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The week that was in Thailand news: Where the predictable and the surprising rub shoulders

Lifestyle

The week that was in Thailand news: Where the predictable and the surprising rub shoulders

Fallout from the Red Bull “Boss” case – as well as some juicy new developments – continued to dominate the news on Thaivisa this week. It was seven days that once again showcased why the kingdom is a tremendous source of news of stories that are both predictable for those who have lived in Thailand for yonks as well as providing surprises that keep even this ageing columnist on his toes.

Totally predictable has been the dropping of all charges against a rich and entitled brat amid accusations that large sums of money have changed hands. Less predictable has been the huge public outcry. This is aided and abetted in the modern era by online news and social media comment. In years past the authorities in Thailand could get away with murder. Increasingly they are being held to account.

The week began with Uncle Too – PM Prayut – actually getting his finger out in response to his angry compatriots and initiating an investigation. Where this will lead is likely to be Nakhon Nowhere Substantial, to paraphrase a columnist with more experience than Rooster.

But at least our uncle who art in khaki, hollow be his name, said he was “uncomfortable” with the case. A group of law professors went further and demanded explanations from the public prosecutor and the Royal Thai Police.

A House committee was quickly convened and plod was summoned to face music they would have laughed at in years gone by. The heat was on and anyone with half a brain (about 50% more than plod) could see that they were squirming.

Cocaine in Boss’s system arrived after a visit to the dentist. Those meds to stifle the pain always react so unpredictably with alcohol, don’t they? Then they said that Vorayuth (his real name now almost as familiar as Boss) was checked for booze TEN hours after the incident in September 2012.

They accepted his explanation that all that stress one gets from dragging a senior policeman under one’s Ferrari all the way around Thong Lo tends to play on one’s mind.

It led to some serious imbibing AFTER the killing and thus an alcohol reading of 60 milligrams, over the limit. Plod muttered something about the suspect having a meal, though mitigation attempts at this stage looks like surrounding the pen after the cow has scarpered, as a Thai proverb warns.

On the forum “rkidlad” said it best: “Everyone involved in this case is just digging themselves into a deeper hole”.

Whether anyone will be found down that hole remains to be seen. Up in Chiang Mai the provincial police chief wisely kept his cards and his opinions close to his tight tunic. Midweek a key witness in the case just happened to die in a motorcycle collision.

I’ve seen enough Forensic Files to know that coincidences do happen. But when Western rozzers investigate, coincidence is way down the list of likelihoods.

Somchai – his real name, you couldn’t script it! – said he had no idea who the other biker was. He explained that he worked at a Royal Project (uh-huh) and had just got his monthly salary (mm-hmm) then got plastered at a market (okay) before going off in search of a prostitute (understandable even though there aren’t any of course). He was certainly not hired by anyone to kill Jaruchart.

One almost expected him to say “Boss who?” though that would have been a Bridge Over the River Kwai too far.

The major general said it might just be that Jaruchart had the same name as the key witness. Suffice to say Thais don’t have names like “John Brown” – most of them are kinda unique! He promised a full investigation, with no stone unturned and after appealing for time would reveal all to an expectant public.

This is plod parlance from page one of the senior RTP “MOO” tome or “Manual for Officer Obfuscation”. It really means if we delay, they will forget. Som Tam for tea, anyone!?

The Thai public are increasingly less likely to let their leaders and the elites off the hook as the continuing protests against the government bear witness. This is portrayed by knockers as just the young being uppity – patently untrue. All levels of Thai society are furious and no one is off limits to that rising anger.

Forum curmudgeons on their bar stools who think that the Thais are passive and will believe anything they are fed are thoroughly mistaken. If they could speak any more than “taxi-Thai” they would discover that even their uneducated bar girls are informed and livid.

In related news about another wealthy individual actually facing justice in a place called a court, the chief of construction giant Ital-Thai Premchai Karnasuta came closer to incarceration. Though still out on bail after a failed appeal “Premchai the Poacher” may yet enjoy rice gruel for a year or so if the highest court in the land can be trusted.

Yes, putting court and trust in the same sentence could be my “famous last words”.

