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[外媒编译] 【新闻周刊 20140120】我眼中的泰国革命

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发表于 2014-1-23 09:23 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 满仓 于 2014-1-23 09:25 编辑

【中文标题】我眼中的泰国革命
【原文标题】What I Saw at the Revolution
【登载媒体】新闻周刊
【原文作者】Hugh Gallagher

【原文链接】http://www.newsweek.com/what-i-saw-revolution-226669


占领曼谷运动以有组织、和平抗议的方式封锁了整个城市,但随着城市封锁进入第二个星期,暴力似乎无法避免。

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曼谷的雾霾就像一块裹尸布,吞没了城市的清晨。昏暗的空气会继续蔓延还是逐渐散去,要取决于神意莫测的天气因素。在大封闭之前的几天——抗议者人民民主改革委员会(PDRC)宣布封锁城市的所有主要道路的那一天——曼谷的居民每天早晨都看到这样的灰暗天气,好像这个城市自己已经做出了决定。

紧张的局势在11月份就已经出现,PDRC的第一次反政府游行有10万抗议者走上街头。12月,几个主要的政府部门被PDRC包围,在试图占领警察总部和总理府时发生了血腥的街头暴乱。政府解散了部分议会,但试图重新选举的努力导致了投票站的枪击事件和疯狂的选举委员长被直升飞机接走。PDRC在1月13日仓促起义,数十万泰国人被布署到曼谷的主要路口,试图封锁这座城市,直到政府关闭。

没有人知道未来会怎样。会有警察出现对付他们吗?军队会把坦克开过来吗?人民的意愿会落空吗?最糟糕的是,会有类似2010年导致90人死亡的纵火、抢劫和血腥暴力事件发生吗?曼谷不知道,世界也不知道。新年的游客数量骤降,进出曼谷的航班游客寥寥。很多海外侨民,尤其是那些态度强硬的老兵,都决定在曼谷上空阴云密布的时候回国,无论这仅仅是过路的狂风,还是即将形成巨雷般爆炸的灾难。

但是在大封闭的当天,星期一,曼谷看到的是蓝天和暖阳,好像城市又做出了一个决定。一切不确定的因素随着雾霾烟消云散,温暖的阳光照耀着街道,那里并没有坦克和警察布署的铁丝网路障。在灿烂的阳光下,数千泰国人离开他们的房屋、公寓、住所,从远方的省份和岛屿前来汇集在一起。他们离开土地、离开办公室、离开接待员的座位、餐桌、建筑公司、街边小摊、医院、出租车和保险公司,在街头肩并肩站在一起。

绍瓦拉克就是其中一员。那天早晨,这个30多岁、漂亮的电视节目制作人在我公寓的大厅里等我。她穿着牛仔裤、黑色T恤衫和运动鞋,她把手机塞在名牌手包里,理了理黑色的长发,然后带我去参加游行。她个子不高,但走得很快,我们立即搭乘一趟地铁前往市区。她的泰国/中国媒体专家、中产阶级、曼谷土生土长的公民的身份,让她成为抗议人群最核心的组成部分。她的父母经营一个小生意,已经退休,她的兄弟姐妹是建筑师、公司高管。当她从泰国的常青藤高校朱拉隆功大学毕业时,国王把毕业证书亲手交给她。在身体状况允许的情况下,泰国国王每年都会出席泰国顶尖三所高校的毕业典礼,向毕业生发放证书。今天走上曼谷街头的很多人都是直接从国王手中接过了毕业证书。PDRC运动有很多受过高等教育的专业人士参与,诋毁者给他们贴上贬损性的标签“精英”。

地铁一站一站地前进,越来越多的抗议者加入我们。我眼前都是典型的中产阶级,时尚、有品味、举止得体。这些抗议者显然不是那种手举火把的革命者,他们更像是一群上班族。从某种程度上来说,他们的确是去上班,但是今天的工作是要封闭一座有1200万居民的城市。

“我们会成功吗?”我问被挤在起义人群中的绍瓦拉克。

“我们必须要努力尝试,我们是黑暗中的亮光。”

黑暗已经持续了十多年。总理英拉•西那瓦仅仅是这个极为强大的家族王朝中,被推上最高地位,同时给泰国政治致命一扼的最新的一个公众面孔。目前的状态早在英拉的兄长他信统治时期就已经埋下了祸根。多年来,这个前任总理、百万富翁是一个救世主和一个圣徒,但他毕竟是个流亡迪拜的潜逃者,如果回到泰国,等待他的将是牢狱生涯。在2001到2006年的统治期间,他获利颇丰——泰国政府冻结了他15亿美元的资产,但他手头的资金依然足够申请尼加拉瓜的外交护照、买下英格兰曼彻斯特城足球队、在中东地区豪华的公馆中安家。混迹在花花公子中的他,据说通过Skype利用英拉,依然在统治这个国家。英拉的政策在“微笑之国”不大受欢迎,在谷歌上用泰语搜索“愚蠢”,她的名字位列前5个搜索结果。西那瓦家族另一位姐妹的丈夫在2008年任总理,目前看来,未来这个家族从政的成员会越来越多。10月份,执政党内部传出消息给《曼谷邮报》,说他信的儿子从小就被当作政治高官来培养。

