People not getting jobs is becoming a regular feature of the news.
First ultra-royalist Boworn Yasinthorn failed in his bid to become a National Human Rights Commissioner, where one assumes he would champion the right to file lèse majesté charges against anyone he disagreed with. And now Chitpas Kridakorn, once a Bhirombhakdi but still a Boon Rawd beer heiress, has decided to withdraw her application to join the police force.
She blames ‘bad luck’ for her disappointment. It was her misfortune that police officers objected to a previously unheard of, never advertised, ‘special position’ being offered to an erstwhile PDRC leader who once tried to mow them down with a backhoe expressly bought for the purpose (you put millionairesses on the front lines of a protest and you will get some creative, if expensive, new tactics).
But there are rumours that the number of ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ rejections is far greater than is publicly acknowledged. Relying on the proven probity of social media comments of what someone told someone about what someone else said, Prachatai is able to report further examples.
The Military Interrogation and Confessions Extraction Unit had noticed that after their most recent bout with then The Nation reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk, he promptly lost his job. (His colleagues at the newspaper felt that this media freedom thing had just gone too far.) And since he now knew quite a lot about military efforts to adjust attitudes from the receiving end, so to speak, they thought he would be just the person to point out where they had been going wrong.
So without his knowledge or consent, Pravit applied to join the military. A special position with the rank of Lesser Sub Lieutenant (roi jatawa) was created together with personalized Twitter and Facebook accounts operating through the secret ISOC internet gateway, thus bypassing any civilian oversight.
The job entailed analysing and monitoring military interrogations and advising on ‘enhanced’ techniques. Part of the clandestine budget for thumbscrews, electrodes, etc., was to be made available.
When it was asked what would happen if Pravit didn’t agree to the scheme, it was explained that they could always have him in again and try their own ideas with him as guinea pig rather than accomplice.
But eventually, senior officers quietly dropped the plan. It was felt that Pravit’s ideas about democracy, due process and equality before the law would make it difficult for him to become a ‘team player’ in today’s military.
Similarly, the application from Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to work for Samaritans Thailand on their suicide hotline ran into difficulties.
Many were surprised that the General, who heads the government and the National Council for Peace and Order, would have enough time to provide free anonymous counselling to those in need. But it was pointed out that until a year ago, he also had a third task of running the Army. A man capable of mastering three high-stress jobs at the same time must often find himself at a loose end when he has only two, it was reasoned.
Unfortunately, the General failed the training programme. He was asked to take a call with the trainer listening in. Prachatai does not have a transcript of the call, only of the post-mortem afterwards.
‘Well, I’m not sure you have understood the idea of active listening.’
‘But I was active.’
‘Yes, but you didn’t listen. We don’t normally start by asking callers what they think their problem is.’
‘But we can’t wait all day. We have to get on.’
‘But you saw that your, er, rather aggressive tone turned the caller off and he wasn’t willing to discuss his situation.’
‘I know. Do you think there was something wrong with him?’
‘Well he was calling the Samaritans. And we try not to be judgmental with our callers.’
‘You did question his patriotism. “Are you Thai?” I think you said.’
‘Well people like that need to buck their ideas up, get a grip on themselves, or where will the country be?’
‘Yes, well, I’m afraid that overall, we can’t give you a passing grade on this.’
‘What? Why not?’
‘Well basically, you did none of the things we advise and did most of the things we tell you not to – hectoring the caller, taking a negative attitude, losing your temper.’
‘Yes, but what was the result?’
‘Yes. This is a suicide prevention hotline. Did he commit suicide?’
‘Well, no, he didn’t.’
‘So that’s success. I should pass.’
‘Well I don’t think there was ever much chance of him committing suicide. He was from TOT wanting to know when he could come to upgrade our lines.’
About author: 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).