If you read the Bangkok Post, The Nation, Twitter or any of the other English-language media in Thailand you might think, from the articles and comments, since floods hit Bangkok, prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s popularity was on the decline. In real life though, if you ask the average Thai who voted for her (mostly the working class), few have changed their opinion about her at all. They still love her and her political party, Pheu Thai.
Yesterday, I took a motorbike to Kaset Sart to check out the flooding situation and, on the way back, while walking, I stopped off at several street stalls to buy iced coffee, fruit, veggies and snacks. At every stall I asked the vendors what they thought of the floods and if they still liked Yingluck. At every stall, the floods were nothing more than a minor inconvenience (I heard the “Floods come, floods go” comment more than once), and Yingluck was still the bomb.
Further up the street, a group of 12 motorcycle taxi drivers told me exactly the same thing, and one showed me the red shirt sticker he’s had on his motorbike since February.
To many farangs (westerners), most who don’t like Yingluck or her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s former prime minister who was deposed in a military coup, Yingluck will always be the cause of all the flooding problems and they don’t understand why so many Thais don’t see it.
To most Thais though, they know she is no more to blame for the floods than we are for anything Obama or David Cameron does. The present devastating Bangkok floods have been coming for a long time, due to corruption, mismanagment and the plain idiocy of at least 10 previous governments who refused to put flood control measures into place when they had the opportunity. That Yingluck is now stuck with the problem is nothing more than her being dealt a bad hand, as she wasn’t even in office when the floods first began in July.
So, the next time you have dealings with a working class Thai (taxi driver, food stall vendor, maid, shopkeeper etc.,) if you speak Thai, ask them what they think about Yingluck, now Bangkok’s floods have arrived. You may be surprised at the answer.