If the country is to be marketed as a safe and premier destination as the world begins to slowly reopen, it must not flounder. Otherwise, forget about tourists and get ready to see a flight of people leave the region as they move to other parts of the country for a better life and better prospects.
A large number of women in Thailand, like Soithip, have been evicted from their ancestral homes in the name of “conservation”. Villagers who have been living and farming in areas subsequently designated national parks, are having their rights and customary practices curtailed. In the case of Bang Kloi, officials burned down their houses and rice barns in 2011 to force them to relocate.
The paper adds to a growing body of evidence showing how large infrastructure projects and top-down economic change can make communities in the Global South more vulnerable to climate change.
The country’s rapid growth in exports is more remarkable considering it is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia.
“Enough of your lies, cheating and violence. Enough of our hunger and loss of dignity from forced resettlement. Enough of threats and intimidation. We are going home for good.”
But there’s no mystery about the cause of this crisis: It’s down to us – from building on wetlands and floodplains, to our poorly planned hydropower dams to over-abstraction of water for agriculture, unsustainable fishing, pollution, invasive species, sand mining and climate change.
It’s understandable that the international aid community wants to distance itself from the military regime. But it’s important that development and conservation programs continue to be funded.
Of course, comparing democratic development in the Mekong region might sound like citing “the bad, the worse, and the ugly” but that is because we are using the most advanced frame of democracy from Western standard.
Launched over a decade ago, E20 — which uses ethanol from sugarcane and cassava — was at one point seen as the energy source of the future, especially when oil prices neared US$100 (3,000 baht) a barrel.
Whether one cares about climate change or not, the “green industry” is the future and it is here to stay. If Thailand takes too long to realise this, it will look back and regret the great missed opportunity that was right under its nose.