|Prachatai today prints the first of a weekly column by Harrison George.
Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).
And if you believe any of those stories, you might believe his columns.
Managing a Premier League team is no easy task. Prachatai recently came into possession of a tape recording supposedly from Manchester City's training ground. The first voice to be heard is thought to be that of the new manager, Sven-Gören Eriksson.
‘OK, das ist gut, Didi, kannst du ... Nein, nein. Émile, qu'est-ce que tu fais alors? Sun Jihai, could you ... What? Yes, yes. Where's the Chinese interpreter?..'
‘Uno momento, basta, Rolando, ...'
‘Ah, Mr Thaksin, sorry, I didn't see you there. Hallo, good to see you. And you've brought your son, er, Ping-, er, Patpong-, er, ...'
‘You can just call him Oak. Easy for you, Mr Sven-Göring.'
‘Oak, yes. So it's a busy session today, what can I do for you Mr Thaksin?'
‘I come to see results.'
‘Well, there is no match today.'
‘No, I mean, you lose 2 games already. I have not bought a Premier League club to watch them lose. You are worse than Liverpool. I knew I should have bought them.'
‘Mr Thaksin, losing 2 games, and to very successful teams, is not really a bad start to the season. If you compare this to last season's results, ...'
‘Last season is different. I give you enough money to buy a new team. No comparison.'
‘Well, yes, that's true, but there have been a few questionable refereeing decisions that have gone against us.'
‘But that is bad management. You must deal with that.'
‘I beg you pardon?'
‘You tell me the referees, I will arrange it.'
‘But Mr Thaksin, referees are independent, you cannot...'
‘No problem. I know how to deal with independent agencies. I do it in my country. The constitution made all sorts of independent agencies. I make none of them work. It is easy. You just give me the phone number. They will not be a problem. But I want to know why you let in so many goals. If the other team don't score, you cannot lose.'
‘Yes, I understand that, Mr Thaksin, but the Premier League does have some of the leading strikers in the world - Rooney, Ronaldo, Owen, Berbatov, ...'
‘You tell them stop.'
‘I do this in War on Drugs. I tell the drug dealers, "If you don't stop, you will be dealt with in every way, both life and limb".'
‘Mr Thaksin, I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. You can't threaten ...'
‘I don't threaten them. I threaten you. I tell the provincial governors and the police chiefs in the War on Drugs, "if you do nothing, I will do you". You understand me, Mr Sven-Göring?'
‘Yes, I think so.' (Sound of a mobile phone ring-tone playing the tune of ‘Blue Moon'.) ‘Excuse me a moment, Mr Thaksin.'
‘Yes, Nancy? ... No I haven't seen her, Nancy. ... Of course I do, Nancy. ... Whatever you say, dear. ... Yes, that's fine with me. Sorry, have to go.'
‘You want some help, Mr Sven-Göring?'
‘Pop singers? Actresses? F.A. secretaries? We can arrange all.'
‘Oh, no thank you, all the same.'
‘And what about Oak?'
‘Him. Oak. My son. I want him to play centre forward.'
‘Wha-? Centre forward? But, er, he has no experience, the F.A. have to approve foreign players, I, er, ...'
‘No experience necessary. He had no experience when I made him director of my companies, but now he is a billionaire. Very successful. And approval is no problem. They approve me as a ‘fit and proper person' so I can become owner.'
‘Well, er, I suppose we could give him a trial, just as we would for any other new player.'
‘OK, as long as he passes. This is how we run successful business in Thailand. Keep things in the family. Run the government in the same way. Goodbye, Mr Sven-Göring. I will see you win on Saturday.'
‘OK, yes, thank you, goodbye.'
(There is the sound of a mobile number being called)
‘Hans? Yes, you know the other groups who were bidding when Thaksin bought the club? Do you think you could put me in contact?'