Saturday, May 22, 2010

In Thai

I knew that if I said what I actually think, I would be attacked from both sides.  It's certainly interesting to be accused of being a flaming pinko and a vicious fascist in the same day, or to be characterized in tweets as being no better than Joseph Goebbels.  The fellow who said that by condoning "Abhisit's Massacre" I'm clearly a supporter of the holocaust, female genital mutilation, the Taliban throwing acid in schoolgirls' faces, and apartheid is clearly unfamiliar with the things I have worked for all my life.

The level of vituperation has been equalled only by the failure to actually read the letter before launching the attack.  And I'm also appalled by the stereotypical characterization by people who don't know me, talking about by wealth (I had to borrow money this week to pay the electricity bill to keep my computer on), my Porsche (I don't even own a car), and so on.   I may have been born into privilege, but my choice of career has obliterated most of the advantages of that.

One criticism is unfortunately very true and I'm trying to fix it.  That is the fact that my letter is in English.

I am working on getting the Thai version of my letter done.  It is absolutely true, and highly regrettable, that I am incapable of doing it myself.  My spoken Thai is quite adequate, but I never went to a Thai school and  I write Thai very, very slowly.  The best I can do is get someone else to translate it and then go through it to try to ensure that the real content is still there.   I'm sorry about this, but I'm trying to get it done as soon as I can.


  1. No matter how reasonable you are, and no matter how good your intentions, angry irrational people will not listen.

  2. While you are trying to approach this complexity with balance, logic and thoughtfulness, you have to appreciate that not everyone involved in this discussion shares those same aspirations.

    Unfortunately, there are too many examples (health care in the US?) of a similar type of simpleminded and dogmatic view of issues.

    Nothing to do but to plough on and add the considerable value of your perspective. Thanks for that.

  3. Your open rebuke to the red shirts is interesting for what it is. But it makes me wonder what it is you would like to say to all of the Thai people. Is there a central truth the events of the past weeks have allowed you to see?

    Your interest in representations by Western media is also intriguing, but seems like a procrustean criticism of the procrustean narrative. What is new?

    I check your blog to see what is on your mind -- because your life and mind are rare, unique, and gifted. It is out of respect that I prod you for deeper reflections.

  4. I'm forwarding much of what you write to friends who are native English speakers and many who are native Thai language speakers - all are interested in what has recently taken place in Thailand and in the future of the country as well. I hoping that all will appreciate the balance and thought with which you write...but I know many of my Thai friends who are fluent in English language may still be not inclined to read extensive pieces written in English, regardless of how well-stated, reasonable, etc...Therefore, I support you endeavor to have whatever you write translated into Thai language.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Just to let you know that as a Thai who used to live in NY USA. for over eleven years I understand your frustration. Keep up the good work. Your noble intention would be appreciated by majority of your readers who has a good judgement and conscience. Ignore the ignorance and just respect their opinions no matter how foolish it may sound. Thank you for your patience and looking forward to more of your thoughtful writing in the blog.

  6. Yes, people rarely accept criticism graciously. And, in a country where "face" trumps reality, it's even less welcome.

  7. Now I understand it, you can't even read and write Thai,no wonder why a self styled free thinker like yourself can't completly understand what is going on,the true messages over the years are written in the books and poems you are in the same position as many reds supporters except you had the chance to learn Thai but probably you or mummy chose another language,you are an imposter,no wonder you rely on edited videos and translation.I'm laughing so much it hurts.Go and learn to read and write your own language most of the people you like to ridicule would give their lives and in many cases lately have done just that for the opportunities in education you have had,shame on you your an imposter,post this one maybe not eh.

  8. To the most recent anonymous, the one who's "laughing so much it hurts": you shouldn't set yourself up this way because it's clear from your letter that my Thai is considerably better than your English.

  9. Somtow, your points of view naturally received a lot of criticism from both sides for the reasons you certainly expected. I appreciate most of your posts, but to be fair, there are a couple of things you wrote recently that really upset me.
    One is about the army shooting only in self-defense: were you there to witness this? I wasn't, but basing my opinion on pictures, videos and first-hand reports (see here, for example, from a journalist of a publication who's not exactly friendly with the red shirts convinced me that soldier did not only fire in self-defense. Moreover, many of the pictures of the people who were killed during the crackdown show empty-handed bodies. The presence of snipers leave no doubt, anyway. Snipers don't normally shoot in self-defense, now do they?
    Wat Pathum Wanaram: let's not even get there.

    - How can you - albeit partly - back the media censorship? It might be true, as you say, that certain publications and web media contained material so strong as to have caused a ban in any other country, but isn't it also true that besides banning those sources, the Thai government actively engaged in blocking most media which tried to give a different perspective? Would you classify prachatai (English version) as a PT/UDD mouthpiece? What about Thailand Political Prisoners? The youtube vids? And what about
    This kind of attitude from the government is causing a disgusting witch hunt. Have you read about the student who hasn't been accepted at Silpakorn despite having passed the entrance tests on the basis of her political preferences (basing the decision on gossip, hearsay and Facebook comments. See here-->

    - Abhisit is not the person you sometimes depict on your blog: he lied more than once, failed to impose his supposed "democratic" principles and agenda on his deputy Suthep and on his FM Kasit, whose stance on Preah Vihear caused border skirmishes that led to the death of a few dozens soldiers on both sides. You've already said that power comes at some cost to one's integrity, but there should be a limit to that cost.
    In my opinion, Abhisit should immediately step down, and if it's true that times are too tense for an early election, at least some attempts should be made to form a grand coalition, or something of the sort.
    Although I don't know him personally, your cousin Sukhumbhand seem to be much more fit to be a widely recognized leader, and a possible good candidate to become the next PM, ideally in a sort of "national government" with elements from the Democrats and the Puea Thai.


  10. Regarding my English
    Spellcheck and old age are taking their toll.
    Regarding your ignorance of the situation there are no excuses.