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The week that was in Thailand news: Thai Soap Opera News breaks records at Thaivisa!

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The week that was in Thailand news: Thai Soap Opera News breaks records at Thaivisa!

Rarely has a week on Thaivisa been filled with so much news that falls into the category of hilarious Soap Opera. Story after story on the main  forum and the Facebook arm had the Thaivisa clientele in stitches. Teary-eyed emojis almost ran out as residents of the kingdom – and those who’d like to be! – bashed away at the letters “hahahaha” and the number 5555.

So much so that on Tuesday Thaivisa posted a record number of daily individual user views for this year. (This was topped on Friday with enormous interest in a story about a “Fast and Furious 9” production crew helping at the scene of a motorcycle accident!). Things are certainly booming at the nation’s number one online news site and Rooster is proud to be a part of the success!

But where would we be without the principal players in the soapy stories that tickle our collective funny bones and make us spew our morning and afternoon coffee over our keyboards  – the slapstick government, the Keystone Kops and the nutters on the roads are all doing their bit for news in the modern era!

Take a bow!

Also the Thai public and posters – some of the best connected and avid readers of news on the planet, especially in the major cities – are doing their part in ensuring that this news revolution created by the Internet is constantly on the up and up. 

With per capita Facebook use being the highest in the world in Bangkok there is no let up in where the Thai news outlets can source their wacky stories on the rare days when the authorities don’t suffer from “Foot in Mouth” disease.

Translating from those Thai outlets come rascals like Rooster who add that extra spin missed by local journalists – the spin that riles and amuses and entertains in equal measure! (He says modestly)

Leading the way this week were the developments in a soap opera to rival anything that Channel Seven or Three could dream up. It needs only two words: Big Joke.

With the moniker of the former poster boy of the RTP now firmly entrenched in not just the Thai psyche but that of the foreigners lapping up the local news, everyone knows the man at the center of the saga and has an opinion. Those who say it is not news are shouted down like those misguided individuals in the UK who say Coronation Street is not worth watching!

This is due in no small part to the role of Thaivisa in recognizing a character almost cartoony in nature; is Big Joke a hero or a villain, on our side or agin us? Should he be leading the fight against corruption or was he just a part of it?

This week the cast of characters that joined him on center stage were every bit as absurd as Annie Walker, Ken Barlow, Ena Sharples and Bet Lynch – people as famous as the queen of England in the UK who made a life out of appearing for decades on “Corry”, the world’s longest running TV soap. 

But BJ himself was nowhere to be seen – he doesn’t actually have to appear on camera as the speculation regarding what has happened to him (or not) tells its own story albeit in whispers as much as print. Prayut or Uncle Big Too was also rather quiet as it was announced that BJ had been named on a police rules and procedures sub-committee.

This was understandable as the nation’s favorite “Lung” (and I use favorite advisedly) was more concerned with the cuddly toy mafia enticing the nation’s youth to gamble on the invidious toy crane games (another story that Thaivisa critics thought we had just made up to boost views and clicks…..no, much of the Thai news can’t be made up as it is too absurd for that!)

The committee story was a leak that Daily News was beside themselves in 5555-ing and resulted that same day in the “mother of all comic U-Turns”. Flustered DPM Prawit didn’t appear to know the time of day, a remarkable achievement for a man with such access to chronometers. 

National RTP chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda didn’t know his own rules when questioned by reporters and his subordinates showed a similar lack of aplomb in sidestepping questions and confirming their idiocy in one fell swoop. One talked cryptically about “friction” – this was code for social media reaction after the police were found out. 

Government legal lackey Wissanu, who could defend a thieving Bangkok cabby in court and get him compensation, spouted interminable excuses claiming truth – a substance with which he deals in economically.

The upshot on Wednesday was a hastily convened meeting that put the kibosh on BJ’s comeback – a word bandied about like many others  in English on Thai TV these days helping to portray Thai news outlets as having their fingers on the international pulse. 

