Friday, September 22, 2006

My Visit to the Royal Palace

I explored the grounds of the Royal Palace this evening. Before the palace building, half-dozen tanks line each side of a vast field. There I spoke with a mother, her son, and her son's friend about the coup d'etat. The two boys -- both high school students -- were incredibly articulate and carried some serious camera equipment.

SON'S FRIEND: I don't think foreigners understand the situation we have in thailand. Because they know (what a prime minister is, what a prime minister does)... But they don't know what Thaksin does in Thailand. The people who support him mostly are the people who are poor -- and he can give money to them.
JOTMAN: Surely that's a good thing -- that he's been helping the poor?
MOM: "He gives them a fish but he does not teach them how to fish. They just pay money for the poor people: Per head... per head...per head... like this."

Our conversation turned to the question of democracy.

SON"S FRIEND: Most Thai people -- I mean a lot, a lot -- think that democracy is to go out for elections -- once every four years. But I think democracy is something more. The right to talk...
JOTMAN: You're saying that Thaksin took away that right?
MOM: TV.... All of Thailand depends on his media. Like Channel 3, Channel 5, Channel 7, Channel 9, Channel 11 -- all belong to the government. And they have the view from the government only. And ITV belongs to Taksin!
SON: He's taken over the media.

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