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The week that was in Thailand news: Investing in Thailand? Plenty have done very well, thank you very much.

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The week that was in Thailand news: Investing in Thailand? Plenty have done very well, thank you very much.

This post is also available in: English

Whenever a news item mentions a foreigner who got their investment fingers burnt in Thailand, out they come.

Fool! What idiot would invest in Thailand? What simpleton would buy a house rather than rent? What buffoon would deposit money in a Thai bank? What imbecile would start a business especially employing lazy, unreliable Thais? What birdbrain would even consider putting any roots down in a country that exists merely to skin you alive, spit you out and send you packing when they have made money from the fruits of your labor? What blockhead would invest in the stock market? Blah, blah, blah….

It is revealing that these negative curmudgeons are also the first on threads – methinks they have plenty of time on their hands because they have nothing better to do than rattle off interminable nonsense from behind a keyboard based on their boundless experience of the Land of Smiles that has never smiled on them, and never will.

As we say in Scrabble, put an S on MUG and you get MUGS or SMUG.

When someone pops up who has been successful in Thailand they are aggressively pooh-poohed as liars, lackeys and loons who, if they really have made a few baht, will have to give it all back. No foreigner, farang or otherwise, is allowed to have prospered in the land of protectionism where only Thais can succeed.

Give me a break. Because I beg to differ. Not all of my oldest friends made back in the 1980’s and 1990’s have stayed in Thailand but nearly all have been successful in one way or another. And I still believe people can be just as successful these days if they are willing to work hard, adapt to local conditions and LEARN!

Most of my pals started in teaching and like me gravitated from door to door and company work to the lucrative pastures of international schools. Everyone was successful in the specialization that they pursued, in my case teaching Thai. Two stepped out of teaching and started one of Thailand’s biggest recruitment companies.

One of the partners was locked up for a day at the start after a former employer complained. Undaunted and confident that the law was on THEIR side, him and his mate went on to own Ferraris and real estate worldwide after obliterating the opposition and employing thousands of Thais. They recently received millions of pounds for selling a ten per cent share.

Some have married Thai women who presented them with lovely children but drained them a bit financially! But others have nurtured wives who have become successful in their own right with a bit of positive encouragement. Some have done very well after their children gained lucrative modeling contracts.

Yes, of course there are hard luck stories, there are losers in business just as there are in any country but the idea that Thailand should be off limits is absurd. For me it has, and I suspect always will be, a land of opportunity. Because despite being 60 next year I haven’t stopped believing in my adopted homeland and believing she will always be there for me. Besides, I still love her so….

Not all investments and ideas work out. I have gained as well as lost on property buying and selling. Seen homes both plummet and rocket in value. Experienced rental values that were so low I’d be better having money in fixed deposit. Made a million on a condo flip in six weeks. Been crippled by illness that saw me unable to earn a bean for months.

I was reminded of one of my less than successful forays in to the watch market after a story from Pattaya this week in which a man called Mark – described by a friend as a “lovable rogue” – was arrested with fake Rolex and other fancy brands after a police sting. Methinks that this expat might have chosen a field of endeavor that was not already saturated with mischief!

I remember taking Patpong Rolex to England in my undies in the eighties. It paid for my flight. An unexpected search of my luggage didn’t find the counterfeit goods but what was that brown stain….It was clear I wouldn’t be a good smuggler. A decade ago I teamed up with a Thai entrepreneur to market his innovative watches but it fell flat. Yes, I made a few bob with my Scrabble brand but it wasn’t worth the effort.

Watches, as Mark may ruminate on in the cells, are a brutal business! I suggest he starts watching back episodes of Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank to see what might translate to success in Thailand! Either that or have a word with DPM Prawit about his methods.

QUOTES – the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard – continued to dominate the Thaivisa forums this week. Early in the week a group called “Pattaya Watchdog” outlined everything that was wrong out East and called on Pattaya lovers to help solve the infrastructure problems. They added somewhat pessimistically that it probably was already too late!

“Filthy, dangerous, rip-off, vice-ridden” screamed the headline. Jaded posters expected a more positive stories by sunrise. This arrived in the shape of two reports that arrived together next day rather in the manner of London buses.

The head of the Tourism Council said that tourist arrivals nationwide would only be up 5% in 2020 while the chief of the Eastern Seaboard hoteliers’ association pointed to a lively New Year in Pattaya and a great year ahead if his members heeded his advice about engaging in online marketing. What innovation!!

The gist of the Pattaya Watchdog’s assessment was that the resort needs to cast off its sleazy image and clean up its act. This was naturally treated with derision from the bar stool brigade who are living in the past eyeing yesteryear through the murky dregs of the bottom of their beer glasses contained in those ghastly holders I have heard called condoms. (If I ever am given one I hand it back and call for a glass; yes I am a confirmed Bangkok snob).

The Thais will one day reinvent Pattaya simply because they have to. But it will take more years than this columnist has left on earth. If someone of the influence of Sontaya Khunpluem cannot enact speedy change then I don’t know who can. Though I concede to Pattaya insiders who suggest that the mayor is reluctant for change.

