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ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Modus Operandi posted:

I must object to your choice of picture for Thailand. As an old Thai expat you should know that Leo is the working man's beer. Singha is for tourists!
Haha. See, when I got here, Chang was the working class beer and Singha was for locals. Now Chang is the general tourist beer (looking at eviljelly here) and Leo is the working man's beer and Singha is for local expats and people who stay in five star hotels who want an "authentic" experience. Most of us prefer Tiger or Beer Lao though, right? ^__^

gently caress Heineken

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Modus Operandi
Oct 5, 2010


ReindeerF posted:

Haha. See, when I got here, Chang was the working class beer and Singha was for locals. Now Chang is the general tourist beer (looking at eviljelly here) and Leo is the working man's beer and Singha is for local expats and people who stay in five star hotels who want an "authentic" experience. Most of us prefer Tiger or Beer Lao though, right? ^__^

gently caress Heineken
What are those bottles of mystery rice whisky called you see at Tesco? I still don't know the brand name but they look like big bottles of fish sauce. I guess we could agree that's the real working man's drink.

I like San Miguel with lime because actual Corona is pang and I get nostalgic for the piss water taste from home.

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Norrskensren posted:

These policies breed resentment, obviously. Several of the Chinese and Indians talk of "lazy, stupid" Malays who just sit around the village and have babies all the time. They do have Malay friends and they appreciate them as individuals, but when they talk about Malays as a group it's like they're white Americans discussing black Americans in 1950.
Every single time I get in a taxi in Malaysia, the Chinese guy behind the wheel ends up giving me a 30 minute discourse on lazy, stupid Malays who sit around having babies, when they're not beating you up in groups or robbing your house. The thing that amazed me was how open it is. It's even worse than the rants I used to get from Thai taxi drivers during the red shirt/yellow shirt clashes. Borat examples aside, this is not a conversation you're going to run into a lot casually, stateside, as a foreigner. I mean, yeah, you'll hear racism and you'll hear stereotypes, but the loving depth and breadth of the hatred you hear casually from ethnic Chinese Malaysians is staggering. My favorite guy followed his rant up by telling me no to eat at the Nasi Kandar joints because Indians are dirty and don't clean their restaurants and ended the ride by wagging his finger at me and saying, "No talk politic lah! Go to jail lah!"

Modus Operandi posted:

The only reason this policy hasn't harmed Malaysia more is that standards of education in SE Asia are notoriously awful. It's like a race to the bottom. The only country in SE Asia with a globally ranked top notch education system is Singapore which is highly unusual for the region. I'm not even sure who is the distant second behind Singapore in SE Asia. I'd say maybe Thailand but that's a bit of a stretch too. The only reason i'd place Thailand 2nd is that they do produce decent medical professionals. The Philippines used to have good schools back in the 60-70's but they are pretty terrible now although they do produce english speakers but without the economy invigorating stuff like competitiveness in the hard sciences, global entrepreneurism, or critical thinking skills.
The education here is appallingly bad, yeah. Malaysia must be better than the Mekong countries, though. Everything about Malaysian society is more structured and orderly it seems like. That doesn't guarantee a great outcome, but it has to be at least marginally better than it is here.

Modus Operandi posted:

What are those bottles of mystery rice whisky called you see at Tesco? I still don't know the brand name but they look like big bottles of fish sauce. I guess we could agree that's the real working man's drink.
There are a number of brands, but I know the one you're talking about - it's got yellow, blue and red labels. It's just called lao khao casually, not sure of the brand name. Siam Sato is one of the brands, though. It's loving hideous. Ya dong is better, but it's really just lao khao with spices mixed in. You see it in those big medicine jars at street stalls in poor neighborhoods. It's not so bad, but the crowds hanging around those places can be non-funny alcoholics, heh.

Modus Operandi posted:

I like San Miguel with lime because actual Corona is pang and I get nostalgic for the piss water taste from home.
I hate people who say the kind of thing I'm about to say, but it's true in this case: drink imported San Mig if you can, the locally brewed version is nowhere near as good. It's one of those beers that's better in the Phils. They get the real thing in Hong Kong, I envy them!

ReindeerF fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2012 around 08:06

Smudgie Buggler
Feb 27, 2005

SET PHASERS TO "GRINDING TEDIUM"


I'm not going to pretend like I know anything about SEA, but for some reason I always thought this video was from Brunei. I don't know why, but I would have sworn it was from Brunei. The guy's speaking Malay, too, I'm pretty sure, which would make sense in either case. Am I mad, or is there some obvious reason why I would have thought this?

How do you know it's from Singapore, by the way?

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Smudgie Buggler posted:

I'm not going to pretend like I know anything about SEA, but for some reason I always thought this video was from Brunei. I don't know why, but I would have sworn it was from Brunei. The guy's speaking Malay, too, I'm pretty sure, which would make sense in either case. Am I mad, or is there some obvious reason why I would have thought this?

How do you know it's from Singapore, by the way?
I don't for sure. It originally got sent to me as from Singapore, the Youtube user is in Singapore and all his other videos are about Singapore, so I just made the assumption. You can click around his channel and see his information and such. Maybe he was in Brunei when he took it? I notice the license plates are definitely from cars in Brunei (KK, BR, etc). Anyway, submit something more representative and I'll be happy to put it up! I was just grabbing the most popular auntie video I could google up, heh.