车厢中大部分人和绍瓦拉克的感觉一样:西那瓦家族把泰国当作手中股票一样任意摆弄,通过裙带关系和操纵市场来获取邪恶的利益。英拉•西那瓦因涉嫌贪污政府的大米补助项目而受到正式调查,但引发今天泰国起义的导火索是英拉试图给她的兄长授予一揽子豁免令。这让忍受了十年的民众彻底爆发,前往或许是这个国家的“最高法院”——街道。对于一个在81年时间里见证了18次政变的国家来说,这既是一个习以为常的现象,也是对西那瓦家族机器实质性的威胁。

但是和我一起走出车厢的PDRC抗议者看起来没什么威胁。他们耐心地在素坤逸站——泰国的时代广场——排队等候付车费,礼貌而且有秩序。在电梯上,我第一次听到了扩音器里的声音,这个声音陪伴了我一整天,还有人们的欢呼、叫喊、鼓掌和口哨声。我们走进了阳光下的人群,闪亮的泰国三色旗在头顶的铁道上飘扬。街上挤满了抗议者,阳光从摩天大楼的玻璃外立面反射到街道。路口竖起了一个高台,上面堆满扩音器。人群就像湖水流入之流一样分散到周边的岔路中。今天街道上只有行人和政客。

街上没有汽车,也没有警察。几个星期以来,我在网上浏览新闻,看到的都是装甲车、催泪瓦斯、橡皮子弹和铁丝网的图片,抗议者的冲突和斗殴在11月和12月留下了无数的残肢和尸体。但走上街头的这几分钟,我意识到今天不同。人们看起来很愉快,就像参加一个庙会。今天准备封锁曼谷的人打算礼貌地完成这项工作,这或许是他们完成所有工作的首选方式。

他们做事情的方式很有现代感,在抗议人群中,我看到了第一个时髦的政治口号。一些由泰国顶尖图形设计师、杂志编辑和时尚人士设计的T恤衫给这场革命添加了流行的公关色彩,其销售收入也为活动筹集了资金。我现在看到的一件T恤衫上有一个巨大的计算机电源键,还有一行字:关闭曼谷,重启泰国。

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其含义既简单又令人回味。人们每天都要重启电脑,那么一个国家也可以被重新启动吗?我问绍瓦拉克:“所以说你们要试图给电脑杀毒?”

我们换乘高架铁路列车,前往位于世界中心商城的一个游行集结地。我们准备上车时,她向我解释这个寓意:“他信就像一个病毒,必须被删除。我们不反对选举,只是想做一些改革。但是他信买通了选举委员会、警察和选民,我们很难与他抗争。”当城市景观在我们眼前略过时,她说:“你看过《饥饿游戏》吗?今天的泰国就是那个样子。”

到站之后,我们听到数千人在吹哨子回应一个高台上的讲话。连接泰国两个最大的购物中心的四车道马路上挤满了抗议人群,人海消失在道路的尽头。巧遇的朋友们相互拥抱;孩子们脸颊上贴着泰国国旗,和他们的父母一起吹哨子;高台上传来欢呼声和歌曲声。我身边的人有大学教授、穿着牛仔裤的工人、给自己拍照的漂亮女孩、坐着轮椅的老年人、骑着昂贵的山地车的专业人士、来自外省市的整个家庭、坐在毯子上吃饭的朋友们,还有打扮得像蝙蝠侠的抗议者在摆姿势拍照。“重启泰国”和反对西那瓦家族的标语随处可见,小贩们在街边笑嘻嘻地兜售T恤衫、哨子和贴纸。

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和今天参加游行的很多泰国人一样,绍瓦拉克也在脖子上挂了一只哨子。这个无害的儿童玩具现在是PDRC最有力的武器,哨子挂在泰国的三色绸带上,它实际上是一种表示权利下放的、民众自发的音响系统。戴着它就是抗议者,吹响它就是人民的呼声。当数千名泰国人一起吹响哨子,声音尖锐得震耳欲聋。(打算去报道曼谷关闭的西方记者要记得带上耳塞)当局无法拔掉哨子的电源,尖锐、挑衅的哨音既天真又表示出公然的反抗——一个简单的音调一遍又一遍地重复,这就是权利的象征。绍瓦拉克随着人群也举起哨子,吹出简单、刺耳的声音。

一阵哨音过后,她笑了。泰国人喜欢吹哨子的乐趣,有些人用Hello Kitties和醒目的颜色来装饰哨子,这也是他们的权利。泰国人比任何一个国家的人都喜欢找乐子,推翻一个政府为什么不能是一个愉快的过程呢?

