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OPINION: Reports of My Death

Legacy Phuket Gazette



OPINION: Reports of My Death | Thaiger

PHUKET: One of history’s great lines, (which is often misquoted), is Samuel Clemens’ (Mark Twain’s) “Reports of my death have been exaggerated.” As it turned out, the quote itself was an exaggeration, as the true story was a case of transmogrified news about Clemens’ relative James Ross Clemens. In fact, the line is, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Given the current media frenzy arising from the ‘Red March’ in Bangkok and the blood in the streets, one could say the perceived state of Thailand’s public safety, politics and business is also an exaggeration. In the context of danger, one of the favorite statistics by marine lovers around the globe is that 150 people die in a year from falling coconuts, which is 15 times the fatality rate of shark attacks. Taking a research spin on that one, it appears as yet another case of exaggeration as there is little hard evidence to support the assertion.

It does present an interesting case though. Do coconut trees or shark attacks pose more of a threat to travelers than visiting Thailand?

To date there have been no deaths attributed to the Bangkok demonstrations. While estimates vary, most reports consistently number the red shirted demonstrators at less than 100,000. This in a country with an estimated population of 63 million people. It’s a well known fact that the majority of this ‘rent-a-crowd’ are merely indigent workers who fall below the minimum wage and are bused in and paid a daily wage for wearing a red shirt and holding up those iconic little plastic hand clappers.

While Thailand continues to make front page news around the world, many of the stories are simply filed by journalists aiming to sensationalize the mundane, and to perhaps ensure that they can recoup their expenses from an extended holiday in the Land of Smiles. The media world these days is a bit like American Idol, everyone looking for the next big thing. Perhaps the growing legions of ‘war groupies’ need to revisit the basic tenets of journalistic integrity.

Given the continually shrinking numbers in the lost tribe of pro-Thaksin supporters, the events in Bangkok could, for some, begin to take on nearly comical proportions. While that Paris Hilton of politicians Thaksin Shinawatra grasps at straws in one last attempt to return to power, the truth remains that the voice of Thai Democracy spoke loud and clear when it handed down the Supreme Court verdict on corruption and ordered the seizure of ill-gained assets. That day, in truth, the tribe of the majority spoke.  

But the media have forgotten to give a voice to that majority, and now this omission is becoming a deafening roar.

Travelers looking to visit Thailand, particularly Phuket, need to understand that it’s business as usual here. There is far more political opposition to, say US President Barak Obama’s healthcare plan then there is to the current Thai government by the tiny group of noisy red shirts. Given Americans’ propensity to go postal and the availability of guns in their country, it could be said that travel here remains far safer than it would be in the USA, and many other places in the world.

Phuket is continuing to have its best high season in memory. The sun is out, the ocean is calm and there is not the slightest sign of unrest. To those who would trumpet the Kingdom’s demise, please note that we’ve not been away. We’ve been here the entire time – maybe not grabbing the headlines, but certainly enjoying the silence in the sun.



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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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