Modus Operandi
Oct 5, 2010


ReindeerF posted:

I don't for sure. It originally got sent to me as from Singapore, the Youtube user is in Singapore and all his other videos are about Singapore, so I just made the assumption.
The commentator definitely sounds Singaporean. I'm guessing it's a Singapore expat living in Brunei who posted that up.

Smudgie Buggler
Feb 27, 2005

SET PHASERS TO "GRINDING TEDIUM"


ReindeerF posted:

I don't for sure. It originally got sent to me as from Singapore, the Youtube user is in Singapore and all his other videos are about Singapore, so I just made the assumption. You can click around his channel and see his information and such. Maybe he was in Brunei when he took it? I notice the license plates are definitely from cars in Brunei (KK, BR, etc). Anyway, submit something more representative and I'll be happy to put it up! I was just grabbing the most popular auntie video I could google up, heh.
Yeah, if you click through to YouTube the description says it was taken in Brunei. I think I must have noticed that when I first saw it like a year ago. But for gently caress's sake don't get rid of it on that account, because it's only about the best thing.

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Smudgie Buggler posted:

Yeah, if you click through to YouTube the description says it was taken in Brunei. I think I must have noticed that when I first saw it like a year ago. But for gently caress's sake don't get rid of it on that account, because it's only about the best thing.
Solution, it is now the Brunei video until someone sends a better Brunei video!

In substantive news, some of you may recall that a large part of Thailand (more than half?) flooded last year and sat there, flooded, for months, causing massive humanitarian problems and also destroying the local economy temporarily - with lasting effects. It even hurt the Japanese economy and the American economy among others because, it turns out, Thailand is a major manufacturing center for crucial parts that go into the production of hard drives and what not.

Naturally, everyone involved, from the Thai government to the Japanese government to all the businesses immediately decided to take action to address the potential for future floods. Unfortunately, while everyone else took action intended to directly address the problems that contributed to the flooding (not enough waterways to carry water to the sea, poor management of dams, flood gates and canals and so on), the Thai government decided to address the flooding by stalling, ignoring the offers of help from the Dutch and others and sitting on their hands as they figured out how they could steal siphon off the most money from the funds pledged by other countries, including the massive Japanese offer of monetary aid (later withdrawn when the Japanese had had enough of the Thai government's chicanery.

Fast-forward to this year and it looks like they're managing water in the dams a little better. The main dam is at about 50% capacity thanks to regular draining, whereas last year they let it fill up in anticipation of irrigating rice fields and then - surprise - were hosed when it started raining. They've also built some bush league temporary barriers around waterways and repaired sluice gates (making them harder for angry villagers to open manually, I hear, we'll see). Finally, there has been a serious nationwide effort at dredging the bajillions of canals, which is laudable. Unfortunately, this is it. The Old Man and many experts all have been recommending for decades that channels be built from North of Bangkok to the sea to drain water in case of a flood, but, this being Thailand, it hasn't been done. Perhaps if some multinational came in and offered to finance it and run it as a private entity, but even then it seems doubtful that the Thai government wouldn't make a hash out of it.

It's big news here because it's raining again and parts of the country are flooding again (as they do every year) and all the businesses are starting to air their grievances publicly, even if still very much in the not-a-direct-accusation way that Thai folks handle confrontations (for as long as they can):

http://www.cnbc.com/id/47595571

quote:

Another Thai Flood Will Be the 'End': Hana CEO

Thailand has rebounded sharply after last year's floods with the economy growing a huge 11 percent quarter on quarter in the first three months of the year, but the CEO of the country's largest semi-conductor packager Hana Microelectronics is not so optimistic about the future.

While several corporations have recovered from the floods that hit Thailand last year, Richard Han told CNBC's "Cash Flow" on Tuesday that he doesn't think his company can fully recover from the floods.

"Since the beginning of the year our operations are back 50 to 55 percent of pre-flood levels, but I think it's very clear that we will end up losing 15 percent to 20 percent of our total business," he said.

Han added that some of the company's clients have already shifted business to his rivals and he is not hopeful they would return as "a number of customers simply will not want to take the chance of something like this happening again."

Hana Microelectronics' main Ayutthaya factory, located 76 kilometers north of capital Bangkok in the Hitech Industrial Estate, generates revenue of 7 billion baht ($221 million) or 35 percent of annual group revenue. It was inundated last year and forced to stop work on October 8, five days before the flood waters hit.

Flood waters submerged more than two-thirds of Thailand last year forcing hundreds of factories to shut down temporarily.

Even though the Thai government has pledged billions of dollars on developing defenses against future floods, Han says he is not sure whether the preparations are enough.

While industrial estates have started building higher walls to try and prevent floodwaters from breaching their plants, he said it would still not be enough to keep factories running.

"Even if we managed to stop the waters coming into our industrial estate, we can't continue production because no worker can come to work, there'll be no power and of course the surrounding area will be inundated again," Han said.

He added that this type of disruption to the supply chain would "effectively, for a company like mine, be the end".
He's not joking, if it floods again this year a lot of companies are going to relocate manufacturing to Malaysia, The Philippines and Vietnam. With the specter of Burma looming on the horizon and threatening both Thailand's dominance in regional manufacturing and its slave guest labor force it seems like Thai businesses are finally starting to get sick of this government nonsense.

