The ongoing struggle for the soul of Thailand has plunged to murky new flood-ridden depths, with the latest arena for battle being the labeling of goods to be donated to flood victims. The opening salvo was fired with reports claiming that trucks were delivering aid packages declaring ‘with love and care from Thaksin Shinawatra’, which caused an uproar in Bangkok due to the perception that Thaksin was attempting to hijack relief efforts to benefit his own public relations.
However, on Thursday 10th November, the following picture was taken at the Chulalongkorn University flood volunteer centre, which has been coordinating relief packages:
It translates as “Princess-Pa Foundation and Chulalongkorn [University]”
A Thai volunteer I spoke to said that it was an abhorrent waste of human and financial resources to spend time and money printing labels and attaching them individually to each package, especially given that there are people truly suffering and others keen to lend a productive helping hand through packing, cooking or distributing – rather than wasting time branding charitable donations. This unpaid helper went on to add that he understood the need for the monarchy to ‘strike back’ against Thaksin’s attempt to be seen as more caring, but that there should be unity in a time of crisis without the need for petty point scoring.
Nevertheless, the PR war goes on with both sides sure to hypocritically point accusatory fingers at each other – without a hint of irony – for attempting to gain as many plaudits as possible; despite the fact that the goods being labeled along partisan lines, on the whole, come from the masses of their fellow citizens.
[Note on the title: I have been wanting to use this title for some time, but haven’t had an opportunity. It doesn’t match this post perfectly, but it is close enough. FROC is, of course, the Flood Relief Operations Centre. Apologies to the author for my editorial indulgence. Andrew Walker]