Let’s move countries: the hopelessness of the younger generation

Over the weekend, #ย้ายประเทศกันเถอะ (let’s move countries) went viral. Group members are now north of 640,000 and still climbing. Twitter and Clubhouse are abuzz with banter about which country people would like to move to.

Some reports said it started with Pepper Hananya, a young transgender person who faces Section 112, the lese majeste law, in Thailand. A vocal pro-democracy activist, Pepper has been to many protests and shared a clip of Anon Nampa’s speech on monarchy reform, for which she was reportedly charged with Section 112.

Pepper was advised to go to Dubai, as the UN headquarters there could help. Pepper spent a month at the Dubai Airport (a la Tom Hanks in “The Terminal”) as the process wasn’t easy, while Thai documents identified Pepper as a “Mr.” Finally, Pepper made it to her chosen new home, Canada. Photos were shared on social media.

Pepper proudly showed a Canadian temporary residence document identifying her as female, which would never happen in Thailand. Pepper, of course, continues to post pro-democracy messages on her Facebook Page. The difference is, now she can voice her free speech without fear of the law.

It has long been a go-to weapon of pro-establishment supporters: “If you don’t like Thailand, get out.” Now, pro-democracy supporters are saying: “We want to get out.”

In reality, however, very few would actually go anywhere. But the sentiment is there. What is the sentiment? Hopelessness.

Specifically, the hopelessness of the younger generation.

Thais moving countries is nothing new. We have been doing so in drove since the 1970s and 80s. Throw a rock, and you’ll hit a Thai community somewhere in America. But the present time context is different.

Young people grew up watching the yellow-shirt PAD, the red-shirt UDD, the whistle-blowing PDRC, and all the government crackdowns. Now, they see their pro-democracy movement met with brutal actions and laws. For the past 15 years, they’ve lived through two military coups and all the social upheavals. For the past seven years, they’ve endured General Prayut Chan-o-cha.

In the social media world, they see their peers in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and the Western world enjoy desired freedom, life qualify, and education. They look back at Thailand and see oppressions, potholes, and what the group Bad Student calls “a fascist education system.”

They placed their hope with the former Future Forward party, and their hope was squashed. They take their future into their own hands and march in the streets, only to be smashed by the police.

They see people get vaccinated in the US and elsewhere and a gradual return to normal. Then they watch General Prayut struggle to find vaccines and blame the pandemic on the Thai people. Even Thai tour operators are now offering “vaccine vacation” packages to the US.

#ย้ายประเทศกันเถอะ (let’s move countries) is north of 640,000 and still climbing, but the reality is, few would actually move. Nonetheless, the sentiment is there, and it is one of frustration and hopelessness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.