Viral interest in moving out of Thailand sparks debate and some backlash
The current interest among Thais in moving abroad, with nearly 763,000 members joining a newly created Facebook group and the Thai hashtag “Let’s Move Abroad” among top Twitter trends, has sparked much discussion, debate and backlash about the state of Thailand and love for one’s home country.
With countless posts asking for and sharing tips on life overseas on the “Let’s Move, Let’s Move Our Hips,” group, originally named “Let’s Move Abroad”, those expressing interest in moving out have been branded “country haters” by the government and its supporters, with their motives being questioned.
Democrat Party Spokesperson Ramet Rattanachaweng said today (Wednesday) that the trend is an attempt to discredit the government, which is doing its best to solve the country’s problems. “I believe all Thais think the same, which is being proud of being Thai. I don’t like to see this becoming a trend, as it will damage the country.”
“Politically speaking, some may be delighted with this trend, but I don’t think anyone wants to move out, except those who are evading court cases, as life abroad can be difficult,” he added.
The emigration sentiment is shared among those already sympathetic to the anti-government movement. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, speaking under his alias “Tony Woodsome” on Clubhouse yesterday, expressed sympathy for those planning to move away, saying “We need to listen to them and try to understand them. It’s crazy to say they hate their country. This means there is no such understanding.”
“If I were still prime minister, this phenomenon would not happen. I wouldn’t have let people starve to death. There are many economic developments to be made,” he added.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Puangthong Pawakapan, of Chulalongkorn University, posted on her Facebook page “I have a lot of sympathy for the new generation who wish to move. How desperate would they have to be to not want to live in their own home?”
“After the 2006 coup, I advised my child move, if they can move. Don’t worry about us parents. Those in power do not care about lives and people’s feelings. Nothing can be done,” she added.
Some Bangkok-based embassies have taken the opportunity to promote moving to their countries, with Sweden making the first move.
“Are you dreaming of moving abroad? Let us give you reasons why Sweden may be a good destination,” read the Facebook post by the embassy on Monday. The quick move has earned the post over 62,000 reactions and almost 10,000 comments to date.
The trend comes amid Thailand’s third wave of COVID-19, which is seeing many more cases than last year, slow vaccine rollout and a new round of restrictive measures, as well as ongoing pre-trial detention of several anti-government protest leaders.