Thais love a good crisis. It’s a chance to rally round – order some special food – and pretend to do something. That something is usually the very something that should have been foreseen in the first place to avoid the crisis. But hey, never mind they say, as the blame game begins. Nobody could have seen that one coming, they all nod in sage-full unison.
As the nosh is gobbled everyone gets together in a no-holds-barred game of “Denial”, the national sport. The group mentality in responding to the crisis is hailed as the saving grace of the Thais. “Khon Thai Duay Gan!” and “The Power of the Thais!” they spout as everyone nods and wais, says “khrap” “kha” and “chai laew na pheuan” (yes my friend).
The reality is that all that group mentality and never going out on a limb to voice complaints about nutty elders being off their collective rockers, is what got them in the mess in the first place!
My initial text – unusually high on Rooster’s S.O.B. (Scale Of Bashing) index – follows a week on Thaivisa where the Thai word for crisis “wik-rit” figured almost as much as stories containing Brexit or Big Joke….almost. Everywhere one looked the country was facing disaster of one kind or another. Though it took the heat off the politicians and their continued shenanigans – some outright disgraceful by those wearing khaki underpants – as the fallout from the “hung” election continued.
Leading the headlong dash that is the five furlong sprint for the coveted “Thai Crisis Stakes” was our old friend QUOTES – the Queen Of The Eastern Seaboard – namely Miss Pattaya.
No one in authority had voiced the concern that without any infrastructure 400 million baht of shimmering, new sand might be washed away when it rained. It did and it was. Every official worth their weight in sand circled the wagons blaming that despicable cad “Mother Nature”. How could we have foreseen this, they asked rhetorically. They stopped just short of saying that it really must be “Father Nature” and that he’s a nasty poor person from Burma….
Environmentalist Jatuporn got everyone together on the beach for the customary “let’s-do- and-above-all-be-seen-to-be-doing” chin wag. Doubtless followed up by a slap up meal of prawns at City Hall with Crustacea imported from somewhere that has a clean sea.
Everyone huddled around the self-styled phuyai chief spouting all the usual excuses and intimating that social media was only making it worse. Then came the measures to ensure that all the cows would be well and truly back in the pen now we had locked that pesky door.
Sand bags were ordered and given the name “Big Bags” rather in the manner that Big Bikers are more to blame that small ones for accidents. These would be placed at strategic intervals to save the day – Chaiyo! – before the officials could get their hands on another 105 million baht of the tax papers’ money for yet more futile….I mean thoroughly vital…. work on drainage.
Jaded posters on Thaivisa, many of whom clearly live in Pattaya and to their credit love their city and want to see it improve, could only find solace in cynicism. The cocked up beach plan was a “Cunning Baldrick” stratagem designed to go wrong but continually line the pockets of those in power as stop gap after stop gap, repair after repair rewarded the greedy.
They certainly had a point as many who live upcountry would testify when it comes to the repair of rural roads that are constantly needing to be redone for some less than mysterious reason.
The Pattaya beach crisis was made even worse as it followed a TNA video just the day before praising the beach and all who had contributed to its success, even if there weren’t any tourists to enjoy it!
Up in Chiang Mai the disastrous smog crisis continued unabated with readings literally off the scale and worse than the smoking rooms there used to be at Thai airports. In my day the city used to be referred to affectionately as “The Rose of the North” – nobody in their right mind would be using that analogy these days except to say that the petals have all fallen off.
Foreign tourists and retirees even chipped in saying it was “smelly and terrible” in the north. Their comments came in a TNA video highlighting the fact that Songkran hotel bookings had plummeted. The Thais were even going abroad for the holidays.
One of Thailand’s leading champions of the environment and her country, the highly respected and popular Princess Sirindhorn, commented that she had been coughing and spluttering in her helicopter as she flew overhead. The nation – as well as the north – held its collective breath after Prathep’s announcement but all Chiang Mai got in response was the hapless figure of yesterday’s news, PM Uncle Too.
Prayut promised that all would be solved in six miraculous days before he nipped off to barbecue a few hogs with his entourage and take a plane back to the relative – and altogether cleaner – sanctuary of Krung Thep.
And on the seventh day He would rest….
Back in the capital Big Too – the word “too” in Thai meaning, appropriately enough, to have grabbed by force – had a much more serious crisis to attend to.
His and the junta’s very survival.
Shamelessly they filed sedition charges against Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit one of the big winners in last month’s vote.
How dare he be more popular than me, one could almost hear the general screaming at his fawning minions as he cried:
“How very dare they vote for such a charlatan – and millions of them too, even if they were young and stupid and dressed provocatively. Ay luuk Toraphee! What has that upstart ever done for them? Has he ever built roads and BTS extensions? Signed memorandums of understanding with the Chinese? Has he?”
“No, khrap-than, never”.
“Has he banned zero dollar tours and kept all the money in government coffers rather than waste it on the public? Has he been an international diplomat with respect in places like Kazakhstan? Has he personally got the boys out of that cave…and, and…got a great movie deal to boot?? I mean has he??”
“No, no he HAS NOT sir, khrapphom”, let’s throw the book at him and show him what happens when some trumped up billionaire who looks older and far less handsome than you, sir, tries to rock the boat”.
“My thoughts exactly, though it’s a gravy train and not a boat isn’t it? But what is this book you speak of…..surely you can’t mean the law. Who could we find to enforce THAT?”
“It has the law on the cover, sir, but the foreword inside is entitled “Knowing your place”.
