Thai Enquirer journalists take a moment and reflect on the past few days

Divisions not too far to be bridged

October 14 shows how divided our society reallly is. On one side, we had royalists professing their love for institution and tradition, on the othersides the forces of progression and liberalism.

It throws into question the age-old propaganda that Thai society is a unified, non-confrontational, and peace-loving, society, when this different image of Thai society emerges along with all of its problems.

Yet it is inherently wrong that the two sides of the divide cannot be bridged. If anything, it is an indication that hard conversations must be had within our society.

For that to happen we have to learn to accept differing opinions, we have to accept our fellow countrymen for who they are and not who we want them to be.

– James Wilson

A pro-democracy protester reacts as police try to detain him during a rally in Bangkok on October 15, 2020, after Thailand issued an emergency decree following an anti-government demonstration the previous day. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

Media transparency is key

After months of anti-government protests, the government declared a State of Emergency right after the mass rally that took place on Wednesday and arrested several of the protest leaders.

The momentum has swung so many different ways I can barely keep up. But what I can see is the breaking of the glass ceilings that will allow an open discussion aboout traditional institution. Discussions that traditional conservatives would never have dared in public.

What is very important right now is media transparency. There are still many news outlets especially Thai publications which are still delivering the news on the side of the establishment.

It’s apparent that some of the pro-establishment media are trying to present the pro-democracy movement as violent which is completely untrue.

For instance, when the royal motorcade passed the road where the protesters were gathering on Wednesday, there was no act of violence except for shouting and the three-finger-salute. Yet there was a report of protestors trying to harm the royal family by throwing water bottles.

What is the point of these reports other than to sew discord and provide excuses to hurt protesters? Thai media must be responsible not only to the truth but to their profession as well.

– Panithan Onthaworn

A woman looks on from a crosswalk at pro-democracy protesters sitting on the ground during a demonstration at a road intersection in Bangkok on October 15, 2020, after Thailand issued an emergency decree following an anti-government rally the previous day. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)

There is hope and it is the people

After the State of Emergency was declared following the October 14th protest, I thought to myself things are going to shift. The positive energy of the movement has peaked, and the next phase will become more dangerous and more dull. Though a counter protest was called almost immediately I was doubtful about the turn out and the momentum of the movement going forward. Younger students who have been an essential force in the protests might be less likely to come out due to the very valid fear of being arrested or harmed.

I severely underestimated the wrath of the people. Tens of thousands of Thais showed up to the Rajprasong intersection, flooding all my social channels with footage of the crowd. I couldn’t help but feel emotional seeing the diverse sea of high school students and older generations showing the three-finger salute. For the first time, I saw people in my social circle that had never shown a hint of interest in politics tweeting and sharing pictures of the gathering. The incredible energy the mob radiated was palpable. Invigorated, but peaceful.

It finally clicked that the people are not going to stop. That they care more for fighting injustice than they fear the government. That this generation was not subject to Thai complacency. Something about this movement from the start of this year until now feels different than any protests I’ve personally seen in the past. Call it naivete or unbridled millennial optimism, but I feel hopeful.


I just want to say thank you

In 2015, I was on my way home from work. My bosses called me and told me that a bombing took place at the Erawan shrine so I immediately headed back into the area. Of course, by this time all the roads leading to the site had been blocked and security officials were everywhere. I had to park far away on Sathorn.

As a result, I hopped on a motorcycle taxi and told him I was a journalist and needed to get to the area. The driver took every short cut imaginable cutting through hospitals, office parking lots to get to where I needed to go. When I got there, he said he didn’t want any money, just asked me to report the truth and helped the people.

It was remarkable. But what was more remarkable yet were the hundreds (!) of other motorcycle taxis in the area offering free rides to innocent bystanders to get out of the area or worried relatives to nearby hospitals were victims were taken.

The motorcycle taxis were running all night, for no money, and trying as best to help where they can. It was inspiring and I wrote about it. It was the first byline I ever wrote that truly went viral across the world. Newspapers picked it up in the US, in Germany, and in Thailand.

I think the reason it was picked up was not because of the skill and articulation of the author but the hope offered at a bleak time.

Yesterday, many of the same motorcycle taxi drivers that had been working five years ago were showing how exemplary and amazing they are once again.

Once again, I just want to say thank you.

– Cod Satrusayang

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