Friday, May 21, 2010

Purakhanda's Video

I would like to share Purakhanda's video with my readers because I think it illustrates some points made previously rather well.  If you don't speak Thai, watch it both with and without the subtitles.  You will see how easy it may have been to confuse anarchic rhetoric with pro-democracy oratory.


  1. Have you seen this debate between Philip Cunningham and Giles Ji Ungpakorn on Democracy Now. Cunningham seems to be in basic agreement with you -- that the rhetoric on the Red Shirt stage was undemocratic or worse.

    At the same time I felt a bit manipulated watching this video. The protest went on for a few months, and, in spite of non understanding Thai, I watched it on and off the past few months on their website. While I know from translations that it is not democratic or peaceful, I am not sure what adds up to a few soundbites of out of context speech with O Fortuna playing in the background with images of fire and combat really can be taken as a way to seriously understand what is going on in Thailand.

    As someone with a bit of knowledge of Thai history and politics, but no knowledge of Thai rhetoric, I really have no context in which to put this in. With the understanding of Thai society that I have, I would venture to guess that Taksin's comments at the end might be some of the most inflammatory of all, although he is not talking about burning anything down.

    I have read about "community radio," though, and I am a bit worried about that. My understanding of the problems in Rwanda was that is was stoked by radio stations. I understand the problems if around the kingdom if small radio stations, and UDD broadcasts, are whipping up hatred, resentment, and anger on a constant basis similar to the soundbites in this video

    But, as a non-Thai who just wants to see a peaceful and prosperous Thailand, I am looking forward to Phlip Cunningham's analysis of the past few months of what was being said and shown from the Thai redstage. I think that will give clearer picture as to what was going on -- although by then, the rest of the world will most likely have moved on to the next crisis point.

  2. The fact that you are using a ridiculously emotive and manipulative video like this to support your points does not do you credit, Khun Somtow.

  3. Dear Anonymous 3:58 ... I didn't make this video and I'm sorry that it's so Spielbergian in its manipulation. But the point I'm making is that the images of this rhetoric, without subtitles, but perhaps with the same kind of music, could easily be viewed as heroic pro-democracy statements by people who didn't understand what was being said.

  4. Dear Somtow, I understand your point and I understand that you were using the video for the particular purpose that you state. However, I think one should be aware of the associations that some of your less critical readers are bound to make when they see a video like that on your blog. Won't some people walk away with the idea that you somehow condone the underlying message/tone of the video? Purakhanda's videos are at times very inflammatory - in a recent one, for example, images of Thaksin were juxtaposed with images of Hitler - and I think they are to be avoided.

  5. Outrageous juxtaposition and ruthless in his message.
    And we hear cries for balance and context.

    "You're totally allowed to kill these robbers - it's completely legal."
    "The current Govt. and Army Commander must die as well."
    "If you see soldiers coming your way, I urge you to simply run over them with your vehicle."
    "I guarantee you that we will turn Bangkok into a sea of fire."
    "Go ahead and burn it all my brothers and sisters."

    Help me please, for I am a lost soul. Help me to see the balance here, because I can see none. Help me to find a context that would justify this.
    Take this need for balance and context to its logical conclusion.

    Where is the balance in the Rwandan genocide?
    Is it found in blaming the colonial powers for imposing political boundaries on a tribal continent? If we say forcing two tribes to live in the same country was too much to bear and genocide was the acceptable answer, does that put it in an acceptable context?

    Or how about Cambodia. Is the balance found in the justifiable struggle of the peasantry against the elite, the intelligentsia? Where wearing spectacles earned you a one way trip to the killing fields. (Presumably Hun Sen did not wear spectacles back then.)

    Where is the balance in the Holocaust where 13 million perished? Do we find it in Hitler's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from WWI? Or was it that he was not loved enough as a child?

    At what point is it acceptable to call a monstrosity a monstrosity? To recognise evil for what it is and not try to explain it away, or give it equal time, but to brand it an abomination, an affront to human decency and a crime against humanity.
    When did we become so fearful of standing up for what is right, that even when it is blindingly obvious that something is wrong we shy away from branding it such. That evil should not be called evil, but should be seen in context.
    It is not a matter of well, they too think their cause is just or who decides what is right and wrong. There are universally accepted standards of human behaviour and decency, and when people do not abide by them let us have the courage to brand that for what it is and speak out for decency.

    There are no redeeming values in killing, burning everything and deliberately running over people.

  6. And what about hot emotions from yellow hearts? Since I'm sure no video is allowed of Thai military instructing their troops, why not collect Twitter (#Bangkok, #Thailand) postings? The ones I found especially amusing were from young BKK women urging the military to use live ammunition. And those were the ones in English!

  7. We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.
    Ronald Reagan

  8. if you listen to the red shirt radio, you could hear stuff similar to that video basically running almost 24 hours a day for the last 3 months. To say any of it is taken out of context when it was being repeated much like this non stop every day day in day out is exactly why the red shirt masses didn't want to retreat or give up; their leaders had led them to believe the opposition were worthless and the red shirts were on the verge of victory. Thaksin's phone ins and twitters were the high point of each week urging them to continue.

    There is a huge disconnect between the reality of fighting for democracy (which Thailand has now) and fighting for minority mob rule in order to bring back Thaksin, a convicted fugitive (which is what this whole waste of 2 months has been about).

  9. "democracy (which Thailand has now)" are you having a complete laugh.

    PS Great piece in today's Bangkok Post:

  10. For me this short video is but one example that uncle T.S didnt expell violence he in fact stated the opposite and wanted a peacefull protest,he explained his love for his people and his yearning to be there and in fact he was there in spirit which is the translation I take from his message(sorry khun Somtow a little bit of manipulation there)rather than he will be there as in person because he was unable.
    One thing that always strikes me with these yellow videos is when the PAD were rioting the yellow rhetoric was outlandishly vial and violent and there were vidieos of their heores depicting police being shot and ping pong bombs,and arson now not a bopeap from these now tree hugging former thugs.
    Any idea why no figures released on the final assault on lumpini park that's going to be interesting or maybe all of the bodies got up and buried themslves,again as in the past