So what does Prime Minister Thaksin Shinwatra decide to do? Shower the south in the paper rubbish from the rest of the country. Well, that's not how he'd put it. The Nation newspaper from Bangkok put it a little differently:
People in the country’s southernmost provinces will purportedly be showered with love and sympathy this weekend. At the latest count, more than 20 million origami birds have been folded by their compatriots from around the country, and when they are dropped from the skies on December 5, it will send an unmistakable message of deep concern and caring.
(A side note from an article read a couple of days ago - the Doves of Peace thing has become a bit of a joke. Muslim leaders are rejecting it, arguing the doves have no significance to their culture. The army are pissed off that so much of their energy is being put into transporting them all the way down south. The environmental movement are worried about the effect of masses of paper waste. The local people are upset at the asthetic effect on the neighbourhood. Policy on the run, Thai-style.)
The way this farang (whitefella) sees things, the heart of the problem lies in the intimate relationship between Thailand and Buddhism. Thailand is the spiritual home of the religion, Wats (religious temples) are dotted throughout Bangkok and indeed the rest of the nation. The flags of the two fly side by side, and the Buddhist monks who can be seen on the streets are the most revered figures around. There is an aura of spirituality that is felt everywhere. On it's own, this is healthy and desirable and provides an outlet for spirituality that would otherwise be lost in a sea of 7-Elevens and Skytrain stations, but when it turns into relgious nationalism, the outcome in the south seems strangely inevitable.
When a group of people are told that they are a deviation from the norm, and can never be truly Thai so long as they are not Buddhist, they rebel, and often with anger. Particularly when emboldened from similar but different Islamic struggles in Chechnya, Kashmir and some other joint in the Mid-East, Muslim nationalism is growing. A prediction - within a generation, southern Thailand will break off from the rest of the country and form its own state. Just another reason why secularism it the best way for national cohesion.