The subject of prison was also raised in an entirely unconnected capacity. Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin – Dotty to his mates – has decided to promote jails as ideal places for visitors to stimulate the ailing tourism sector. He explained himself by saying this was all part of rehabilitating prisoners, teaching them new trades and such.

The mind boggled with possibilities. Scantily clad female inmates in for Ya Ba learning how to be bar girls perhaps with the tourists providing valuable tips on etiquette. Exhibitions of those with experience in locks and safes encouraging the tourists to hire them when locked out of car and home.

Nah…they’ll probably just enter the police force.

Another predictable initiative was announced by the Department of Land Transport. No, not to do something about the road accident stats that saw 76 die at the scene on Wednesday (the day AFTER the busy long holiday return) and 8000 stiffs so far this year, but to dob in the bus and van drivers and truckers driving atrociously.

Just like the millions of baht handed out to grassers in Krung Thep reporting motorcyclists on the sidewalks, informants would get 50% of fines. Rooster contemplated ditching this Thai translation lark and heading off on my bike to get rich quick.

Hopefully quick enough to avoid becoming one of the stats myself. While I have no intention of going up the crematorium chimney ahead of time, this could be a great moment for those who complain endlessly on the forum about Thai driving. They could “get money where their mouth is”.

Apropos the protesters, some at the democracy monument came up with a “whimsical tactic for serious ends” (sounded a bit like Rooster’s existence that one). They pretended to be Japanese cartoon hamsters feasting on taxpayers’ money and running around the wheel of slavery.

Nice job kids! Army folks despise mockery!

The mother of all understatements was made in Nakhon Phanom when relatives of a crazed meth-head claimed “overzealousness” at the hands of the police. Yes, the guy had attacked and wounded a cop. But footage appeared to show he had been disarmed when a cop kicked him and dispatched him with a shot from his revolver. The cop will be transferred when he gets out of hospital and “justice to both sides” will be dispensed.

Believe that and you’ll believe anything.

Meanwhile Thaksin Shinawatra still believes he will be PM again one day. On the occasion of the fugitive’s 71st birthday his supporters in the US got together to wish him well. Whenever I imagine Thaksin returning to Thailand I think of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino who didn’t make it to immigration at the Manila airport on his return in 1983, the days of the infamous Marcos regime.

Years later they renamed it Ninoy Aquino International Airport and his wife became president. Thaksin’s sister has already had a brief spell at the trough but one wonders if the ex-premier’s ubiquitous nicknames “Naa Liam” (square face) or “Maew” (an unsavory term for the Hmong) would be a fitting replacement for Suwannaphum (my spelling).

Naa Liam International Airport or [email protected] Muang….perhaps not.

Good news for parents came this week as a committee is looking into making school kids go to school all week. My seven year old goes in Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the moment though the nipper in kindies does the regular five.

Back to “normal” would be great though the Rooster household was reminded of normal this week. The children have just gone back after 20 weeks of healthy lockdown. In their masks clutching hand sanitizer, they soon returned from school with colds and sore throats. The kids recovered within a day but Mr and Mrs R were left ailing for longer.

This is a reminder. Firstly, that it is a good thing that children get sick to build immunity and secondly that should Covid-19 be lurking or make a resurgence the schools will be an ideal breeding ground, flimsy masks and pointless vizors notwithstanding.

Not that I am against mask wearing; only a fool would diss it in Thailand these days. In fact, when the pandemic is well and truly over, I hope to see a continuation of mask wearing when people are sneezing and coughing from regular colds. And a continuation of the excellent habit of hand washing with soap and using sanitizer wherever one goes.

Virus news aggravated the curmudgeons this week when it was announced that Thailand was number one in the world related to response and recovery. Their Schadenfreude Sensibilities are worn like a badge of dishonor when Thailand messes up. When the country is successful they are incandescent with ire.

Thaksin was not the only person eyeing a comeback this week. Thaiger reported that Big Joke – former immigration chief Lt-Gen Surachate Hakpan – was hopeful of a return to former glories. Though evidence for this was non-existent, BJ had been making merit at a temple in Phitsanulok.

Poor old Big Joke, once the poster boy of both the Tourist Police and Immigration at the same time, cut a forlorn figure compared to the days he was globe trotting and arresting dark skinned people like they were going out of fashion.