我们在刺眼的阳光下听了几个人的演讲,与以往不同的街道没有汽车的轰鸣声,也没有缓慢的车流,给曼谷带来一种梦幻般的感觉。往常的社会阶层似乎不复存在了。绍瓦拉克指给我看一位著名的泰国富有名人,她的位置靠近高台,正蹲在地上吃盒饭,带着闪闪发亮戒指的手指在水泥地上磕鸡蛋。在走出快速公交站台时,我们看到两位前总理和我们擦身而过。设想一下,你会在占领华尔街的运动中遇到吉米•卡特和比尔•克林顿吗?几个月之前,PDRC的支持者、狮啤公司财富的美女继承人姬帕丝•贝隆巴蒂登上媒体头条,因为她在暴乱中开着一辆推土机躲避橡皮子弹和催泪瓦斯。西那瓦政权瓦解了社会阶层之间的鸿沟。

但经济障碍依然存在,这些抗议者并不完全自由。《雅加达邮报》在1月9日报道,PDRC的发言人说抗议活动的每日支出在6万到15万美元之间。最初的资金提供者是素贴,他卖掉了自己的房屋,还抵押了一部分土地发起了抗议活动。PDRC说之后的资金来自民众的捐款。大部分的捐款都是现金,因为政府冻结了40多名PDRC领导人和一些抗议者的银行账户。那天早上,我在一个志愿者帐篷中,看到一个棕色皮肤、有纹身的年老工人捐出了大约30美元,这相当于他几天的收入。志愿者记下了他的名字,随后在台上和其他捐款人一起被宣布。绍瓦拉克说,大部分钱用来给那些来自远方省份的抗议者提供食宿,这些人在公园里过夜时需要食物和毯子。除此之外,还有主办方的讲台、设备、医院、电视广播的费用。我问她曼谷关闭期间当地的商业机构是否会面临严重亏损,她说:“看看周围,商场还在营业,不像以前一样。”

在2010年,西那瓦政权的支持者“红衫军”在曼谷街头横行,以暴力的方式敦促政府解散议会,重新选举。到处都有抢劫和纵火事件发生。“残酷四月”的夜里时时传来枪声,“野蛮五月”的枪声更加密集,还出现了手榴弹袭击和焚烧汽车的事件。一位红衫军安全顾问在接受实况转播的电视采访时被狙击手枪杀,购物中心也被烧成白地。对政府的反抗行为最终导致90名平民和士兵横死街头。与此相比,今天的封锁曼谷行动是平和的,城里的星巴克和麦当劳仅靠出售小旗就获利颇丰。

绍瓦拉克坐在商城里边喝冰咖啡边查看手机上的信息。她让我看手机,她在脸书上写道:“谢谢你,马克•扎克伯格。”“脸书是让抗议活动成功的重要因素,这是我们强大的武器,政府无法干预。”

不但如此,脸书还帮助封锁了泰国政府。去年11月,素贴在一次突袭中差点被逮捕,泰国警方提前察觉到了行动的线索。泄密事件在脸书上掀起了轩然大波,民众自发集结起来,准备采取行动。绍瓦拉克的一位同事就参与了这个行动。在狂热的社会媒体鼓动下,她离开办公室,加入PDRC团体,开车封锁了一条主要高速公路的出口。人们堆积障碍物、阻断交通,对警察发泄没有逮到素贴的怒气。

其它一些常用的社交信息平台虽然没有脸书那样显著的作用,但也是分享事实真相的重要工具。泰国的聊天软件Line就是其中之一,共享信息的革命者们用它来分享图片和文字,推动运动的发展。人们开玩笑地管一个人叫“内裤英雄”,那是一个体型稍胖的男人,在12月占领警察总部的行动中,他脱掉被催泪瓦斯弄脏的衣服,仅穿一条白色内裤冲入警察的封锁线,疯狂地用灭火器向警察喷射。他立即变成了革命的文化基因。Instagram也是维护和平的重要工具,在一大堆摄像头面前,警方无法扭曲事实真相。所有这些都让身在远方的人了解事情的进展。

正在这时,一位老人走过我们的桌子,他穿着一件干净的polo衫,下摆塞在牛仔裤里。“这个人,你一定要和他谈谈,”绍瓦拉克说,她拿起手机,付过咖啡钱,“他是个很有名的政客。”

我们在一家食品店门口赶上了邦朋•阿滴列讪。他是一位作家、摄影师、纪录片导演和一位著名的政客。从80年代到90年代他一直是议会成员,还在泰国中央情报部任职,得到了无数的皇家奖章。绍瓦拉克一边用手机摄像,这位白发的前政治家一边分享他对于封闭曼谷的感想。他支持这样做。

他说:“这是一场友善的暴动,”这时有几个路人驻足聆听,“这是另一种方式的游行,就像庙会。泰国人就是这样,我们总是在享受。”

看着周围的抗议者在食品店里吃着冰淇淋、咖啡和午餐,他笑了。我问他,国家被关闭之后怎样才能重新启动?

