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Defending the Nation to the Last (Genetically Modified) Organism

‘Gen Prayut said that other countries planned to use genetically modified (GM) plants during times of war or widespread disease that affected crop cultivation because they could be engineered to endure.’

News report explaining the government decision to withdraw its GMO bill, which had nothing to do with protests from farmers, consumers, exporters, the NESDB and the Ministry of Commerce – in fact just about everyone except the GMO companies whose fingerprints were all over the bill.

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The scene: It is 2050 and on a raft floating somewhere above where Supreme Command Headquarters used to be, an ageing Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha is still administering the country.

‘And so you see, sir, because we can no longer use ground forces to defend strategic locations, such as palaces, military bases, communications facilities and Krispy Kreme outlets, we have had to withdraw all our naval forces from the open seas and the national defence is seriously weakened.’

‘But what about the submarines?  Now they can earn their keep.’

‘Well, they’re having problems from not having access to their pens which are also under water.  But one of them is patrolling the mouth of the Chao Phraya as we speak, being re-fuelled and re-supplied by illegal fishing boats.’

‘And the other?’

‘Got lost and is now stuck on the MRT between Sutthisan and Huai Khwang.  We’re down to the last surface ship.  Which is a submarine sailing on the surface.’

‘But that is why we’ve justified military rule all these years.  We need a strong government to defend the realm.  If that goes, and we’re still taking flak over corruption to do with that blasted park – has that sunk beneath the waves yet, by the way?’

‘Well, sir, the statues are 14 metres tall and the rise in sea levels is only 3-4 metres, 5 in a bad storm, …’

‘So they’re still standing.’

‘Er, some of them.  Apparently there were defects in the manufacture.  Scrap metal painted to look like bronze.  So some have keeled over.  We’ve initiated the first inquiry into possible corruption and that and subsequent inquiries will likely prolong the issue for another 30 years or so, by which time the whole shebang will be submerged and the evidence will be irretrievable.’

‘And do you mean to tell me that there are people blaming me for all this flooding?’

‘Well, sir, for some of the climate change that led to the melting of the polar ice caps that led to huge rises in sea levels that led to the disappearance of the central plains, or at least everything below the third floor, yes.’

‘But I went to Paris and promised to reduce our emissions by 20-25%.  Wasn’t that enough?’

‘The promise was fine, sir.  It’s just that you came back and built 9 coal-fired power stations and emissions went up 20% instead of down.’

‘Maybe we should think about shutting down these power stations.’

‘No need to think, sir.  The biggest were located by the sea and, well, …’

‘So that’s an improvement.  I’ll mention that in this Friday’s talk.  We might start losing our audience if we don’t have any good news.’

‘You mean, even fewer than the audience for the 1,831st programme?’

‘How many viewers did that get?’

‘27.  You’d just sacked some cabinet ministers so numbers plummeted by almost half.’

‘Well perhaps if I talk about our progress towards a true Thai democracy.  How far along are we on the latest version of the roadmap?’

‘Er, we don’t have a roadmap any more, sir.’

‘What?  Of course we do.  It is still my dream to create a democratic government of Good People elected by Good People working in the interests of Good People.’

‘Oh no question about that sir.  A sure-fire certainty, I’m sure.  Only under the circumstances we stopped calling a roadmap about 18 months ago.  We now call it a sea chart to democracy.’

‘Oh yes, I remember now.  Do I take it that things are not looking very promising?’

‘Perhaps desperate would be nearer the mark, sir.’

‘I see.  Well, we shall have to resort to emergency measures.’

‘Another expansion of the scope of 112?  But even with most military facilities re-designated as places of detention, the jails are already overflowing with people who have clicked ‘Like’ on something we don’t.’

‘No, it’s time to get serious.  This is as dangerous as a war.  Send this order to all government agencies: Immediately plant GMO crops to defend the nation.  That should do it.’

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).