Thursday, 22 March 2007

Violent South

On my way to Big C on Sunday for a bit of shopping I was delayed by a procession along Saphan Kwai. Dressed in the obligatory yellow 'I love the King' shirts and waving the thai flag I assumed it was a display of affection for the esteemed monarch of Thailand - and as I was feeling a bit grumpy and didn't feel like asking in my pigeon-thai what it was about I thought nothing more about it. Then a lovely, grinning old lady gave me her flag as she passed which put a smile on my face but then gave me a bit of a dilemma. I was about to do a big shop and was going to need both my hands - however - I didn't want to dump the flag in case this would be seen as disrespectful. So I hung on to it while I posted some letters, popped into the pharmacy and finally into the bank. I had noticed some surprised looks but I put this down to 'Oh the farang has a flag - how cute!'.

Once in the bank though the guy waiting next to me asked why I had the flag and I explained. Did I know what the procession was about he asked. Not a clue was my reply. He then pointed out that the people parading through the street were calling for the government to send the army into the south of Thailand to once and for all wipe out the violence and terrorist activities going on there. Not wanting to be seen as inciting civil war I stopped merrily waving my flag around but still not wanting to dump it for fear of retribution I took the cowards way out and gave it to a little kid.

Not trying to make light of the situation in the South I would agree that the government does need to find away forward but hopefully all out military occupation can be avoided. However, on Monday the papers reported that the New Years bombs have now been declared to be the same as the bombs being used in the south (previously denied) and unlikely to be the work of disgruntled ex-politicians (oh how Taksin must be smiling). I assume this will strengthen calls for further military intervention and I can only hope that a peaceful solution can be found soon.

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