Alien Thoughts

20 Aug 2018
The concern of the Department of Land Transport for the safety of road users can be gauged by the ‘training’ component in the process of getting a driving licence.  60-70 applicants are seated wall-to-wall in a room to watch an hour-long video.  And to make sure no one skips the ‘training’, the official locks the door on the way out. If ever there was a fire, it would be a death trap. The video itself is very informative.  Not about how to drive safely on Thailand’s roads (that seems to have been abandoned as a lost cause) but about how Thai society works.
10 Jul 2018
The Good Samaritan may soon be extinct in Thailand if the police response to a recent road traffic accident becomes the norm. It all started with a run of the mill hit-and-run. A tinted-window Mercedes (is there any other kind?) side-swiped a bicycle that was dutifully trundling along in the gutter, bringing down both rider and machine. Nothing life-threatening and the bike was damaged but repairable. Not that the Merc driver knew. He was long gone.
30 Mar 2018
Stephen Hawking got to the Pearly Gates only to discover that entry control had been outsourced to a Thai company. The entrance to heaven had been transformed into an excessively curlicued arched gate as rococo as any you’ll find in a gated community in a Bangkok suburb, connected on either side to a nondescript wall adorned with razor wire, broken bottles and hastily scrubbed out graffiti of a black leopard’s head.
28 Feb 2018
News item: National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Wallop Raksanoh has “pledged to go after those who are financially supporting pro-election activists”.  General Wallop pledged to “hunt down those who are the backers of the group,” saying that the “activists would not pose such a major problem if people were not egging them on.” The scene:  A meeting room at the National Security Council, where the Egging On Investigation Team is reporting its findings. So, have you interrogated all the suspects? Yes, sir.  59 of them.
13 Feb 2018
They are a staple of social media. The latest that I received warned against a ‘new’ scam when you check into a hotel.  You’ve handed your credit card to the reception desk who take from it a deposit against which they will debit any extra charges for wildly overpriced miniature booze in the minibar or the laundry fee for your unmentionables.  You get your card back and go to your room.
2 Feb 2018
To judge from the cracks and potholes, the soi hasn’t been resurfaced in decades.  Maybe not since the emergency makeover when a daily motorcade of Mercs began transporting royal offspring to the school nearby.
16 Jan 2018
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.
8 Jan 2018
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.’
21 Nov 2017
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.
25 Oct 2017
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.
16 Oct 2017
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.
9 Oct 2017
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?)

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