BJ was sent back to the PM’s office to shuffle more paper and a lowly “Pol Col” was hailed as a perfect replacement. Lordy! How could anyone replace BJ!

The Thai public and foreigners were left waiting for the next soapy episode though they were thrilled by the fact that in one day there had been more ups and downs than the proverbial whore’s drawers. 

Apropos down in QUOTES – the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard where nutty news knows no bounds – things were really humming. After a massive entourage failed to find any prostitutes in Walking Street the other week came news that special services had come up with pay dirt. 

Yes, Houston, we have a problem! We have found ladies for hire in Soi 6 in Pattaya. And not just that…one of them was 17! 

The needles in the haystack were starting to fall like ninepins, if I may mix my metaphors, as 18 ladies were taken into custody (just for a word in their shell-likes) and the foreign owners were shown Big Oud’s revolving Thai door never to return. Well, not until they change their names and passports, that is.

But it didn’t end there. The Chonburi police chief – mindful perhaps of the Walking Street debacle, a story that was instigated on Thaivisa and shamelessly shared by Khaosod and banned Facebook journalists as their own work – moved decisively. 

Now there’s a rarity for portly plod!

He transferred the Pattaya chief and several high ranking deputies for allowing prostitution in their jurisdiction. I was waiting for the photo-shopped picture that would show the erstwhile chief with a speech bubble saying: “WTF?”. 

It looks like Lt_Col Pongphan and his minions will be joining Surachate for a bit or origami while they wait their next posting. 

Prayut – not completely preoccupied with the CTCBM (cuddly toy crane booth mafia) – had time to issue an amnesty for the mere 20,000 hotels nationwide that don’t have any licenses. After the junta’s much vaunted “crackdown” using Article 44 this was met with incredulity and more lashings of ridicule. He seemed to be taking Amnesty International’s thunder with his lightning move. 

I won’t rain on his parade as I am sure he will weather the storm and it’ll all end up looking like what it always does when the Thais get serious – constant and unrelenting drizzle. 

The Pattaya chief had also done himself no favors when kicking off the week of his sacking with a disgraceful photo shoot. Smiling from ear to shaved ear (how those higher up the gravy train like their underlings to appear) Pongphan presided in the handing over of a check for 5,000 baht to the family of a dead Russian tourist who all looked decidedly unimpressed. Some Thais said predictably that it was the thought that counts but most of humanity saw it as an empty and very inhumane gesture to make a song and dance over $165 bucks. 

(Incidentally several posters have questioned why I prefer to use “check” and other American spellings and terms in my writing……the answer is simple, it annoys more people and pleases me no end). 

Bucking the 555 trend a little this week was the TAT chief who was actually forthright about tourism. (Tell me when you last saw TAT and forthright in the same sentence). Yuthasak spoke of the high baht and the lack of Europeans looking for alternative and better value for money destinations as reasons for damaging the figures. Brexit and Drumph’s trade wars were even mentioned as contributing to the woes. 

I was a little taken aback by this show of honesty half expecting Mrs Rooster to bound in and announce: You’re on Candid Camela!

Pleasing the posters and creating a bird and sexual innuendo (in your end oh!) thread was the skyward pointing of an irate German and his neighbors in Prajuab angry about a house being used to attract swallows so that their nests could be harvested. 

Mrs R thinks I must be a bit weird for not liking such an expensive and nutritious delicacy as Bird’s Nest Soup. When I told her that it is essentially avian spit in broth she was unsure whether this was just another of my less than candid porky pies. She then downed another jar of Chicken Essence – an ever present in the Rooster household as Brand’s sponsor local Scrabble tournaments! I always ask for that in preference to the Bird’s Nest extract stuff they also produce though I can consume neither without retching. 

Some posters moaned about “brevity” last week in my 3,000 word The Week That Was. I admit to getting a little carried away about cheating and my Scrabble hobby-horse but this column is not meant to be short. You can always go onto another platform for that and read the 140 character ramblings of a world leader tweeting his way to world war with Iran on our behalf……after all, Brevity is the Soul of Twitter as a more modern bard might have said. 

