The Poor are Ignored in the Realm of Loss
I've been travelling extensively for the past few years. This region, Southeast Asia, has revealed much to me in the past five years. Not just about the cultures and cuisines, but most importantly the multifaceted lives of those facing marginalization.
From those facing violent conflicts in their communities, to those without homes, without identity, caught in an almost fascist bureaucracy, or in a tight grip of urban societal prejudice. All of which that robs them, coupled with daily stigma, of their right.
Poverty in Thailand is not a popular topic.
Some expatriates and locals prefer to indiscriminately brand the urban poor as willing partners to begging "thieving" syndicates. While others justify the indifference with a presumptuous flair, as if such matters are beneath their station. "None of my business", aye I've heard that coming from the mouths of self-proclaimed educated citizens.
In the end, even those who are concerned for the well-being of the poor find their voices drowned by the hypocrisy of the middle class.
The poor struggle against the tide of inequality, especially in a climate where those in a political position and have the authority to influence positive change fail to do so. Perhaps the public administrators are only concerned about their status and any future design on their political careers. I've come across people who seem to know a lot about poverty reduction, but that's all to it -- all talk, no action.
Civil society and past governments have talked about community participation, consultation, empowerment and partnership. Even to a very limited extent, the present military regime has mentioned, even in passing. But what of action, political will and mobilization of resources? Again, all talk (no action).
The poor are capable of expressing a view. They, just like 'normal' people, have the right to express their views freely. And the right to be heard in all matters affecting them. It is crucial to recognise that many areas of public policy and legislation impact on the lives of the poor - issues and concerns related to economics, housing, environment, as well as education, child care, healthcare all have implications for them.
Sadly, in this climate of fear and apathy, that important right to have their views taken seriously is in the gutter.