Opinion: Dear Government, you don’t know what’s best for me, so butt out

Dear Government, you don’t know what’s best for me

So stop trying to tell me what is “good” or “bad” because that is not your place nor is it your responsibility to do so.

The Thai government led by the incompetent-military-only-good-at-taking-orders Prayut Chan-ocha has been operating like the typical strict Asian parent, prohibiting us from the things they think are “bad” for us, claiming that it’s the way to keep us all safe and be “good people.” They think having strict orders and following them as a way to protect us and so we don’t end up like the “neighbour’s kid”.

The truth is, dear government, you’ll never be able to stop us from being exposed to all these “bad” things. I grew up in a family that allowed me to ask questions, to make decisions of my own. My parents would say things like “why do you think that’d be good for you?”, “I’m sure you’ve already thought it through and I trust you to make the best choice for yourself”.

My parents would metaphorically give me a low fence, so that I would know where the “safe” area is, however I was allowed to hop out and back in as much as I wanted. I still got to see the outside world behind that low fence, I was “exposed” to the “bad” things, the “sins” and also as well as to the “good”, and the “right” things since I was young.

It’s a common physiological fact that the more you tell someone no, the more they would want to go there and explore that zone. Especially to teenagers. Growing up like that gave me the freedom to decide for myself what I see fit for my life. Of course, I still make the “wrong” decisions from time to time. The point is not to never do anything wrong, but to do something wrong and learn from it, in order to make better decisions and choices next time. Prohibiting me to explore both options—good and bad—will just make me “unequipped” to make the “right” decisions.

It’s impossible to not be exposed to all the “vices”, especially in a country like Thailand, and with the internet being so easy to access these days. Back in January this year, when the government was giving out money to people to help with the financial impact from COVID lockdown, they had to do it via Rao Chana. It had to be used at shops that accept this “currency” only. Why? According to deputy prime minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow , he was afraid that we would spend that money on alcohol and gambling.

I had my first beer with my mum and aunties when I was 13. My mum said if I wanted to try some alcohol for the first time, it was best to try it with her, so I would be in a safe environment and I could ask any questions about drinking that I may have had, instead of figuring it out with my other teenage friends. And where did that land me? I worked as a Nightlife Writer for BK Magazine for years and founded the bar awards for Bangkok during my days there, where I debuted my career as a writer. I’ve been learning about growing berries and other plants organically on my balcony, the same concept of how a winery would grow the grapes for their natural, organic, or biodynamic wines – healthy insect life, clean soil, to name a few. Because I just really love natural wines and the wonders of growing grapes so clean in order to produce a bottle of natural wine. Drinking alcohol for the first time at 13, did not make me become a poor, jobless alcoholic who is stressed about life, like the Thai government keeps trying to paint “drinkers” to be.

จน เครียด กินเหล้า, as their slogan goes.

It has been over 300 days that Thailand has banned alcohol sales and ordered bars to close because the government doesn’t think that we could be responsible drinkers during the pandemic.

The latest dilemma was about น้องไข่เน่า the 19 years old girl who was making content with her 20 years old boyfriend on OnlyFans – an online platform popular among sex workers around the work to make money during the pandemic by uploading 18+ content on their accounts and people can subscribe. The authorities arrested them during the night, using them as an example of “bad” people. Which is very familiar if you happen to be Thai, growing up in a conservative Thai family with parents who like to compare their own children to the neighbours’ kids. Pointing their fingers at which behaviour they think is good, and which is bad, and condemning the “bad” kids like, “don’t be like them, see? They end up getting arrested.”

Living in Bangkok near to the nightlife areas like Soi Cowboy, Soi Nana, or Patpong, it’s impossible not to be familiar with the sex work in this city. Dear government, teach us safe sex, and to respect the sex workers and/or our partners, instead of telling us not to wank.

So what would be the right way for the people of Thailand to make a “good” or “right” decision for ourselves? Start teaching critical thinking in schools. Stop telling us “what” to think and start teaching us “how” to think and form our own opinion and decision of what’s “best” for us via critical thinking skills instead.

Critical thinking skills will be the only way you can protect us, and not from prohibiting us from “bad” things. Because eventually, we will be exposed to all the “vices” and sins”. No one can protect anyone from this forever – not even our parents. And definitely not you, dear government. Being able to think for ourselves instead of following orders will come in handy when we are faced with a situation where we need to make any decisions.

So all things considered, dear government, it’s not your place to be telling us what’s “best” for us. Frankly, you don’t really know us well enough (or at all) to be telling us what’s “best” for us. So stop being so authoritative, when you yourselves, can’t even set a “good” example for anyone in this country.

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