Archive for January, 2015

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been impeached by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), a body whose members were handpicked by the Thai military junta after the 22 May 2014 coup that ousted Yingluck’s elected government.

190 members of the 220-member NLA voted in favor of impeaching Yingluck this morning for allegedly failing to stop corruption in her administration’s rice-pledging scheme.

Source: Khaosod English

Legitimacy of decisions is flawed. After all, there’s no democracy in Thailand not to mention that the land of smiles is still under martial law.

Floods, landslides in Malaysia, from Peninsula to Borneo. Over 200,000 people were displaced, torn from their homes by raging nature.

Natural disasters leaving considerable impact on lives, land and livelihood. Whether federal or state governments, the institutions need to share data about natural disasters and poverty. Poorer communities are left marginalized in post-flood Malaysia, particularly rural populations. Repetitive floods, the incredible downpour from monsoon and the continued ignorance of policy makers, increase the vulnerability of the poor. As a result, communities are unable to break the cycle of poverty.

Its crucial for civil society and government agencies to collaborate with affected communities in order to reduce the socio-economic impact. Increased disaster risks due to climate change are also expected to stimulate poverty. Are we taking note of these issues and planning ahead for poverty-reduction and disaster preparedness? Or are we still pointing the finger, or shamelessly indulging with photo-ops when delivering conditional aid to those who have lost their homes, land and income?

Rural communities in Malaysia live in the plantations, fishing villages, farms, settlements and indigenous Orang Asli tribes. Obviously there is a lack of coordinated national effort in relief work, and much of the aid distribution comes from volunteers, among them Dapur Jalanan, which is remarkable but the question is why does it seem that the federal and state governments are unprepared for intervention, much less rebuilding initiatives?

Wandering in unpopular spots in Bangkok. So much to see, this laid back part of the city, without the extreme capitalistic monuments and the intimidating presence of shopping malls. So many places to explore. What’s categorised by the middle-class as the poor sections of Bangkok, I find the almost-simplistic life comforting. People here tend to work in small industries and home-based enterprises, from printing shops, sundry, eateries to the street market.

Often this part of the city reminds me of Phnom Penh or many parts of Jakarta. Its common to meet workers from other Thai provinces temporarily living, working here. They rent small rooms for the weekday, and frequently return back to their villages and towns during the weekend. Nearly all are from the working class, with very little evidence of the lower-middle-class residing in the narrow flats.

The New Trend Of Un-Thainess

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Thailand
Tags: ,

Recently a journalist had asked coup leader Prayut about the cyber-law/digital economy during a press conference, and with that comes the usual “un-Thainess” reaction of the general. Ironically it runs in contradiction of his own “moral values” of Thainess, but then again in this age of martial law, one can never expect certain individuals to maintain their dignity nor show basic courtesy.

Last year, during the peak of former-PM Suthep Thaugsuban’s anti-Shinawatra rallies in Bangkok, his group collected a lot of money from his supporters and admirers, that included the ultra nationalists. Loads of baht. In fact, there’s no accountability of any sort, now that Thailand is under martial law and the junta rules the land of smiles.

Collect money, say a few words to the applauding folks and then one is expected to forget about the donations. Perhaps its an urban culture, or simply that frenzied moment during the rally, that one appears part of the trend to unconditionally offer Suthep and his baht-licking cronies money, along with that photo-selfie opportunity.

Oh well, so all in all, what happened to all that baht?

collage pdrc

Strong winds, dreadfully cold temperature. Night time, in Bangkok. Its the “winter” season in most parts of Thailand. How bizarre, and how odd. That word, “winter” in this region. The chills forces me to walk further, past the narrow alleys and the dim lights almost hovering. No fog, but expecting the early morning mist much later.

Where are the others? The homeless. In this wretchedness one calls a city. They’re not dead, they couldn’t be dead, at least I hope not. The intense cold offers no comfort to those without shelter, even for the outreach worker who struggles to find them. The streets where they normally sleep at nights, they are not seen.

Easy now, there’s usually an explanation. For some reason, there’s logic behind this… Or not.

City hall commands the streets of Bangkok. Responsible for the city, them with their office monuments covered by walls and warmth. Yet they, these pesky officials, appear not to be interested in the struggles, nor radiate that caring aura that some people boast about. Responsibility. Aye, there’s no logic to that, nowadays.

Hallucination. The grand illusion of middle class empathy for those living on the streets. More like phantoms, shifting shadows, from one corner to another. I’ve seen through them, the supposedly mystery buried in the filth, on the streets and in the many polluted canals.

A question mark that lies in the night, now, with those howling whipping winds. Bangkok, a shrine of more troubles, in the months ahead. Could we expect the high cost of wishing for better days?

state of beggarism

Celebrating Children’s Day in Thailand is a mixed bag of contradiction, with yearly repeats of military might against a backdrop of Thai children. Uniformity, the high expectations of the ruling army generals, of their children and those who call the land of smiles their home.

Delayed flights, annoyed travellers and tourists, all stuck at the Don Muang international airport, as airlines were forced to delay their journey. The air force was busy with their aerial shows, to the gasps of urbanites in Bangkok, and the applauding officers who seem to be vastly impressed. They would say, all for the children, I am sure.

And then there’s this issue of recognition of children as subjects of rights. Is Thailand aware of its non-performance within the framework of the rights of the child? The right to be listened to and taken seriously. Their right to freedom of expression, and the right to education that promotes democracy and human rights. But then again, that’s all forgotten under the junta and the ultra right-wing.

After all, children are best seen but not heard, particularly marginalized children, who are ostracised because they are poor, living in the slum, working in the rubber plantation, detained in refugee camps, homeless, without identity or simply because of their non-conformist ways.

So how now?