The Benefit of the Doubt
Scandinavian* politicians truly believe they know how to make things better here in South East Asia; when I learn about their ideas for the future and see the projects they suggest implemented in our region I am baffled. Try to listen to Scandinavian politicians or officials on visit. These most innocent looking blue eyed people are in fact mere fundamentalists; in their approach they are not much different from the Mullahs in Iran. They believe that they know better and that they represent The TRUTH – beyond discussion. Therefore they can tell the governments out here what to do, how and why, but as a one-way affair. Since the representatives of the Scandinavian countries regard their beliefs as TRUTH they themselves can of course learn nothing. You don’t discuss with a Mullah, do you –waste of energy.
A Minister of Trade touring Myanmar: “You can actually support the democracy by establishing good business connections”. Selling democracy in slices like salami, eat please; democracy we must have. Mind you: OUR variant of democracy. Another Minister of Trade touring Thailand see: ‘The Scandinavian Economic Model as a Goal for Thailand’. Well this minister is backed by billions of barrels of oil, which makes it easier to create nice models and finance the deficit. Lectures have been given to the Myanmar and Thai government regarding financial operations, democratic
institutions, dealing with refugees, the faith of the Rohingya’s etc.
In their weird mindset the leaders and officials seem to believe that they represent the best and most advanced of all worlds, therefore their edition of what is right and what is wrong is beyond discussion, they furthermore possess moral superiority. That is why their export of everything from democracy to police agents controlling appropriate sexual behavior here is good and need no further argumentation – ‘everybody can see that this is the right thing to do, can’t they?’ – Exactly this is what makes them fundamentalists; in their ethnocentric thinking they overlook the realities back home, the loneliness, the illnesses and tumors in their own societies.
One of the main elements in European constructive thinking is: DOUBT. We have to look ourselves in the eye: Are we in accordance with facts and realities when we suggest this and propose that –for the benefit of e.g. Thailand and Myanmar. Where are the weak points, what will talk against our solution and why, what can the syntheses then be. The brand ‘Democracy’ is a good example; the Scandinavian politicians advocate ‘their’ homeland edition of democracy. But the magnificence of that model is doubtful, how for example to tell and how to deal with that in Denmark 148.000 people are members of a political party; that is less than 4% of the electorate consisting of 4.079.000 people.
Most Scandinavians believe that their democracies are generally in balance and stable. Then there are some problems at the edges of society; a few mixed examples: Mr. Breivik. Riots among immigrants in Stockholm. 423.000 (minimum) people in Denmark living their lonely life on ‘Happiness pills’ such as Citalopram and Lexapro. How many problems before we accept the oriental wisdom that you must also rely on your neighbor, that nothing is stable, that everything is under change and that your life will be a misery if you believe you can control everything. That you have to live here and now, not so much for tomorrow.
After14 years more or less here in Thailand I realize how much we can learn by accepting a ‘two sides of the coin’ exchange – if we can move ourselves away from prejudices and certain norms. No, I’m not a new convert; everything is yin and yang, good and bad, here too. But a dialogue would be beneficial for both parties.
* I deliberately leave out the Finns. Their approach and business ventures here in South East Asia seem much more down to earth, not so much ‘knight on a white horse’ babbling, not so much ‘democratic’ smoke.