Red Shirts Focus: Why Red Shirts Globally are “Important” to the Thai Red Shirts Movement

By Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist

Pornsri is a Thai, but in a way she is not Thai.

Most Thai are taught from childhood to live with the status quo and the confines of the wider sociocultural norm of the politically and economically correct. But Pornsri, for some reason, exhibited a trait, that appears more Westerner than Thai. 

Pornsri’s father is a Thai police general who takes the corruption that comes his way but does not go out and actively seek corruption and thus Pornsi comes from a middle-class Thai back-ground. Her mother is a teacher. Pornsri did the educational thing, mostly, for her parents but she tells Thai Inel that she knew her options were limited-being a career women with some firm with little real prospects.

She got married and had a kid, then everything started to change for her. “I look at my father and all the things he tells me, and I knew there was no hope for my family. My husband was climbing the corporate ladder like me, but I can sense it that we were failing. It looked like a life long prison of very hard work to just get by with a little extra.”

Pornsri quit her job and started a restaurant in Bangkok, with little but a dream to help her family stay a step ahead of the middle-class trap. A few years later, the restaurant became a hit in the area, but Pornsri was not still not happy. “I had another boy and it became clear that they were going to have to face a future much like my husband, slaving away as his boss got rich, always looking and hoping for his boss kindness and kissing his boss behind for the bonus.”

Pornsri told Thai Intel that she began to dream about a restaurant in a Western country. “We sold everything and tighten our belts for a few years. Then we headed for Sydney. That was over 10 years ago now and the restaurant is doing great. My boys are now proud Australians with very happy lives.”

Pornsri is now very active in the Red Shirt movement in Australia, perhaps the most hard-core Red Shirts organization globally if you can call it an organization, since it is mostly a very loose knit of people doing their individual thing.

“Most Thai in Sydney have come to my restaurant. Students, embassy and business people. I look at them, and they look verry Western to me. There is the Thai cultural traits of a strong hierarchy, respect and power play. But mostly, I can see it in them that Australia for them, is like a long vacation to paradise, that they know will end some-day,” said Pornsri.

“The Australian culture is very strong. Here is all about being strong, fair and reasonable. It is a stark contrast to Thailand, and you have to adapt to it to survive and integrate. There is no telling an Australian to respect something, just because it is there. Many Thais comes to Australia and they struggle with the freedom and the confinement of reason that goes with it,” said Pornsri.

Pornsri, now has a condo in Bangkok, and unbelievably, she flies from Sydney to Bangkok, at times, mainly attend some Red Shirts protest meeting. She tells Thai Intel she donates about US$10,000 each year to the Red Shirts-for the past 3 years since she became a Red Shirts.

“Maybe it is seeing the Thais who comes to my restaurant so happy about their life in Australia that made me decided to get involved with the Red Shirts. I can see the struggle between what they are used to be like in Thailand and what they are becoming in Australia all the time. From my sense of it, nearly all of the Thais who comes to my restaurant would not return to Thailand, if they do not have to. They dread it, returning to live Thailand.”

Pornsri, said she is tired of the hypocrisy involved and said why do not the Thais do something about the conditions in Thailand.

“It seems non-sensical, that the Thai knows what Thailand should really be like, but for some reason, they return to Thailand, and fall back into the old ways, like there is no escape or hope. My sense of it is that many Thais these days, are growing and learning to be bi-polar. It is getting to be like Iran, where the public life is one thing, but in private life, it is the other side of the coin. Why is there no unity of their two sides?

Pornsit said that is mainly the reason she is active in the Red Shirts movement.

“I have my own reason for being a Red Shirts. It is not Taksin, the double-standard, the repression in Thailand, the lack of democracy and every thing you read about. I am not trying to free Thailand, either. Those are just a part of it. But mainly, every time, I protest with the Red Shirts, I feel a sense of hope and happiness. It is my escape from seeing how miserable and un-happy Thais are of their lives in Thailand.”

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