There was no privilege that came from being the son of a rural sub-district headman. My aspirations were no different from any other kid growing up in the suburbs in the South of Thailand.
The simplicity of country life is the highlight of my childhood. I couldn’t wait for the day when the temple would host its fair so I would get to hang out with my friends.
Everything changed when a teacher of mine named Preecha Pimphan had the crazy idea to ride a bicycle to America to obtain his master’s degree. I joined him for a ride from Surat Thani to Bangkok alongside the railway track. The trip took five days.
I ended up studying in Bangkok and he ended up being the first Thai person who ever rode a bicycle across three continents, making his way to America.
I am a politician at heart. I was elected to be school student committee president while I was studying political science in Chiang Mai University. I knew more than half of the 7,000 students in CMU.
I realized I was going too fast. I took up the role of sub-district headman, succeeding my father, because I wanted to revisit the countryside and gain a better understanding of my roots through the eyes of a grown man making his first steps in a life of politics.
My first political move was to build a school. Political participation was unheard of in Thailand during the late ’70s. In order for everyone to participate there must be equal education. My attempt to build schools ultimately made those in authority mistake me for a communist leader. My name appeared in papers and people began to know me.
Thailand’s political dynamic is hard to understand, especially when you’re not familiar with our culture. Democracy is versatile. Each country has its own interpretation of democracy. Americans eat bread and Thais eat rice. It’s impossible to force the same interpretation of democracy down one another’s throats.
But the core of democracy is not a thing to be changed. It’s about the people’s voice determining the shape of our society.
We must put fear into politicians’ heads; fear of the people. In order to do that, the people must know how to fight on a sophisticated level. Decent education for everyone is needed.
The May 2014 coup is not a victory for any of us. The PDRC aimed to dethrone the crooked politicians and demolish corruption at its roots. The army had no choice but to interfere with our protest in order to prevent bloodshed.
Believe me; the Royal Thai Army doesn’t want to step up every time shit hits the fan. They’re not political leaders, but in order to return peace to the nation they must take action.
When you lead millions of people marching on the street blowing whistles and fighting against the Thaksin regime, injuries and casualties are inevitable. I sought shelter in the monkhood when it ended.
Villagers occasion-ally invite me to bless their home or perform Buddhist rituals. They tell me to keep my whistle ready in case the people are back protesting on the street. If there isn’t enough time to leave the monkhood, they suggest I go wearing my yellow robe.
Some people think it’s cool to live religion-free and label themselves independent. You want to live free. I get it, and I think it’s fun. But that’s just a temporary thing. When you have no religion, it’s easy lose your principles.
Life is short. Religious studies, no matter which religion, may well come in handy. This knowledge has been practiced and proven over 2,000 years. That’s safer than wasting half your life trying to find answers that are right under your nose.
Entering the monkhood has given me time to reconsider my options. I’ve decided not to return to politics.
Whatever I do next will not be for myself. I still have the resources and power to help drive the country and educate the people for political participation. I will continue to build schools.
The world is cruel. Blind optimists will never survive in a world where capitalism and materialism overcome goodness and humility. I want to build a generation strong enough to combat false passion and greed. It’s a radical idea to make change in Thailand.