Whitespace ID
HomeExpat LifeNews & BlogsYour SayFun & GamesThai TravelsThai CultureThai Facts

The Thailand Theses

If ever a phrase defined a nation, that phrase is mai pen rai. Wherever you go in Thailand – and whatever you do – you will hear these words almost as often as the traditional greeting sawaat dee. Mai pen rai - No problem. It doesn’t matter what you did, everything is mai pen rai in Thailand. But is it really such a good thing for the Thais to be so forgiving? Find out our conclusion here...

Mai pen rai is as much a part of the Thailand experience as the wai, tuk-tuks and Wat Phra Kaew. But what does it really mean? “No problem”? “It doesn’t matter”? “Don’t worry about it”? “OK, but don’t do it again”? Answer: All of the above and so much more.

You’re late for an appointment? Mai pen rai. You break a glass in a restaurant? Mai pen rai. You embezzle billions of baht from public funds? Mai pen rai.

As with many Thai phrases, mai pen rai has a far deeper meaning than any single English translation. These three seemingly innocuous little syllables bear the weight of a nation and have come to define its very psyche. Mai pen rai is a way of life to Thai people. It is their mantra for the modern world.

While it may be charming to foreign visitors, we ask the question: Is mai pen rai a national treasure, or a barrier to progress?

On the face of it, the culture of mai pen rai is a national asset and part of Thai people’s charm. Apart from in soap operas, you very rarely see Thai people showing negative emotions like anger and frustration. From an early age, they are taught that to do so is childish and immature and so they are trained to keep their emotions in check. Their apparent laid-back and easy-going tolerance is as much a part of their friendly charm as the famous smile that often accompanies it.

Mai pen rai is the sea of calmness on which the good ship Thailand drifts, but peer beneath that placid surface and you will find something sinister lurking in the murky depths.

Mai pen rai goes far beyond good manners and serenity. It is the easy option, ignoring problems and avoiding confrontation. It is the inaction that arrests development and allows tyranny and corruption to prosper at all levels.

Whenever somebody jumps a queue unchallenged, mai pen rai is the sedative that prevents protest. Whenever a drunk driver takes the wheel, mai pen rai tells him it’s OK to do so. Whenever nepotism rather than aptitude is the basis for career advancement, mai pen rai bites the tongues of the more worthy. And whenever a politician lines his own pocket at the taxpayer’s expense, mai pen rai let’s him get away with it.

Patience and forgiveness are admirable traits, but passive submission and meek acceptance create a culture of corruption that stunts progress and ultimately holds the country back. Nobody wants to curb Thai people’s charm and friendliness, but if they are serious about tackling corruption and becoming an internationally competitive nation, then it’s time for them to stand up and confront their problems and injustices.     

Paul Snowdon – March 27, 2010

Back to Naked Farang Articles

Receive weekly updates on all the latest from Naked Farang by joining our Facebook group: Click here to join or log into facebook and then paste this link into the address bar:

Have your say...

29 Jul 2014, 17:55
I m really iemprssed with Bonnie's shots. Especially with her approach to subjects prior to taking photos of them. You must build rapport with them to be effective. I haven't traveled out of the country in a number of years, but those were real highlights of my life. Enjoy them Bonnie.
01 Aug 2014, 11:09
funny because I would rank this in our top 5 Christmases ever! it was faitastnc. no hurry to get here and there to see whoever. just a nice relaxing day at home. [url=]lhvtrvcmw[/url] [link=]tftusxicdaf[/link]
03 Aug 2014, 17:49
Hi Agnes, 我是南華早報的副刊記者 想要同你做個訪問關於你是如何愛上Bollywood電影 云云 如果您有興趣的話 請聯係我 ------------------------Vivian Chen Features Reporter South China Morning Post4/F, Morning Post Centre22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, N.T.General<a href=""> nemubr</a>: (852)2680 8888Direct<a href=""> nemubr</a>: (852)2680-8737Fax<a href=""> nemubr</a>: (852)2562
05 Aug 2014, 15:02
Owning Chanel designer label hdanbags may be a measure which a lovely lovely lady has fantastic taste in fashions and is no stranger to the latest progress in fashion. It will not represent ones own, these products of course stand the house of more durable quality and design fineness, with businessmen swearing inside their lives because hdanbags might easily exist check of your and therefore widespread start using. The most suitable matter within the manufacturing most typically associated with Chanel purses and purses, and the stores themselves demand to pass accurate quality laboratory tests to ensure that however these are suitable for building up these chicks accessories. It's no surprise that they are at high think not only by fashion designers and celebrated public figures across the globe, but also purveyors considered one of durable manufactured goods that respect so many people of hard wearing fashion and funky chic. [url=]irczdwgnhg[/url] [link=]tislpnus[/link]
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my email
Enter the code shown in the image:
Powered by Scriptsmill Comments Script


HomeExpat LifeNews & BlogsYour SayFun & GamesThai TravelsThai CultureThai Facts
terms of use
privacy policy