Is Thailand developing? As someone who’s lived in the country for years, I have to say unfortunately, much of the time it seems not. A country that can’t keep its electricity on consistently (in the apartment building I live in, the electricity goes off at least once a week, and no one can fix the problem, with rumors of it being controlled power cuts as Thailand doesn’t have enough electricity to serve demand), has a political system that’s based on corruption and lies and is controlled by the military, and that equates ‘development’ with massive shopping malls, yet 60% of its population live on less than $3 a day.
No, Thailand is no more ‘developed’ than it was 10 years ago.
Unfortunately, the Thai government and most Thai people still equate development with the wrong things. Instead of money being spent on bettering the infrastructure, it’s spent on backhanders to corrupt government and corporate officials.
Instead of a proper world-class airport being built (Suvarnabhumi), one is built that looks beautiful but has never worked properly (horrendously long immigration lines, poorly trained personnel, cracks in the runway, inefficient air conditioning, long walks to arrival and departure areas).
The extension of the sky train and underground train systems is years over deadline (due to said corruption), and if Bangkok ever got a road network that actually functioned (Bangkok still has some of the world’s worst traffic jams), Thais wouldn’t know what to do with the hours they’d save.
As for political freedom and freedom of the press – it no longer exists in Thailand. A country who’s government sanctioned the shooting of red shirt protesters and that has now plummeted to 153 on the list of the world’s least free-press countries, well, it makes you think doesn’t it.
But hey, most of Thailand would rather spend their time in a years-old disagreement with neighboring Cambodia over a temple Cambodia owns and Thailand wants to steal ownership of, simply because it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You have to say, Thailand’s priorities are more than just a little screwed up.
Do I love Thailand? Yes. Am I disappointed beyond belief that, in ten years, the country hasn’t improved much at all? Beyond measure. Do the Thai people deserve better than this? Absolutely. But will they get it? Not with the present government, that’s for sure.