By Tammy, Thai Intel’s humanity journalist
About 20 years ago, a friend of mine went to study in the states and on the high-way, he stopped to take a piss. A police came by, and gave him about 5 citations. He told me he decided then that Thailand was a much more free country, as he never got a ticket for pissing on the side of the road in Thailand.
Only a few years ago, his son went to the states to study, and on one of his trip back to Thailand, my friend told me that his son has decided to live and work in the states, because his son said he was treated like a child in Thailand but in the states, when one is 18, one is treated as an adult. My friend said his son rarely return to visits Thailand-hating Thailand very much.
Thailand is rated, over and over, in practically every international poll, as the best place for expatriate to work. And with practically, every expatriate who falls in love with Thailand, the saying is: “In Thailand, one has the freedom to do anything, but just not the freedom to think.”
Is there such a thing? Can there be freedom to do anything, but not the freedom to think?
A very well-known Hollywood movie producer, months ago, told me that Thailand is a very well staged place-where everything works as a system-down to every detail.
He said Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza and Patpong, for example, set a person up for maximum extraction. “No matter who you are, the system is built to do one thing and that is to extract the most out of you, and in most cases, you walk away not even knowing it.”
But is that all over Thailand? Well, if one goes out jogging early in the morning, one can expect a taxi to slow and honk his horns, and asking if one wants a taxi. If one goes to the beach, one will get asked if one wants a message. If one goes for a walk, some guy will ask you if you want to go to a massage parlor. Sitting there on the sidewalk cafe, and someone will try to sell one the lottery.
An institutional investor, once told me of the research unit at a top-notch Thai broker. “The head of the research house, is a former accounting professor at the Chulalongkorn University and she took that skill of her to the broker and deliver the type of research to me, that looks very good on paper, but it is just crap that has nothing to do with reality.”
The list goes on and on and on-these type of set-up to extract the maximum-coupled with blatant invasion of privacy and straight insulting of the intelligence of others.
Not just long-term residence of Thailand like my Hollywood producer friend, but one tourist I met and became friends with-on her first trip to Thailand, tells me, Thailand, every inch of it, is nothing but a “Staged Opera.”
“There is nothing that happens in Thailand that is not part of some scheming plan,” she says-only about 2 weeks after travelling throughout Thailand.
But what can one do-to live in that “Well Crafted System?” And in fact, again, most expatriates love it here in Thailand-like the poll says Thailand is the best place globally for expatriates.
Basically, I have noticed mainly three ways to live in Thailand: Reject the system, become indifferent to the system or become part of the system.
Most expatriates become part of the system.
It is normal for a human being, when one’s privacy is constantly being invaded, and intelligence insulted with a constant assault-and always realized that one is being managed for extraction-for one to become insensitive. Those bar girls, lottery sellers, taxi cab drivers, that stupid Chulalongkorn University stock researcher-and the rest-quickly become the shunned and treated accordingly, as nuisance.
With that, one become part of the game to get ahead and stay ahead-and go about trying to extract the maximum also-from the system that is set up for people to extract the maximum to get ahead. In Thailand’s case, it is becoming part of the royalist, elite and military rulers of Thailand-where the entire Thai system, is set up for.
Another friend, recently told me, he got to like a bank teller very much. “She is beautiful, full of life, very natural and I courted her for a while. She smiled at me and was very friendly. Then one day, she said she will give me a great deal on an insurance deal,” he said. “So I fucked her and bought insurance from her. She is my bank teller whore.”
And many expatriates do “Cruze” very well in that Thai system-getting rich, powerful and accorded with respect. In fact, this is what many Thai upper-middle class do. No, here there is no freedom to think-the system in fact, makes one think within the confinement of the system. And action wise or “to do” there is no freedom as well-one just doing what the Thai system-sets one up to do.
But if one rejects the Thai system or become indifference to it what happens?
A friend of mine, who had been here in Thailand for a long time now, and have seen just about every trick in the book, so much so that he says, that there is nothing but lies in the Bangkok Post and Nation, said he just went to dinner with his co-workers.
“It was just after the Red Shirts protest and the traffic was bad. Many arrived late and when they did, there was nothing but bitching at the Red Shirts protesters. I just sat silent, and tried to change the conversation. There is no explaining to them that the Red Shirts were protesting the double standard justice system. To them, they were way beyond the reach of any in-justices. That dinner was hell for me,” he said.
On Soi Cowboy, I have seen very rowdy people dancing in front of clubs, excited by the environment-only to be shunned by the bar girls for scaring away the more going with the rhythm crowd. And I have seen, elderly expatriates, ready to reach orgasm in clubs-from being intentionally excited on purpose.
To some people, after seeing these things, for a while-and knowing there is nothing in Thailand that naturally happens, but everything is just part of the system to extract the maximum-many turn indifferent to it all. Rejecting the system is too heavy but becoming part of the system is foolish.
But many expatriates do reject the system and fight against it. The cost is immense. Thailand becomes a hell-hole.
A foreign journalist friend of mind keeps reminding me: “Who cares about Thailand or the Thais. I am here because of my job and I sure shit will not let Thailand brainwash me into not being able to live in developed countries.” So to many expatriates, Thailand is just a place for a quick extraction-like just a beautiful bar girl.
One very wealthy expatriate who lives on the top floor penthouse at the condo project I live sums up the attitude of many expatriates here in Thailand: “I am a Yellow Shirts on the outside but a Red Shirts on the inside, because until the Thai currency has a different person on it, Thailand will never change.”
The Thai King, is now the richest leader of a country globally.
So can there be “Freedom of Action, but no Freedom to Think?”
Freedom House, now rate Thailand as a Semi-Free country.
Some say that means Thailand is free, but others says that means Thailand is not a free country.
How hypocritical is it all? Well the word Thai, actually means freedom.