- Posted January 13, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protestor in Bangkok Armed With World's Biggest Whistle
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
I stumbled upon the downtown protest today in Bangkok. I decided to see what all the fuss was about rather than turn around and high tail it back Tourist Town (the Khao San area). I am happy to report that things were peaceful and spirited. The National Anthem of Thailand played on loud speakers as joyful protestors sang along. Many of the protestors were blowing whistles. One man was “armed” with a whistle the size of a coffee table. A Thai woman approached me and with a big smile she handed me a wrist band of the Thai flag and the words “Reform before Re-election” printed in Thai. She asked if we could take a photo together and I asked if I could interview her. She got her photo and I got some local insight.
Joy: “Today… we gather together for Shutdown Bangkok, but actually we can call it occupy Bangkok because we[‘re] not clos[ing] down the system… We want to show… that we don’t want this government to run anymore”.
When I asked what the whistle blowing was about she said, “When we blow the whistle it means… you [(Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra)] are out of the game… because you foul[ed]… we don’t want you to run our country anymore”.
At this point Joy’s friend Mary joined in, “The US embassy calls us domestic political activists. And we are rallying together to make a statement that this government is no longer legitimate. And they always say, “well we’re elected and blah blah blah, democracy in Thailand and blah blah blah. We call it democrazy. This government is running a democrazy government …Just because they are elected legally doesn’t mean that they can go about and flex their muscles and do things illegally and bully. They’re simply thugs and thieves in suits”.
Repeating that you don’t want this government to run your country anymore raises the question, what happens after the current government is kicked out?
Joy tells me that after protest comes reform, “we want to clean out the system. There are many holes in the law”.
But as far as how things will be reformed and who will run this new reformed government, answers were a bit more ambiguous.
Mary provided me with a metaphor to explain the situation.
“When your house is on fire, you wouldn’t be watching the fire and saying… who’s going to redesign my house? …We are not thinking ahead of how the house is going to be redesigned… We are here as ordinary citizens; each hand carrying a bucket to help put out the fire. Then, after that, referring to your question of “what’s next?”, that’s up to the academics, law makers, the politicians, the people who are in the field to run the country and will carry on the process of rebuilding the house… We are here to put out the fire”.
Are you boycotting the election because you are afraid that you won’t win? (Spoiler: no).
Mary told me to “compare it to this, when you are playing a game of monopoly, if the board on which you are playing is shaking back and forth with a 6 richter scale underneath, would you want to play on that board? There are rules and regulations. So if those are still on shaky grounds, still not fixed in stone and there are still loop holes, do you want to play that game? That’s why we are saying “reform before election”. There’s no point playing. Would you agree to play a game where the rules and regulations are biased and bought? No. It’s unfair for every participant”.
What’s so good about the main leader of these whistle blowers , Mr. Suthep? I hear that he’s just as corrupt.
“We all say yes. Do you know the saying, the lesser of two evils? The Thai people, we say, do you want a corrupted politician who loves the king, loves the country, who does not betray the country [(Suthep)]? Or a corrupted politician, who never gets enough, wants to overthrow the monarchy -who we love dearly- and who does not wish well for our country. He [(Thaksin)]is here to acquire… It’s a very long, deep rooted conflict and it’s complicated”.