Its in the middle of October in a few days. I have been living in Thailand for the past 32 years. I am historically interested and have always been following current politics closely.
Today, it is time to write the monthly editorial for ScandAsia. All the news and features have been selected, all the pages have been designed and approved. It is the last piece to put in place before the magazine is “put to bed” as we call it. What would be more natural than to write about what happened in Thailand during the same month many years ago when my first wife was still a highschool student. Especially in the light of the recent student-led demonstrations and the subjects, they have opened.
The reason that I have to abstain from this is probably the saddest thing that has happened to the Thailand I moved to live in and that became my country 32 years ago. The fear.
“I’m tired of living in fear. Aren’t you?”
That was the question which the Thai-Swedish model Maria Lynn Ehren, known professionally as Maria Poonlertlarp, bravely wrote on her FaceBook page in the wake of the blatant abduction and likely subsequent killing of the exiled political activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who went missing in Phnom Penh on June 4, 2020.
This fear was not here when I moved to Thailand. It has been created, installed by some people against the rest of the people.
“ … what kind of place are we living in when we cannot simply voice our opinion? Life is diverse and so are opinions,” her post read.
There are lots of things, I would like to write about this October. I would like to share my story of when I was hiding in the gutter in 1992 on Ratchadamnern Nok watching Thai soldiers shoot other Thai people. I would like to talk about how we believed it was all for the better as we got the new constitution. My frustration when the rich man corrupted the checks and balances mechanisms in that constitution and we were deprived of the option to remove him with the tools of democracy. My anger today when my country has slipped so far back from its political and economical leadership position in Asia, that I cannot even publicly voice my opinion here in this editorial.
I hate my fear. Still I hold my breath.