Apparently Thanathorn is charged with giving a lift to some of his despicable co-conspirators after a meeting of more than two people some eons ago. Yes, they tried and failed to make it sound as though Guy Fawkes was the Patron Saint of Parliament in comparison.
Hopefully, without in any way wishing to encourage sedition, Thanathorn will actually gain some political mileage from this charade.
The week began, albeit on Sunday, with a story from the UK’s “Daily Star” that is occasionally described as a newspaper. Their tale of crisis was that prostitutes in “seedy” Pattaya were getting fake certificates to say they were free of HIV and potentially infecting all their British boys.
As in most reporting about this singularly misunderstood virus few posters stopped to think that due to its very nature a certificate to say one is HIV negative is completely worthless anyway. Anyone could have just contracted the virus, and as pointed out by Sheryl on the forum, be at their most infectious. There is also the question of HIV infection not definitively showing up in tests especially in the early stages.
It is amusing to note that the least risky person to be intimate with would be someone who actually has HIV but who is on antiretroviral treatment,has an undetectable viral load and is therefore understood not to be infectious in the slightest.
However, stating the truth would stand in the way of a juicy tabloid story, and who needs that in this day and age.
Monday on Thaivisa – April 1st – was more lighthearted. My intention in writing that “A Go Go Airlines” planned direct topless flights to Pattaya was more as an entertainment than a serious attempt to fool. I achieved that the previous year with the “Connect Four Ban”.
Better on the fooling front was a colleague’s clever story that advertising beer on those horrible Chang singlets and Leo t-shirts would now be strictly banned. Frankly, if it hadn’t been the first of April and I hadn’t had my coffee yet they would probably have got me too. Such is the wacky nature of Thai news that we take it as gospel that we might get a year’s jail for smoking on the beach or vaping in Sukhumvit.
Crisis – of sorts – broke out down at Hua Hin beach after the proverbial attractive poster complained of a seafood lunch rip off. (Nothing would have been done if the poster was ugly, you see). Miss Suay was led to believe that they could sit down for free so long as they bought some food. Owner “Pa Kaew” took this to mean food and drinks at inflated prices for all eight of the family.
Auntie Kaew went to the cops to lodge a charge of face removal while the authorities reacted to the whiteness of Miss Suay by demanding that the traders on the beach display their prices and actually charge for sitting. In addition they took a leaf out of Prayut’s book of trumped up charges and fined auntie for overcharging for ice. You really couldn’t make it up!
Rooster hates all vendors on beaches. I loathe it when I even see their loungers and umbrellas and wouldn’t buy so much as an ice cream. For me beaches should be free for all and free of vendors. Marine sharks should be kept away by nets and human ones by regulations.
No self-respecting week in early April would be complete without the annual titter-fest that is the army’s conscription drive. “The Sun” in the UK picked up on the stories about lady boys at the draft but it was “news” that obese young men were escaping conscription that led to my favorite forum comment.
Referring to failing the “fat checks” Thaiwrath said: “Those that fail are offered a position in the R.T.P.”.
Whether he meant fat checks only in connection with the portliness of the Thai police or their added propensity to enjoy fat cheques, I wasn’t quite sure; April 1st was still fresh in the memory.
In Koh Samui Rangsit Uni lady boy “Nong Gee” was the star of the show while elsewhere a conscription crisis loomed on Thai social media as irate netizens slammed a Pattaya show girl (well boy) for dodging the draft in a wig and extra silicone. He said the obligatory “solly to society” as a friend said that he was a bona fide signed up member of a lady boy society.
Thaivisa summed it up best with their headline: What a dodgy draft dodger! (And no, Rooster will not be apologizing for penning that one…)
And finally to some Rooster awards. The “Multi Tasking” award goes to the nurse who was on Facebook playing games while her patient was half dying on a respirator that she was meant to be operating. More hospital wagons than normal were needed to be circled for this one while the family who posted the pictures were caught between a rock and a hard place.
The rock is exposing such scandalous behavior while the hard place is the country’s defamation laws. In the end the family crept back into the twilight thankful that their relative had lived and not become a victim of the people’s addiction to social media and online gaming.
The “Awfully Sorry About That Award My Dear Chap” sponsored by the British upper classes goes to the Thai man who shot his best mate’s son and neighbor in the stomach after he thought he had stolen 47,900 baht from his wallet following a lao khao (white spirit) drinking session.
It soon emerged that drunk as a Thai skunk the old timer had forgotten that he had hidden the cash, the proceeds from the sale of his entire rice crop, under his pillow before sleeping off the booze. His own son found the money and went to the police station while dad faces attempted murder charges.
The “WOW!” or Wally of the Week award goes to American IT entrepreneur Brandon Williams, 30, who thought it was a jolly good idea to go to a John Mayer concert (strike one), stand up and annoy Thais in the audience (strike two) then try and get sympathy online after admitting throwing the first punch and ending up at Pak Kret police station claiming extortion. As many posters said – three strikes and you’re out of Thailand, you plonker.
Lastly, the “Saying It Like It Is” award goes to a Thai woman called Raiwin who went to Big Joke after she was conned into believing a cosmetic surgery ad that claimed she would look 20 years younger with a 680,000 baht face and nose job. In fact she looked 20 years older and said that her “foreign husband” was threatening to leave her. Be that as it may she gets the award for saying that she is now an “old hag who can’t look in the mirror”.
Rooster has to be thankful. Mrs R, who is fifteen years my junior, has always looked her age if never acting it and has no desire to change anything about her character let alone her appearance.
In all respects, that makes two of us.