The fallout from the election result – or what seems to be the election result – dominated the week’s news. As predicted political maneuvering was to the fore with some sketchy lines drawn in the sand. While the ballot papers could not baldly state: Do you want the military to continue or not? that is just where the main line is now drawn.
You either subscribe to the men in khaki underpants or you don’t. Simple – and a whole lot simpler than Brexit!
Sudarat Keyuraphan of Pheu Thai, the party who gained the most votes, cobbled together a coalition of virtually everyone except the Democrats who failed so abysmally at the ballot box. Her message was clear – join us if you are opposed to the junta. She needed as many seats as she could muster claiming midweek that she had reached 255.
Mrs May in Whitehall could have done with her help….
Thailand more than ever is ranging up against the military and their supporters. But there is a sense of foreboding in the air and Rooster is hardly alone in thinking this will not end well. The junta’s political arm said wait until May which was a euphemism directed at the usurpers along the lines of “not on your nelly”.
Wednesday’s hard hitting and surprising editorial from The Nation calling for Prayut to withdraw from politics said that Thailand had had enough of the bullet and now wanted to abide by the ballot. The editorial was amazing stuff but I suspect that both the writer and the editor who allowed it felt emboldened by the shift in the political landscape that was soon confirmed by Sudarat’s coalition press conference.
My post of the week relates to the election and was a response to those who claimed that billionaire and heartthrob of the young Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit had sold out to Pheu Thai. The Future Forward’s support for Sudarat and co. inspired GarryP to write. It is not my usual appreciation of a pithy quip but something more lengthy and thoughtful befitting a citizen who has been here decades and knows what he’s talking about:
“I am at a loss to understand why so many people are surprised that FFP joined up with PTP. They both have policies to downsize and reduce spending on the military. They have both made it clear they could not support Prayuth as the PM. They also have some other similar policies. And just because some believe that PT is the most corrupt party ever (the junta actually leaves PT in the dust on the corruption scale), does not make those other parties joining in the coalition (if it succeeds) corrupt too. In fact, they would probably be in a position to increase oversight over what is happening in the government.
“Also, of the people who voted FFP who I have spoken too, not one of them believes it wrong to join up with PT to form the government. It seems it is mainly the holier than thou foreign crowd who have problems with it”.
Certainly that foreign crowd who love to think they can figure out Thai politics were forced to reassess their views as once again the political landscape was anything but clear. I am the first to admit I really don’t know how this will pan out except to say that I remember what happened in 1992 when the military tried to cling on to power. We ended up cowering in a curfew as unruly mobs and people with high power rifles toured the streets.
But it was not all doom and gloom and uncertainty. Earlier in the week came the amusing and very welcome news that Uncle Big Too’s last Friday sermon was to be on the 29th. It was clear – as several on the forum pointed out – that this announcement was greeted with great relief. Happiness was finally, and five years after time, being returned to the people by Prayut NOT doing something. We will now be able to enjoy coronation news on a Friday, a distinct improvement.
Doing his best to upstage the politicians was surely someone who will have his name on a ballot paper one day – His Omnipresence Lt-Gen Surachate Hakparn. Big Joke – not exactly a shrinking violet in the best of weeks – was everywhere. Up he popped to rap the knuckles of people who shared “fake news” stories critical of the Election Commission. There he was telling everyone why e-cigarettes are so demonic.
And there was more, much more. He seemed to have the Canadian authorities eating out of his hand as he prepared to bring a South African murderer of a Kanchanaburi jeweler back to Krung Thep to face the music. Then there he was banging up more Nigerian romance scammers and their Thai accomplices.
He even had time to remember that he had a small job as chief of Immigration! Wednesday saw him all across the media talking about the proposed changes to the 1979 Immigration Act that have been considered by his BFF and DPM Prawit Wongsuwan. With a straight face and lots of “khraps” BJ promised things would be easier and faster!
The forum faithful, tiring of BJ and his vinyl charts depicting common crime, gave the Lt-Gen a roasting for not batting on their side when it came to their rights in Thailand (as if they had any!). The reality was there was no new immigration news but when has that stood in the way of a good bar stool bashing!
The Immigration changes feature funky new stamps – one resembling a billowing flag welcomes you in and when leaving Thailand you get a lovely one in the shape of an ear of rice. A hand waving “bye-bye” might have been better for the latter.
BJ also managed to get in his two-penneth about the real reason for the necessary changes – those nasty black people, oh, and seeing as it was fresh in his mind…South Africans. He clearly subscribes to the Spitting Image view that, no, he’s never met a nice one.
