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There was little doubting the biggest story in Thailand this week though, as ever, final resolution and justice against those highest in the political food chain remained tantalisingly elusive.
Eight leaders of the protests to oust former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra were jailed for many years each for insurrection committed in 2013, a year before others still holding power and the purse strings today pulled off their own jiggery pokery in the coup of 2014.
Jailed were not inconsiderable figures. Former PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban got five years but three ministers in the current Prayut Chan-Ocha government got lengthy terms including Digital Economy and Society chief Buddhipongse Punnakanta and education supremo Nataphol Teepsuwan.
The DES minister has been the lackey responsible for some awful shenanigans connected to internet freedom while Nataphol had just celebrated getting a cabinet nod allowing 300 Canadians into English teaching positions and promised to sack illegal teachers when he was carted off to jail himself.
But it was unlikely they had time to sample the delights of rice gruel or met anyone seeking revenge in the prison showers. Two days later they were free men on 800,000 bail and they will remain on the outside until the lengthy appeals process is concluded.
Obviously such a high profile case will not simply disappear as it tends to do for lesser mortals who have plenty of financial wherewithal, but few in Thailand will be holding their breath about justice.
Meanwhile the elephants in the room – the current leaders – can enjoy a little Schadenfreude while thanking their lucky stars that their manipulation of the political system has protected them from a fate worse than death, political oblivion and accountability.
Prayut and DMP Prawit Wongsuwan are doing the usual mulling ahead of the necessary cabinet reshuffle in the wake of the court decision as the convicted ministers cannot hold office.
This brought the intriguing possibility, according to some reports, that one of the biggest thorns in the side of Prayut – indeed a prick that won’t go away – in the form of Thamanat Prompow who may take one of the vacant portfolios.
Thamanat was convicted of heroin smuggling in Australia in 1994 but has tried to claim that it was either a misunderstanding or it didn’t happen at all. Prayut has similarly attempted to sweep it under that thickest of shag pile, the Thai carpet.
One wonders if the errant captain Thamanat, deputy minister of agriculture and cooperatives, has something on Uncle Too.
They all seem to be military pals together now as Prayut called “the past the past”.
Well heroin is heroin, sir, and a criminal conviction is a criminal conviction.
An entertaining week of news on Thaivisa saw similar nonsense abound in all aspects of Thai life.
Cheeky chappie Anutin Charnvirakul, DPM and health minister, suggested that there was no favoritism being shown in the vaccine rollout though one suspected a team of medical doctors were standing by to surgically remove his tongue from his cheek.
Yes, Prayut will get the AstraZeneca vaccine today (Sunday) and Anutin will be jabbed with Sinovac.
To be fair to the great leaders it was already announced that those with chronic conditions would jump the queue; this pair have taken economy with the truth to chronic levels.
Worthy health care professionals who have done a great job in Thailand despite their leaders, will be getting jabs from tomorrow with high risk provinces and tourist areas favored.
Most of the rest of the population will have to wait until later in the year when Siam Bioscience gets its act together with millions of doses.
In other virus news Thailand was easily able to refute erroneous claims that came out of Denmark via WHO that Chatuchak market was the start of the pandemic that began in earnest thereafter in Wuhan.
“Villa Quarantine” was hailed a great success in Phuket and now “Area Quarantine” is the latest buzzword. Then international media ramped up the rhetoric with features about the success of the “Golf Quarantine” being enjoyed by Koreans. “Yacht Quarantine” has also been in the news.
According to Rooster’s COQ – coefficient of quarantine – this all adds up to about a couple of hundred tourists.
This compares to claims from the TAT in London that SIX MILLION Brits were champing at the bit to get to Thailand clasping their vaccine passports.
The TAT survey was unutterably absurd in its conclusions providing the forum with nearly six million laughs. Anyone with half a brain could see that it would take hundreds of flights from the UK every day.
Only if pigs take to the skies….
Talking of which the Thai police were never far from the news once again this week. One of their number shot a noodle vendor in Soi Bangla, Phuket and amazingly was detained!
Plod did better in bringing an extraordinary crime spree of a 22 year old woman in Prachuap Khiri Khan to an end after a botched robbery at the BAAC branch there.
All sorts of embezzlement and other theft had dogged this lady in recent weeks – so much so that her husband was more than willing to dob her in and wash his hands of her!
A gold shop robbery in Nonthaburi was also solved quickly though some of the proceeds seemed to have mysteriously gone AWOL.
