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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The second walk with a million others.

Mon. Dec 9, 2013
All nations went through its own course of history. Thailand today can be said to suffer a great divide of two ideologies among its population with both camps claiming to be in support of the country's democratic institution and the monarch. Obviously, the same claim of the conflicting parties was possible only under certain manipulative hands, in this case, as in many others that happened elsewhere, the politicians'.
In the morning of Dec 9, 2013, several hundreds of thousand Thais (unconfirmed claim had the numbers as high as several millions!) took to the streets of Bangkok . What ever the number is, the unarguably big crowd was made up of some fifty citizen groups and organisations including businesses, state enterprises, professional bodies, students, universities and academic bodies of all levers, as well as most of the educated citizens in the capitals and provinces. Bangkok was not paralysed that day but simply flowed unstoppably with sea of people towards the government house, to demand the outing of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of the ousted ex-PM in exile Thaksin Shinawatra, and her government.

My wife and I missed our rendezvous with our Chulalongkorn U. alumni as we stayed back to listen to the sudden announcement of house dissolution by the then prime minister. However, we caught up with the tail end of some other group at a major Siam Square junction just outside of the touristy shopping mall MBK (you'd surely know MBK if you've ever visited Bangkok before:-)
It was difficult to describe the mixed feeling of the moment when you were pulled into a large mass of people full of energetic shouts, whistle and cheers. The calm, purposeful strides broken every now and then with laughter and shouting, the movement of the national flags that seemed to make the walk on the wide open junction unreal. The big and busy sweeping structures overhead, the line of people's cheering, waving hands on the circular link way add to the conflicting mood of a carnival and an unruly riots. Especially when whistles were symbolically used as tools for rally.
The crowd then turned left at the next junction along Petchburi Road heading towards the government house, it occupied the whole width and length of the normally very busy 10 lanes street. Along the main thoroughfare the protesting rally moved.
Mass rallying was, unfortunately, something Thailand learned, experienced and acquired recently against the true nature of Thai culture where elders and seniority system were well respected, well heeded. Thanks (or regrettably) to the modern way of life and democratic ideology, rally of all kind took place in the land of smiles as a way to exercise the individuals right, most of the time on the expense of others'. 
The phenomenal on-going in Bangkok is another flip of the so called democracy where, in my personal opinion, the principle of majority rule was abusively used over the minority and "the rest" of the populace. When the majority parliamentary vote "takes-all" against the differing public view.
 I found sketching in situation such as this very educational and truly rewarding. The best I could do by way of preparedness is to make myself light and mobile but again, it's still not easy when I was with a family member. The most difficult part was how not to loose each other, even though we can just simply get home on our own. All I had with me was a simple A5 size hard cover and very soft pencil. I made sketches while walking as well as at some short stop with my wife waiting nearby or when taking short rest.
I made all sketches in broad pencil strokes, very often with dark and heavy patches, without doubt influenced by the surrounding condition. Some Chinese ink brush-pen lines and soft pastel colours were added at home.
Around noon, we reached another major junction of Petchburi intersects Rama VI Road. Again with the complex overhead structures of express way and over head pedestrian bridges criss-crossing the intersection. Most activities came to a near standstill with an air of expectation. This is the last major sections with the targeted government house not far away and where other groups from other routes would converge.
After some strange hush, sudden commotion seemed to develop at the far corner and slowly a huge rippling tri-colour of the national flag emerged then snaked its way along overhead at arms' length in the midst of maddening cheers and whistle blowing from the crowd. The huge sheet of national flag flowed over the crowd in the direction of the government house.

I stood right in the middle of the junction on a road dividing curb next to my wife, it was a big Y junction where the giant national flag was snaking its way left toward Lanluang Road and the exit ramp of the expressway on Pitsanuloke Road to the right. The packing spot afforded me sometime to make the sketch right at the junction where it would be impossible in normal situation.
It was quite a big while of waiting before we were told that the area around the government house was pack over its capacity. After some consideration, my wife and I decided to leave the rally and head back home. The decision to go home called for another hour or so of walking before we could get any transport to reach home!

I took a rest at home and made plan with a friend who would pick me up before 4 PM to get to the main rally stage at the government house. We did not made it to the rally site that evening as both my friend and I overslept.
The rally continued despite the dissolution of the house. Now ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra becomes the care-taker prime minister and a new election was scheduled on Feb 2nd 2014.
This blog was supposed to be the last of my 2 parts reportage but I have no idea how the situation would develop or end. For more photos, you're invited to visit my facebook page at 
Cheers and bye for now:-)


Nina Johansson said...

Fantastic reportage, Asnee, so good to see all that´s happening in Thailand in drawings!

lowela said...

Truly good reporting and the sketches help give a sense of the events of that day. We never get that kind of world view here in the US through the national media. I am so pleased to get blogs and reports from people like you to gain perspective. Thanks

Asnee said...

Good morning and thank you Nina, Iowela for your kind comments.
It is difficult to remain silent in the midst of what's happening here and I thank USk for making sketching such a meaningful activity.
Thanks again.

kumi matsukawa said...

Wonderful reportage, so powerful sketches. Really amazing!

Валерия Тарануха said...

Greetings from Ukraine!

Veronica Lawlor said...

Your reportage really captures the sense of the immensity of the crowd. Thank you for posting these drawings and story.

Balaji Venugopal said...

A very nice post. Powerful sketches and good reporting.

jen said...

So powerful.

jen said...

So powerful.

Don McNulty said...

Asnee, wonderful pictures and narrative, great post. We hear or see nothing of this in the main Canadian press.

Rolf Schröter said...

yes, really fantastic immediacy in your post and words.

Asnee said...

Thank you so much again for all your encouragement and kind words, I really appreciate them and it makes me see even more the value of sketching as both artistic expression and documentation of time and emotion.
The situation in Bangkok is still far from conclusive even of now ..
thank you again, all dear friends..

Gunawan Wibisono said...

Artistic documentary ... and nice reportage. That is why urban sketching is interesting.

Greg Betza said...

Fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

Isabel said...

great reportage and wonderful sketches thank you for sharing

Asnee said...

thank you so much, Gunawan, Greg and Isabel for your kind words and yes, I find sketching adds that much more meaning to a lot of things in life..

rudi hartanto said...

very expressive .. the lines go wild like the demontrant !

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