Saturday, December 17, 2005

monkmobiles for bulletproof Buddhas

[Image: PHOTO: EPA TaipeiTimes 2005]

You might have seen this a few months ago when it first circulated the blogosphere. For years, Muslim communities in the southern provinces of Thailand (Narathiwat, Pattani, Songhkla and Yala) have complained about the economic disadvantages they face compared to central Thailand and the rest of the country which is by majority Buddhist. The Muslims of the south "were originally part of the ancient Kingdom of Pattani, a semi-autonomous Malay region which adopted Islam in the mid-13th century" the BBC reported in July. They speak their own dialect, identify themsleves more akin to being Malaysian than Thai, and after being annexed by the Thai government in 1902 were promised more political integration into the political process, but claim, today, they have only been further and further isolated from having any real participation. Sadly, constant tensions between the two has found Buddhist civilians and monks the targets of radical Muslim aggression.

[Image: Thai-Blogs 'Bulletproof Monks']

Military products maker Precipart, Co. Ltd, considered the "Q" of the Thai government's '007' gadget-topia, has developed a prototype for the monks being targeted in the predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. As you see here, in addition to bulletproof vests, Thailand's modern Buddhas are taking cover inside mini-mobile-fortresses, militarized tuk-tuks retrofitted with bulletproof glass, better known as "monkmobiles."

[Image: Thai-Blogs 'Bulletproof Monks']

As practical and needed as these personal popemobiles may be, sadly, we can only read them as signs of greater instability and an escalated violent wake up call for the Thai government to perhaps reckon with their Muslim communities in a more politically solvent manner. I also can't help but to think, after seeing these monkmobiles painted in bright yellow and framing the monk's stand-out safron-colored robes, that they will only encourage more attacks. It's like responding to terrorists by giving them targets. Though, if they are saving lives then I suppose the monkmobile is an effective means of immediate response. But can't we think beyond the "immediate response," before the entire world is buried in multiple overlapping perpetual crisis' blankets and bodies, bogging us down even deeper in a future hyper-myopia of overwhelming "immediate response" tended to ad infinitum? I tell ya, I wouldn't want to be one of those drivers, who seems to have been forgotten in all the bulletproofing that went into the design of these little armored-transports.

(via: we-make-money-not-art)


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