THAI airways reported a staggering 141 billion baht loss in 2020, that plunged the state carrier into bankruptcy. The court has now given them permission to sell a bunch of assets including a large plot that houses their training center in Laksi.
One wonders what they were taught there – was there a room with “How to Fiddle While the Airline Burns” on the door.
Also up for sale and of slight concern to a nervous flying like Rooster were 737-400 engines.
Whatever, all this asset selling should provide some last junkets as THAI execs fly off into the sunset on BA.
In international news Tiger Woods made the headlines after driving into the rough. Unfortunately he couldn’t chip out as he was behind the wheel of a courtesy car and now has pins in his leg and his career may be over.
The ups and downs of Tiger read like a soap opera. I wish him a speedy recovery as he is a personal hero. Who would count against yet another recovery for surely one of the greatest sport stars of all time.
In Australia the spat over advertising between the government and Facebook and Google seems settled for now.
Elsewhere in the States the LOTUS may soon need to defend himself in court over tax and rape allegations.
Also across the ponds, the Johnson and Johnson VAX was set to be approved while in Ghana the COVAX scheme began addressing the divide between the haves and the have nots.
Best news was that Mr Biden called the Saudi king to say that he was speaking to him only from now on. Shortly after followed the release of a report naming the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman as ultimately responsible for the death of journalist Kamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018.
Elsewhere in the gulf the sheikh of the UAE was hopefully shaking as BBC pressure revealed all the goings on in the kidnaps of his relatives. Former Irish leader Mary Robinson apologized for being hoodwinked by the “royal” family.
In Singapore a British man was jailed for two weeks for bonking his fiancee who was also staying at his quarantine hotel. Nigel Skea walked up 13 flights of stairs. His now wife was given a week in jail for breaching the strict regulations.
Back in Thailand a particularly unpleasant attack by a motorcycle taxi rider on a 24 year old Chilean man in Walking Street, Pattaya, garnered many column inches.
The pathetic excuses offered by the miscreant should make the judge double his jail time. I will be surprised if it is not a custodial sentence as this was the last thing Pattaya’s image needed post pandemic.
Plod handed out a basket of fruit and flowers to bloodied Salvatore. To me this seemed like a pleasant gesture though it put the forum – and the curmudgeons on TV Facebook – into a predictable lather.
In Khon Kaen an 18 year old lady went to the police to report that a rapper with 400 million YouTube views lured her into sex preying on her status as a member of the fan club.
It kind of reminded me the last time Rooster was lured by a wrapper, Maltesers I think it was.
Forum outrage was palpable after a NIDA poll suggested that a large proportion of Thais think foreigners should be forced to have a virus jab and they should pay for the privilege.
Anutin has indicated that everyone living in Thailand will eventually get one for free. Get a handful of Saxa on that one.
Thaivisa claimed via comments in the local media that netizens were outraged when Miss Mexico Grand – soon to arrive in Thailand for a beauty pageant on March 20th in Bangkok – was pictured in a skimpy swimsuit draped over some Buddhist images at a pool.
This is where Thai language skills come in handy. I read the Thais’ comments on the Facebook page and while some said a beauty queen should be better prepared for a country’s culture, most indicated that they couldn’t give a damn and she was a bit of alright.
Several moralistic posters on the forum who took the high ground over the previous week’s story about a wife who turned up at her husband’s second wedding clutching a marriage certificate were put in their place by a nice feature about a happily married Ratchaburi man with two doting wives.
Many also missed the point of a humorous story about a cheery cop in Samed, Chonburi who went to work with a mini-laminated marriage certificate on his tunic pocket.
To ward off potential females who might want to get hitched!
He quipped that he hadn’t noticed as his wife had dressed him, something taken at face value by the forum faithful who always seek an opportunity to pour scorn on Thai men where none exists.
In Chonburi a couple of cemetery attendants arranged three movies for the 1000 stiffs under their care. They claimed the spirits had been particularly lonely during the pandemic.
Finally, the laughs continued when the chief of the armed forces in Thailand announced that in future there will be up to 10% fewer generals.
Some of the 1,700, making the army, air force, navy and police one of the most top heavy military structures in the world, will not be replaced on retirement.
Be that as it may, Rooster’s beady eye was drawn to the name of the chief of the air force who attended the meeting.
Maybe his mum foresaw a future in the skies.
She called him Airbull.