Fortunately, the Thai government has taken notice and is busily distributing tablets to students while arguing about a reconciliation bill for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is running around holding rallies just across the border and vacillating between selling out his supporters while stirring up trouble.

ReindeerF fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2012 around 10:05

shrike82
Jun 11, 2005

"Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy."




Looking at the pogroms against the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia (and further back in Malaysia), can't say I'm really surprised that the Chinese minorities in SEA are wary.

Not to mention Bumiputra.

jino
Apr 30, 2007
People need something to believe in. I believe I'll have another drink.

Well I learned something new today, I'm surprised to hear that you guys drink San Mig in other parts of SEA. I didn't think that was exported that much other than to our expatriate communities.

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


jino posted:

Well I learned something new today, I'm surprised to hear that you guys drink San Mig in other parts of SEA. I didn't think that was exported that much other than to our expatriate communities.
They really started pushing hard on the export business after the ASEAN alcohol agreement a couple of years ago. They've got a brewery just outside of Bangkok now and you can buy it all over, even in Cambodia. Unfortunately you can only get Pale or Light (and the pale brewed in Thailand comes in a normal bottle and tastes skunky :madface: ). In other news, I saw Red Horse here in a store the other day, so if you can find a red plastic chair & table set and a rusty shotgun it'll be just like Manila!

Deceitful Penguin
Feb 16, 2011


shrike82 posted:

Looking at the pogroms against the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia (and further back in Malaysia), can't say I'm really surprised that the Chinese minorities in SEA are wary.

Not to mention Bumiputra.

Pogroms huh.

I'd actually like to hear what people on the ground think about that. I've read the story from the Chinese side, about the bad bad non-han who oppressed the hard-working greater Chinese, but there has to be more to it than that. Could anyone elaborate?

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


It's a touchy topic to get into because to people who don't live here the most obvious metaphor is exactly the one you alluded to and that is Something We Don't Talk About. That A) causes ignorant people to rush in and make judgements they don't understand and B) gives people one one or another side of the issue ammunition to make emotionally charged arguments that aren't valid, but press all the right buttons. I'm reluctant to talk too much about it, even though I'm involved on both sides of it through relationships. To be clear, he's not talking about intra-Chinese oppression, he's talking about the Malay majority taking control of the government and oppressing the Chinese and Indians (among others).

Vetitum
Feb 29, 2008



Malaysia suffered from a pretty bad race riot in the late 1960s following national elections which put more power in the hands of the Chinese opposition parties. Much of the resulting affirmative action policies were tied into a new economic policy that tried to bridge the economic barrier between the poorer Malay's and generally wealthier Chinese.

While I'm in no way an expert on the country I have done some background reading and would be happy to put together a longer post when I have a little more time. The wiki article is ok for a general overview of the riot though and gives some basic background information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13_May_incident

Vetitum
Feb 29, 2008



Keep in mind though that 'Malay' Malaysian only make up just over 50% of the population. So it's not as clear cut minority / majority case as in some other SE Asian countries.

Modus Operandi
Oct 5, 2010


Deceitful Penguin posted:

Pogroms huh.

I'd actually like to hear what people on the ground think about that. I've read the story from the Chinese side, about the bad bad non-han who oppressed the hard-working greater Chinese, but there has to be more to it than that. Could anyone elaborate?

There's no reason to doubt what happened here if you read up on the Indonesian and Malaysian pogroms. I know people tend to have feelings that tend to border on animosity whenever the ethnicity "Chinese" is mentioned but these are multi-generation ethnic Chinese who have lived in SE Asia for centuries in many cases. They also consist of all classes and most people effected by the pogroms were of the lower to middle class background. They aren't recent immigrants from the mainland. In Indonesia what happened in '97 was particularly horrific and in most cases regular people were gang raped and murdered.

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Vetitum posted:

Keep in mind though that 'Malay' Malaysian only make up just over 50% of the population. So it's not as clear cut minority / majority case as in some other SE Asian countries.
Those are modern figures, though, and arguably that change (along with the increasingly educated populace) is why there's more common protest against the government between all ethnic groups. I'm pretty sure in the 1960s it wasn't just over 50%.

Modus Operandi
Oct 5, 2010


ReindeerF posted:

Those are modern figures, though, and arguably that change (along with the increasingly educated populace) is why there's more common protest against the government between all ethnic groups. I'm pretty sure in the 1960s it wasn't just over 50%.
Also, that figure only mentions the people that identify as ethnically Malay and doesn't take into consideration that a lot of politics in Malaysia is actually orientated towards Islamic affiliation which is much higher than 50% of the country.

Vetitum
Feb 29, 2008



ReindeerF posted:

Those are modern figures, though, and arguably that change (along with the increasingly educated populace) is why there's more common protest against the government between all ethnic groups. I'm pretty sure in the 1960s it wasn't just over 50%.

You're absolutely right and the recent Bersih rallies have shown that opposition to the government is spread amongst the ethnic spectrum. What struck me through my first hand experience however was the tendency of younger Malay's to be split in their support for the ruling alliance, and also their view of the Chinese, broadly based on their education and background. Those from more rural areas would be quite cautious when talking about the Chinese and their 'culture' while the more urban 20somethings, from better off families, generally talked openly about the need for reform.

