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Midweek we received a standard letter from my daughter’s kindergarten warning about an outbreak of “Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease”. There was not much to worry about and I was informed that it usually only affected the under 5’s and they would do some deep cleaning to alleviate the problem.
It got me thinking about a much more serious condition that many Thais – especially those in officialdom – have suffered from for years.
“Foot in Mouth Disease”.
Exhibiting a particularly virulent strain of the condition was new tourism minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn who officiated at the opening night of an international snooker tournament that I attended all this week. In his program notes spouting off about Thailand as the Seventh Wonder of the Sporting World he said that the kingdom was “completely safe”. I was tempted to go up and ask him if he lived in Thailand.
Cue – appropriately enough – police spokesman Pol Col Krissana Patanacharoen who then told all tourists and business people that Thailand was potentially dangerous following a 3.6 million baht theft from a Chinese tourist who had got plastered at RCA in the capital.
The sum was not cash that he left in a bag on the back seat but perhaps the value of a Patek watch that the taxi driver had relieved him of as he lay sparko outside a condo in Ekkamai.
Phiphat has not had a very auspicious start. He is one of the richest men in Thailand and his wife’s assets showed her to be the wealthiest MP of all. They have a combined wedge of more than 8 billion baht and that is just what they have told the regulators about.
I suggest that he spend some of the cash on treating his “Foot in Mouth” – heaven knows that we could do without another cretin in charge of Tourism and Sports after the last two abject failures.
The Tourism Authority won’t be able to bail him out. Their leaders and subalterns have been shown over the years to have a completely incurable case resistant to all the latest antibiotics. The doctors in their “Amazing Thailand” have been unable to come up with a cure for the super-bug despite their claims of the kingdom being a medical hub.
The only answer is either for their feet to be amputated or at the very least for the ministry and TAT to invest in some duct tape; I recommend a strong, sticky and durable foreign brand so that they are forever muzzled. They can just appear on stages dressed in the finest yellow “mudmee” silk, smile for the cameras and be wheeled off back to the asylum.
It is somewhat of a tragedy that reporters in Thailand don’t actually need to be very good to excel. All too often officials from the government to the police top brass, down through the ranks to local state employees all suffer from “Foot in Mouth” giving the press what they need without their having to waste valuable eating time on investigative journalism.
Uncle Big Too Prayut has set the benchmark already in this year’s parliament by getting his oath completely wrong. MPs will have to sit though 15 hours of his excuses for not learning his lines when they hear an upcoming debate.
Meanwhile his minions continue attempts to stifle opposition despite the fact that those opposed to the premier are far more likely to be blessed with coherent speech and reason, rather than just the ability to bark orders as if we were all naughty lance corporals stealing from the mess.
He’s the one in the mess…..
I enjoyed my week filing reports from the six red world championships in Lat Prao near where I live. However, I learnt that I should do my interviews before players have lost on the final black. Legend Jimmy White was particularly keen to try and ignore Rooster, exit the arena and get to a more favorable environment down Sukhumvit way….
(It was however great to see one calm and collected spectator in the crowd who I ‘wai-ed”; it was none other than Thai megastar Khaosai Galaxy the now sixty year old former boxer who defended WBA titles 19 times in the 80s and 90s).
Years ago I had dined with Alex “Hurricane” Higgins who died in 2010. I say dined, in reality the icon of the snooker world was steaming drunk and throwing his pizza about at a restaurant near Nana Plaza. I said to my missus at the time that we should get him out, perhaps take him back to our place to keep him out of trouble. Wisely, she said: No thanks!
Snooker players these days are much more sensible; even “Whirlwind” Jimmy is more like a gentle breeze as he approaches his 60’s. The Thais are as brilliant as ever in organizing tournaments of a world class standard. Even the crowd have improved. Back in the day they used to clap the foreigners’ mistakes against their local favorites. Now everyone gets a cheer so well done to them. And barely a single mobile phone went off all week at least while I was there.
Going off was something reserved for Mrs Rooster who lost her Scrabble widow moniker and became a snooker widow for six days. I tried to assuage the cramped conditions of the “dog house” that I found myself in by helping out with the kid’s homework. Despite 30 years in education this is a challenge when it comes to the demands of Thai schools, however.
The maths is not the adding and subtracting variety I’m good at and the teachers have slipped in crafty vocabulary in Thai that I have never heard of. Thankfully, my six year old usually gets the drift despite the ministrations of her father.
Off the green baize Thaivisa enjoyed another bumper week of the bizarre to the scarcely believable with everything nutty in between.
In Bangkok plod discovered that red light jumping was every bit as bad as they had feared. The new 4K “megapixel” cameras are in place at 30 intersections and us bikers have been burning the midnight oil studying where we have to obey the law and where we can carry on regardless.
Fines won’t be coming in until the middle of the month when the much hyped licence points system comes into play throughout the kingdom. I predict that despite the hype we can enjoy much more “Foot in Mouth” related to that one as Thaivisa enjoys field days to match the TM 30 debacle.
Crime Suppression Plod (the CSP I think) said there were more ways to cash in than merely snitching on motorcyclists on the sidewalk. They announced eight ways to get 50% of fines by reporting trucks dropping earth, people putting chairs out in front of their houses, dogs pooping, graffiti artists. The list went on….
Methinks, this will not just make the constabulary busier in terms of processing fines. Bearing in mind that “snitches get stitches” expect an upsurge in angry neighbors fighting each other and trying to wake the rozzers from their midday to midnight slumbers to come and deal with the aftermath.
