Back in Bangkok
Bangkok, I am back in the metropolis of 12 million people. Someone had mentioned that the population could easily reach as high as 14 million with the daily migration of people from other provinces and migrant workers from other countries.
Bangkok is also the hub for refugees from South East Asia and South Asia, and you will find just about any nationality in the bustling city, while many more seek refuge in the other provinces, especially towards the borders.
Statelessness is common, people without a home, such as the Rohingya, and without an identity, rooted-out from their ancestral lands and travelling to Bangkok to seek a decent livelihood, away from prosecution. Families, children, spouses, partners or alone. Many many their way to Bangkok.
Oh yes indeed, Bangkok is the place to be. Though many will find that the city is not what it appears to be. Behind the illusion, the poverty and the hardship is bloated, and civil society is struggling to keep up.
The weather has been unpredictable, one moment blisteringly hot and then I would find myself showering under the cool rain and gloomy sky. I have always been attracted to Bangkok, not for the weather, but for the slums, the volatile politics and the spirit of activism. Yes, Bangkok is not Rwanda, Bosnia, Indonesia, West Papua, Tibet, Kashmir or the Philippines, although it is unfair for me to compare with the struggles of the oppressed. But within the cesspool of urban life of Bangkok, one can find the evolution of hardship, a madness in their struggles. Urbanization carries its dose of misery.
There is a social class system, which separates the ultra rich and the filthy poor. A visible, enduring and damning system of the privilege and those making a living as a night scavenger of recycle goods. Regardless of your ethnicity, in Bangkok, those with the financial might and deep pockets would lead luxurious lives while those with little are confined to living in the slums, or homeless.
Thailand is going through a challenging period, politically damned into a void of redundancy. Politicians are reduced to a barbaric and yet sometimes amusing theatrics. You can never remove politics from the everyday life of a struggling street kid living in the ghettos or the businessman living in a multi-million dollar apartment. Thai politics are infused into the essence of Thai life. One cannot live without the other.
As it is right now, the Thai Constitutional Court is preventing the government from amending the 2007 Constitution. I find this bizarre as a small group of judges are able to determine the flow of democracy regardless of the existence of a legitimate government, led by Thailand’s Prime Minister, Yingluck.
I believe that regardless of the elitism of governance, the swirling chaos of Bangkok life is here to stay.
Visible concerns on the lack of harm reduction practices, HIV/AIDS, poverty, neglect of human rights for stateless people and refugees; but I also see and feel the desire for a society, that has seen many military-juntas and street protests, are eager to be a part of rebuilding their nation.