BANGKOK – For the past ten years, Thailand has been divided so much so that it has passed the point of no return. Being associated with either the Red or Yellow shirt movements has been the defining factor of who we are.
A yellow shirt is known to be elitist, pro-monarchy, pro-Democrat party, Bangkok based, educated.
A red shirt, in contrast, is associated with being poor, pro-Thaksin, rural, uneducated, if not stupid.
Nothing more, nothing less.
The complexity on the grounds elucidate that these Red-Yellow shirts divide is at best generalization and at worst misleading. However much researches there are to demonstrate the breadth, depth and diversity within each side, the media and the public continue to hold such binary world views of who constitutes the Red and the Yellow shirts.
A recent visit to Nakorn Panom, the border province between Thai and Laos, shows that these exist those who love and venerate the monarchy, while vote for Phue Thai.
There are those who disagree with Thaksin politics but embrace populist policy.
Then, there are also those who would never vote for both the Democrat nor Phue Thai or whatever it would change its name but continues to strongly believe in electoral system and fight for one person, one vote.
What colors are these people? What should we call these outliers – who are in fact excluded in the current discussion that is so charged and so divided between Red and Yellow?
These do not mean that those generalization do not exist. Surely, such dichotomy summarizes the big picture but it has missed the point.
No nation, no society or no community is comprised of consensus on anything. Try any topic on a dinner table between family and friends, differences exist everywhere. In a healthy democratic society, respect of differences, be it by class, race, gender or political, religion and cultural appetites, is in fact the key. It’s important and fundamental that there is space for people to voice themselves.
Just because Thaksin messed it up does not mean we all should loathe electoral system altogether or just because his so-called populist policy has been used to aggrandize his personal interests does not mean the people should be deprived of the rights to quality education, health care and better living standards.
Why should we let blatant generalization defines who we are?
We should not. The lacks of depth to comprehend the complexity in Thailand is hurting the country present and its future. Should we let our children growing up knowing that apple and banana are the only fruit?
Tired of being a red or a yellow? Then stop. Be yourself. Be free.