“如果推迟选举,肯定会有改革的机会。三个月?足够了,我两个小时就能写出改革计划。”

改革是否真的可以实现还很难讲,他同时指出泰国版民主的特有问题。

“泰国人有他们自己的民主定义……他们不想要权力制衡,他们只想要钱。”他笑了,“泰国人在80年前就想实施民主,但他们对民主的理解有偏差。这是我的见解。”

一大堆手机围在我们身边,年轻人都等着与这位老政治家合影。他眨了眨眼睛,最后解释了一下泰国民主的缺陷:

“泰语中有两个独特的词greng jai和monsai,但英语中没有同义词。”

他没有进一步解释,转向周围等待合影的人群。我说过谢谢,年轻人一拥而上,绍瓦拉克和我乘扶梯离开。她问我是否明白刚才那两个泰语的含义。

“我知道第一个。”

Greng Jai的意思大概是说一种慷慨和体贴的性格特点,表示对老人和长者的尊重,体谅他人的感觉。从好的方面来看,greng jai让泰国成为一个美丽的国家,因为泰国人很少直接指出你的缺点,他们更愿意接受你的短处。但是从不好的方面来看,greng jai让泰国的权富阶层像罗马皇帝一样放纵。在泰国当众表达不同意见——尤其当对方是有一定社会地位的人——是极为无理的。对于那些对greng jai有执念的人——即使像绍瓦拉克这样的人——这种对问题态度的自然传承是民族文化的重要组成部分。

“mon sai是‘嫉妒’的意思吗?”

“Mon sai不仅仅是嫉妒,”我们走出商场的空调,进入下午的街道上时,绍瓦拉克告诉我,“它的意思是,人们不希望看到别人比自己表现得好或者得到表扬。”她继续描述一种活灵活现的、恶意的嫉妒心理,泰国社会充满了这种心态,脱离群众的人都付出了一定的代价。mon sai是一种野蛮的机制,它让当前的社会阶层划分得以保存,它造成的恐惧让泰国的商人和政客有意弱化个人的成就。

路边坐着13个年轻人,他们肩并肩,后背面向街道。每个人T恤衫的后面都写着一个字母,连起来是“OCCUPY BANGKOK”。我走在这片他们希望改变的土地上,很难想象首相西那瓦头脑中的泰国也包括20万名暴徒冲着她吹响Hello Kitty哨子的景象。

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天色渐渐暗下来,绍瓦拉克说我该离开了。她不大确定天黑之后这些抗议者的人身安全,在北方驻扎的西那瓦支持者据说早晚会冲进城区。很难想象今天节日般的集会出现暴力的场景,但我还是听从向导的意见,遗憾地离开了周围一张张友善的面孔。我谢过我的朋友,搭乘城铁离开。

坐在城铁上,我在思考今天在泰国看到的一切。全球几乎所有的媒体都在报道这个事件。没有官员出面、没有国际斡旋、没有企业资助,也没有人身安全的保证,20万身份各异的人们上演了一场大规模的、高度协调的、完全和平的社会抗议运动。

可悲的是,愉快的气氛被破坏了。6天之后的1月19日,两枚炸弹被丢入人群,造成28名PDRC和平抗议者受伤,其中7人伤势严重。攻击者驾摩托车逃跑。在一次游行中,一枚手榴弹被投向素贴,一人死亡,多人受伤。尽管出现了这些暴力因素,封锁曼谷的行动依然继续,160家银行被迫关闭,英拉•西那瓦改变了办公地点,大量政府雇员无法进入办公室。压力在慢慢积聚,全世界保持着警惕的关注,西那瓦政府已经被逼到了退无可退的墙角。

《曼谷邮报》已经报道了一些总理内部阵营不合的消息,她的顾问对于如何处理封锁首都的方式争论不休。由于暴力行动不断出现,武力政变的可能性越来越大。与此同时,针对英拉在大米补贴丑闻中角色的调查逐渐升级。以前来自英拉传统权力所在地北方的那些忠诚的大米农民,开始对她反目相向,因为承诺的付款至今还没有兑现。

曼谷的街道上,PDRC的民兵在警惕地站岗,至少到我写这篇文章的时候,一切还是和平的。这或许是因为我从人民民主改革委员会所了解到的最后一件事。封锁的第一天,我正在和绍瓦拉克告别,两个年轻的女人穿着一模一样的抗议T恤衫从我身边走过。T恤衫上的图案是一双运动鞋和一颗心。在西沉的红日下,我问绍瓦拉克这样的设计有什么含义。

“心和运动鞋,”她说,远处的哨音逐渐退去,“这是我们的座右铭。抗议活动领导人告诉我们今天要带上这两样东西,不要带武器,只需要一颗勇敢的心和一双运动鞋。”




原文:

The Occupy Bangkok! movement has shut down the city with a well-coordinated and peaceful demonstration, but violence seems inevitable as the blockade goes into its second week

Bangkok’s smog is a choking shroud that swallows mornings whole. Depending on obliquely divined weather factors, the grim stuff randomly spreads or recedes. For the few mornings before The Shutdown—the day protesting People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) vowed to block major intersections throughout the city—people in Bangkok woke to mornings gray and vague, as if the city itself was deciding what to do.

