Monday, December 16, 2013

The rainwater people

It seems that the northeast and the north are the match-winners in Thailand. The red shirts like them because they are their people, and the "Democrats" make them so important that they want to pull their right to vote. So it seems decisions are made on the countryside.

In last weekends Bangkok Post Andrew Biggs wrote in his Sunday column about vote-buying and the people upcountry. He better had not done this. What followed was a shitstorm as we call it in German. In front Andrew Marshall, the out-of-country-but-still-knowing-it-all-journalist, and right next to him @forestmat who tweeted this gem: "can you check for me if he's spent time in a rural NE village, drinking rainwater, cooking on a charcoal fire?"

So I learned today that only if you had your cup of coffee made of rainwater and your pork steak made on a charcoal grill you are qualified to understand and analyse the Isan folks.

Here is the thing: As long as we refer to the people in North- and Northeast Thailand as countryside guys, Isan people, farmers or even worst "the uneducated", we discriminate them. They are as Thai as everyone else. Actually the fact that there is less education shows that the oh so smart Bangkokians aren't able to provide education in the whole country. And look whats graduating from the universities in the capital? Generation selfie. While at the same time Thailands best programmers and finest vets are educated in Khon Kaen.

All my friends in the Isan part of Thailand have nice houses, and yes they may drink rainwater because they built a sophisticated rainwater-recycling system that cleans the water and makes it drinkable. And yes, they use a charcoal grill, because that's how you do BBQ. Only the rice is done in the rice-cooker, and the cake got a warm-up in the microwave.

See, of course there are some very poor people on the countryside. And some very uneducated. But they are everywhere, in Bangkok, in Phuket, in Chang Mai, Ubon Ratchathami and Hat Yai. That's how the world is - different. Smart guys and stupid guys, eductated and not educated, with knowledge and without knowledge.

We should stop thinking what makes a differences between people living in different parts of Thailand and start thinking of what they have in common. It is more than some advocates of either side of politics may think.