Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Up to and since the announcement of the death of the King of Thailand I have considered writing something. But in short I have little to say that has not already been said, and what I might say would not be constructive.

Suffice to say the secrecy and the laws against commenting on the Thai monarchy always troubled me during the 25 years I worked in Thailand as a journalist. 

I have written stories of course and they have tended to be complimentary, even fawning – such as the cute story of the King and his dog for ‘The Times’ – which was incorporated into a book compiled by Denis Gray of AP and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. 

After giving permission for it to be republished I felt a slight sense of unease particularly when there were other better stories to be told. I also felt I was joining the establishment.

I do remember adding a few paragraphs on a ‘Royal’ story in which I mentioned the Crown Prince in a less than flattering way after which British Express newspapers were banned from Thailand.

The Daily Mail Website Mail Online was of course blocked after it put up the video of the Crown Prince’s birthday party for his pet poodle – Air Vice Marshall or something Foo Foo. *

Being a correspondent and not being able to report on one of the major stories in Thailand with any sort of accuracy was disturbing.

It was even more disturbing over the last decade when the Monarchy was used to justify dictatorships.

The fact is Thais loved their King, who, I am sure, was a good man and to question anything to do with the monarchy was taboo.

So of course I express sympathy my Thai friends on this occasion and sorry for their loss. 

Having said that, journalist-authors such as Andrew McGregor Marshall and Paul Handley have done excellent work in lifting the veil and at great personal risk to themselves and their families.
I have joined them back in the other world. 

Penetrating the superficial crust of the ‘Land of Smiles’ I too found to be a risky business – but the windmills I tilted at were the systematic corruption and criminality in the system.

Today my ‘Thai’ children fortunately can choose the characters they love or pay homage to and seem quite happy living under the world’s new longest serving constitutional monarch Queen Elizabeth II.

I do not expect any short term changes in Thailand. But in the long term only two things can happen; dictatorship or democracy. Regression or progression. There is no middle path. I hope the progress is not brutal.

*Apologies if I have Foo Foo’s military rank wrong.  I really am not going to waste my time looking it up.

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  1. Interesting times a coming. Expats here seem to be mostly interested in the effect all this is having on the exchange rate.

  2. Foo Foo was indeed an Air Vice Marshall but is now tragically deceased. I am trying to hold back comments about the Thai Royal Family. Not out of any implicit anti monarchical feelings (which I certainly do not share) but of an unease which any serious student of thai politics will be well aware.

    All I can do is NOT share the hagiographical statements about a man whose conduct could be said to be 'complicated'.

  3. Give me your impressions of the work of on Michael Yon, he appears to be a credited and experienced journalist

    1. A sort of elderly military group. Credited with what?

    2. Only interesting for his ongoing fued with Andrew Marshall MacGregor...

  4. I am a bit disappointed that the media decided to print issues about the Prince so early. After all, Thailand should be allowed to have time to mourn the passing of their King without distractions. Mocking the Royal family at such a sensitive time will only bring about repercussions.

    1. someone sent me a photo of the king just after he died, thats a bit uncouth...

  5. Re: I am a bit disappointed that the media decided to print issues about the Prince so early. After all, Thailand should be allowed to have time to mourn the passing of their King without distractions.

    Maybe its time to take the kid gloves off ...... I have no time for the Thai delicate ego and lack of responsibility. I will be surprised if this gets through the Andrew censorship filters ... (smile).

    1. "Maybe it's time to take the kid gloves off"

      And maybe it's not - if you agree with the premise that Thailand is best left to the Thais to fix whatever problems they have - now and in the future. After all - do you want strangers dictating to you?

      One would think that you can still vote with your feet if you don't like what you see..

      Like AD did

      For the record - as a farang I respected the King - and I have to go there to visit my wife's family - and would prefer to return unscathed

    2. The censorship of this page is almost equal to the censorship practiced by the Bangkok Post. I'm seriously wondering if it's even worth continuing to visit this page

  6. Had someone a few days ago told me that upon the death of HM the King of Thailand Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda would be named Regent pro tempore, I would have said they were ready for the nut house. Not now. Bizarre.

    1. For age 94 - Prem looks much better than many 84 year olds in the west - so much for gross overgeneralizations

      And as much of the country wears black - out come the red shirts again in the north - in force - but my Thai wife assures me that this phenomenon is not meant to incite the yellow shirts - okay then - she must know - heh heh

      It seems that the 2 party system doesn't work well anywhere - whether in the L.O.S. - or the "good old" U.S. of A

      Can anyone update on the current mood of the good General? He seems quite upset whenever I watched him scold the nation on a nightly basis - but that was then and this is now

      And obscurely related to that - there is the delicate matter of about 30 billion dollars to consider going forward

      And a mourning Prince in waiting...

  7. On behalf of millions of Thais - R.I.P. Rama 9 - you were much beloved by most of your people - and surely tried to make things better for them

  8. No, Thailand is not better left for the Thais to fix. The country needs to be told by outside (read "foreign") agencies how to solve their judicial problems, their rampant corruption, their....
    I shall leave it there.
    As Observer has stated, I also will e surprised if this post passes the AD censorship filters.

    1. My comment, although factually correct, did not make it past the censor. There is no further point in visiting this page as far as I'm concerned, there are far more interesting news outlets in North Korea. Enjoy your indoctrination, bye.

