In what is no doubt a bombshell of a question, Thais have started asking foreigners their stance on Thailand’s political conflict. However answering the question wrong could easily change a person’s experience in Thailand for the worse almost immediately. So understanding the only safe answer has become a necessary tool for foreigners in Thailand.
Thailand’s political divide has become so big, Thais are starting to ask foreigners their position on Thai politics and what camp they support. The reason for this is not known exactly and most likely is different for every Thai. One thing is certain, Thai politics has become a major part of the lives of all Thais whether they want it or not.
The first and most important thing is understanding that foreigners have no say in Thai politics. They may have opinions if they actually live in Thailand and have observed the full on battle, but tourists mostly don’t care or are not up to speed on the political divide.
The problems start if you tell a Red Shirt you don’t like Thaksin or if you tell a supporter of the King you like Thaksin. Both of those answers can very quickly make things head south for you. So knowing what camp the Thai person supports is helpful, but still it is a dangerous question to answer. Even saying you have no opinion leads to other questions that are a bit probing. For the most part it is like living in a Communist country where you need to support the party or else.
So the only way to safely answer the question is to take it slightly off topic and answer it in a general answer that satisfies their curiosity about your position, and leaves it up to them to conclude what that means. The only safe answer is ‘I do not like corruption, no matter what color shirt they wear.’ By answering this it says you tend to be above the fray and understand there is good and bad on both sides of the divide. If asked to clarify what that means, simply repeat the answer again thus implying no clarification is needed.
If they are still not satisfied and start asking your opinion about specific people by name like Thaksin, or Suthep, or even the Royal family or the military top brass, you can just say you don’t know what is true because things have been so distorted in the news, and you don’t know what to believe. All you know it is a matter for Thais and Thais only that must be sorted out amongst themselves.
By answering this way you remove yourself from the middle of the conflict and position yourself as an observer. If this still does not work then do your best to change the topic to something safe like sports, or just find a reason to leave.
This is not political correctness, this is more about letting the Thais know you are a guest in their country and that you respect them enough not to get involved in Thai affairs.