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A Week in Review: November 6-12, 2010

Bill Clinton had the audience in stitches with his deadpan humour

To find out how much a sand bag costs and hear Bill Clinton’s latest jokes about Thailand, read our week in review here…

The government fears the red shirt movement could be rising once more after Thaksin addressed a group of his supporters in Udon Thani via video link last week. The red shirts have been relatively quiet since their failed siege of Bangkok, although certainly not because their needs have been addressed.

While Thaksin’s claim that he would “improve the lives of rural people by plucking them from poverty in a short time" may sound like the same old hollow rhetoric that brought him to power in the first place, it is not hard to see why his supporters are so easily duped when the current government continues to stall over an increase of a few baht per day to the minimum wage.

Thaksin also took the opportunity to criticise the government over its handling of the recent floods. On this point, he was not alone. In the latest episode of Phuea Pandin’s long standing feud with its fellow government coalition partner, Anuwat Wisetjindawat, Phuea Pandin MP for Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), accused Bhum Jai Thai ministers of misusing an emergency cash payment scheme for flood victims by distributing the money primarily in districts where its candidates were contesting by-elections next month.

Like the father of two squabbling children, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that he would ensure all victims of the flooding received proper assistance and that the government was working to improve its disaster mitigation and management plan to ensure prompt and efficient relief.

Of course, prevention is better than cure and in a rare case of forward thinking, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) announced plans to build four new and bigger flood tunnels in Bangkok as part of its long-term flood prevention strategy in the sinking capital. Bangkok has been suffering from flooding practically every year since the city was established, and it is a problem that is only getting worse.  

Although the 36km of new tunnels will take 5 years to complete at an approximate cost of 5.4 billion baht, this is still less than half of the staggering 11 billion baht that the BMA has spent on sandbags and water pumps over the last 3 years!!!

On the same day that the estimated spending on this year’s flood relief hit 100 billion baht, it was coincidentally announced during the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s first anti-corruption exposition that graft costs Thailand 100 billion baht a year.

Although all forms of corruption abound in Thailand, nepotism is a particular favourite. A new video clip released on YouTube appeared to prove that ‘connected’ individuals had been given examination papers by judges in advance to help them get jobs at the Constitution Court.

And Pol Lt Gen Kongkiat Abhaiwongse surprised nobody when he claimed that many police officers are promoted not because of their abilities and experience but due to their personal relations with supervisors or through lobbying. While this is obviously counter-productive and detrimental to the people of Thailand, it can also have a more tragic consequence.

Sompien Eksomya, police superintendent of Yala's Bannang Sata district was killed in a roadside bomb attack in the district earlier this year. After serving 40 years in violence-affected areas in the southern border provinces, Sompien had asked for a transfer to a safer area to serve his last year before retirement. However, he was overlooked during the annual reshuffle of senior police officers apparently because he was neither able to pay a bribe nor well enough connected. The two police chiefs who refused his request were finally found to have mismanaged his case last week.

And finally, speaking at the ‘Embracing Our Common Humanity’ forum on global warming, Bill Clinton said that this was now his sixth visit to Thailand. However, despite his regular visits, Clinton – like many farangs – has clearly failed to understand just what it means to be Thai.

Clinton announced to the audience that he wants Thais to think creatively in solving issues of global warming and that he wants legislation to deal with the problem. Of course, thanks to the rote learning educational system, creative thought has been almost entirely stifled to create a nation of copiers. And as for Thais adhering to the law… That’s a good one, Bill.

Paul Snowdon – November 13, 2010

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03 Jan 2013, 12:16
First of all, my condolance for the lost of your son.Loosing somenoe you love is very hard, always in every form.But if you write, that this iland is no paradise, but is hell, i can not stop from giving my opinion. Because, just as life, this island is what you make of it yourself.Ofcourse it is more difficult to calculate a danger in an strange enviroment, especialy when you dont know who to trust or who to believe. And ofcourse, habits are different here, and that makes it more difficult to untherstand the bad' things that happen here.But pleasse, let this not stop us from trying to reach out to new experiances, and enjoying what life has to offer, the good and the bad. Ofcourse a tsunami disaster is horible, but should it make us stop from partying?Maybe Luke would still be alive when he never visit a strange country, but what sort of live is that were you must life in fear, and dont try to dicover the world for your self?Is that a life or a bubble?
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