    2. Yep, historically we are the fixers:
      Burma - fixed, Iraq - fixed, Afghanistan - fixed, Iran - fixed, Syria - fixed, Rwanda - fixed, Libya - fixed, Bosnia -fixed, .... etc. etc. etc.

      How are things looking in the states? Trump/Clinton is the best that can be done? Brexit and the economy in England? I see no evidence that Westerners should be offering to fix/looking down on anyone. Perhaps it might be time to fix your own stuff. Start with trying to save the barrier reef or figuring out why there is now a Northwest Passage or why you can't convict your own celebrities or rich when they are guilty of a crime (assuming you really want to fight injustice).

      There are plenty of Thai's who know what's really going on (Porphant Ouyyanont, Chanida Chitbundid, Phichit Likhitkitchasombun, Ji Ungpakorn and many more) and they are easily located on websites that can be easily found by anyone. They just don't publish in sources you read or take too much effort to find. They have been frequently banished in Thailand and often have not published in English until recently. If you read them you will find their outlooks far more nuanced than Andy Mac and far more insightful. As for whether the Thai's can take care of themselves, I think history is more of a marathon than a sprint. The Thai's will get the government they deserve but it will be and should be theirs.

    3. "No, Thailand is not better left for the Thais to fix. The country needs to be told by outside (read "foreign") agencies how to solve their judicial problems, their rampant corruption, their...."

      That comment is irredeemably arrogant or inappropriately sarcastic. No country needs to be told how to solve any of it's problems by hypocritical foreign powers whose problems are just as bad.

  9. "No, Thailand is not better left for the Thais to fix."

    Smart people (unlike me - who goes back there because of my wife) vote with their feet, like AD did in 2014.

    99.9999% of foreigners don't care about Thailand's issues - judging by the ever-increasing numbers of tourists year on year.

    It's a reactive world - not a proactive one

    But by all means beat your head against the wall if it makes you feel better

    I'll give you a hint - it feels better when you stop

    Let them figure it out man - I tried for years to convince my Thai relatives to wear a safety helmet on their motorbike. They refuse to and resent being told to, so I finally gave up - this after 2 more relatives died on motorbikes in 2015 - wearing no helmet of course.

    I used to pick up garbage for ten years on Thai beaches - before I realized they have to do it - not me

    That's my experience - the more you tell them or model good so-called behaviour - the more it backfires - its a cultural thing

    1. You are right, the problems of Thailand are for 40 million Thais to solve, not for arrogant farang to lecture them on.

      I remember one old farang friend who tried to live in Buriram, he tried to fit in and bought a farm for his in-laws, built a nice house, gave money to fix the school in the little village he was in and various other projects to make life better for his poor neighbours. It took a road accident and very little help from his neighbours to bring home how little the villagers respected him, to them he was just an arrogant rich white guy throwing money about. Rarely goes to the village now.

  10. Perhaps a Western Educated Thai is what's needed?
    Oh! They tried that.
    The issue shouldn't be why do we still holiday in Thailand. The real issue is. WHY IS THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT trading with an unelected Dictatorship with human rights abuse a close 2nd to Saudi.
    A Bit like the unelected EU beauracrats.

  11. I am very tempted to join johnjay david and boot AD well into touch. His arrogant self-appointment as the sole arbiter of what and what does not appear on these pages pisses me off. I don't care if this is his web-site; if I want to call Thailand a basket-case in so many ways I damn well will.
    I care not a fig for annoying the junta - read corrupt, incompetent military thugs - who run the place.
    I neither live in that cesspit of a country nor have any intention of so doing.
    Publish and be damned AD.
    IF you dare.

    1. LOl, well I would suggest that since this is a news blog not a subscription service, the owner can publish or not publish at his whim. Last I checked there were very few "rational" outlets for discussion of all things Thailand so your options may be limited.

      A couple of interesting things being "under-reported". Apparently, the freely elected Governor of Bangkok has been "replaced" by the ruling junta. I have only seen this on Khaosod so not sure if it is true.

      According to the UNHRC of Thailand Facebook page they support only refugees who are pro-junta. They recently published something suggesting that they have nothing to do with any refuge who defames the Royal Family and blame the French. They also seem to suggest that hunting down these people might not be a bad idea. Kudo's to them. Most of the time the UNHRC seems to ignore injustice and the removal of freedom, the Thai version is encouraging injustice and deriding freedom of speech. At least they are making a stand even if it isn't what one would expect or hope for.

    2. Megalodon, AD's 'arrogance' (if indeed there is any in the context you refer to) does not even approach your own level of arrogance and verbose derision and as someone else said this is his website that he runs as he sees fit. Just as you are the sole arbiter of what you write in your comments he is completely justified in being the sole arbiter or what appears here.

  12. Good old Bob. Still living in cloud-cuckoo land I see. I read in my local newspaper yesterday that the junta are considering to request foreign governments to extradite people, (presumably expat Thais), whom the junta deem "guilty" of the crime of lèse-majeste!
    Good luck with that. The arrogance of these pr**ks!
    The Thai authorities should be more concerned with the rampant, institutional corruption that exists within the Police at home, rather than people abroad whom they cannot touch.