you would never find her severed head swinging from the bridge. There was too much survival fire in her; too much strength and independance. What a wonderful mentor this old girl is. If only the architect had been able to meet her before he jumped. Life is not a sprint. It is a marathon—one with no winners;only runners.Put on your best smile, World. And GO!




2 responses

19 03 2009

nice blog Laurie….that pretty much sums up the land of smiles….

sorry I was so drunk the night you left….I hope you had a safe journey

see ya soon old buddy

love ash

4 02 2010

Neal Cassidy’s character in “On the Road” was named Dean Moriarty, not Cody.

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