Submitted on Mon, 18 Nov 2013 - 08:04 PM
As both sides of the political divide escalate the mutual animosity, mostly shouting at one another instead of trying to be mutually empathetic, two issues need to be demystified.
First, why do non-red-shirt opponents of the controversial blanket amnesty bill not care much about finding the truth behind the 2010 bloody crackdown on red-shirt protests, which cost nearly 100 lives - mostly on the red side - and ended in impunity?
Second, why do pro-Thaksin Shinawatra red-shirts seem utterly unconcerned by the alleged corruption and abuse of power verdicts against Thaksin, the ousted and fugitive former premier?
Let me try to tackle the two questions, beginning with the first.
First, life in Thailand can be rather cheap for ordinary folks, some will argue. We see and hear stories of crime and murder every day. So what if some people were killed, some may say? This is not the first time. We experienced it in 1973, 1976, 1992, 2008 and 2010. (And it's unlikely to be the last as long as no one is held responsible.)
Such an explanation alone is inadequate. Underlying the lack of concern or sympathy to address the issue is the belief that the red shirts are bad people. According to such a narrowly defined moralistic code, bad people are valued less than good people, possibly less than human, and their death is irrelevant.
In fact, this writer can still recall some who expressed satisfaction at the deaths of red shirts during the dark months of April and May 2010. And to be fair, when a yellow-shirt protester, Angkhana Radabpanyawut, aka Nong Bow, was killed in a separate protest against the Somchai Wongsawat administration on October 7, 2008, some red shirts also expressed the feeling that she deserved to die. Some even called her a whore.
Now, the second "mystery" is this: Why are reds so oblivious to the alleged corruption and abuse of power verdicts against Thaksin by the court?
Some reds would readily argue that Thaksin was a victim of the September 19, 2006 military coup that ousted him, and insist that the legal procedures following the coup were influenced by the coup-makers, one way or the other.
A coup is wrong - but it never occurs to some reds that both sides, i.e. Thaksin and the coup-makers, could be wrong or less than honest in different ways. For those reds to recognise that Thaksin may not be as altruistic as he projects himself to be, they would argue that all politicians are more or less like that - and at least the public's benefiting from his populist policies.
Some even argue it's unfair if all politicians can be scrutinised but not the monarchy institution, which is protected by the lese majeste law.
Both sides continue to see only their issues and their sides of the debate and are now doing their mighty best to ignore others' points of view.
Mutual hatred and indifference cannot bring about positive political change, but love for the society we share can. Are we going to allow Thailand to descend into yet another round of chaos, violence and coups by not trying to understand each other's point of view?
Source: The Nation