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


That's interesting and makes a lot of sense, I mean it's what you'd expect in any country anywhere (i.e. ask people in rural WV about black people versus people from Chicago). Thailand's in a very different place of course, but Malaysia actually seems like it's on the brink of crossing the Rubicon on the oppression of ethnic minorities - but hasn't quite made it. Indonesia, 1997, I may be wrong but my feeling was that it was much more related to the Tom Yum Goong crisis and the hatred of Suharto than it was to the Chinese - as if they were just a convenient target for rage during a time of incredible tumult. Post-Suharto it's hard to imagine that happening again (he was, after all, thrown from power by those very events).

shrike82
Jun 11, 2005

"Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy."




Modus Operandi posted:

There's no reason to doubt what happened here if you read up on the Indonesian and Malaysian pogroms. I know people tend to have feelings that tend to border on animosity whenever the ethnicity "Chinese" is mentioned but these are multi-generation ethnic Chinese who have lived in SE Asia for centuries in many cases. They also consist of all classes and most people effected by the pogroms were of the lower to middle class background. They aren't recent immigrants from the mainland. In Indonesia what happened in '97 was particularly horrific and in most cases regular people were gang raped and murdered.

Yeah, are people actually trying to pretend the murder/surprise sex-fest in 97 didn't happen?

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


shrike82 posted:

Yeah, are people actually trying to pretend the murder/surprise sex-fest in 97 didn't happen?
Surely the people involved, yeah.

Modus Operandi
Oct 5, 2010


shrike82 posted:

Yeah, are people actually trying to pretend the murder/surprise sex-fest in 97 didn't happen?
I remember a couple years after those incidents that the Indonesian press were downplaying it as "a few hooligans" and a lot of surprise sex victims were told to shut the gently caress up or shamed into suicide. The thing is that most NE/SE Asian countries had some sort of economic stake in Indonesia that's why no one really did anything about it. The international media peanut gallery was worthless as usual too.

Singapore made massive profits from the end of the Suharto era too. Billions from Indonesia went right into Singapore.

Ogantai
Apr 21, 2003

Full of bologna


shrike82 posted:

Yeah, are people actually trying to pretend the murder/surprise sex-fest in 97 didn't happen?
The leader of Kopassus (the special forces unit that did a lot of the killing and raping) is running for president again. He's polling at about 16%.

miss_chaos
Apr 7, 2006


Thanks for creating this thread OP. No doubt all of us will learn more from it than we do local media.

What do the Thailand experts think of rumours that the red shirts are regrouping? Anything to it above the usual presence?

miss_chaos fucked around with this message at Jun 17, 2012 around 23:55

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Right now the big news is about the growing schism between Thaksin and the Red Shirts (Thida emerging as the most vocal opponent internally) after his disastrous speech a few weeks ago where he finally did what I've been waiting for and sold his supporters out. During one of his rallies in May he basically told the entire crowd, "You should set aside your grievances and work for reconciliation." Reportedly you could hear a loving pin drop, heh. He's tried to re-engage a bit since then, but so far it seems that the damage is done - we'll see.

This is a good thing, really, because a lot of us supported the idea of a popular movement that united the poor and the working class to fight for various rights and for greater attention to economic and social inequality, but we simply couldn't support a movement that was clearly all about a megalomaniacal, kleptocratic, murderous multi-billionaire like Thaksin. If he gets cleaved through all this it would be great.

What I'm curious about is what they're doing at home. They've supposedly set up something like 1,000 "Red Shirt Cities" mostly up in Isaan, a program where the local muckety mucks get together with the citizens and declare the city's allegiance to Thaksin and the Red Shirt platform (and, when questioned, make sure to say that citizens don't have to be Red Shirts, which is humorous). What are they really doing with these cities? What's going down? It got awful quiet for about a year and a half, but there was a constant drumbeat of "Nakhon Nowhere decared Red Shirt City today."

Modus Operandi
Oct 5, 2010


The problem with movements like this is that they are ideologically unfocused and unprincipled. It's basically still a collection of angry poor people who are just manipulated by your standard goons of the uber rich. They aren't true grassroots movements any more than the tea party is. A few of them might be legit but their voices are lost in the hordes of paid shills, pro-Thaksin people, and various hanger ons. There's real anger and resentment in NE Thailand but the level of education, will, non-alcoholics, and leadership to build that into something substantial is sorely lacking. Plus any real future leadership will have to be somewhat ideologically "pure" in their intent and non corruptible by the elite which will happen roughly around the same time the undead kings rise from Ayutthaya mounted on pink winged elephants to conquer Burma.

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


I generally agree, but we don't know yet what a post-Thaksin Red Shirt movement looks like. I mean we can guess, and yours is probably the right guess, but it's not set in stone (just etched in concrete). It's possible that some goonish figure like Newin could turn all Huey Long or something, heh. Okay, so probably not Newin. Maybe Chuwit will get hit on the head by a coconut and turn serious.

Speaking of Chuwit, someone posted this on ThaiVisa the other day:



For non-Thailand-based readers, that's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (yes, Thaksin's sister or "clone") of the leading Puea Thai Party (Red Shirts) getting cozy with former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party (allied closer with Yellow shirts, albeit with some friction) while Chuwit looms as a ghost just outside the window.

