This past 15 March, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul led 26 people from the new generation to register the Future Forward Party at the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT). The founding members of the Future Forward Party at a press conference on 15 March 2018
“We talked by phone. My little brother talked for me, I didn’t talk to her myself (laughs). After more than a week, I went to pick her up to live with me, and then I proposed to her. I can’t really pinpoint why she’s so nice. I like her for how hard-working she is, waking up early to do housework and taking care of the kids. When I took her to my uncle for him to look her over, he said I could have her if I want. Before, I took many girls for my uncle to look at but he said this one got up late, or was too lazy to wash the dishes. Once the meal was over they hid the dirty dishes. Lazy. But Sim is hard-working. She gets up to do laundry at 4 and 5 am. Uncle sneaked in to watch her.”
The recent disrobing of Venerable Sermsak Thammasaro or “Monk Ti” for his dwarfism has spurred discussion about Thai Buddhism and discrimination. According to liberal Buddhist monk Venerable Phramaha Paiwan Warawunno, Monk Ti was disrobed because ordination of the disabled is against the Buddhist Vinaya. According to well-known religious scholar Surapot Thaweesak, Thai Buddhism tends to rule in favour of the clergy, and under the power of the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC), does not allow other parties to pass judgement on cases or issues that crop up.
Prejudices surrounding the physically disabled abound, not least society’s view of them as nonsexual beings. Ironically, while the disabled are often barred from sexual education, disabled women are 1.5–10 times more likely than abled women to be sexually abused. What’s more, disabled women are often forcibly sterilized, raising the issue of the degree of “rights” they have concerning their own bodies.
In the near future, Thailand’s ubiquitous roadside beggars may completely disappear. Under the terms of a new Beggar Control Act, they will literally be “led off the footpaths.” The authorities say under the new law people will be given what they need without having to beg. The practicality of the bill remains a question.
The draft constitution going up for the referendum vote on 7 August degrades the issue of disability rights to an appalling level. It shows the junta’s point of view of the disabled as those who should receive public support but are deprived of guaranteed disability rights. According to experts, this situation will weaken the force of law for equality for the disabled.
Even though the disabled have long been seen in Thai dramas, the representation of them is problematic and unrealistic, which leads to misperceptions. Movie directors state that disabled characters should be seen as ordinary human beings.