Last night I witnessed West Side Story, but this time there was no music for
Benny and the Jets. This time it was a display of brutal teenage behaviour,
where a gang of approximately ten youths were systematically kicking at the
head and stomach of another youth, lying on the ground, having been
previously beaten into submission.
I have no idea what his ‘crime’ may have been, but
the summary court of (in)justice was certainly meting out its punishment. I
was with another expat, a Chiang Mai resident, who counselled that I should
not cross the road and intervene. I can understand his thinking. What was to
be achieved by two farangs, for both of whom the bloom of youth has faded?
With head and eyes averted I walked back to my hotel on the other side of
I awoke this morning after a troubled night’s sleep.
What has happened to the Land of Smiles? There is a fundamental problem in
our society. Teenage violence is no longer something you read about in the
western world. Teenage violence is here and now - right here in Chiang Mai.
Forget the ‘respect your mother and father’. Forget the precepts of
Buddhism, reputedly deep in the hearts of 94 percent of the Thai population.
Forget the repressive zeal of the government’s ‘New Social Order’. All
of those important sociological factors have failed. And so have I - and
everyone else who sees, but turns away from the sight of such brutality.
Next time I will at least inform the police, no matter
how ineffective this is, according to some. In the meantime, the local
government should be looking at ways of curbing such behaviour before the
much vaunted ‘Aviation Hub’ becomes the ‘Gangland Hub’ of the north.
And ahead of the endless seminars presenting their lack of conclusions on
the subject, an increased police presence, with uniformed officers
patrolling the streets, would be a good start. Thai society must not stand
back as well, otherwise it will be lost for ever.