A call to summarily sack the Bangkok Governor over recent flash floods in the city has started an outpouring, nay, an overflow of similar calls. The Stop Global Warming Association called on Prime Minister and NCPO leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to use his powers under Article 44 of the Interim Constitution to sack Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra. The Association blamed the Governor for the fact that a torrential overnight downpour caused widespread flooding on Monday morning, paralyzing traffic and deluging newspaper front pages with pictures of watery wastes.
I have a theory about Thai society. Don’t worry. This happens every 30 or 40 years or so and eventually I get over it. The last Georgian Thai Social Theory (c 1980) explained why Thais are described in the guide books as an extremely polite people and yet drive like homicidal maniacs, prefer push-and-shove scrums to orderly queuing, and politically vacillate between anarchy and autocracy. (The pushing and shoving has since begun to fade with the introduction of new technology, i.e. queue tickets and yellow arrows on mass transit floors.)
International pressure is building on Bangladesh and Myanmar to take urgent measures to save boatloads of stranded asylum seekers in danger of death by drowning or starvation in the Bay of Bengal. The ramshackle boats, thought to be loaded with Riphab refugees from Thailand, are organized by people smugglers, who prey on the migrants, often selling them into virtual slavery if they manage to make landfall undetected.
Trial lawyers, so I am told, are warned to be careful about what questions to ask witnesses. They are advised never to ask a question unless they are confident about what the answer will be. Not so journalists, so I don’t suppose we can berate the reporter who decided to ask Prime Minister and junta leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha if there was enough money for a referendum on the draft constitution.
The discovery of a remote camp containing the graves of what are thought to be the remains of human rights has sent shockwaves throughout the nation and beyond. The site contained 32 shallow graves but human rights remains have been found in only 26, indicating that it was expected that there would be more victims.
The draft constitution proposed by the Constitutional Drafting Committee has now been disclosed to all sorts of people, with the exception of the vast majority of the citizenry who will be expected to live under it.
A year or more ago, when the Asok-Sukhumwit junction was occupied by a PDRC reform-before-election mob, the site sported a banner supplied by the nearby campus of Srinakharinwirot University. They had obviously been told to put their superior education to use by explaining in English something of what the protests were about. Their sign said ‘Stop Corruptions!’ One was tempted to scrawl underneath ‘And Start Learning Englishes!’
She is a paragon of a Thai citizen. She fasts after noon every wan phra and she knows the Pali responses in Buddhist ceremonies (but not always what they mean). Even more religiously than her religious observances, she wears yellow and purple on the appropriate occasions.
Oh what a relief. No longer do we have to fear the knock on the door from martial law officers at some ungodly hour of the night. Nor should we worry any more about the hooded journey under martial law to an anonymous military facility where we will be held without charge or trial. And we are now free from the terrible prospect of seven days’ detention under martial law while we have our attitudes forcibly adjusted without the possibility of consulting our family or friends or lawyers or even seeking support and solace from them.
Working on the well-known principle that it is far more important to conceal a scandal than deal with it, Gen Prayut last week threatened to summon a Channel 3 reporter. This brave young woman had travelled to Indonesia to report on the plight of Thais who had escaped slavery on fishing boats. Some were languishing in prison on a remote island (that the Thai media call ‘Benjina’ although that is the name of a town on Kobroor Island). Others sadly had died and been buried there.