Chuwit's hard to explain, but he's by far the most entertaining Thai politician. He made his bank running massage parlors (yes, that kind) and got in a feud with the ruling powers during Thaksin's administration, because during one of Thaksin's morality-based pushes he was cleaning up the country a bit by doing things like setting hours when one could buy alcohol and closing down highly visible sex tourism ghettos (he missed all but a couple). One place that got targeted was Chuwit's sex plaza on Sukhumvit Soi 10.

The way I heard the story is that Chuwit fought them tooth and nail and then one night Thaksin (a former Police bigwig before becoming a billionaire telecom tycoon) had his police buddies storm the place in the middle of the night and bulldoze it. Like most things in Thailand, it's presumed the real reason was to force a sale of the land to a developer, but who knows. Anyway, Chuwit didn't lose ownership of the property, so he refused to sell and built a private park that's open to the public for most of the day. It's still there today.

Later he ran for Governor of Bangkok (Bangkok is a special administrative region that's both city and province, like Manila or Washington DC, sort of) a couple of times on an anti-corruption platform and lost, but his shtick is sort of like Geraldo Rivera-esque without being quite as fake-buffoonish. Last election, he ran as (I think) the equivalent of an at-large minister and won a seat, I think his tiny party got 2-3 seats but I can't recall. Anyway, since day one it's been non-stop antics. His press conference to announce his win involved him slowly tearing apart and eating a crab (PM Yingluck's Thai nickname is Poo, which means crab) as an obvious threat to her. He's never gotten over his grudge, so he's gone after her a bit, but his main target has been exposing video and evidence of underground casinos and the police bigwigs who take payoffs to keep them in business, which results in major embarrassment for the police who get publicly exposed and are forced to step down. He's really hilariously overblown in how he does all of it, but in a sort of roguish and funny way. I'm surprised he's still breathing, though, frankly. The cops are the biggest mafia in the country and they don't take poo poo lightly, normally. He must have some serious guardian angels in the Royal Thai Police.

The photo thread on ThaiVisa constituted the rare interesting post, so it was quickly closed because the source of the picture couldn't be verified. No joke. Their censorship policies are hysterically dumb. It's a tribute to the hilariously awful state of Thai expats that the site still gets as much traffic as it does.

ReindeerF fucked around with this message at Jun 18, 2012 around 06:51

Section 31
Mar 4, 2012


Yeah, what's the real deal with the "Red shirts movement" in Thailand? I remembered watching news in 2010 when the Red Shirts took over downtown Bangkok and the Thai army deployed heavily armed soldiers with armored vehicles to "remove" them. Watching TV news as foreigner gave you the impression that Bangkok is a warzone.

I heard some story of Red Shirts movement back then is basically disenchanted people who enjoyed economic prosperity under Thaksin and dislike the military rulers who overthrown him, though I can't tell whether that's actually fact or fairy-tale.

Section 31 fucked around with this message at Jun 18, 2012 around 12:33

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Like anything, it's complex, yeah. The broad strokes are covered partially by what you said. Here's my best attempt to summarize it:

Red Shirts (Thai: Sua Daeng)
Supporters of the former Thai Rak Thai party (now essentially the Puea Thai Party) brought to prominence and controlled by billionaire businessman Thaksin Shinawatra. The Red Shirt movement consists primarily, but not entirely of poorer, working class people from Northeastern (Isaan, near Laos), North Central (North of Bangkok), North ("Lanna," near Chiang Mai), & Eastern (all the stuff heading toward Cambodia) Thailand. There's also an element of long-time social justice activists and former communists. The people on top are almost entirely wealthy Thai-Chinese and while there's no huge wealth divide between the Red Shirt elites and Yellow Shirt elites, it's fair to think of the Red Shirt elites under Thaksin as new money elites looking to wrest control of the country from the old money Yellow Shirt elites (of course there's new and old money on both sides).

The movement came into being in response to the "Yellow Shirt" movement, which was at that time essentially the popular movement that supported the coup that ousted Thaksin Shinawatra (since then the Yellows have radicalized a bit and turned on their former political partners in some cases). The Yellow Shirts had been brought into existence and fanned by another wealthy media magnate, Sondhi Lithmongkul, who had a considerably smaller media empire than Thaksin, but was still influential. Thaksin and he had been business partners, but Thaksin screwed him on a deal (Sondhi's version of the story) and most people think this was his excuse, and a convenient way to get back at Thaksin. While Thaksin had been more and more controversial for years for his increasingly autocratic leadership style, rampant graft and more and more blatant attempts to brand himself as a kind of provider to the people, it was the tax scandal that did him in, wherein he hid a massive amount of assets in his kids' names and maid's name and so on, then sold off his holdings for a huge amount of money (several billion USD) through shell corporations to Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, completely avoiding taxes. Wealthy anger at him over this was pretty hypocritical, as this is how every wealthy family in Thailand does business, but it was felt (legitimately to some degree) that as the political leader of the country - and as a man who had come into office saying that he was done with business and wanted to dedicate himself to the nation's welfare - he had a higher duty to abide by the law.

That's a bit of a tangent, but it helps to know how and why he was oustered. getting back to the Red Shirts themselves, they're sort of analogous to some American groups in terms of how they came into being, because a a group it's made up of genuinely pissed off people, but it's orchestrated from the top down by organizers and the elites, which has always been its Achilles heel. The people have legitimate grievances and they come from generations of economic and social neglect in what is a nearly feudal system. They're used to support the aspirations of a wealthy man who doesn't give a poo poo about them and who only wants to return to power.