Tension had been building since November, when the first PDRC anti-government rally filled the streets with more than 100,000 protesters. Then in December, major government offices were besieged by the PDRC, and a bitterly violent bid to seize police headquarters and the Primer Minister’s office resulted in bloody street chaos. The government dissolved part of parliament, but re-election efforts only resulted in shootings at the registration poll, and frantic election commissioners airlifted out by helicopters. This building battle had lead to the new PDRC putsch on January 13th, when thousands upon thousands of Thai people were to be strategically deployed to major Bangkok intersections in an attempt to shutdown the city for as long as it takes to shutdown the government.

Nobody knew what would happen on Day One. Would the police be there to meet them? Would the coup-prone army roll in with tanks? Would the will of the people fail? Worst yet, would there be fires, looting and bloody violence like the protests that left more than 90 people dead in 2010? Bangkok didn’t know. The world didn’t either, so tourist numbers plunged in the new year. Flights to Bangkok flew half empty or not at all. Many expats, hardened veterans of just about everything Thailand throws at a person, decided to hit the beach while the storm clouds forming over Bangkok either blew over or exploded in thundering clashes.  

But on the morning of The Shutdown, Monday, Bangkok woke up to blue skies and a shining dawn, as if the city had decided. The haze of uncertainty lifted with the smog, as the warm sun illuminated streets free from army tanks or police barbed wire barricades. Under this bright sun, many thousands of Thais left their homes, apartments and condos, or journeyed in from far-flung provinces and seaside isles. They left their fields or their office jobs, their clerking positions or society lunches, their architecture firms, street stands, hospitals, taxis and insurance offices, to stand together in the streets.

Saowaluk was one of them. A pretty, 30-something TV producer, she met me that morning in my building’s lobby. Dressed in jeans, black t-shirt and running sneakers, she tucked her smartphone into a designer handbag, brushed her long black hair aside, and lead me out into the protests. She’s little but walks fast, and we were on the underground train in no time, heading downtown. Saowaluk’s status as a Thai/Chinese media professional, middle-class and Bangkok-born, puts her at the heart of the protesting demographic. Her retired parents were small business owners, her brothers and sisters are architects or executives, and when she graduated from Chulalongkorn University—Ivy League Thailand—the King handed Saowaluk her diploma. While his health allowed, The King of Thailand passed out diplomas at every graduation ceremony, every year, for the top three universities in Thailand. Many people pouring into the streets of Bangkok today received their diploma directly from their King. The PDRC movement is filled with such educated professionals, whom detractors have spun toward the more derogatory label of “elite.”

But stop by stop, as more protesters join us on the train downtown, what I see is middle-class. Fashion is sensible, tastes are reasonable, manners are polite. These demonstrators are far from firebrand revolutionaries. Mostly, they seem like a bunch of people headed to work. In a way, they are. But today’s job is shutting down a city of 12 million.

“Will it work?” I ask Saowaluk, looking down at her in the press of uprising commuters.

“We have to try. We are some light in the darkness.”

That darkness has been spreading for more than a decade. Yingluck Shinawatra, the Prime Minister, is merely the most recent public face of a dazzlingly powerful family dynasty that has coiled through elected offices to hold a cobra-choke on Thailand politics. It began with Yingluck’s older brother Thaksin. For many, this former prime minister and multi-billionaire is either savior or saint, but he is definitely a fugitive, exiled in Dubai, with jail time waiting for him should he return to Thailand. He made sure his rule, from 2001-2006, was vastly profitable—personal assets of more than $1.5 billion were frozen by the Thai government, still leaving Thaksin enough to pick up a Nicaraguan Diplomatic  passport, buy England’s Manchester City football team, then eventually settle into his Middle Eastern mansion. Now waylaid amidst sheiks, he is rumored to be running the nation via Skype, through his sister. Opinions of Yingluck are not high in the Land of Smiles. Google search the Thai word for “stupid” and she is in the top five results. The husband of a different Shinawatra sister was Prime Minister in 2008, and the future promises only more of them. In October, a well-placed source within their party told the Bangkok Post that Thaksin’s son was being groomed for high political office.

Most of the people on this train feel as Saowaluk does: that the Shinawtras play Thailand like their own personal stock market, reaping heinous profits through cronyism and market manipulation. Yingluck Shinawatra is being officially investigated for graft in a government rice subsidy program, but the move that spurred today’s uprising was her attempt to grant her older brother blanket amnesty. That sent citizens fueled by more than a decade’s worth of disgust surging into what might be the highest court of the land: the streets. For a country that has witnessed 18 coups in 81 years, this is both business as usual and an extraordinary threat to the Shinawatra machine.

But the PDRC protesters I leave the train with don’t look threatening. Patiently waiting in line to pay their exit fare at Sukhumvit Station, the Times Square of Thailand, they are polite and orderly. Rising with them on the escalators, I hear the first of many PA-powered voices that will boom through the day, answered by cheers, yells, applause and whistles. We emerge into bright sunlight and a throng. Shining Thai tricolor flags ripple from the Skytrain overpass. The sprawling avenue is filled with people. Brilliant flashes of sunlight dapple down from glass-sheen skyscrapers. A large stage dominates the intersection, stacked high with speakers. Shouts boom forth, exhorting a crowd that spreads like a vast lake into the tributaries of each intersection. The only traffic today is pedestrian and political.

