Why is Thai society addicted to violence?

Numnual Yapparat

A number of incidents in Thailand illustrate how violence is endemic in our society.

Recently, a group of secondary school students were made to “walk” on their knees into school because they were late. The pictures of their wounds show the barbaric results of this violence against school children. The teachers in charge were acting like the soldiers who rule Thailand through the barrel of the gun. The Thai education system is designed to train students to obey instead of thinking for themselves. We see this in the words used by Generalissimo Prayut or the university vice chancellors. Also we know that in Thailand students are not seen by many as having any human rights. The National Human Rights Commission is totally useless.

A conservative proverb says that “if you love your cow you must tie it up and if you love your children you must beat them”.

Arriving late at school may not really be an issue of discipline but could well be caused by a lack of decent public transport and the terrible traffic conditions in Bangkok.

A few days before that, a brave woman student staged a three-fingered anti-coup salute outside a cinema. She joined further pro-democracy events outside the Democracy Monument and the Human Rights Commission. She has been approached by soldiers asking whether “she wanted to be raped”.

Apart from the terrible violence that this threat implies, it reveals an attitude devoid of any respect for women. Such an attitude can also be seen in the behaviour of the Crown Prince. Women in Thailand also have no human rights to demand abortions when they need and want them.

If anyone thought that Thailand was a “peaceful” Buddhist nation then they should consider the photos that have been seen on Facebook of a Buddhist monk slapping a western tourist on a train. The monk was sleeping on a seat designed for 2 people. Other passengers wanted to sit down and they woke up the monk who became very angry and resorted to violence.

Monks are usually elevated to respected positions in society and allowed many privileges. Many monks have opposed a woman’s right to choose abortion. However, most Thais would be appalled by the violent behaviour of this particular monk. Yet the regime of hierarchy and fear in today’s Thailand prevents people speaking out about injustices.

Of course the cold-blooded murder of pro-democracy activists, gunned down by the military, and the ruthless imprisonment of people who speak out against the dictatorship, are standards of violence set right from the top.

We cannot place any hope with the UDD red shirt leaders or with Taksin and Yingluk. This is because they are afraid that when the mass of the population really rise up and take matters into their own hands and fight for human rights, they will sweep away even these elites.

If we learn from the young people who were struggling against the dictatorship alongside the Communists in the 1970s, we would see that a better more equal and just society is an elegant aim for us today. (See my previous post on “the Music of Thai Politics”).