Thaksin was brilliant in bringing in political consultants from the developed world from day one who showed him, essentially, that he could fashion a political constituency from the neglected peoples of the country by catering to their needs - and because democracy's relatively young here and these people had never been paid attention to, all he needed to do was pander, basically, and organize the political system so that he hijacked the traditional patronage network and diverted it so that he sat atop it instead of whomever else did before (whether local or national).

He won them over with policies directed at the poor, many of which are too complex to call good or bad, but many of which have had a net positive effect (the nascent UHC program wouldn't have happened without his poorly structured 30 Baht healthcare plan, for example). All were set up so that every person along the food chain as the money flowed down got to take a cut and it was widely reported - I think honestly from the discussions I've had - that the rampant graft in Thailand went from 1st gear to 5th. Say a highway project used to incur a 10% graft cost to pay off local bigwigs and so on. Under his regime that would be closer to 25%. This meant that jobs and benefits and giveaways flowed to the people of these areas, but at a massive cost and always through a regional and then local big man who would take a cut (sometimes all of it) and use the dispersal of any funds and benefits as a tool to reward loyalists and punish dissidents - which is no different from how anything works here, it's just that the scope of this kind of centrally planned, national graft schemes exploded under Thaksin's wheelbarrow full of programs. There was also some reasonable concern that the weight of his ever-growing basket of giveaways combined with some of the more egregiously wasteful handouts would bankrupt the country down the road. Some of that's just people trying to poo poo on social programs for the poor, but when you look at something like the current rice price fixing scheme, you can't do anything but agree with that assessment - the results are disastrous and the government's on the hook for them.

Back to the past, though - after Thaksin's removal, his supporters were legitimately pissed off. The Yellow Shirt elites had essentially stolen back the keys to the country because they didn't like Thaksin's policies or his increasingly blatant attempts to enshrine himself as the country's patriarch (which is, as you can imagine, controversial). Regardless of how awful he was, he was now both a deposed leader and a martyr to democracy (and this was not a little-d democratic guy by nature, heh). They rallied behind him, he promised a movement of the phrai (a very loaded antiquated Thai word that equates to a vassal class or serfs - slaves is probably too strong? Pompous can help) against the ammart (the very loaded antiquated Thai word for the wealthy elites who essentially owned and controlled the phrai traditionally). They bought in wholesale, money flowed through the patronage network from his coffers to support the Red Shirts and their organizers and leaders and the whole thing became a regular protest industry.

The thing to know is that it's always been about two groups of wealthy elites battling for control of the country when an inevitable succession occurs.

This post is rambling and disorganized and doesn't cover the Yellow Shirts because my fingers are tired, but please don't let that imply that they're the good guys or anything, they're complex too and not exactly lovable.

I think a really fantastic thing for anyone interested in this to read can be found by googling for a PDF named the word thai and the word history followed by one point one. It's as interesting and as honest a take as I've seen and it's based on all the cables that Assange's outfit got related to the country, which the reporter who wrote it got access to.

Section 31
Mar 4, 2012


Thanks for the lengthy explanation. Here's "nasi lemak" for your effort (I'm pretty sure it's a popular food there but correct me if I'm wrong)...



ReindeerF posted:

This post is rambling and disorganized and doesn't cover the Yellow Shirts because my fingers are tired, but please don't let that imply that they're the good guys or anything, they're complex too and not exactly lovable.
I noticed the Red shirts and Yellow shirts group never march in the same time or openly clash with each others. Like for example during the takeover of central Bangkok by Red shirts in 2010, the Yellow shirts didn't do counter-march or anything like that, or did I miss something?

Modus Operandi
Oct 5, 2010


Section 31 posted:



I noticed the Red shirts and Yellow shirts group never march in the same time or openly clash with each others. Like for example during the takeover of central Bangkok by Red shirts in 2010, the Yellow shirts didn't do counter-march or anything like that, or did I miss something?
They tend not to face off with each other probably because it'll lead to violence. The ring leaders want to keep some semblance of control without drawing universal national condemnation. I remember when the red shirt hub bub was going on the yellow and pink shirts had a counter protest at Victory monument or somewhere. The Red shirts also had their own "guards" who were supposedly armed by Thai special forces politico Seh Daeng. That whole time period was real sketchy though and there were a lot of people getting mysteriously shot by "unnamed" sources with "investigations" still "ongoing" even now. The aforementioned Seh Daeng was even assassinated in broad daylight by a "mystery" sniper while giving a NY times interview. I use quotations a lot because nothing is certain in Thai politics. It's a huge and deep quagmire of conspiracies within conspiracies.

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Agree with all of the above, yes. They do counter-protest, but it's all very Thai, which means it's heavily staged, run entirely from the top down and even when there's confrontation everyone's busy trying to avoid the confrontation. It also tends to run week to week, like the Sharks & Jets in West Wide Story snapping at each other. One week the Yellow Shirts protest at parliament, so the next week the Red Shirts counter-protest at Victory Monument, so the next week the Yellow Shirts counter-counter-protest at Democracy Monument, so the next week the Red Shirts counter-counter-counter-protest at Ratchaprasong and so on.

As Modus pointed out, usually the violence is a very faceless drive by kind of thing. Some dude jetting around Charansanitwong on a motorbike and tossing grenades into wealthy muckety mucks' compounds before speeding off, or snipers or what have you. Obviously it has come to a very visible head a few times, but typically it doesn't.