He is now in a kind of limbo, not completely disgraced, not drummed out of the corps but with little to do except hope that Buddha can engineer a path back to former heights.

Without being disrespectful to the omnipotent Lord, it really will be up to other baldies especially one who has a penchant for chronometers.

In international news the Malaysians showed the Thais how it’s done by convicting ex-PM Najib Razak on all charges in his first 1MBD trial. He didn’t even escape across the border!

The POTUS (Piece Of Thoroughly Unpleasant Sediment) tweeted that he wanted the upcoming election put back because increased postal would be fraudulent. Of course this idea is nonsense, but it shows his desperation since the jewel in his crown, the resurgence of the US economy, is now a pre-pandemic footnote in history.

Rooster likes to follow the betting markets to gauge opinion as it is usually more reliable than following the news. Biden tightened up to nearly 1-2 favorite this week as Drumph eased to almost 2-1. Bear in mind, however, that in 2016 Hilary Clinton was an absolute shoe-in to be the first female president in US history.

In the UK the fallout from the sudden government decision to impose quarantine on people returning from Spain (where around 18 million Brits visit each normal year) caused grief and the Eton Mess tried to divert attention by promoting exercise for the obese. No offence, but he should know.

NASA sent yet another rocket to Mars to search for signs of life. There are plans to bring back samples to earth within the decade. The very best of luck to them as finding even extinct microbial life outside our world is something Rooster would love to be around to experience.

Back in Thailand a number of stories beggared belief and tipped the Titter-O-Meter. A relative of a missing man found him barbecued in a burned car he had been repairing. A dog nearby had a tasty liver in its jowls.

Fava beans anyone?

YouTuber and Frenchman Yan Marchal visited a restaurant in Bangkok that had supposedly barred foreigners. This stunt was far less amusing than his mock version in Thai of the NCPO theme tune some while back. Rather like Andrew Biggs being “invited” to go back to Suwannaphum, a black car appeared outside Monsieur Marchal’s residence at the time.

Methinks he’s safe this time around as DPM Anutin has already confirmed that farangs are rather smelly and unwelcome on a national level!

In QUOTES the police quickly solved the case of a motorcycle taxi guy assassinated in broad daylight over “insults and lack of respect”. How the two criminals expected to avoid capture with all the CCTV around these days.

The crims clearly didn’t realize that if half of Pattaya’s cameras don’t work, by the same token 50% actually do!

Mayor Sontaya – himself the son of a notorious murderer – promised that burying the fiber optic cables would result in better CCTV coverage. While he rubbed his hands at the prospect of more budget for another thousand cameras to “aid security and give confidence to tourists”.

Stories abounded at how well places like Koh Chang, Pattaya and Bang Saen did during the long weekend. The TAT rep in Pattaya spoke of 90% hotel occupancy. Well, its proximity to Bangkok and the fact that many of the caravansaries remain closed could have something to do with the promising figures.

The tourism authorities are now going to school to learn the meaning of “midweek”.

A family said they spent “40K on diarrhea” after going to a “fine dining restaurant”. In my experience you are far more likely to stay healthy by eating street food; at least it is usually prepared right in front of your eyes.

Street food is on the up in Chinatown and Khao San Road is trying to woo Thai tourists, all information contained in an excellent report from Daily News.

Top quirky story of the week featured some Thai youngsters who pinched a Siberian Husky while visiting Khao Khor in Phetchabun. They then exchanged the female puppy for their dinner at a restaurant 100 kilometers away after racking up a 2,000 baht bill.

The owner of the restaurant chastised her husband rather like the mother in Jack and the Beanstalk after her son sold the family cow for five beans. The dog owner was reunited with “Kluay Cheuam (Bananas in Syrup) though whether the 5,000 baht reward was paid remained a mystery.

Finally, I had one of those senior moments staring at a caption of a story about a hobo in Bangkok who was mysteriously scribbling on the Sukhumvit sidewalk. The caption was foxing my translation abilities and looked like “Satree Tart”.

Could this really be about a lady (polite word satree) who was a person of ill-repute?

Google was not my friend so Mrs Rooster was summoned and all became abundantly clear.

“Satreet Art”, said my much better half.

Rooster

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