Happy Birthday to King Bhumibol for whom Thai people have a deep respect and reverence. He has done so much over a 60 year reign to define Thailand as a peaceful nation of kind people.
One hopes that his towering stature will unify and empower the nation both economically and as a people. Sadly, Thai society has split and swings from one extreme to the other – from one election to the next coup or mass demonstration.
How was it that Thaksin got elected in the first place and served out his first term to be the only prime minister ever re-elected? Was Thaksin the most corrupt politician in Thai history or was he just the next in a long line of corrupt officials? Was the coup that overthrew him essential to the future of Thailand, it’s Constitutional Monarchy, and civil society or just another after the countless coups before? Did he bribe the ex-Bangkok population or did he strike a true cord with a large disaffected mass?
The answers aren’t “yes” or “no” or “who cares” but how can Thailand move forward.
Is it ironic that this is also the day that “Madiba,” the first President of a democratic South Africa, passed?
He faced perhaps a greater divide but stood rock solid for basic principles, especially a belief in the rule of law that had not served him well, then found a way to bring a whole nation together. He inspired the world with his morality and belief that a non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic democracy was not only possible but essential.
Perhaps Thai people should take a page from Mandela’s book. There is no clear moral leader capable of bringing both sides across the divide.
Maybe the future of Thailand lays not so much in one person as in the pure hearts of all its people.
Take a deep breath, make real merit, and heal your nation for the good of us all. Inspire us as Mandela did. Step from the mud of suffering and conflict into the lotus of enlightenment.