well it looks like the world is finally paying attention to the Thai election with a good report in the Guardian (syndicated in the SMH among others), a good piece in the NYTimes on the impact of the social changes of the last twenty years on rural Thailand. I have a little anecdote to add to the NYT report – almost everywhere we went everyone had fairly zippy smartphones, even though there’s no 3G service worth a damn outside of Bangkok. In itself this is not unusual, in poor countries the mobile networks have often leapfrogged the wired infrastructure and are simply more pervasive – I’ve seen similar effects in Laos and Morocco.
Anyway, the anecdote. We were riding in a tuk tuk in Ao Nang when the driver muttered ‘sorry’ and pulled over to the side of the road, and pulled out a state of the art Blackberry, and checked his Twitter feed, grunted, tapped a reply and off we set again. Now it makes sense that a tuk tuk man would have a smart phone, even if it represents a considerable investment, as he doubtless gets jobs and bookings by email and text message – but twitter?
(For people deeply interested in the Thai election the Bangkok Post remains the most up to date with coverage with news of a possible offshore deal about Thaksin and another statement by the army saying that they won’t intervene.)