Other stories this week had the forum faithful frothing indignantly at the mouth. A police volunteer in Pattaya swiped out with a club at a family on a motorbike doubling back to avoid a checkpoint. He hit a two hear old boy who was sitting between mum and dad severely injuring him. Posters who believed he would never be prosecuted were proved wrong yet again though whether he will just face a wounding charge or attempted murder remains to be seen.
Either way he was bailed for 10,000 baht as everyone on the force, at least, remained tight-lipped.
Those of us who ride bikes in the kingdom can tell stories about police checkpoints that would make your short and curlies straighten. In the old days my general policy was to pretend to slow down and stop then rev off. The raison-d’etre being that their presence by the side of the road was illegal so why shouldn’t I follow suit. This was not altogether wise – on one occasion the first Mrs Rooster and I nearly succumbed to a swipe from a very long torch while speeding through.
Fortunately police checkpoints in Bangkok these days are virtually non-existent on the main roads. A few persist down the side streets where rogues continue their insidious extraction methods but by and large us bikers can pretty much do as we please so long as we don’t draw attention to ourselves.
Comment was rife on yet another “Go Fund Me” story, guaranteed to raise the hackles of any self respecting Forum poster as well as many who respect no one. This featured Kristian Hatton down in New South Wales who wanted people to fund his marriage to Nok. Apparently Kristian was desperate – he only earned $500 a week and how could anyone expect him to live on that. It was out of the question to expect him to eat just one meal a day and he needed $6,000 to satisfy little Nokky.
His financial appeal was short lived just like his appeal to Nok will be if he hasn’t got enough money. Poster Thaiwrath, mindful of the absurdity of the story, came up with the predictable comment that Thaivisa should have saved all this for next Monday. Lest we forget tomorrow is every journalist’s favorite day of the year, April 1st.
Further outrage came from the irate netizens of TV over the story of Lance Whitmore who was sentenced to 50 years in jail four years ago for having a few Ecstasy pills. Ex-soldier Lance, or Lance Corporal Lance as one forum wag put it, is being repatriated to the UK to see out his sentence that could be as little as ten years more. People have got a point when they complain about the disparity between sentences such as this and the relative leniency shown to people who assault and murder.
Many laws are being updated in Thailand to meet the needs of a changing criminal landscape in the online era but much more needs to be done. Apropos – and I make no excuse for referring to Lt-Gen Surachate yet again – one news source actually called these days the “Big Joke Era”.
Makes a change from the dinosaurs of the Jurassic I suppose, no offence Uncle P.
And so to this week’s Rooster Awards. The “Double Entendre” award sponsored by Finbarr Saunders goes to Air Asia for their billboard in Brisbane advertising that one could “Get Off in Thailand”.
Another wag claimed a further bit of airline advertising had said: “Cheap enough to say, Phuket I’ll go!”
Mispronouncing Phuket has been something of a tabloid staple over the years; when one UK princess was engaging in some right royal rumpty-tumpty on a yacht many years ago “The Sun” revealed it “had happened off Phuket (pronounced fuk-et)”.
However, my favorite mispronouncing story is the British comedian who asked a contestant on a UK game show, in all seriousness, “What is the capital of Thighland?”. Not much you can say to that as Bang Cock might be seen as a facetious answer.
The “Pull The Other One (It’s Got Bells On It)” award goes to the folks at the British Embassy in Bangkok and their pay masters at the Foreign Office. Apparently the 426 million sobs they garnered from the sale of the embassy will be spent on their “World Class Diplomacy”. World class cheek more like.
“Best T-Shirt” of the week had to go to the Nigerian romance scammer who appeared before the cops at the tech division in Bangkok with “I HATE EXPLAINING SH*T” written on his back. No one in the Thai press mentioned it though Rooster, translating the story, couldn’t resist making that my angle. One suspects that the Thai newshounds might have fed that idiomatic sentence into Thai Google Translate and got more gobbledygook than usual.
Finally it’s that time of the year again when the Bangkok International Motor Show comes to Impact at Muang Thong Thani. Expect far more stories about the antics of the various genders of “pretties” than specifications of new super cars.
Rooster has to be careful when sneaking out to admire the scenery at the car shows so I usually come up with a cunning cover story to satisfy Mrs Rooster. “I’m off to Patpong”, being my favorite.
Being a younger “model” Mrs R has barely heard of it, let alone been there.