Tuesday 16 March 2010

I See Red

How was your weekend?

Mine was great, thanks. Spent it in Chiang Mai, where I watched a charity screening of the Oscar nominated documentary BURMA VJ. The highlight was a Q'n A session with a highly articulate Burmese monk who worked on the Thai/Burma border disseminating smuggled video footage of the so-called Sapphron Revolution to the worldwide media and draawing the world's attention to Burma's plight.

Saturday went to a friend's pool party which was great fun, and then Sunday enjoyed a nice lunch at the very pleasant Chiang Mai Gymkhana Club (Thailand's oldest sporting club, since 1898). They have what must be one of the largest trees in the world sprawling out front of the club house, and to sit in its shade and watch games of golf and cricket being played around you is very, very serene indeed.

Then a funny thing happened Sunday night. After going to the gym, I put on my favourite bright yellow 'sloppy joe' top and rode into town for dinnner. It only then occurred to me: oops, wearing a yellow shirt on the day of the big Red Shirt Rally in the headquarters home of the Red Shirts was not such a smart idea.

True enough, it wasn't long before ... absolutely nothing happened. That's right. In plain English no one gave a shit whether I was wearing a yellow shirt, or even purple pantaloons for that matter. People went about their daily laid-back life as usual. So the situation is not like an Israeli straying into Palestine territory or anything remotely like that.

My brother called from Australia because he had seen 'the news' about Bangkok. I'd heard nothing about events in Bangkok all weekend. No one here really seemed to care. Even friends in Bangkok expressed only a mild passing interest when I raised the subject of the rally.

Come Monday I flew here to Koh Samui. Beautiful, beautiful blue skies, and not the slightest disturbance anywhere. It was only the taxi driver from the airport (who thought I'd just flown in from Bangkok) who asked me how things were in Bangkok. No one seems to give a rats.

So what am I going on about?

The Red Shirt Rally fell way way short of the Million Man March the international media seems so keen to see. Damn the media. Stop fanning the flames, stop spoiling for blood so your story makes the front page, or your report heads the bulletin. You poorly paid hacks -- yes, I know, I'm one of them -- go and get another job if you're so hell bent on getting that promotion to get a pay rise at the expense of devastating Thailand's entire economy.

Because ultimately the dumbed-down public only remember one thing: Thailand = Trouble, so we'll go somewhere else on holiday. What nonsense. I've just told you how I spent my weekend, and how the other 99% of Thais not involved in the Rally spent theirs.

At the end of the day it's the media that makes me see red. Jing jing!

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