There are no cars, and no police. For weeks I have been scrolling through news sites, staring at photos of bulldozers and tear gas, rubber bullets and barbed wire, as the jerky start and fitful fights of the protests left fractured limbs and dead bodies throughout November and December. But within minutes on the streets, I realize today is different. People look happy. It feels like a street fair. The Thais shutting down Bangkok today are doing it politely, which is their preferred way of doing most things.

They’re doing it stylishly, as well: in the midst of the demonstrators I see the first of many political fashion statements today. Made by some of Thailand’s leading graphic designers, style magazine editors and fashionistas, these t-shirts have boosted the revolution with fashionable PR flair, proceeds of which then fund the cause. The shirt I’m looking at now shows a large computer power button: Shut down Bangkok, Restart Thailand.

The notion is simple yet vast. People restart laptops every day. Can entire nations be rebooted too? “So you guys are trying to get rid of a computer virus?” I ask Saowaluk.

She switches metaphors as we switch trains, trading the MRT subway for the elevated BTS, which will take us to another protest stage, at Central World mall. “Thaksin is like a toxin that must be removed,” she says as we board our train. “We don’t oppose elections, just want to reform them. But Thaksin buys election committees, police and votes. It’s not easy to fight someone like him.” She pauses for a moment while the city passes in a blur. “Have you seen The Hunger Games? That’s like Thailand today.”

Reaching our stop, we hear thousands of people blowing whistles as a speech echoes out from another stage. The four-lane urban artery that runs between two of Thailand’s largest shopping malls is thick with milling people. Glowing oceans of them recede in the distance. Friends find each other with hugs. Toddlers with tiny Thai flags painted on their cheeks follow parents blowing whistles. Cheers and chants rise from the stage. I’m with university professors and working people in denim, pretty girls taking “protest selfies,” seniors in folding chairs, professionals on pricey mountain bikes, entire families up from the South, sharing lunch on blankets, while someone dressed as Thai Batman poses for photos. “Restart Thailand” signs and anti-Shinawatra slogans are everywhere. T-shirts, whistles and stickers are arrayed on the sidewalk, sold rapidly by grinning vendors.

Like most of the Thais out today, Saowaluk has a whistle hanging from her neck. This harmless child’s toy has become an essential PDRC weapon. Worn on tricolor Thai ribbons, whistles provides a decentralized, people-powered sound system. Worn alone, it symbolizes protest. Blown together, they give the people a voice. And when thousands of Thais blow whistles on cue, that voice is a shrill and piercing blast. (Western reporters on the Bangkok Shutdown beat have learned to pack earplugs or weep.) Whistles cannot be unplugged by authorities. Their strident, defiant blast is both innocent and defiant: one simple note, blown over and over, shrieking at the powers that be. Saowaluk holds hers up as an impromptu whistle rally starts, joining the others in a brief burst of strident noise.

When it passes, she laughs. Thais are having fun with their whistles. Some of them have Hello Kitties on them, or sparkly plastic. That’s part of their power, too. Thais, more than most people on the planet, like to have fun, practically demand fun. Why should overthrowing a government be any different?

We listen to more speeches under the shining sun. Surreal streets, free from roaring (and more often, crawling) cars, lends Bangkok a dream-like feel. Normal social hierarchies seem suspended. Saowaluk points out a famously rich Thai socialite. Pausing from her volunteer position near the protest stage, she’s crouched on the pavement, eating lunch from a Styrofoam plate. I watch her crack her hard-boiled egg on the sidewalk, her rings glistening. Leaving the BTS earlier, we passed two former Prime Ministers transferring trains. Imagine bumping into Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton at Occupy Wall Street. Months before, Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, PDRC supporter and beautiful young heiress to the Singha Beer fortune, made headlines by dodging rubber bullets and tear-gas to drive a bulldozer through a riot. The Shinawatras reign has dissolved social barriers.

But economic barriers remain; these protests aren’t free. As reported in the Jakarata Post on January 9th, the spokesman for the PDRC tallied its daily protest costs between $60,000 to $150,000 per day. Initial funding came from Suthep, who sold and mortaged his land holdings to start the movement. Since then, the PDRC claims that the movement has been endowed by the people. Payments are made mostly in cash, after the government froze the personal bank accounts of nearly 40 PDRC leaders, along with a separate protest fund account. That morning, in a volunteer tent, I watch an old, browned and tattooed laborer give about $30, more than a few days pay, no doubt. His name is written down, to be read on-stage with others who contributed today. Saowaluk says much of the money is spent providing for poorer families who have made the long journey in from the country. These people need food and blankets for their nights spent sleeping in the parks. Beyond that, there are sound-stages, equipment, hospitals, TV broadcasting and more to pay. When I ask her about the local businesses that will lose money during the shutdown, she says, “Look around. The malls are open, not like before.”

