Saturday, January 05, 2008

The 'in' things


The 'in' things


Year of the Rat has started gnawing at our itchy feet and revealing a great many trends. They say desert-inspired maxis and safari trousers will be "in" in 2008. Hollywood sequels are in. Ska-pop is still in. Recycled Thai soap operas are also in. Dining out is out, according to our food reviewer, and eating in is in. Nicole Kidman is out, Keira Knightley is in. Iraq is out, Iran is in. Bush is also out, and Obama will probably be in. Suicide bombing is, sadly, in. At home, the soldiers are out and Samak Sundaravej is proudly, definitely on the way in.

Despite the warning about the treacherous cobras, Thailand looks set to welcome Thai Rak Thai Part II. Love or loathe him, Mr Samak, 73, is likely to become our 25th prime minister. And with the People Power party (PPP, which does not, as rumour has it, stand for Potjaman, Panthongthae, Paethongtarn) assuming power as the military secretly sulks, we will take a look at some other possible "in" things of 2008.

Resurrection: The democratic comeback of PPP - I mean TRT, as well as You-Know-Who - almost makes you want to believe in zombies, or in Jesus Christ. Let's put up a screen and show Night of the Living Dead or maybe Alien: Resurrection. Otherwise how could we explain the prospect of having Chalerm Yubamrung strut about like a proud Bollywood idol in parliament? Not to mention the possibility of mass amnesty for the 111 banned TRT members, with big names like Newin Chidchob and Sudarat Keyuraphan leading the pack. Coup-makers, if you dig a mass grave just don't forget to cover it next time.

But actually, Mr Samak becoming a PM at 73 isn't so unthinkable when Harrison Ford, at 65, is being resurrected to play Indiana Jones in the new sequel to come out in May. Likewise the new Jurassic Park film is under way, not to celebrate political dinosaurs like, er, Mr Samak, but I told you sequels are so in.

Revenge: Not the Kenyan or Pakistani style, hopefully. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and 16 months since the Sept 19 coup should make it cold enough, the festering wounds having been cured and the scar nearly invisible after the Dec 23 win. It's time for The Empire Strikes Back. If anything else, the return of the TRT Jedi exposes the catastrophic inefficiency of last year's coup. How could you let the power you set out to topple return to power and bust you instead? How could you commit foul play and allow yourself to be caught red-handed? At least the Jedi didn't let themselves get caught this easily despite so many graft-busters on their trails.

So what went wrong? The coup-makers, I believe, got carried away by the way people, or even the media, described their seizure of power as "bloodless" and "peaceful", and they were caught in the myth of nice Thai soldiers and their gentlemanly coup.

In truth, to put tanks on the streets without hurting anyone is the same as pointing a gun at someone's head without firing. There's nothing nice about tanks. If you set out do something bad, it's not wise to concern yourself too much about the image of a "nice bad guy". That's so out.

Remote control: How far can a remote control work? Across the South China Sea, certainly. Perhaps even across the whole of Asia, through the Black Sea, the Himalayas, India and Burma.

From his command centre in London, Manchester or Victoria Peak, You-Know-Who is likely to remote-control the new government with the expertise of a 12-year-old at the joystick of PlayStation 3.

It's speculated that the appointment of each minister in the new cabinet will have to get the final approval from the Jedi Master himself, who was present in Hong Kong earlier this week to celebrate the victory of his nominees.

Remember: If we try, we can adopt a positive outlook: the Resurrection-Revenge-Remote Control Spring-Summer trend could mean the resurrection of the sagging economy or the revenge of democracy - at least the brand of democracy as practised by the former TRT.

It's not wrong to have hope, but it's not right, either, to forget the past, to ignore the casualties of the TRT reign.

"Resurrection" is not funny for the relatives of Tak Bai victims, for example, or for the family of those killed during the war on drugs. And they will not get their revenge, either legal, moral, or poetic. We have to remember that.

While someone enjoys his resurrection and revenge, let's hope that the "in" thing of the new year is something old and valuable, like good governance - and justice.

Kong Rithdee writes about movies and popular culture in the Bangkok Post real.time section.

No comments: