Human Development in Bangkok

Bangkok, City of Life.

Sure its usually associated with the upcoming fashion trend to the latest world of young corporate suits and skirts flashing at the hundreds of nightspots, supper clubs and dance halls. Materialism pulse through the city central, everybody seems to be in a rush to go somewhere and be seen at the "happening" places.


Yet behind that illusion, the stark reality of a realm unfriendly to the urban poor. Shit happens everywhere and one can't expect Bangkok to be perfect. However there's a bizarre acceptance that poverty won't disappear from the landscape, and it's part of development. 

Bangkok is inhospitable for those without money. One can't live gracefully without the basic essential. 

Even those with money and tasting the sweet life of luxury are not disgusted with the urban poor. There is this self-contradictory assumption that the poor must exist to serve the city's rich, regardless whether the privileged comprises of Thais or foreigners. Seems the same to me. 

A simple glare, or whats quite common the adoption of ignorance or indifference towards those living in the slums. Many seem only interested in the corporate rat race, the sound of their own voice, the constant name-dropping and, or, being seen with so-and-so. Its only expected that the poor have no access to such a blatantly accepted lifestyle, but that is just how it is in many countries in this region. Bangkok is no exception. 

A Thai friend had once mentioned to me, with that brief contortion (a sarcastic smile) to her face, that "Bangkok is Thailand and Thailand is the World" - such mentality does exist among many Thais and that odd foreigner who think he/she is Thai. Everything is expected in this city, arrogantly so, with the arrogant urban planners switching into administrative management mode, proposing multi-million dollar projects and piling the congested city everything that is hyped and popular.   

Within my small group of Thai friends, we marvel of what Bangkok's city hall has to offer, posters are up and glaringly intrusive for those who are familiar with the political drama of the city. Public transport decorate the roads, with the amazing MRT and BTS supplementing the need to travel from one location to another. Its not as if Bangkok is a city filled with 3rd world facilities. 

But even then, we'll be seeing more and more propaganda in the next few months leading to the election, where urbanites are given the right to elect their governor. The federal government has limited jurisdiction over Bangkok, giving the governing power to city hall to manage the urban growth and madness. Someone had said to me that only during elections, one can see "democracy at work" as politicians and wannabes pit themselves to prove their worth, hopefully to be voted into power.

Nevertheless, with all the resources, talents and promises, can truly we see a change? Urban poverty can't be solved overnight although surely the local and foreign communities in Bangkok could make that attempt to discard their self-pretentiousness and commit to improving the quality of life for the poor. 

Or am I just setting a high standard? To expect those living life of luxury to have a conscious about community building and advocate for the right to dignity, equality and access to the basic standards of living? How will this upcoming governor election change the social pyramid that sucks the hope of a better life of the poor and will city hall deliver on their promises? I don't know... 

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