An Experience at Prachatai's New Year Party

I was invited to attend an event, somewhat a new year gathering hosted by Prachatai (http://www.prachatai.com/english). Dragged myself out of Chong Nonsee, from the small Thai Muslim community-slum and the quaint mosque.

I grumbled about conflicting schedules and the fact that I didn't really know people from Prachatai, though a few months back I had bumped into Jiew (@jiew), the director of this Bangkok-based online media.

Made my way through the almost-empty but clean back lanes, sandwiched by homes and cheap flats. It was my first visit to Prachatai's office, wasn't an impressive sight but I've seen worse. Though despite it all, Jiew's hospitality was more than enough to bring about a sincere smile to my tired, grumpy face. Incidentally, Jiew was busy sweeping the floor when I unceremoniously arrived at her doorstep. A truly down-to-earth person who's passionate about human rights.

That night I met a handful of acquaintances, who were friends/supporters of Prachatai. The free-flowing drinks and simple pot-luck food was graciously served, and I had easily made friends with some of their journalists.

As one would know from my tweets, I'm quite critical about the poor standards of journalism, particularly in Thailand and Malaysia. However I felt comfortable with the small group of journalists in Prachatai. Good conversations and had exchanged honest views of the situation of activism in the region. Topics stretched from harm reduction (drugs) among marginalised young people, poverty, growing extremism in the south of Thailand, the right to protests to politics « an abandonment to the orgies of free-will thoughts.

Towards the end of the party, people exchanged gifts, nothing expensive but was amusing and while some invoked laughters. I was intoxicated with the mood that was not-hi-so-Thai-style-mentality of celebration. Hopefully the umbrella I hastily wrapped with masking tape will serve someone well. I know, I'm horrible at choosing gifts.

Alas, there's hope for journalism in Thailand. This craft is not about rushing-for-advertisements or satisfying the egos of Thai politicians and vain-glory editors; this craft has a future in the hands and gifted minds of the people in Prachatai.

And being the obnoxious social worker, I eagerly hope to get another invite to Prachatai's future gatherings.







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