Before means 2010, when “Redshirt” supporters of the Shinawatra regime rioted through Bangkok in a violent push to have parliament dissolved and a new round of elections scheduled. There was looting and arson. Gunshots peppered the night throughout “Cruel April” and fired more wildly in “Savage May”, as grenade attacks increased, piles of tires roared in flames, a Redshirt security advisor was assassinated by sniper while giving a live TV interview, and shopping malls were burned to the ground. The hammering government response left more than 90 people, civilians and soldiers, dead in bloody streets. In peaceful contrast, after today’s shutdown, the city’s Starbucks and MacDonald’s would report banner sales.

Sipping iced coffee now in a mall’s food court, Saowaluk checks her messages. She tilts her phone toward me. “Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg,” she says, tapping the Facebook page on her screen. “Facebook made this protest successful. It has become a powerful media for us that the government cannot block.”

What’s more, Facebook helped block the Thai government. Suthep was nearly arrested in a November raid last year, but sympathetic sources in the Thai police tipped off the movement. The leak turned into a Facebook tsunami, launching a last-minute, spontaneous civilian blockade. One of Saowaluk’s co-worker was a part of it. Fleeing her office, directed by frantic social media posts, she joined PDRC members who raced their cars to block off a strategic expressway exit. Jamming their brakes, blocking traffic, they boxed out police as Suthep slipped away.

Less dramatically, but just as important, the ubiquitous social messaging platform helps share the truth. Line, the popular Thai chat app, is another potent tool. Wired revolutionaries share pics and posts that hype the movement, playfully canonizing people like “Underwear Hero,” a portly man who stripped off his tear-gas-stained clothes during December’s attempt to take over the police headquarters, then stormed the police barricades in nothing but white briefs, furiously spraying fire extinguishers in their faces. He instantly became a revolutionary meme. Instagram has also been valuable in preserving peace. Police are reluctant to twist stories, or even arms, with an army of cameras pointed at them. And all these posts let people in the provinces know what’s happening.

Just then, an elderly man wearing a crisp polo shirt tucked into neat jeans passes our table. “That man, you have to talk to him,” Saowaluk says, scooping up her phone and purse and coffee. “He is a very famous Thai politician.”

We catch up to Pongpol Adireksarn in front of a pudding shop. He is a novelist, photographer, documentary producer and noted politician. A member of parliament throughout the ’80s and ’90s, he also held a position in the Thai Department of Central Intelligence, and received numerous royal decorations. While Saowaluk’s smart-phone records, the white-haired former statesman shares his feelings on the shutdown, which he supports.

“It’s a friendly mob,” he says, as a few young people stop to listen. “This is a different type of demonstration. This is a street fair. This is the nature of Thai people. We always enjoy things.”

He laughs, looking around at protesters sharing ice cream, coffee and meals in the food court. Then I ask him how the system can be restarted once it is shut down.

“If you extend the election date, there is a chance for reform. Three months? That’s enough: I can write the reform in two hours. ”

Whether that will be done is uncertain, and he points out problems endemic to the Thai version of democracy.  

“Thai people have their own democracy… They don’t want check and balance. They want money checks.” He laughs warmly. “Thai people try to bring in democracy for 80 years now. But they interpret it wrongly; that is my opinion.”

Many smartphones are hovering around us now as young people wait to take a picture with the famous political patriarch. Eyes glinting behind glasses, he offers a final thought to explain the flaws in Thai democracy:

“We have Thai words you don’t have: greng jai, and monsai. But there is no English synonym.”

Before he can explain more, he turns to those who want photos. I say my thanks as the young people swarm him, then Saowaluk and I descend on the escalator. She asks me if I know the two Thai words I just heard.

“I know the first one.”

Greng Jai translates roughly into a character quality that is generous and understanding, respects elders and seniors, and considers other’s feelings. At its best, greng jai makes Thailand a beautiful place to visit, because Thais rarely point out your flaws, choosing instead to bear with your shortcomings. But at its worst, greng jai lets Thailand’s rich and powerful plunder with Roman emperor-like abandon. Openly disagreeing in Thailand—especially with someone of a higher social class—is shockingly rude. For people steeped in the tradition of greng jai—even someone like Saowaluk—this natural hesitancy to discuss problems lets them build to titanic proportions.

“And is mon sai like jealousy?”

“Mon sai is more than just jealous,” Saowaluk tells me as we walk from the air-conditioned mall into the late afternoon streets. “It’s like people who don’t want others looking better than them, or getting admiration.” She continues to describe a type of viciously animated envy, which prowls through Thai society to slander and destroy those who stand out from the collective. A savage mechanism to preserve the social hierarchy, fear of  mon sai makes many people in Thai industry and politics downplay personal achievement.  

We pass 13 young Thais sitting side by side with their backs to the street. A single letter on each of their matching t-shirts spells out: OCCUPY BANGKOK. I ponder the land they are trying to change. It’s hard to imagine that Prime Minister Shinawatra’s vision for Thailand included mobs of 200,000 people blowing Hello Kitty whistles in her face.

