After the Paragon shooting, hard questions must be asked in this Banana Republic

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There are dark corners in every person’s heart where the worst thoughts lay undisturbed. No one can foresee when these demons can take over and what happens when they do. Seemingly normal people can be driven to do extreme things by the shadows that resides within all our souls.

That is why we have built societies. Rules, norms, regulations, taboos all exist to cover up our worst inclinations so that we might live together peacefully and productively. In a functioning society, the population gives up some rights and money so that the government can provide a foundation for its citizens to live without fear and be allowed to achieve their ambition.

Yet, the events of yesterday and the past few weeks suggest that Thailand’s government has a lot of work to do. And while the mass shooting at Siam Paragon should not be blamed on any one government organ (or any one piece of legislation), it is emblematic of the problem at the heart of Thai society.

Here, at a world class luxury mall with the finest amenities and the classiest of luxury goods, a fourteen-year-old gunman open fired on innocent people and took several lives before he was stopped. All our problems, our sandpapering of the cracks of our society was laid bare in this metaphor for Thai society at large. You see, oftentimes, us Thais delude ourselves to believing we’re much more developed than we actually are. The luxury malls, the fancy high-rises in Bangkok, the thin veneer of technology, and the slim upper crust of jet-setting regulars paper over the fact that we are a developing country with a barely functioning government.

We have legislation that cover over the fact that non-enforcement and illegality is the norm and not the exception. The civilization in Thailand is the exception. The corruption and the lack of accountability is the norm. Just look back at the criminal headlines of the past few weeks, police colluding with gangster, police arresting one of their own for helping run a gambling ring, coupmakers joining with sellouts, we are a banana republic owned by our own elites.

And until the electorate demands more, things won’t change. Until we demand accountability from our police, from our politicians, from our enforcement organs, from our courts, we will keep seeing these headlines over and over again.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that yesterday’s event happened on the eve of the anniversary of the kindergarten massacre in NongBua Lamphu. This time last year, I wrote this:

So let us give pause before we ask the hard questions. Instead, for the next few days let us as a society be there for those directly affected by this tragedy. By the same token let us also think about how we can build a more caring society, one where these headlines can once again be relegated to faraway places so that the horror of Thursday afternoon can never happen again.

It happened again. And the time for mourning is over, it is time to ask the hard questions.


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