United Thailand does not see colour. Not colour as in race, but Yellow Shirt and Red Shirt, the two bitter rival groups in present day Thai politics.
This group of 30 people from different walks of life got together August last year to form a society to unite the Thai people and promote social inclusion and tolerance.
“For the past five years, there’s a wide political gap in Thailand. The Reds won’t talk to Yellows and vice versa. Thailand has to move forward, but how is this possible if people remain divided,” says United Thailand founder Rattana Lao.
This group is co-organising the first Asian Youth Forum with International Debate Education Association (IDEA) in Pattaya from May 15-26.
“Organising this event is a leap forward for United Thailand. We have good local network to make this a national event. And because we are an apolitical group and that makes it easier for us to get support from all groups,” adds the 28-year-old doctorate student in comparative and International education.
United Thailand is bringing experts from groups like the International Labour Organisation and also renowned academicians from fields ranging from political science, history to human rights to discuss about migration. The theme for the forum is Crossing Borders: Migration in Asia.
Lao says: “We hope that this will be a model debate forum, education form, with a mixture of debate, cultural exchange and intellectual stimulation.”
United Thailand has been involved in alternative form of education where art is used to make people put aside their political differences and focus on tackling social issues.
One of the group’s major projects was to donate stationeries, food and computers to victims in Lopburi in the November 2011 floods in Thailand. The group also provides art materials to children in central Thailand (Kanchanaburi, Lopburi and Bangkok), and hold art exhibitions to showcase work done by the children.