Perhaps 20 years ago, I had a Thai friend whom I visited frequently. She was quite a bit older and apparently wiser than most of my Thai friends. I often heard her complain about her niece. She suspected that the young lady was dancing in a bar. She told me stories about how she played truant as a child and stole money from her parents. I was convinced that my unfortunate friend had an incorrigible teenager for a niece.
Then one day, I saw my friend putting away a shoe box. She was wearing a brand new pair of shoes and even more noticeable, was the smile on her face. She told me what a good girl her niece was for buying her that pair of shoes. For a moment, I thought she was talking about a different niece, but no, it was the same niece, except that this time, she had suddenly become an obedient child who worked hard as a “waitress” at a “restaurant” and took good care of her parents.
Welcome to the Giant Swing or Sao Chingcha. This structure is such an apt representation of some of the “mood swings” that I observe in Thai people all the time. Now for the news.
Bangkok police chief Pol Lt Gen Camronwit Toopgrajank said he made a decision to let the protesters enter the police compound, because he saw that protesters seizing many state offices around the country did not ransack or torch them.
At the police compound, protesters and police exchanged handshakes, embraces and took photos of themselves together.
Later, police were instructed to abandon their positions. Similar things happened at Government House. Some protesters entered and had lunch in the compound.
Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan and Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong later visited a number of people injured by police tear gas and projectiles at hospitals in another gesture of goodwill.
The two opposing sides looked relaxed yesterday. And the PM also appeared less tense. She was seen talking to Army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha during an oath taking ceremony for His Majesty the King at the Army Club tomorrow. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban also looked happy to learn about the symbolic sieges. He even had an ice cream after lunch.
Yao mo gao chor ah? Four people killed, dozens injured with violence escalating to 2010 proportions and all of a sudden, the men with the guns and bullets are offering flowers and hugs. It may seem totally incomprehensible from our point of view, but in Thailand, such things happen all the time. You can’t stop a charging bull, but the sheepish can turn violent and the violent can turn sheepish within seconds when given the right stimulus.
Yes, His Majesty’s birthday is coming, but to understand this sudden “mood swing”, it may be necessary to read my little anecdote at the beginning of this blog entry and also have a look at Sao Chingcha. On a more practical note, rumour has it that Suthep’s movement has run out of “juice”. But make no mistake, this is an uneasy truce. Yingluck’s (Thaksin’s) government is safe for now.
There is one important lesson we can learn from this. I’ll let you tell me what it is.