Last weekend I enjoyed a trip to play in a tournament at Central in Udon Thani. I shall remember the event not for finishing a close third in the North Eastern Championships but for it taking nearly an hour to drive out of the shopping center. Might they have found a better location for such a big store rather than in the middle of a bunch of roads that we Bangkokians would call sub-sois?

The trip was also highly memorable for a visit I made to paraplegic poster “Colinneil” on the way. Colin had asked me for my lunchtime preferences and I said anything except “pla raa” (fermented fish that I never have in my som tam). Wheelchair bound giant Colin had made a green curry. I hope I was not being too rude in turning that down, too, explaining that when I was a Thai culture teacher I used to teach cooking and some days I was obliged to sample 80 “kaeng khiaw waans” the kids had made for homework. Never again!

The replacement was sausages and bacon that were so delicious that they didn’t need the HP sauce on the table. Colin’s story didn’t disappoint either and was one of the most well received features on Thaivisa in many a year. His honesty and fortitude in both admitting and overcoming his mistakes made for a great tale. The moderators had very little trolling to contend with and what negative comment there was was adeptly and politely handled by our Poster of the Year who has the overwhelming respect of forum members. I hope to interview more worthies in the future so beware…the next one could be you!

Colin’s story – reading like another soap opera – came amid another hot topic that encapsulated many column inches at the end of last week and the beginning of this – smoking at home. Many posters who professed themselves to be both smokers and non-smokers alike, bemoaned the decline of Thailand into a “nanny state” where intrusion into people’s private lives is increasingly intolerable.

I’m sorry – and I feel like apologizing because I seem to be in such a minority – but I see the Thai moves as a good thing to protect children from smoking in the home. I took up smoking at age nine because of already being addicted to cigarettes due to the daily puffing of four much older siblings who smoked like chimneys where I grew up. I was 38 before I finally ditched the revolting, expensive and worthless habit. 

Children need our protection and it can’t just be left to the goodwill of parents, there need to be laws. Frankly it amazed me that so many posters who scream “hang ’em high” when children are abused saw nothing wrong with poisoning them with nicotine, tar and other carcinogens. 

Furthermore, those self same people have criticized Thailand for its motives in banning e-cigarettes. Yes, there are shenanigans aplenty from officialdom when it comes to this issue but it was interesting to read that San Fransisco this week banned vaping before more is known about health effects. The state is home to a multi-billion dollar vaping company that is the biggest of its kind in the USA. 

I can appreciate how vaping might be useful for existing slaves to coffin nails to kick the habit, but many societies are seeing youth lured in with “bubble gum and mango” flavors. The big companies – often offshoots of tobacco firms – are just hooking the younger generation on nicotine in a new and profitable way. 

Meanwhile a Bernard Trink style “tip o’ the hat” to a very talented Thai who Rooster would love to be – especially as she is a young woman! This is Nutcharut Wongharuthai or Mink who finished runner up in the Women’s World Snooker Championship held in Bangkok last Sunday. 

Mink was beaten in the final by a British legend of the game who has won the title a dozen times. But the future looks bright for this plucky 19 year old Thai who it was a pleasure to meet at a six-red tournament in the capital last year.

Finally – wasn’t that short! – I would like to award the “Rotten Tomatoes Award” to Big C. As news came that 41% of vegetables on sale in Thai markets exceed contamination standards I went shopping to my local supermarket that I vaguely trust. 

It was not that the tomatoes were actually rotten – they looked quite rosy red and nice on the shelf. It was the price of 58 baht a kilo that I balked at. This was nearly double what I paid the previous week and suffice to say I walked out without buying any. 

Thai news may leave us in helpless hysterics but Big C are not having a laugh at my expense!

Does their name stand for Big Con by any chance?

Rooster

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