In a police station in northern Bangkok
So we’ve got the arrest warrant and that’s OK?
Double checked. All the right signatures. No spelling mistakes.
OK, good, so I think the way is clear, we just go in and …
Hang on, have you seen the pictures on the front page?
They’ve parked two excavators right in front of the gates.
So that’s put the mockers on that. How do we get in now?
We’ll have to call it all off again. Pity.
No, wait a minute. A place that size, surely they have a back door somewhere. We could get in that way.
Good detective work, constable. We’ll sneak up behind them. They’ll never be expecting that.
Er, I’m not so sure. The newspaper says they’ve blocked all the entrances with cars.
Curses, they think of everything.
But hang on a sec, how are the faithful getting in? They’re running ceremonies all the time. And supplies?
Food, lavatory cleaner, cheques from corrupt credit unions. The life blood of the monastic community.
So maybe we’ll have to go in disguise. Wear white coveralls over our uniforms and carry boxes marked ‘toilet paper’. Yes, that might work.
But if we do get in, where do we find him? It’ a big place, you know. It’ll take a while to search it.
Search! Of course. We’ll need a search warrant as well! This is such a complicated operation. But where exactly do we want to search? Has anyone ever been inside and knows the layout?
Sir, why don’t we send in one of those new drones we just got. Get a view of the inside and pinpoint the abbot’s residence. Then get a search warrant for that specific building.
Yes, that’s the way. Accuracy in police work. I like that.
I dunno. What if, just as we remove our white robes, he’s gone into another building? The search warrant wouldn’t work then and we’d be back to square one.
Yes, you’re right. This is so complicated. Sometimes I think that months from now, we’ll still be sitting here and he’ll still be in there with his bad feet and there’s nothing the police can do about it.
In a police station in Wiang Pa Pao
OK, so you heard the boss. We have to pin the blame for this accidental fire on somebody. So what have you got?
Yes sir, we have thoroughly investigated the case and we are asking for six arrest warrants.
Six? Very good. So who are they for?
OK, the first one is for Tong.
Tong? Who the hell is that?
Well, the folks at the dorm say that about 2 or 3 years ago, they had someone come in to do some repairs.
From a company?
No, just an odd-job guy. Did it for free on account of they’re a charity. And they think he may have fiddled with the light that started the fire. Now if he did fiddle, he might have set up what became a death trap years later.
Makes sense. No real name? No description?
No name bar Tong, and male, medium height, medium build, medium length dark hair.
OK. So who’s next?
That’s the girl who switched on that light on the fateful night. This one we’re certain of because they had a roster and it was her turn.
That’s good, and we must know where she is.
Yes, sir, the morgue. She was one of the victims.
So you’re thinking suicide? I’m not sure that’s what the boss meant when he said find someone to blame.
OK, sir, number three is Teck Ing Chua Kanfaifa.
The Foundation keeps pretty good accounts, and we found a bill from this shop for fluorescent lights. The faulty light may have been one of theirs.
OK, good. And then?
The foundation management.
That’s more like it. What did they do?
It’s what they didn’t do, sir. No fire alarm system, no sprinklers, no fire drills.
Tsk, tsk. Just asking for trouble. Next.
The company that makes the lights and their local wholesaler. For selling faulty products.
Taking on the big boys, eh? That’s good aggressive policing. Not like this pussy-footing namby-pamby, hoity-toity, arty-farty fannying about you see in some stations. And who’s the sixth arrest warrant for?
Wiang Pa Pao Police Station.
Wiang Pa …? But that’s us.
Yes, sir, it turns out we have a statutory responsibility to see that all public offices, private companies, charities and public areas are fully certified for safety. And we never did it.
You know, fannying about does have its good points.
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).