The Times They are A-changing…

Just rewatched this again. I’ve been thinking about Thailand’s future.

Serious change is coming, serious changes… have already happened. Nobody can stop these changes. […] The royalists try to create this ‘authoritarian-civilian’ regime [referring to the Abhisit government and its never-ending state of emergency] to maintain the status quo. No, they can’t… it will change. The question is how much the cost would be, how much damage it would be. I don’t have [a] clear idea yet.

Thongchai Winichakul

I met a good friend for coffee today, who basically said the same thing – what are ‘those’ people thinking by delaying the inevitable? What is the end game scenario that they think ‘they’ are looking for?

The historical parallel that is perhaps being talked about might be the ‘October’ generation of student activists. In 1976, the student movement which had 3 years ago forced out the Thanom-Prapas-Narong regime was brutally crushed. The core of the movement scattered and went underground, most notably joining the Communist Party of Thailand’s fledging insurgency forces. The Thanin government that followed was perhaps the most repressive in modern history.

Perhaps the lessons learned was to keep the repression on (which seems to be happening to some extent), and push dissenters to the fringe of society. Eventually graciously grant an amnesty to bring the misguided out from the jungles.

But times are… a-changing. I’m of the opinion that we’ve seen a fundamental shift in the expectations of the rural electorate. They’ve seen the power of their votes put governments in power, and they’ve seen it taken away not once but twice. You can’t really marginalize the majority of your people without seeing consequences. ‘Cost’ and ‘damage’ indeed.


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