Welcome to the Thai junta! We’ve got fun and games
Dear “The West”
You’ll have to forgive me if I have been somewhat lax in getting back to you regarding the events of May 22.
On that day, as you’ll recall, a vast empire of venality and corruption, the likes of which you won’t be able to comprehend without regular access to HBO programming, was banished forever from our Kingdom. Verily, some of the shine was restored to the pearly whites behind the “Land of Smiles” moniker of which we are so very proud.
Since that day the opprobrium from the West has been coming in hot and heavy – even bloody Australia chimed in! – with hectoring calls for a return to “democracy,” or a system whereby the so-called “majority” are “heard” and where their “voices” resonate more powerfully than, say, the whistle of a man relieving himself on the side of a deserted road.
I have yet to reply to these ignorant attacks because, frankly, I had hoped you would have snapped out of it by now.
You see, this is not the west. As one of our generals told a gathering of western reporters recently, “Thai people have [a] different way of thinking. I have a different upbringing to you.” And he wasn’t just talking about the absence of snow days and more rice than taters in the diet.
The term “coup” itself is loaded and misleading. This is not one of your coups. In Thailand, there are no greasy mustachioed dictators pumped with covert foreign cash and holding bacchanals as they ground their boots into the collective throats of the hoi polloi. It would be more accurate to refer to what happened on 22 May as a “multi-stage democratic enhancement activity with Thai characteristics predicated on the reapportioning of administrative power among benevolent men whose sole aim is to ensure maximum happiness for all”.
Nuance is not a Western strength, so let’s just simplify matters and call it, “A Win for The Grins”. Also acceptable: “The March for Mirth”, “More Tickle Than Tank”, “Have Gun, Will Dazzle”, and “Operation Upside-down Frown”.
Patronage and corruption are a cherished part of our cultural heritage. From the courts of the ancient kings to the present day, an individual’s worth has always been determined based on his place in society, connections, and cunning when it comes to the incestuous collusion in the sharing of benefits.
This is a system that benefits everyone down to the lowest, basest, borderline-feral individual who subsists on rice whiskey and bad intentions. Even such a wretch as that is looked upon with kind, paternal eyes by those higher up in the social hierarchy. These benevolent elders view it as their responsibility to keep him from giving way to the base impulses that define him.
Thaksin Shinawatra, the architect of the recently smote empire, took that tradition and made it feel dirty. His brand of corruption and patronage showed little respect for tradition – for those who had been brokering backroom power deals back when Thaksin was still a gleam in his sampan-steering old man’s eye.
His appeal to rural voters should not be construed as democratic, but rather as a cynical exercise in pandering, sort of like when you share your lunch with a chubby kid you detest because you know he’ll let you copy his homework later on.
Thaksin has been the cause of more division than all the overzealous mathematics teachers in the history of humanity. But he is in the past – and as our generals have sagely noted, we “should forget about everything that happened before the May 22 coup.” And that’s good advice for you too, The West.
That page has turned and we have embarked on an unprecedented age of profound happiness. Bhutan better watch its ass because we plan to lead this region in Gross National Happiness by year’s end.
The recent “Return Happiness to the Public” event in Bangkok celebrated the joys of life under the junta. With military hair-dos the envy of civilians the world over, free cuts were on offer and soldiers were put on “selfie” duty, ordered to stand perfectly still and be silent as members of the public took the photos of a lifetime – no court martials for kisses!
A band of beautiful young women also took the stage and with skirts shorter than accepted combat length, they set many a patriotic heart aflutter.
There have been a few bumps on the road to happiness, such as the incident involving one of our young recruits charged with safeguarding the integrity of the broadcasts emanating from a local TV station. Overwhelmed by patriotic fervor, he began pleasuring himself in the presence of a female news anchor and her staff. While certainly unfortunate, the event illustrates the intimate bond between an army and its people – and what loving relationship doesn’t begin with a few awkward moments?
With internal divisions forgotten, and beautiful, smiling people, dancing, free haircuts, and opportunities for selfies, we in Thailand can only ask you, the West: What more do you want? Myanmar, China and Vietnam have approved this coup. While we have yet to receive declarations from other states where one-party rule is the order of the day, we assume they’re on board too.
Haters of happiness have been vocal, even here. Once he initiated his people’s pleasure push, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was forced to deal with this tiny though very vocal camp. Reporters for instance peppered the general with “gotcha” questions, like, “When will elections be held,” and “What gives you the right to subvert the will of the electoral majority?”
The reporters were instructed to avoid these type of harassing questions and instead cheer the general on. Let’s hope they do.
Also in the immediate aftermath of the national reordering for the sake of civility, hundreds of leaders and supporters of the previous administration were afforded temporary accommodation at army camps throughout the country. While these places might not have been quite luxurious, these men and women reveled in the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air, socialize with their peers, and contemplate their laundry list of inexcusable wrongdoings.
There is also no need for you to be poking about in areas outside of Bangkok, such as the North and Northeast, typically regarded as the strongholds of the former regime. There our executive level rejigging has been met with open arms. Suggestions that authorities are taking a more openly hostile and invasive approach to attain compliance in the post-coup era are baseless.
If you haven’t done anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about when a military vehicle rolls up outside your house at 3am and soldiers overturn the place looking for seditious materials before carting you off to a backwoods military base for interrogation.
I will leave you with the words of Gen Prayuth himself in the early days of his administration, “Everything will still go on normally. [We] will try not to violate human rights – too much.”
And what more can you ask?