On that note, the most tragic grenade story (every Thai person knows what an M79 is now) involves a lady who accidentally got her car or bus grenaded (new verb) during the yellow shirt protests and then a year later got grenaded again during the red shirt protests - always on the other side of town, not anywhere near the protests or anything (she wasn't involved). The second time, the guy tossed a grenade at some rich dude's compound, it bounced off a pole and landed under her car and blew up. She was injured pretty badly. When you read about the unintended casualties here, it's people like that who do nothing and end up getting hurt or killed because these goofballs hire Somchai the untrained rural bonehead from Petchaburi to run around doing their dirty work (the price of a hit reportedly starts at 5,000-10,0000 Baht).

EDIT: I really like Nasi Lemak, thanks!

ReindeerF fucked around with this message at Jun 21, 2012 around 04:26

Smeef
Aug 15, 2003

I posted my food for USPOL Thanksgiving!


Pillbug

Spent a year in Vietnam and just finished my first year in Bangkok.

Quick note on the recent/ongoing Thai constitutional crisis. This is the part of the Constitution that caused the crisis:

quote:

Where a person or political party acts under paragraph one, the witness thereof has the right to report the matter to the Prosecutor General to investigate the facts and to submit a request to the Constitutional Court for decision to order cessation of such act without prejudice to criminal proceedings agains the doer of the act.

If the Constitutional Court decides to order cessation of the said act under paragraph two, the Constitutional Court may order dissolution of that political party.

I won't get into the background here, but the nuances of the wording survive translation. How should this be interpreted?

1. "The witness thereof has the right (1) to report ... and (2) to submit..."
2. "The witness thereof has the right to report the matter to the Prosecutor General (1) to investigate ... and (2) to submit..."

The DP supports interpretation 1, which means they can submit directly to the Constitutional Court. The Prosecutor General and the PTP support interpretation 2, which implies that the PG is the gatekeeper. From a practical standpoint, interpretation 2 makes more sense, otherwise any old frivolous claim could be submitted directly to the Constitutional Court.

It doesn't take an expert in constitutional law to see that the wording of that passage was either deliberately ambiguous or the result of incompetence.

For a while I thought that the PTP was rolling Thaksin amnesty into the legislation to rile up the DP, later compromise, still push through the important legislation, and ultimately come out looking like the reasonable guys. However, I've since read up on how fragmented the PTP has gotten, and it seems more like no one has a loving clue what's going on. None of this should come as a surprise, of course.

I have to admit, the arrival of rainy season was a bit of a blessing. No Thai person is going to take to the streets if they might get their head wet.

Oh, and real men drink Archa.

Smeef
Aug 15, 2003

I posted my food for USPOL Thanksgiving!


Pillbug

Also, the "Lightning Rod" group (yellow shirt spin off with blue headbands) scares the poo poo out of me. They're the official protest group of the DP, created so they could have more direct control over their people on the street. The fact that they're so open about it is hilarious. "Well, we couldn't get the protesters to do what we wanted, so we just created this other group of protesters."

ReindeerF
Apr 20, 2002

Rubber Dinghy Rapids Bro


Smeef posted:

From a practical standpoint, interpretation 2 makes more sense, otherwise any old frivolous claim could be submitted directly to the Constitutional Court.

It doesn't take an expert in constitutional law to see that the wording of that passage was either deliberately ambiguous or the result of incompetence.
I've noticed a propensity to put these little traps in Thai structures. The lese majeste law is another one that's worded so that any claim has to be investigated, which is of course absurd, but makes perfect sense if you want to create a situation where everyone walks around with a gun to their head all the time and that anyone else can pull the trigger just by suggesting in public that the trigger be pulled. In the case of the crisis you mention, the ambiguity seems like the kind of thing they'd leave in there just so if the situation arose they'd be able to stall and argue about it. I can't imagine the politicians not noticing this, but I can completely imagine them loving up the document on purpose to give themselves a public way to create an out when forced to make a high profile decision (similar to the stupid American debt agreement last year with the trigger clauses that are totally violable later).

The post-coup Constitution Court and the Anti-Corruption Commission are both having a bizarre effect on Thailand that's really been notable. It's become completely common here for people in positions of power to refuse to do their job because they're worried about being reported and prosecuted. In theory this is a good thing, but because of the ambiguous wording and broad powers granted to the entities you end up in situations where no one can be sure what will happen.

My favorite example (because it touches everyday lives and is accessible) was the BTS (skytrain) line extension from On Nut to Bearing. It was finished and it sat there for about two years unopened because the commissioner at the relevant body, the BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Administration - operates the Skytrain among other things), wouldn't sign off on the purchase of the control systems (as I recall) due to threats that the party who didn't get the contract would refer the contract to the commission and he would end up losing his pension. You're seeing this across the spectrum in all kinds of civil bureaucracy.

Right now the latest big battle on the NACC side is over the BMA (which is Democrat run) making that deal to run the BTS for another few decades. The PTP who run the national government and derive their power from mostly outside of Bangkok want to gently caress with the Democrats and don't care about pissing off Bangkokians, who are largely aligned with the Democrats, so what's going to happen? Tendering and work on the multiple line extensions that the BMA is planning and developing will come to a halt while the agency puckers up for a battle in the anti Corruption Commission.