The CSP called the offences anti-social and not all that important. Terms that didn’t apply to several severe crimes caught on video this week. A gold shop robber got away with millions in jewelry and cash after pulling a gun on staff at a store in Thonburi and there was a dramatic high speed chase in Pattaya in which shots were fired. QUOTES – the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard – seemed to have been woken up from her low season snooze to marvel at the crime and the hordes of TAT’s Indians splashing their rupees with gay abandon.
In nearby Sri Racha a hapless Thai man armed with nothing more than a kitchen knife vaulted a counter at a Bangkok Bank branch and loaded his backpack with 4 million baht. Then he found all the doors locked and was meat and drink for Sri Racha’s finest.
His wife told Thai Rath that hubby was a great guy who didn’t smoke or drink and who had said he was just popping down to the Krom Thee Din (land office). He never mentioned anything about a bank robbery…..She clearly didn’t notice that one of her vegetable knives had gone AWOL.
Obviously, when he said “tata, luv, see you in twenty” he meant years and not minutes.
Also down Pattaya way was one of the best stories of the week after a farang and his better Thai half moved one of their pet leopards in with them. Apparently they have two “guard cats” – the other left behind in the sick bay in Chiang Mai.
I contacted an old associate, Dutch animal rights’ activist Edwin Wiek to ask him what he thought. He turned out to be one of the people who had reported the case. To say Edwin is outspoken would be an understatement. A fluent Thai speaker he has both ruffled the feathers of the Thais and gained their respect over many years of cajoling residence in Thailand.
I met him about 15 years ago at his sanctuary in Petchaburi where he cares for countless wild animals that were taken in as pets then discarded. Now tame, only some of the bears, tigers and monkeys can be repatriated to the forests but he and his staff have made their enclosures the best they could be. For years I took my Year 8 pupils there to teach them how to make a positive difference in Thailand.
The leopard in Pattaya was called Typhoon and we never did find out where the farang came from. We were told that he was prowling about inside the property…..Johnny westerner, not the big cat I might add.
The Thai “Wild Hawk” team said they were powerless to act as it was all legal and the couple should just improve the fence. Meanwhile we wait until Typhoon gets out and mauls a toddler out in the soi. I’m glad I’m not their neighbor.
Best comment of the week came not from the forum but Thaivisa’s Facebook arm where “Douglas Blackwater” said sardonically and realistically of the leopard case:
“A Thai in your house poses more danger to your financial, physical and mental welfare than a large cat”.
After my week in the dog house I have to concur.
My earlier reference to stifling opposition was apropos moves by the mysteriously and menacingly named “Ministry of Digital Economy”. The vaguely Orwellian title should please Big Too who has read the title of “Animal Farm” and recommended it to the Thai people (presumably to encourage better animal husbandry in Isaan).
The MoDE are setting up “Fake News Centers” by November 1st with the intention of monitoring Facebook, Line and YouTube. They mentioned the need for real news when it comes to economics, health and government policies. Let me get the ball rolling:
The economy is in wonderful buoyant and luxurious health, the people are in fine fettle and hospitals charge everyone (especially foreigners) the correct and fair going rate and the new government is outdoing even the wildest dreams of the grateful proletariat. As a famous Siamese inscription states so correctly, there are fish in the rivers and there is rice in the fields. We are gloriously happy!
That should keep anyone from knocking on Rooster’s door.
Also deemed a hotbed of “Fake News” – the name of Drumph’s pet dog – were natural disasters. Funny that it was Uncle Too who said that tropical storm Podul would wreak unmitigated havoc the other week while the meteorological office said their views were more accurate and that the public should not believe everything they read in the press.
The met office lost a little credibility in this regard however when their chief appeared dressed as a wizard, a gangster and an Olympic gold medalist among other cartoon characters. Apparently someone forgot to turn off the special effects as Director General Phuwiang tried to be serious informing us about the latest tropical storm on Facebook live.
Don’t worry Khun Phuwiang – nobody takes weather forecasters seriously since Michael Fish’s famous pronouncements on the BBC in 1987 telling a woman viewer not to be silly about southern England being affected by a hurricane.
The entire south was devastated within hours by the biggest storm in recorded history. Mr Fish’s reputation lay in ruins as much as the trees and roofs that were decimated in the famous storm.
Finally, a few Rooster awards. The “Spoilsport” prize goes to Nataphol Teepsuwan at the Ministry of Education (now there’s a misnomer) who wants to raise hemlines and stop Thailand’s university totty showing off their attractions.
If only tourism minister Phiphat was in charge of education – he would have taken one look at the legs and recommended they stay open until 4 am. That would surely have stimulated the economy.
The “Fairplay” award goes to former boxer Nantha who was attacked by a motorcycle taxi guy wielding a spanner in Nakorn Sri Thammarat. Nantha, 47, quickly turned the tables on the thief and knocked out three of his teeth.
Appropriately enough the pugilist turned som tam seller gave the would be thief a right “pounding” with fists and knees rather than pestle.
The “Michelin Raspberry” award also relates to papaya salad. A stall in Amnat Charoen was videoed dumping a whole packet of MSG into the mortar. They explained they were making up 50 batches at a time but it’s sad when vendors resort to such shameless pandering to Thai tastes at the expense of good and tasty ingredients. Many on the forum said that MSG gave them the shakes – I dismissed this notion and put it down to trying to balance on a bar stool in Pattaya after the night before.
Finally, my story of the week came from an Esso station on the way to the airport in Hat Yai. A wag who installed a line of urinals had given them the headings S, M, L, XL and XXL. Seeing me laughing uncontrollable at my computer as I attempted to translate the story Mrs Rooster asked:
“So which one would you choose?”
“Nong yang mai roo, ler? (You still don’t know) was the best I could muster.