Archive for March 22nd, 2010
By Mr. Tony
Originally posted at: http://www.thaipoor.blogspot.com
What a tourist first see and asked after he sets his foot on Thailand, it must be the thousand portraits of the Thai King (Bhumibol Adulyadej). The King’s portrait (and the Queen’s) can be seen in stores, people’s homes, hospitals,
schools, outside on city streets, billboards, bridge crossings…everywhere decorated artfully throughout Thailand and when he gets in a taxi then the first question he is asked is if he needs a girl.
This is what we call Thailand, the typical country in the world. The land that the king is demanded to be loved by all. Constitutionally, he is above all, protected by the lése majesté which none is allowed to criticize him for his bad deed. He is credited as the symbol of the political intervention and unity of thecountry for his role in Thai political intervention and facilitating Thailand´s transition to democracy and even the symbol of economic development for his various development projects which these are reasonably or unreasonably believed and recognized by the Thais. With all these, he is respected like the semi-divine god king.
Comparatively, the prostitution also comes next to the image of the Thai King when one thinks of Thailand because Thailand is known as the Disneyland of sex tourism in the world which brings about the economic development to its zenith promoted by the government in order to attract more foreign tourists and investors to the country.
Actually, tourists will not come to Thailand if they just come to see the white sand beach, ancient temples and other natural beauty, since such things can be seen almost anywhere in the world and it is even ridiculous to say that tourists come toThailand because they want to eat Thai food, since most of tourists still prefer the western , Japanese, Korean, and Chinese food during their visits which is available everywhere throughout Thailand.
Historically, Thailand’s prostitution has existed since the Ayuddhya period (1350-1767) and it becomes flourished especially during the Vietnam War in the 20th century and afterward to the present day.
The prostitution has now become the part of Thai society in both culture and economic development and politic which Thailand cannot survive without it. However, sadly the prostitution is not legalized and the prostitutes who most of them are from the poor family are being viewed as an object and have been looking down bythe Thai elites as dog, the sub-human and the ignorant and with this it makes their dignity becomes less valuable and respected in Thai society.
In this point of view that the prostitutes or the poor, as the citizen of Thailand, must fight for their role and dignity respected just like other people in the country, the middle class, the elites and the king of Thailand for they have the same role in social development and political stability. Or at least I can say that the prostitutes have even more important role than that ofthe king of Thailand in the Thai society in both economic development and political stability.
This daring statement proved to be right because if we reasonably look closely into their contributions to the Thai economic development and political stability by the prostitution, we can understand that it is critically more important.
In Thailand the king is admired for his social development project and his role in political intervention. But the thing is not that true as its nature because most ofthe king´s projects are implemented under the financial and political support of the government.
For instance, in the military governments of Sarith Dhanarajata and his successors (1958–1980), Bhumibol was re-portrayed as the “Development King” and the source of the economic and political goals of the regime. Royally-initiated projects were implemented under the financial and political support ofthe government, including projects in rural areas and communities under the influence of the Communist Party of Thailand.
During the civilian governments of General Pem Tinsulanond (1981–1987), Prem, later to become President of Bhumibol’s Privy Council, officially allocated government budgets and manpower to support royal projects. Most activities in this period involved the development of large scale irrigation projects in rural areas.
During the modern period (post-1988), the structured development of the Royal Projects reached its apex. Bhumibol’s Chaipattana Foundation was established, promoting his ”sufficiency economy” theory, which is an alternative adopted by the period’s elected governments. Following the 2006 coup, establishment of a “sufficiency economy” was enshrined in the constitution as being a primary goal ofthe government.
So we can see that all the projects of Bhumibol, the king of Thailand, are initiated maybe mostly by his surrounding and the government. It seems that Bhumibol is able to do nothing if his surrounding and the Thai government have not been extending their initiation, support, and implementation, because the king seems to be just a symbol only rather than the real key actor of development. In fact the government can carry out such projects by itself and even reduce bureaucracy, expense and improve effectiveness.
Only in the the military regime of Plaek Pibul Songrgram (1951–1957) that Bhumibol managed to initiate a few projects using his own personal funds. These projects included the Royal Film and Radio Broadcasting Projects. But we can ask where did he get the money from? Isn´t it from the government? And where does the government get the money from? Isn´t it from the tax collection in the country?
However, Thailand, the most peaceful country in the region for centuries, even with these many so-called developing projects, is still a developing country and millions of its citizens still live under the poverty lines. According to a United Nations report issued in 2000, Thailand has 9.8 million poor people, 5.8 million ultra poor people and 3.4 million almost poor people. The total figure is 19 million, or 29.9% of the population, and is concentrated in provinces along the borders in the West, North, and Northeast regions. However, the poverty reduction was remarkably reduced between 2000 and 2004 under Thaksin Sinawatra´s leadership inThailand which fell to 11.3 per cent, according to the World Bank and continued to be reduced until he was toppled by the military coup d´eta in 2006. The reduction of poverty is seen slower after that and in 2008 the people who live under the poverty line is 5.4 millions or 8.4 % according to UNESCAP.
However, Bhumibol´s wealth has incredibly increased according to Forbe
magazine published in 2008 said that the 80-year-old king had a $35 billion fortune, with his estimated net worth increasing sevenfold during the past year. The wealth is included a stake in a major bank and huge holdings in the Siam Cement company and most importantly it said that the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), which manages most of his family’s wealth, “granted unprecedented access this year, revealing vast landholdings, including 3,493 acres in Bangkok which the Journal of Contemporary Asia estimated that the Crown Property Bureau’s assets worth at US$27.4 billion. Forbes said that figure is higher now thatThailand ’s currency, the baht, has appreciated. But it is ridiculous that even Bhumibol becomes the richest king in the world, he still shamelessly receives the financial support for his family fromthe Thai taxpayers contributed to him for 2 billion baht (US$59 million) each year.
People in the world just think that if Bhumibol can sacrifice only $5 billion of his total wealth to help his people, the poverty of those 5.4 million of Thais will be effectively alleviated and they would stop selling their flesh for income to support themselves and the family. But there is no such a hope of help from this king. Read the rest of this entry »
The above video clip of clashes between villagers in Kampong Speu and the authority is one of the repeating evidences long recorded and reported by all concerned human rights and civil society groups. Land evictions have driven large numbers of Cambodian famillies across the country, youngs and olds into perverty and despair. Without immediate halt and a change of government policy and attitutde, plenty more Cambodians will face the same consequence with almost a certain future of long enduring hardships, a slavery like condition for generations to come.
The Cambodian government could have conducted a more accomodated and yet humane investment policy. It should find those evictees a new land with proper compensation of cash and shelter without resorting to force eviction. If Cambodia can lease out so much land to foreigners, then it should be able to formulate a better inclusive investment policy than what it is doing now to its poors and indigenous peoples. Speaking of indigenous people, their culture and life style will forever be altered, not for the better but for a whole lot worse than one can imagine.
The new round of assault on land eviction will be on the farmers in remote areas, especially indigenous peoples who live far away from the eyes and ears of the main publics. Since Cambodia is poised to focus more and more on developing its plantation economy, rubbers and acacia etc.., then we can expect to see a lot more of similar events in Kampong Speu take place in the immediate future. Given the government officials, judges and businessmen are not on the receiving end of the evictions, then its is hard to imagine anyone of them will ever understand the magnitude of the cold pain and daily apprehension of the evictees. Read the rest of this entry »
In this article, The Voice of Nationalist Khmer points out some important events happened in Cambodia related to border issues and the critics against Hun Xen and Sam Dach Ta Norodom Sihanouk. Please click below link to read the article: