Agam's Gecko
Thursday, January 01, 2009
His Majesty and Friends
HM the King's New Year greeting card. Nai Daeng lays at his right, and her son Thong Daeng sits at his left.
Photo: HM

e was absent from his customary birthday-eve address to his people last month (due to illness), but he spoke to Thailand last night in a New Year's Eve broadcast. At the end of a horribly messy year that opened with exile tycoon proxy politics, proceeded into dual non-stop protesting, and culminated in Thailand taking itself hostage, the dust had finally seemed settled. A new government has been sworn in.

King Bhumibol called on his people to be careful in their thinking and actions, and to look at every angle of a situation. Meticulous analysis of the advantages and disadvantages in any action would enable people to know what should be done, and what should be avoided. The success and happiness of people, and the peace and order of the nation, will benefit from the right thinking and right actions of individuals.

It seems very simple, yet some need to be reminded of even the simple things. A few hours after his broadcast, the New Year countdown ritual was performed in the crowded Santika, a popular night club in Ekamai Soi 9. As a first act of 2009, person[s] decided it would be a right action to set off fireworks beneath highly flammable soundproofing materials. I don't think they considered all the pros and cons.

Santika before
Santika Pub
Photo: The Nation
The inferno spread quickly across the ceiling, and everyone charged for the front door -- the only door most of them knew. Lesson: On entering a venue for the first time, check around for the exit signs. There were three other exits. Few people knew they were there, and most stampeded to the front. The foreign media has been saying that there was only one door out of the place. That's not true.

At the moment, 60 people are known to have perished -- both Thais and foreigners -- and more than 200 are injured. Foreign victims have been identified from Australia (possibly Austria), Netherlands, Nepal and Japan. The event had been promoted as "Goodbye Santika Party," as the venue was due to move to a new property.

Just because one can do something -- like setting off pyrotechnics in a crowded club -- doesn't mean you should. A similar case in the US about 6 years ago killed over 100 people.

"Hey, let's take over the Government House. Yes we can!" . . . "Hey, even better -- let's take over both airports and hold Bangkok hostage. Because we can!" . . . "These spark fountains will look so cool to ring in the New Year, and ring out Santika. The partiers will love it!"

And so at the end of a messy year that most Thais are glad is over, 2009 enters its first minutes with a hellish man-made disaster. Person[s] acted without considering the downside -- exactly what His Majesty was talking about. Had those person[s] been listening to him before the party, someone might have paused to think about it first.

And a lot of people might still be alive to see 2009.


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