Pandemonium reigned in parliament yesterday after the vote to choose a new Prime Minister descended into farce. After the House had failed to choose a Prime Minister from among the candidates declared before the election, the appointed Senate was constitutionally required to join the House in voting for any candidate, including persons who had not stood for election. Predictably, the incumbent Prime Minister and leader of the 2014 coup d’état Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was nominated.
A small tornado bursts through the door of the meeting room. And stops dead in its tracks. ‘Where is everyone?’ ‘Sir?’ ‘Why is there no one here? There’s supposed to be a meeting.’ ‘Quite so, sir.’ ‘I rushed like mad to get here on time and look, by my watch I am in fact a bit late.’ ‘Late, sir? But the meeting isn’t scheduled to start for another quarter of an hour.’ ‘What are you talking about? Look here, my watch says I’m ten min- Oh. Two hours and ten minutes late.’
President Trump has just been to China. Just before he arrived, the trial of Taiwanese NGO worker Lee Ming-cheh was streamed online from Yueyang City Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan province. Lee had been arrested on 19 March when he crossed the border from Macau. He then disappeared into the gulag that is the Chinese judicial system. He had not been seen for 6 months before his trial for “subverting state power” under a new Foreign NGO Management Law.
So when are we going to get there? I told you. In about two hours. But you said that two hours ago. The farther we go, the longer it seems to take. At this rate I don’t think we’ll ever get there. No, it’s just that I have follow the roadmap. It says we have to go through here and here and here before we can get to there. And it takes time to get to each one. But you drew the roadmap yourself. No I didn’t. It was him on the back seat.
It’s rather nice of the Bangkok Post to ensure that we get a regular dose of capitalist economics through a biweekly op-ed from the Thailand Development Research Institute, a corporate-funded think tank that can be trusted to think corporately.
Two weeks before he was unleashed on the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump gave a speech in Bismarck, North Dakota, supposedly to outline his plans on tax reform. (A quick aside for the historically-minded: Bismarck is named after the Iron Chancellor who invented realpolitik and Germany. Could there be a starker contrast?)
‘Govt sets B3 trillion tourism target’ reads the Bangkok Post headline (together with a pic showing ‘Chinese tourists at Wat Phra Kaeo’ who have fair hair and big noses) (the dastardly Chinese tourists must have started wearing disguises!). So that’s alright then.
How’s your arithmetic? In April this year, North Korea celebrated the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army. And it was no secret. USA Today’s headline was ‘North Korea marks anniversary of its military with massive live-fire drill’. Reuters ran with ‘South Korea on heightened alert as North Korea readies for army anniversary’. The Daily Mirror: ‘Terrifying rally in North Korean parliament to mark army’s 85th anniversary as fears of war grow’. And lots more on Google.
A bomb goes off at Phramongkutklao Hospital and 25 are injured. The Prime Minister next day says that if such things go on, the election (in the most optimistic scenario at least 18 months away) may have to be delayed.
As if our non-elected Prime Minister didn’t already have little enough faith in democracy, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal has gone and got himself elected as president of Chulalongkorn University Student Council. Chula, that bastion of elitism, conformity and 100-year-old privilege in pink; the university where students wear uniforms to sign petitions against uniforms, and where new graduates give Nazi salutes in front of murals of Hitler (just for the laugh, of course); Chula, of all places, has elected a free-thinking anti-authoritarian, anti-militarist iconoclast.