Opinion: Choose not to leave this land and stay

On Tuesday night, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra addressed a recent trend by many Thais who want to move abroad. Those that say they do say they can no longer tolerate the consistent government mismanagement, the culture of corruption, and the incompetence of the current administration.

Coupled these grievances with a tenuous political situation and many Thais have been disillusioned by their homeland.

Thaksin said he sympathized with those wanting to move abroad because they found that they lacked opportunities for advancement at home.

“No one wants to leave their homeland if they can help it,” the former prime minister said. Thaksin added that he didn’t see those wanting to leave as nation-haters or traitors but merely people looking for a better life.

To get them to stay, Thaksin argues, we have to build up a country capable of supporting and nurturing everyone’s ambition.

Thaksin is not wrong but he is not wholly right either.

First of all, there are plenty of reasons to leave Thailand one should be sympathetic to those that feel so disillusioned or so without hope that they would feel the need to leave their homelands.

One can be completely sympathetic and say that the situation in Thailand does seem bleak, the government is filled with cronies, the prime minister is a dunce general who knows as little about governance as he does about warfare.

And Thaksin is right that in order to get people to stay, there must be more opportunity and more rights.

But there is another reason to stay, another reason to not leave for better pastures somewhere else.

When the trend #ย้ายประเทศกันเถอะ (Let’s leave the country) began, many conservative Thais toasted the news. They encouraged liberals and progressives to leave, celebrating the victory they had won for the soul of the nation.

It would be an insult to those in prison and those who have sacrificed so much in fighting the status quo if we were to leave now.

There is a reason to stay and that is to wipe the smug smile off the face of every conservative who thinks that they have won.

If the students and the progressives of Thailand are serious about wanting to ‘end this during their generation’ then they must know that the fight is just beginning.

Instead of leaving to greener pastures, stay and fight for what you believe in.

The odds are stacked against those who would fight for liberty and freedom but the fight is worth it.

Stay because for many like Ar Kong and others, there was no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope for anything better, who withered away in a cold prison cell for merely thinking and wanting something different.

Stay for the countless generations who lived through autocracy and totality never knowing the taste of freedom no matter how sweet – do not let the midnight of this nation become the ever growing darkness that encapsulates it forever.

Stay because the soul of the nation is not the power of oligarchs and generals and those who claim that theirs is a god-given, divine right-to-rule but that the soul of a nation are its people, the masses, the culture which we live, breath and evolve every day.

Stay because without camaraderie, without brotherhood and sisterhood, without each other, the movement is lost.

Stay because this land is as much yours as it is theirs and it is up to you to shape it how you want it to be.

Stay for Thailand.

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