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Back from Esan

April 4, 2012

A Dokmai Garden gardener recently went to his home village in northeastern Thailand (Esan, Isan, Esarn…) to vote for the new village head. One candidate offered the voters 3000 Baht per vote. The winner offered 13000 Baht per vote. The poor chap who could only afford 3000 Baht per vote was abandoned even by his siblings.

In Europe many politicians promise money to large lobby groups (‘the families’, ‘the elderly’, ‘the workers’) to get elected. Quite often the politicians ‘forget’ their promises once elected, knowing the voters will not remember this next time there is an election and fall into the same trap again. This is why Thai voters want cash up front. These two democratic traditions are not too different. Money rules.

Politicians who pay money to get elected do not put endangered orchids high on the agenda. It is the concern of a handful of individuals while the politicians are busy with their egos and the uneducated voters are busy with their shopping. Still, education will slowly seep into society and a concerned middle class will grow. Eventually there will be enough awareness to create an advanced democracy, which will invest in superior and free education including free university education. This will accelerate a positive development. With education comes understanding. With understanding comes admiration. With admiration comes love.

Somalia today is like Sweden in the 12th century. Different countries have developed at different pastes, but the trend is positive, it will eventually be fine. Do not worry, keep teaching and keep saving the orchids.

Our gardener brought many delicacies back from his home village. One is a native freshwater fish with very small scales, making it easy to eat dry. Its English name is ‘peacock eel’ (Macrognathus siamensis). It can grow to 30 cm but dried fish are usually 5-10 cm. The characteristic of the fish is the snout and the row of black spots (ocelles) along the dorsal fin.

An election souvenir – aroi mak!

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 5, 2012 11:03 AM

    Of historical reasons it could be fun to add that the current ruling party in the national parliament has changed the law regarding the term of a village head. He is nowadays appointed until he turns 60 years old. The arguing of the new government is that since candidates frequently try to murder each other, it is better to appoint somebody ‘for life’ to limit the number of deadly elections.

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