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Posted: 17 Mar 2010 | 10:00 am
One of history's great lines which is often misquoted is Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) line "reports of my death have been exaggerated." As it turned out the quotation was an exaggeration as the true story was a case of transmogrified news about Clemens relative James Ross Clemens. In fact the factual line is "the report of my death was an exaggeration.
Given the current media frenzy arising from the 'Red March' in Bangkok and spilling of blood on the streets, one could say the current perceived state of Thailand's public safety, politics and business is much an exaggeration. Viewing the world's dangers one of those favorite statistics by marine lovers around the globe is that 150 people died 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 again another case of exaggeration as there is little hard evidence to support this number.
It does present an interesting case though 'do coconut trees or shark attacks pose more of a threat to travelers then visiting Thailand?'
To date there have been no attributed deaths from the demonstrations. While estimates vary, most reports consistently number red shirt anti government 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' supporters 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 iconical plastic hand clappers.
While Thailand continues to make front page news the world around, many of the stories are simply journalists filing pieces aimed to sensationalize the mundane and perhaps ensure they can recoup their expenses from an extended holiday in the Land of Smiles. Media these days is a bit like American Idol, everyone looking for the next big thing. Perhaps this growing legion of 'war groupies' need to revisit the basic tenets of journalistic integrity.
Viewing the continually shrinking number of this lost tribe of pro-Thaksin supporters roaming the streets of Thailand is starting to take on nearly comical proportions. While the 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 seizure of ill gained assets. That day in truth the tribe of the majority has spoken.
For Thailand's silent majority the international media has somehow forgotten to give them a voice and the truth remains that the silence is a deafening roar.
Travelers looking to visit the country or Phuket need to understand it's business as usual. There is far more political opposition say to US President Barak Obama's healthcare plan then there are red shirts. Given American's propensity to go postal and the availability of guns, it could be said travel here remains far safer then to many other places aboard.
Phuket is continuing to have its best high season in memory. The sun is out, the ocean is calm and there is not a sign of any unrest. As to those who would trumpet the Kingdom's demise, please note it's not we've 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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