Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cos the moral doesn't matter / broken rules are all the same / to the broken and the breaker / who's to bless and who's to blame

The last twenty four hours in Bangkok have been horrific, with two opposing political factions refusing to back down from confrontation, one egged on by a leader sitting in a plush suite in Dubai. I'm not going to go into the political back and forth here, partially (and it's a huge part) because I don't understand Thai politics which are enormously complex, and I don't want to mis-state things I don't quite get. I always think that westerners who try and pretend they fully understand and who tout themselves as immersed and more Asian than the Asians are amongst the saddest people you find in this part of the world.

As I said when I posted a couple of weeks back, I spent some hours wandering and photographing the red crowds and it was a staunch but uplifting occasion, almost fair-like in its atmosphere. Indeed I was about to head down to the Chit Lom intersection yesterday when the government shut the BTS (Skytrain) and I doubted I'd find a cab to take me there so I canned the idea, much to Brigid's relief.

Clearly, in the past few days that changed and it got ugly. That some of the protestors were using live bullets and grenades was awful and clearly speaks to a, I think, small, but heavily militant element which ramped things until it got out of control. And it was inevitable the government would have to say enough, that much was always clear.

I was especially upset for the kids. There were thousands of young people and children amongst the crowds I witnessed first hand, and I thought of families like this, who were so kind to me, and I hoped they were ok:

family with Redshirts

Late last night I began to to scurry through the international media to see what the coverage was like. This page, of incredible shots, stood out, as did this footage on Swedish TV, and this slideshow from Reuters, the last two both showing Khao San Rd, backpacker central, and the generator of vast amounts of revenue for the city, which last night became a war zone.

Google News indicated that the most recent story was being covered by over 6,000 outlets around the world, as one of the biggest stories on the planet:


So I thought, at about 6am New Zealand time, about 12 hours after the shit had hit the fan, if you will, and bodies had begun to fall in Bangkok, I'd see how the biggest news outlets in NZ were covering this. After all, it's on our doorstep, we are in the same region, members of APEC, associate members of ASEAN, thousands of New Zealanders (far, far more than visit Poland yearly, or ever) have been here, many Thai live in New Zealand and we have a free trade agreement.

This is what I found:

NZ Herald




I was reliably informed that this was the news item that had gone through to the editors at TVNZ. They'd chosen not to run it but gone with the death of a politician that almost no New Zealanders could name from a country that few New Zealanders could pin-point on a map instead as lead item. I wonder how many New Zealanders are in Thailand right now?

Surprised? No, not really. Shocked? Yes still, but appalled is probably the better word, and ashamed. Is It any wonder that New Zealanders seem, if my personal experience is any guide, to be giving Americans a run in the global ignorance stakes these days.


Peter Vegas said...

That video footage was really interesting. You take care mate.

xx Vegas

Rich said...

The media are looking for stories that can be put into a 5 minute soundbite. Clearly defined goodies and baddies help, and like you say, it's complicated.

(A friend of mine understands the situation, mostly. She spent several years in Thailand doing a PhD around Thai political issues. Her short explanation took half an hour. That doesn't fit with NZ news agendas).