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The week that was in Thailand news: Rooster eats some Humble Pie – but will Prayut follow suit?


The week that was in Thailand news: Rooster eats some Humble Pie – but will Prayut follow suit?

Rooster came in for a fair bit of bashing last week over comments I made regarding British pensioners. Maybe I am turgid, dull, smug and irrelevant and burble on too much  – you’d only be agreeing with the wife.
But what I found particularly galling – a charge leveled at me for being an “I’m all right Jack” permanent resident and patronizing teacher – was that I had spent almost the entire previous week fighting the corner of the very pensioners who were having a go at me.
I had sent the best part of two dozen emails to and fro to my contacts at the British Embassy to get to the bottom of the row over the income letters. I also took a bit of exception to the suggestion that I was somehow belittling British servicemen; in fact I admire them enormously. This came about mainly due to using the term “Malvinas”. As one observant poster pointed out this was because I have an issue with that conflict, not with the brave and worthy people who were ordered to fight in it.
I personally saw it as a disgraceful episode that could have been resolved diplomatically. The loss of life on both sides was really only about Margaret Thatcher being reelected. This view is not popular, indeed was laughed out of hand in jingoistic Britain at the time, but I stick by it. Just as I stick by an equally unpopular view that this century’s intervention in Iraq was completely justified and the British role in Afghanistan was highly honorable.
When my Thai/British son came into my Bangkok office aged 16 and announced that he wanted to quit sixth form and join the British army and go to help in Afghanistan I didn’t stand in his way – I was in fact a very proud father.
I also took some exception to the fact that few people seemed to have got to the part last week when I balanced my views and suggested that pensioners living in Thailand should be made more welcome and things made easier for them in terms of 90 day reporting and ownership of houses and land.
It was not my intention to antagonize or troll – some suggested that was in my mind to get more clicks and comments. Having translated 6,000 Thaivisa stories over the last two and a half years and probably being the most read person on the site in the context of that work, this column is small biccies – just another weekly two thousand words contributing to the six million I have written in total on all aspects of the Thai news.
However, I do hope the column continues to provide some food for thought and the occasional glimmer of humor and insight; those are my principal and dare I say principled aims.
If I upset people with the idea of taxing pensions in Thailand then I am sorry. I feel it is a country that I have invested my whole life in and when I see some people who come here and make unrealistic demands – even bash the country I call home – is it not unreasonable that I myself might not feel a little “galled”?
But I take the criticism on the chin and hope that my regular readers will persevere and find the odd nugget to cheer up a rainy Sunday. I may work for Thaivisa but I am nobody’s lackey and I will continue to say it like it is even though sometimes I am sure that will not be altogether welcome, palatable or even fair. And if I upset people with my crassness and what many saw as my smugness and “I’m all right Jack” attitude, then, once again, khor thort na khrap.
Having not one but two Thai wives both of whom are in my past and present, I have got used to dining on humble pie.
However, one poster suggested that “you can bet your bottom dollar that he won’t even refer” to the “cock-up of his comments” this week.
You, sir, owe me 32.50 baht.
Also feeling the heat of adverse comment on social media this week was Thailand’s General PM. Big Too made the populist-style decision to expand his online presence from his website to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This is just another step in his disingenuous “I may go into politics, I may not”  meandering personal road map.
Big Joke – now there’s a man who is savvy when it comes to being online – might have warned his paymaster about the pitfalls. Prayut might already be ruing this foray into a medium he has no prospect of being able to control.
First up to batter was foreign “ex-journalist” Andrew MacGregor Marshall who apparently posted a mock-up of Big Too being two-faced with Adolf Hitler. Sorry, Mr Marshall but this is counterproductive (and on a par with a poster on this column last week who seemed to be reveling in the idea that my plane to England might crash).
When people draw parallels with Hitler – as they often do with many world leaders like Drumph – they only make their supporters more determined. To fight the far right, the totalitarian, the evil one must be cleverer than that.
Many unsuitable people have been elected recently because of protest votes that have swept them to power. Call people Hitler or murderers and all you do is continue to alienate and create division. People need alternatives, someone of reason they can turn to rather than be threatened and humiliated into changing their views on the leaders they elected in the first place.
It is just not going to work – the protest voters’ heels will just dig in even more. The incumbent in the White House could easily be reelected but if betting was allowed on the next Thai Prime Minister you wouldn’t get very good odds on the general.
How about a long range double on Big Too and Big Toupee? That could pay dividends to soften the horror of the outcome.
Big Joke – Surachate Hakparn the new immigration chief – continued to empty Thailand this week! With each passing day the records of illegal foreigners turfed out seemed to be broken. It’s a wonder he hasn’t run out of those flashy vinyl boards that adorn his press conferences. Boards that forum wag “Darcula” suggested could be bought from Nigeria after money was deposited in a bank account.
Thai Rath produced a feature about the Maj-Gen that Rooster was tasked with translating. I chose the angle of his promising better service for tourists and expats. That was fair, and seeing as the tone of the Thai feature was universally positive I decided to go with that too. Not being a news story I was determined to slip in some alternative viewpoints to give the story a modicum of balance. I am sure BJ is smart enough to know that he can’t expect everything to go his way.
It will be interesting if he decides to move into politics in the years ahead. I think he is made for it. Certainly his approval rating among the Thaivisa faithful showed they might vote for him if they were allowed. A survey on the site was running at about two thirds thinking he was doing a good job in cleaning up Thailand……so far. This is bound to increase if he can sort out the mess at Chiang Mai immigration where the chief was transferred to clerical duties down south.