Depressingly the hunt for the killer of a two year old and two others during the previous week’s gold shop heist in Lopburi stumbled along without conclusion. Clearly this was no “normal” gold shop robber and accusations flew thick and fast as “persons of influence” were mentioned in the Thai media and plod blamed the press for getting in the way. When found, this callous criminal may well find himself on death row as quickly as he dispatched his unfortunate victims.

On Sunday last week the head of the corrections’ department gave the lowdown on the use of the death penalty in Thailand over the last few decades. A murderer was given the ultimate sanction – via lethal injection after some BBQ chicken and sticky rice – in 2018 after a nine year moratorium. Those vocal elements on the forum I mentioned earlier are usually the sort that want the firing squad back.

Maybe the man in the Lopburi case will face a shooting before he is ever in custody. This was narrowly averted in Chiang Mai this week when a garage owner who shot an incense factory proprietor was surrounded. After a long standoff his wife arrived in the middle of the night. Plod made it abundantly clear that her husband would be shot if he didn’t give up. He had after all taken a potshot at the head of the Saraphi constabulary, not a wise move.

The suspect gave up at daybreak and has his wife to thank for still breathing air.

Meanwhile in Bangkok there were developments in the case of Apichai “Sia Ice Metal Box” Ongwisit, the wealthy son of a former market owner. Ice looks every inch a serial killer. After the discovery of a “sideline” girl buried behind his house, this week police divers found another corpse – headless this time – in a fish pond weighed down by a gate.

A witness had come forward to say that in December 2018 he been doing ice with Ice who asked him to go into the pond to see if he could find a body there. Lo and behold “A” found a head but Ice reneged on paying him 5,000 baht shooting at him instead. Police then gained a search warrant to look for another victim believed to be in his house in Petchkasem Soi 47.

The case has everything for us ghoulish crime lovers though I note that Thaivisa forum is usually more turned on by reports of easier visas. The latest one suggesting that visas in Phuket were now easier resulted in a thread that went round and round and contributed to more confusion than clarity.

Best visa associated story of the week was similarly misunderstood – funnily enough by those who either cannot read or who don’t bother to read before expounding their enormous knowledge of the matter. It featured a woman and a man employed by a “well known school” to work in their visa liaison department. Yaya and Ton had teamed up to run a lucrative business on the side supplying false documentation to people applying for work related visas at the consulate in Savannakhet, Laos.

All the top schools – especially international ones with many expatriate staff – employ these personnel who build up many contacts with immigration. I had hoped to track down the school but essentially they were a wounded party not party to the fraud. So what with Thailand’s draconian defamation laws it was probably not worthwhile to know.

Many on the forum (who never read the story) thought “visa officer” meant they worked for immigration and started spouting off. These people seem to be native speakers according to their writing ability but they obviously skived off reading lessons at school.

Two stories concentrated on dumping relatives with care homes. In the first a Thai mother tragically left her three year old with a note to say that nobody wanted her. Mum claimed that she loved her but that didn’t seem genuine to me. The child had many injuries and being taken into care might give her a better life away from her abusers. That was the only positive.

In the second story we were told that British people were dumping their dementia afflicted parents in Thailand. A poster from Ranong suggested this was a tad rum but Rooster imagines that looking after someone with Alzheimer’s must be terrible and putting them in the hands of caring Thais – if one can afford it – seems more humanitarian than heinous.

Some mirth emanated from the House of Representatives after a Palang Pracharath Party lackey from Nakhon Sri Thammarat suggested naming a bridge from the mainland to Koh Samui after none other than Uncle Too himself. Whether the former general will be honored like Pote Sarasin and Prem Tinsulanond remains to be seen. The only certainty is that the brown nose of the MP is indelible.

On Friday the Thai Civilized party leader Mongkolkit S. (surname withheld as he seems to be a complete tool) suggested legalizing brothels and sex toy outlets to reduce rape. I suggest he reads up on that crime – he might discover it has more to do with power and force than primarily sex.

Then on the same day the release of Johan van Laarhoven – jailed for 100 years in Thailand – was announced. He will be repatriated to the Netherlands where the authorities accused him of all sorts of things after he ran cannabis businesses and allegedly laundered money. He has reportedly lost his Thai assets. Those who would say “There Rooster, a good reason not to buy anything in Thailand!” should bear in mind that your past sometimes catches up with you.

Finally, several pipes of differing descriptions were in the news this week. An unfortunate and young Thai man lost his future “wife’s best friend” or “nong chai” (younger brother) after he stuffed it in a short section of aluminium pipe and left it stuck there for five days. Sadly the “Member for Krung Thep” could not be saved as it had rotted 90% by the time doctors got hold of it.

Then in Pattaya, the head of the Walking Street operators’ association stated that he feared a negative impact on tourism from the laying of a flood prevention pipe running through the heart of his members’ thoroughfare.

To boost tourism Naris’s membership should invite all the top brass for a launch of the pipe once it er…gets laid in Walking Street. They could crack a couple of bottles of fake Dom Perignon over each end and come up with an appropriate name.

Now what would be good for something set to be trodden on by millions?

The “Chan O-cha Drain” has a nice ring to it.

Rooster

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