Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby thompson on Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:05 am

The general Thai view is that some farangs may know a lot about Thai politics, culture, way of life and so on, but they will never be able to reach the core of Thai-ness.

In retrospect, the traditional elite have always viewed themselves as being caught in the dilemma of whether to wipe out the threatening farang culture or to welcome its modernity.

Worthless writing

Go back to sleep Mr Pavin!!

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opin ... understand

This Post Bag reader reply is worth a read:

Contrary to the premise of the article about the impossibility of farangs to comprehend Thailand ("Farang cannot know - even if they do understand," Bangkok Post, Aug 31), Thais often have to turn to farangs living on the other side of the world to learn about their own country, as we have seen in many high-profile corruption cases as well as in the identification of other social ills, particularly in the areas of human rights and human trafficking.

Thais are often uniquely incapable of learning about their own country, being too deeply entangled in the characteristics of Thai-ness that prevent them from seeking the truth. They are hampered by superstition, the importance of image over substance and of social harmony over truth, a natural tolerance of social ills, and a willingness to smooth things over instead of addressing ugly problems head on.

Farangs are an asset to Thailand in many ways, including their objective view of Thai society that exposes obvious truths that are often invisible to Thais.

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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby Voice on Sat Sep 04, 2010 12:14 am

It’s not that farang know more but they have seen the different. Of course most foreign countries have kept many good standard so it easy to compare with. Thai people who has never left the country won’t know what that different is so they do what they think it best in their own circumstances. When we talk about politic it only one person viewpoint of how they want to see their life manage by the government that they have elected. As we all have different point of view it would be very hard to please everyone. Furthermore if the government that been elected didn’t do they promise to do and took the advantage in the position they have by being corrupt. In Thai politic people get very little out from their government. With less choice to choose from people just have to with what they’ve got. When someone good came along they’re unable to give their full potential due to corruption minded from majority. They would block or vote against anything good that interrupting with their own agenda.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby wilko on Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:26 pm

"Thais are often uniquely incapable of learning about their own country" - not uniquely, surely most nations have difficulty with introspection.

However I do get very frustrated when confronted with incompetence, ridiculous decisions or bureaucracy, that I'm told I should understand it is the "Thai way" - I'm sure any self-respecting Thai person would in truth be keen to distance themselves from this kind of stuff.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby gohmer on Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:04 pm

@Thompson, That was the most articulate explanation of Thai-ness that I've every heard. It brilliantly points out the inability for Thais to begin to understand themselves in relationship to the rest of the world. I am married to a Thai and have an 11yo daughter in Thai schools. It is amazing how all she learns about Thai history is only the good things that the monarchy has done and nothing else. It is amazing that when I ask the numerous college educated, Thai software engineers I work with about current or historical events in Thailand or in the world, they have absolutely no context in which to frame a reasonable answer only myths and stereotypes.

And what gets me the most is how Thailand tells western countries, most notably the US, to stay out of their internal affairs, but then only weeks later, the same public officials plead with those same western countries, again, most notably the US, for financial assistance and investment - all to the complete oblivion of the typical Thai. In non-Thai-ness terms, this is called "hypocrisy".
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby gohmer on Sat Sep 11, 2010 12:11 pm

@Wilko, you have a good point, and as an American, this is particularly worrisome to me about my own country; however, here is the difference. The more open the society is, the more free the press is, the more rights regarding freedom of speech, the more difficult it is to hide the bad, the inconsistent, the contradictory, the ridiculous. In the US, even an \\\ ///// like the Florida minister who wants to burn the Quran has the bill of rights protecting his ability to do that, regardless of how offending it is to others. This is because it is our belief that if the Gov't gets into the business of defining things, there is no limit to that power, as we clearly see here in Thailand with what's taught in their schools and published in their controlled media, and perpetuated with so called Thai-ness.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby ousaou on Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:04 pm

In Thailand as well as in the US and France, history is tainted by the prevalent influence in power. In the US the bill of right is attacked little bit at a time to make it more up to date. The politically right is the cover by which groups avoid been criticized. At present the "redistribution" is used as been politically correct. In France the "solidarity" is used to imposed a social agenda that is fundamentally changing the French culture.
Thailand is not any different, the governing majority will use the same influences. In Thailand Buddhism is the foundation of the Thai culture. Buddhism has a specific etiquette, different than Christian and especially Muslim. By understanding Buddhism one can understand Thai-ness. Thailand is blessed with a vibrant culture. This culture, as all cultures, can be harsh, as a "Farang" (which mean Français, in old Thai) I am a guess in Thailand, and accept the Thai specificity.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby ccarbaugh on Sun Sep 12, 2010 11:59 am

A Wonderful thread!

I too am having difficulty understanding "Thai-ness."

An acquaintance recently stated, "I have tried to
make a normal-life here for four-years. But, in the
end, it's all just about money."

I have lived here for 2+ years and I can count on
one-hand- the number of Thais that have been
friendly to me without any commercial interests.

Also, I have over 250 (single) Thai-Lady "friends,"
yet, for weeks-and-weeks at a time, I find myself unable to
meet with any of them for a coffee, a dinner or a movie.
(Of course, I pay!)

I'm still struggling to figure out exactly what
is going on - culturally? hypocracy? paradoxically?

Is it an over-simplification to conclude that:
unless Thai women are able to dominate,
(control,) every aspect of my life, then I'm not worthy?

... Just my current thoughts.

I enjoy reading the posts here!
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby sundayjam on Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:36 pm

Good points Thompson.
There is a lot to love about Thai-ness, but xenophobia and provincial myopia are not among them.
Only a foreigner can understand what it is to be Thai, because he is not clouded by superstition or the need for consensus.

I have listened carefully for years about what it is to be Korean, Japanese, Polynesian, Russian...etc...There is a difference, but it is hardly the unfathomable difference these cultures make it out to be. Could it be a bit of narcissism that makes us all want to be special and unique? The statement "only a Thai can understand Thai-ness" is just so.
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby KhunJoseph on Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:13 am

I plan to understand the Thais; right after I get done with figuring out women.
money money money
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Re: Farang cannot know Thai-ness

Postby EODGhost on Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:56 am

Too bad this is the English forum, 98% of all Thais that come to the Bangkok Post will never read this, the other 2% will shrug their shoulders and quietly say "see farrang no understand"

I've seen grown women refuse to stay in a house alone for fear of Ghosts(???)
I've seen grown men refuse helpful advice because they might "lose face" so they continue on their own path, resulting in serious injury
I've seen young men not even hold the door open for their own girlfriends (because men are superior in Thailand) and then look at me with disgust when I do because now I've made them look bad. (WTF?)
I've seen some of the most ridiculous and selfish driving skills (or lack there of) in my entire life.

Yep that's THAI-NESS for you.
1. Superstitious Nonsense
2. The Silly, immature notion of "Face"
3. False superiority complex (more like inferiority complex)
4. Absolute selfishness and ZERO common sense.

How wonderful it must be, like an ostrich in the sand, head first.
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