Homelessness in Bangkok: a minor problem or an epidemic?

Homeless young man in Bangkok

Read with wicked amusement at an article by Bangkok Post entitled "Homeless to get a break" which highlighted Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and their recent visit to New York for an exposure on homelessness, NY-style. The delegation was led by Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

Sharing my thoughts... 

Its bizarre that an administration would need to fly across the globe to assess the situation of homeless people and the services available in a 'farang' city. Its not as if BMA has not conducted similar exercises and projects. What prevents BMA to conduct a study (which I am sure they have done) in Bangkok's districts? If BMA had conducted a study trip in another province, I would understand, but New York City has a vastly different socio-economical background. In the time of a global economical meltdown, one would think there would be stringent practices of money used, and flying a delegation of officials all the way to the US of A is definitely not cheap. 

700 known homeless people in a city with over 10 million people? How did they cough up these figures? A casual observation when one is caught in Bangkok's notorious traffic? What about homeless refugees, migrant workers, stateless people, and tourists? Are they part of the equation? Or left aside as irrelevant people?  

What about Bangkok NGOs? BMA needs money to jump-start projects but what happened to corporate social investment/responsibility, much less BMA's internal funds/revenues? Are there no collaboration with big and small corporations or with the UN agencies? You can easily find the UN's imposing fortress-like buildings in the older district of the city. 

Jate Sopitpongstorn, an adviser to the governor pointed out that the "homeless in Bangkok are reluctant or even resist put into a shelter" which is true yet such simplicity of reporting merely gives an inaccurate picture that urban homelessness is rejecting whatever the administration is providing (or plans to provide). Some homeless people are reluctant to access support services, that is accurate but this is common in any country, not a special situation in Bangkok. But even then, why would they resist to be placed in a shelter and who runs these shelters? 

There are many reasons that can be associated with homelessness and among them: Corruption, social inequality, no access to housing, poor mental health, the impact of the 2011 Great Thailand Flood, marginalization of young people, ostracism because of family disputes, domestic violence, child neglect and many, many, many more. 

The governor said the homelessness in Bangkok is not as serious a problem as New York and that many homeless in Bangkok have relatives to stay with who could also come to their aid. Again, I am curious on the source of his facts. 

We are the monsters that prey on the homeless. We are the neglect of human rights. We abandoned our humanity, sinking deeper in the cesspool of our hypocrisy, while at the same time watch the homeless live the terror.  


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