With the amount of people bashing Surachate in comments it can clearly be seen that the sensible silent ones are in the majority. The keyboard warriors bashing Thailand shout loudest and sticks and stones may break our bones but……
Bashing was massive in the story about the Thais being “outraged” by a Facebook post from Paris that showed what could have been the Thai flag adorning parts of fashion footwear. No one who has been in Thailand five minutes will be unaware of the folly of connecting the foot with anything of importance – like the Thai flag.
The forum was up in arms (not feet) slagging off the Thais for overreacting. The bashers made comparisons with Union Jacks and Star Spangled Banners that adorn bottoms and heels the world over.
Two points. The first is that foreign flags and the sensibilities associated with them do not normally extend to feet. Reaction to what you can do to a national flag varies. In the US you’d find yourself incarcerated or lynched for setting fire to one while in London people would just look at you as being rather silly for igniting a Union Jack.
The second point was that the forum had been successfully click-baited by the translator. The translation used the word outrage when the Thai news stories cited “may mot som” or “inappropriateness”. The reality is that most Thais would not care a great deal even if the shoe pictures emanated from Thailand.
Stereotypes in such “outrage” stories are reinforced and Thaivisa is the winner with the best part of twenty pages of Thai bashing clicks and comments over a non-issue from Sanook.
Tuesday saw what might be one of the final acts in the “was she or wasn’t she” alleged rape drama from the shores of Koh Tao. National chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda appeared alongside Big Joke to announce that following the RTP trip to London to interview 19 year old Issy Baxter they had concluded that there was really no evidence. There were no semen stains on her t-shirt and she couldn’t say exactly where the offence took place.
Apart from BJ’s rather silly and gun-jumping trip to the island back in September I think the Thai police – aided and abetted by the cops in England – have got this one right. The mother screamed to the Samui Times that the British were as bad as the Thais and her Issy was drugged and raped. But the Samui Times has its own Koh Tao bashing agenda.
I strongly suspect mum was paid by the UK tabloids. My personal dealings with the family also make me suspect that the victim either had sex with a friend of her then boyfriend before he arrived in Thailand and wanted to cover up the embarrassing fact or she was confused as to what really happened. This is not victim blaming and I have my reasons that I prefer not to explain here. Suffice to say if I manage to run into her in Dulwich this week you will read all about it on Thaivisa because I will be asking for a personal statement.
My post of the week on the forum relates to this issue and came from “Prem – R”. It was not a witty quip but an interesting piece of advice that was on the HM Gov website on the subject of reporting crime in Thailand:
“You should report any incidents of crime to the Thai police before leaving the country. If you do not, your case may not be investigated. You should be aware that the reporting of crimes in the media is different from that in the UK. Local authorities, including the police, may give detailed press briefings. There have been instances where the victims of crime have been identified and threatened with prosecution by the police for damaging Thailand’s reputation”.
One wonders if this advice was on their site  before this latest incident or as a direct result of the alleged rape case?
Red faces were on both sides of the divide at a charity marathon organised on the former king’s memorial weekend in Chonburi. The runners naturally were red from their exertions but the organizers were feeling the heat because they ran out of water. They should have asked Toon Bodyslam how it was done – he managed to coordinate everyone earlier in the year and put about a billion baht in the coffers of hospitals.
Prize for the grisliest murder of the week went to the Swiss/Thai man in sleepy Hua Hin who invited his bit on the side to his house then had an argument that resulted in him stabbing her and stuffing her in a black plastic box in the loo, as you do. Police soon arrived and, no need to excuse the pun, found it to be an open and shut case.
The cops found the “luuk khreung” cut in two on the railway tracks after he committed suicide.
As I expounded on last week, Rooster has now begun a three week sojourn in England. The journey was painless and very cheap.
Travelling to Suwannaphum (I do so hate the official spelling of Suvarnabhumi) by taxi I thought: Is it just me that finds most taxi drivers polite, reasonable and providing an excellent service? The first driver stopped, turned on the meter in his clean cab, took me to my destination by a sensible route and thanked me for the modest tip before wishing me cheerily on my way.
Even Thai YouTubers were on the Bangkok cabbies’ case this week exposing drivers and fighting the tourists’ corner. Videos led to three serial offenders fined by the DLT for not turning on the meter and refusing fares.
Yes, we all know that tourists experience problems more often than people who live in Thailand but I just don’t see the issue being a massive problem in Bangkok at least. I’d far rather see the authorities doing something to improve driving and addressing the appalling death toll.
My flight to England was notable because I paid the lowest return fare to London in 35 years. A little over 15,000 baht. Yes, it meant going round the China houses a bit but I found China Southern to be reliable and perfectly acceptable in every department. A bit better than Thai Airways embroiled in a dispute about use of first class by their off duty pilots this week.
I found someone’s dropped boarding pass at the airport in Bangkok. The Chinese lady came up to thank me personally in her broken English – reading Thaivisa you’d think that every Chinese person just shouts, gobbles prawns at 1000 decibels and uses the street rather than toilets.
The queue at Suwannaphum immigration was non-existent and the smiling officer who stamped my documents took only a shade more than the thirty seconds that Big Joke called for this week after the debacle that saw thousands wait for hours on the Malaysian border. That led to the transfer of the chief at Satun pending the inevitable setting up of a committee and the aforementioned reaction in Chiang Mai.
So there it was at the start of my trip. Disreputable and disrespectful Bangkok cabbies – debunked. Rude Chinese tourists – untrue. Slow and lazy back-hander taking immigration officials – where?
Am I just lucky or do other people hardly ever face the problems that hundreds complain about every hour of the waking day on Thaivisa?
I know not.
So here’s to enjoying the next three weeks in sunny England buying cheap stuff at the splendidly low 43 baht exchange rate to the pound. And no, my dear, impoverished pensioners….
I won’t be apologizing for that.
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