With daylight fading, Saowaluk thinks it’s time for me to leave. She isn’t sure the protests will be safe after dark; armed Shinawatra supporters from the north are rumored to be driving down to Bangkok. It’s hard to imagine violence in today’s festive street fair party, but I listen to my guide. Regretfully leaving the hopeful faces all around me, I thank my friend and leave on the sky train.

Riding home on the elevated tracks, I consider what I witnessed in Thailand today. Hardly any media outlets worldwide failed to report on the story, or the issues involved. With no elected officials, no international lobby, no corporate sponsors and no promise of personal safety, 200,000 disparate people performed a wide-scale, highly coordinated and totally peaceful movement of social protest.

Tragically, this cheerful tune changed. Six days later, on January 19th, 28 peaceful PDRC protesters were wounded, seven of them seriously, when two bombs were hurled into a crowd. The assailant escaped on motorcycle. A grenade was thrown at Suthep during a street march, killing one and injuring many more. But despite such violence, the Shutdown continue, forcing more than 160 bank branches to close, Yingluck Shinawatra to shift her office location, and many government workers were blocked from entering their buildings. The slow pressure continues to build, the eyes of the world remain watchful, and the Shinawatra government is being forced into an ever-tightening corner.

Already, The Bangkok Post has reported dissension within the ranks of the Prime Minister’s camp, as her advisers spar over how to handle the shutdown. As violence flares, the possibility of a military coup increases. Meanwhile, investigations into Yingluk’s role in the rice subsidy scandal escalate, while formerly loyal rice farmers from her traditional power base in the North turn against her due to promised payments that have not been made.

In the Bangkok streets, the PDRC’s army stands vigilant—and up to the point of this writing—peaceful. Probably this is due to the last thing I learned about the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, when I left Saowaluk on the first day of the shutdown. While saying goodbye to my guide, two young women passed in matching protest t-shirts. The logo showed a pair of sneakers and a heart. As the bright sun of that bright day faded, I asked Saowaluk what the design meant.

“Heart And Sneakers,” she told me, while distant whistles blasted faintly. “That is our motto. That is what the protest leaders told us to bring with us today. No weapons, just brave heart and sneakers.”

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发表于 2014-1-25 17:13 | 显示全部楼层
香港的民主派不是声称要去泰国取经吗?
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发表于 2014-1-25 21:05 | 显示全部楼层
精英阶层以不依不挠的劲头,不大母的誓不罢休的意志,维护自己的优势地位和统治地位,这是民主吗?
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发表于 2014-1-25 21:06 | 显示全部楼层
民主,就是选输服输。
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发表于 2014-1-25 22:08 | 显示全部楼层
mikezczxt 发表于 2014-1-25 21:06
民主,就是选输服输。

No money, no democracy.
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发表于 2014-1-25 23:05 | 显示全部楼层
我关心的是这个事件会毁了中泰高铁吗
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发表于 2014-1-25 23:53 | 显示全部楼层
这作者也是带着黄色眼镜看出的结果。运动的钱的来源就是作者所说的够吗,黄衫军到底是要民主还是要权,黄衫军用什么方式要权是合法的。
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发表于 2014-1-26 00:31 | 显示全部楼层
民主运动的结果往往只是让老百姓更加的讨厌民主
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发表于 2014-1-26 00:32 | 显示全部楼层
67842391 发表于 2014-1-25 23:05
我关心的是这个事件会毁了中泰高铁吗

谁会和钱过不去?
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发表于 2014-1-26 10:04 | 显示全部楼层
你方唱罢我登场
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发表于 2014-1-27 00:17 | 显示全部楼层
muxueonly 发表于 2014-1-26 00:32
谁会和钱过不去?

关键不在泰国人自己,就怕背后有人捣鬼
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发表于 2014-1-27 05:29 | 显示全部楼层
67842391 发表于 2014-1-27 00:17
关键不在泰国人自己,就怕背后有人捣鬼

泰国要任由别人搞鬼,那不就是和钱过不去嘛
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发表于 2014-1-27 11:53 | 显示全部楼层
斗争的双方,都没有找到解决根本问题的方案,无法调和的矛盾就只有打破矛盾。
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发表于 2014-1-29 11:27 | 显示全部楼层
没有妥协没有奉献的社会
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发表于 2014-1-30 09:44 | 显示全部楼层
泰国的民主就是你方唱罢  我登场  权利的挣夺和外国势力的介入    我看谁当选都逃脱这样的命运   只有民众真正的醒悟    才会有太平的日子
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发表于 2014-2-4 22:12 | 显示全部楼层
没有妥协就不可能有民主自由
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发表于 2014-2-15 17:10 | 显示全部楼层
泰国的民主就是闹剧,就是一群别有所图的人在一群别有用心的人挑拨离间下,搞乱国家的闹剧。
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发表于 2016-10-7 21:37 | 显示全部楼层
作者一直在体现的就是 游行没有损害什么,
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