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Identity Crisis

(In a luxury condo in Nakhon Si Thammarat.)

‘Geraldine darling, who’s Geralgine?’

‘Mmm?’

‘This web page lists the details of all the foreigners living in the south of Thailand and it says there is a Geralgine living at this address.’

‘What?’

‘Somebody’s been posting data from Immigration on the internet.’

‘But getting it wrong at the same time.’

‘Well it is Immigration.’

(In a rented room in deepest Sukhumwit)

‘Ahmed, look at this.  Somebody’s given us a map of targets.’

‘Mmm?’

‘Names, addresses, nationalities, just take your pick.’

‘What?’

‘Who are we supposed to be terrorizing this month?’

‘Er, infidel traitors to the cause.  Hezbollah, Peshmerga, al-Qaeda, the regular.’

‘OK, I think we have one.  Jer-al-jinn.  Seems to be married to an American.  Must be an apostate.’

‘Oh yeah?  Does it give the address?’ 

‘Down to the postcode.’

‘Hmm.  Is this data credible?’

‘Well it is Immigration.’

(In the back room in a police station in Songkhla)

‘But what possessed you to put it all on the internet?’

‘That’s what Immigration told us to do.  But not let anyone see it.’

‘What?’

‘They said they wanted it on the internet, as a test, but also it must be kept secret.  So we made a website for it but told no one the address.  Except Immigration.’

‘But anyone could look at it.’

‘Only if they knew the address and we hadn’t told anyone.  Except Immigration.’

‘Well everyone knows it now.  And what’s to stop someone going in and changing the data and throwing the entire Immigration database into confusion?’

‘We protected it with a password.’

‘Yeah.  12345.  Very clever.’

‘Thanks.  We thought it ought to be different from Immigration’s password.  They use ‘password’.’

‘You’re joking.’

‘Well it is Immigration.’

 

(Outside a 7-11 in Nakhon Ratchasima)

‘No, Ahmed, that tuk-tuk driver has never heard of it either.’

‘This is ridiculous.  Are you sure you copied the address correctly before the website went down?’

‘Sure. Phetkasem Road, Nakhon something.’

‘What’s making me suspicious is the way everyone laughs when we tell them the address.’

‘I think the more pressing problem is the way those tuk-tuk drivers are talking to those policemen and pointing in our direction.  They seem to be getting very suspicious too.’

‘Hey you, pa-saport.’

‘Certainly, officer.  Ahmed, show him our passports.’

‘Where you get this wee-sa?’

‘Well, according to the broker, it was Immigration.’

 

(Southern Region Immigration Division Headquarters)

‘I don’t care whose bloody cousin he is, he’s obviously not competent to do the job.  How did he get chosen?’

‘Well, he had the specs and his bid was lowest.’

‘But you’ve been paying him millions.  Was there nothing cheaper?’

‘Well, no, you see, we had to adjust the price after we signed the contract.  Add a few items.’

‘Like what?’

‘You know, a bit of this and a bit of that.  Things we hadn’t thought of first time round.’

‘I’m waiting.’

‘Well, er, it’s like that Army park thing.  What did they say in the last whitewash?  “Charges for recommending jobs”, that’s one.  Anyway, I think we need to move forward and we’ve taken the site down.’

‘No, you haven’t.  Somebody hacked it and deleted it for you.  We’ve got embassies on our back, the newspapers are having a field day, lord knows how many scam artists, lady boys and terrorists are combing the list for victims, and any minute now that lot up there will get their brains in gear and decide it’s time for a bit more police reform.  So what do we do now?’

‘Well, why not make a statement that no important information was compromised, it was only a test and all security loopholes have been closed?’

‘Will anyone believe that?’

‘Well it will be coming from Immigration.’


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).