Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thailand, Same Old Busted Society As Before

This is biggest story in Thailand right now. It is amazing how this type of thing can happen in a second-world country like Thailand, but it does:

A few weeks ago, a 16-year-old girl from one of Thailand's wealthy families, speeding without a license, caused a crash on an elevated highway in Bangkok which killed nine people. According to reports at first she was not particularly despondent at what she had done, which got people pretty pissed off. (Public reaction scared her and her family into a semblance of contriteness though. They immediately paid a few thousand dollars to the families of each of the 9 slaughtered people.)

Now today, the judge on her case has released her without bail. Another judge familiar with juvenile cases said the girl is likely to get a suspended sentence... to never spend a day in jail, "not because of social privilege, but due to her confession, her remorse, her family's payment of compensation to victims." Even trials for premeditated murder could end with a young offender getting a suspended jail term, he said, if they showed remorse or were willing to undergo rehabilitation or gave victims compensation.

This accidental mass killing by a rich person of poor people going unpunished in Thailand is not the first time either. Five years ago, the son of a prominent business man mowed down a crowd of people at a bus stop with his Mercedes after the bus they were boarding scratched his fender. His powerful uncle, a police officer, went on television and blamed poor people in general, and the victims specifically for the incident.

The principal problem is Buddhism, which in essence, states, "Take what life gives you." The Thai people are sheep to this thinking and it is unlikely to ever change. Add to that the additional local belief that children are generally blameless and their wrongdoings are better targeted with education and rehabilitation than punishment, and you've got a country where nobody is willing to cast blame, nobody learns to take responsibility, and the consequences of guilt are generally light or avoided altogether.

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