I have always subscribed to the view that Thais are like children. It has held me in good stead over the years especially on those occasions when it was necessary to ditch my staid northern hemisphere upbringing and have a good giggle with the supposed adults of the kingdom.
And so it was yesterday as the whole country – young and old alike – turned out for Children’s Day. Twenty dinosaurs were brought in to wow the kids at Government House – no they were not past prime ministers or even present ones but, we were told, creatures who roamed the earth before even Thais began. I could barely believe there was such a time.
However, after a lovely day with the children – my own real, wide-eyed little ones that is – I was left to reflect that Thais really did take the role of playing the juvenile a tad too seriously this week.
Top billing went to the general PM himself for a story that topped the charts on the Thaivisa forum as he suggested that Thai language may well be the “lingua franca” of the world in the future usurping that tired old imperial English.
He didn’t give a timeframe for this new world dominance but I assumed it must be twenty years – along the lines of the eradication of corruption that is also proceeding so well, according to his advisers.
Giving as his reasons were some top quality and refreshing childlike reasoning – there are only 44 consonants, lots more vowels than English and Thai words can mean so many things. Oh you mean like Rooster means “cock” too. Understood, sir. I get it now!
Still, like my three year old, he means well and at least we didn’t have a toddler’s tantrum this week – that was not until he threw the toys out of the pram regarding who said what after his audience with His Majesty over some constitutional amendments.
Apoplectic Prayut couldn’t believe the temerity of reporters in quoting his exact words. Perhaps he was ascribing to the oft spouted view that you should never take a Thai at face value – there is always a hidden truth.
Forum comment had already been rife earlier in the week as apart from the hoo-ha over the Thai language came the story about the Thai flag and the two Italian ‘children’ caught ripping several of them down in Krabi. Foreigners seemed as indignant as the Thais and it will be interesting to see what penalty the tourists will have to pay or serve.
My guess is it will be pay but let’s hope, like children, they learn their lesson and perhaps appreciate later that it was just as well the flags were red white and blue and not yellow. And just as well, too, it was flags and not a picture they had vandalized. Some have enjoyed rice porridge for a considerable time for that.
Behaving worse children were officials in the South who denied that a five meter long crocodile had escaped in downtown Nakorn Sri Thammarat. Just like a five year old who cannot imagine the consequences, here we had grown men finally admitting that “Nadia” was on the loose. They didn’t want to spook the public, they said, but, hey, never mind if the odd child was eaten.
And I loved the name Nadia – if anything does go wrong they can always blame the Russians!
Talking of which, we also had the horror of two farangs bathing butt naked in the river in Pai – ok they might not have been Russians but who gives a monkeys especially as all foreigners look alike and speak that olde worlde English language thing.
But my goodness, the indignation from the locals! Reminded me of those many occasions with when I’ve been with Thais at beach resorts and they see westerners sunbathing in their birthday suits – strange how they just can’t keep their eyes from looking! Especially Thai women.
To wit forum poster ‘LomSak27’ gets my award for the pertinent observation of the week after mentioning how much the locals love to feel outrage: “Thai culture gets too much mileage on finding disrespect to put the brakes on it’.
Indeed, yet another occasion when Thais would rather stare than flee the scene and when the brakes just seemed to fail again.
Also in the realms of the childlike was the absurdity of the story that capital punishment might be used for public officials caught fiddling for – er, let’s pluck a figure from the sky – one billion baht. Lawmakers themselves suggesting such a thing! It was a bit like a father telling his child that the punishment for lying was no more supper, ever again.
Anyway, there will only be a conviction if it is the abject poor who do the embezzling and that, as the Thai language promoting PM might put it, is “Catch Yee-sip song”.
Calls for the ultimate penalty are also being made for the Bangkok robbers who murdered a man last week for his iPhone. We were told this week that the case is being expedited but the fact remains that no one has been executed here since 2009 and even Amnesty International says when ten years has passed without its use then for all intents and purposes it doesn’t exist anymore.
Expect to see the phrase ‘commuted to life imprisonment on admission’ once again.
Two massive stories dominated the Thai press this week and received their share of attention on Thaivisa. These – unsurprisingly – both had juicy connections with the constabulary.
The first was the continuing scandal of the entrance exams for top positions in the metropolitan police. Plod is desperately trying to blame everyone except their own and pathetically paraded a Pathumwan official who conveniently admitted to charging 400,000 baht a head to cheating candidates.
Of course, he acted alone. Perhaps this was the only time someone actually acted as an adult this week by doing the right thing and not dobbing in his mates. But, like the words of a child, no one is likely to give them much credence in the circumstances.
Cheating is so engrained in Thai exams of all kinds that it is a wonder they bother with the pretense of tests. Surely it would be better and less time consuming to just hold an auction for the police, school places or even driving licenses.
The second rozzer-related story was the alleged abduction of the Bangkok “tom” found buried in a deserted resort in Kanchanaburi. A superintendent from Ratchaburi told met chief Sanit that he had asked some mates to “teach her a lesson”.
Sanit first indicated he ‘bought’ that story by which I mean he believed it, not got paid for accepting it. But then he seemed to take a toddle down an evidential pathway for it now looks as though the super is in some serious “nam rorn” along with perhaps half a dozen others as more suspects spill the beans.
The errant cop is probably thinking, despite the exams, you just can’t get the staff these days.
My final word this week on the guardians of law and order concerns the incident where a traffic cop was helping some children over the road when a car hit him and revved off. It is a national disgrace not that the matter happened at a zebra crossing or that the impatient driver was a policeman.
The disgrace is that no one was in the least surprised.
Also not surprising was the shenanigans ” going on in Koh Samet. Several forum posters were taken in by the “crackdown” praising everyone from the new set of “upright” park officials to the junta for their “decisive action”. The reality is most operators are just being asked to pull down a bungalow or two that has encroached too near the sand.
It is typical Thai face saving and only a Thai newbie, or dare I say a child, will be taken in by it. Most Thais themselves, having grown up to a point with such nonsense, certainly won’t be.
And so to this week’s Rooster awards. The “Choice of Words” award goes to UK Prime Minister Theresa Thatcher, I think it is. She gave out a “Point of Light” commendation to the honorary consul of Chiang Mai. Shouldn’t that be “Beacon of Light?” I got the impression that the poor gentleman was so far away from helping anyone in distress that he was just a faint glimmer in some dark corner of the cosmos.
Not the case, said forum regular and former top poster winner ‘NancyL’ who spoke of the consul’s good deeds. Makes a change from most British embassy personnel who usually manage just a few rubbers of tennis and some slurps of Pimms to justify their fat salaries.
The “Making the Most of Your Assets” award goes to the acumen laden and busty hairdresser in Klaeng who cried foul after pictures of cleavage rather than clippers adorned the internet. “I’m not a slapper. It was after work. That was my nephew”, she wailed.
But hey, the indignation soon gave way as the “all round” publicity was boosting business!
Finally, FIFA’s decision to expand the 2026 soccer World Cup from 32 to 48 teams had the Thai sports authorities optimistic that the national team would now qualify for the quadrennial showpiece.
Some chance. Sweet FA.