Bangkok Coup and You

I keep meaning to learn more Thai language but my repertoire is still quite basic, extending to ” good morning, thank you, excuse me, the bill please”. In my defence, I try to say these phrases as often as I can over a day, and with a few polite bows, seem to get by well enough.

Mr T has begun to cart around a Thai phrase book in the hope that we might extend our vocab. We ponder some ridiculous phrases over dinner. I fancied ” This dog is a ridgeback”,  but then we found ” You’re only using me for sex”, listed under the romance section, and later we found a really useful phrase, ” I’m a soldier” (ผมเป็นทหาร ), so handy in a coup, since everyone on the street last Sunday seemed to be a soldier!


The street closures were announced in the newspapers early on Sunday morning, giving citizens plenty of opportunity to re-plan their Sunday travel and driving route.  The military had prior knowledge of planned demonstrations thanks to social media, such as Facebook, and informers within the world of texting. Nearby, in our quiet precinct, soldiers blocked the main routes to Victory Square and the Democracy Monument, making the inner city traffic absolutely horrendous. It turns out that some of these protests were poorly attended, with more soldiers on the scene than citizens. Image

Observations from a farang’s ( foreigner)  point of view.

  •  what role does social media play in social unrest?
  • under a ‘silencing’ military coup, are opponents able to express their opposition in any form, including Facebook?
  • would you really like to have a ‘selfie’ taken with a soldier toting a huge gun?
  • a coup is not a benign thing, unless you happen to be on the side that benefits from such a move (yellow shirts) in which case it might be.
  • life continues as usual for most folk: shooting and violence have been eliminated from the streets. (for the time being).
  • will an election in one to two year’s time solve this nine year old problem? ( doubtful )
  • foreign interference is not appreciated. American and Australian political intrusion is unwelcome and is seen as naive, arrogant and misinformed. Certainly, simple slogans or principles like ‘restore democracy’ fail to properly appreciate many complexities and subtleties.  Sophisicated Thais are aware of the defects, inequalities and contradictions found in most western democracies, particularly in the USA.
  • foreign media is prone to sensationalism. The Bangkok press seems to offer a balanced view, at least in the Bangkok PostRead it on line here.  The journalism in this newspaper is remarkably sophisticated and engaging, making me wonder about what ever happened to intelligent reporting at home in Australia  and to what depths our newspapers have plummeted.Image


14 thoughts on “Bangkok Coup and You”

  1. Great article – I was in Bangkok when the “shutdown” was in full swing in January, and find your observations to have rung true for my experience too, particularly the selfies with soldiers thing – I only saw it a few times, but was still really surprised tourists were doing that kind of thing!! I also couldn’t agree more with the sensationalism of events by the media!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thanks Jess. The Bangkok Post is pretty reliable I think. Most of our australian press is just trash. no soldiers around today- things have slowed down on the protest front.


  2. My father in law lives in Pattaya and he says life is carrying on as normal for him yet the news seems to sensationalise everything. I know it’s not a ‘normal’ situation and a military coup is not democracy as we know it but it’s so hard to get to the truth of the situation when you can’t trust your news source.
    We were in Tokyo during the earthquake and we’ve boycotted CNN and The Herald Sun ever since. Both of which are no bad thing I have to admit – but the ‘news’ they were reporting was just a pack of lies compared what was actually happening outside our home.
    Interesting to get your perspective on what’s going on – I’d trust you over CNN any day!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CNN is bad, the Herald Sun is worse and I am even struggling with the BBC broadcasts here in Bangkok. Interesting how news gets filtered and distorted by the big nasty media giants.


  3. your reflections on the coup are really refreshingly nuanced after hearing the media’s focus on the violence and need for democracy – I wish our media was more intelligent too and that democracy worked better here.


  4. I think I would find Thai a very difficult language to learn. My brother-in-law was in the Australian Army and was posted to Thailand so they put him through an intensive language course. He’s totally fluent but said it wasn’t easy to learn xx


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