They imbued these bodies with more power to try to put a check on corruption and to give the old line powers a way to flex their muscle without having to intervene directly via a coup or something even more noteworthy*, but there's no actual effort to alter the way the society itself works. This isn't Singapore, they're not seriously trying to streamline corruption and keep it in check and there's no functional way to keep Thailand running without corruption as is. So, the end result is that the business of growing the country can't go on because there are these ambiguous powers and bodies with very broad authority and mandates to investigate and take action. Things have to get to a crisis before anyone will get off their rear end and do anything (making it a lot like America basically lol).

Here's another example of the Constitution Court mucking around from BangkokPundit:

http://asiancorrespondent.com/83824...iland-imminent/

quote:

Then, you had the Constitution Court apply a very broad meaning to Section 190 of the Constitution when they ruled that the Communique with Cambodia on Preah Viehar was a treaty which needed parliamentary approval and hence as it didn’t have such approval, it was unconstitutional. This surprised the Foreign Ministry who had been approving the signing of MOUs for years and eventually the broad interpretation caused so many problems with even minor agreements needing parliamentary approval that this provision of the Constitution was amended last year. Yes, interpretations have consequences. Even now, there are concerns that things are still uncertain.

Former Foreign Minister and now ASEAN Sec-Gen Surin as quoted in the Bangkok Post:

quote:

A lack of detail as to which agreements require parliament scrutiny has been holding back Thailand as the government has failed to make decisions out of concerns of violating the charter.

“It is barring Thailand from taking a leading role. There are delays in a number of issues because the [country's] leaders do not make decisions and have to ask for parliamentary approval.

“These issues do not require legal amendments, just ministerial directives. In the eyes of other countries, Thailand lacks a clear international policy and continuity in [following up on] agreements,” Mr Surin said on the sidelines of the Asean Economic Ministers meeting held from Tuesday until today in Indonesia.

BP: The situation is that a Minister or the Prime Minister goes off overseas for a bilateral or multilateral meeting, but there is a fear of signing a minor agreement or MOU lest it be deemed to be a treaty – which legally is a different type of document – and the signing being deemed unconstitutional and this leading to criminal charges. In essence, you have few decisions being made out of fear on what may happen.**
People in power afraid to make decisions because their opponents will refer it to a Court or commission and this will ruin their careers. If I hadn't lived here I would say something like, "I honestly don't know what the powers that be hope to accomplish," but having lived here I know that the answer is, "They want to make sure nothing is accomplished and that no one and everyone is to blame simultaneously."

Smeef posted:

Oh, and real men drink Archa.
I've had it twice and, man, if it's ice cold and you drink it really quick you can get it down without noticing how awful it is, but otherwise - whew. I don't even see Thai people drinking it, heh. I seriously can't figure out who buys it!

EDIT: I know you and some of us who live here know a lot of this stuff, but I try to write with background and with explanations of what things are for anyone reading who doesn't know what a BTS is or what have you, heh.

ReindeerF fucked around with this message at Jun 21, 2012 around 17:12

thekeeshman
Feb 21, 2007


If you're looking for Singaporean news sources:

http://www.straitstimes.com/ The Straits Times is the main English Language newspaper, published by Singapore Press Holdings, which is owned by the government. The same publisher also publishes an English language tabloid called the New Paper, as well as newspapers in Malay, Tamil, and Mandarin.

http://www.todayonline.com/index Today is a free English Language tabloid, published by Mediacorp, which is owned by the government. Mediacorp also runs all the local tv stations and most of the radio stations too, so I don't know why the government thought they needed a newspaper. They also run Channel News Asia, which they've been trying to push as a sort of regional CNN. You guys in the rest of the region can tell me how successful they've been with that.

http://theonlinecitizen.com/ The Online Citizen is the biggest independent news site that I know of. There's always going to be a certain amount of self-censorship due to the libel laws, but it's a good place to catch up with people's bitching about the government's failures.

http://www.mrbrownshow.com/ The Mr. Brown show is the best example of Singaporean comedy I can give, it's usually pretty on point and pretty goddamn funny.


In closing, I'd just like to add that Brunei is probably the most boring country on earth. You can't drink booze, and there's nothing to do except look at all the mosques the Sultan's gilded or go to the ridiculous museum he built to try and make it look like his grandfather wasn't the Sultan of a swamp but rather the scion of an ancient and revered dynasty.

Al-Saqr
Nov 11, 2007

The Islamic Orb Illuminati.

I am bitterly disappointed you didnt make the official video for Singapore the amazing "we didnt start the fire" parody called "We live in Singapura":-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch-z5s2JabY

Argue
Sep 29, 2005

I represent the Philippines

In the latest news on conservative religious folks in the Philippines, one of our younger congressmen has withdrawn his bill which sought to prevent religious ceremony and imagery inside government offices and public spaces, after the usual people complained and painted his proposal as seeking to "ban God".

Personally, I never expected it to pass, but I appreciated his trying. The religious presence here is just too strong. I had to get it off my chest here; otherwise, I'd have spent all night again debating people who are wrong on Facebook.

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Jim Bont
Apr 29, 2008

You were supposed to take those out of the deck.


What do people here think of the prospects of the PAP and the general state of multiparty democracy in Singapore over the next decade - specifically once Lee Kuan Yew dies?

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