After going into the ins and outs of a certain province named Suphanburi in me last blog I thought that for this week round I’d do a u-turn and return to writing once again, on one of my fave topics, and that is… The Great Thai System.
I don’t know about where you come from, but i presume that ‘grassing’ on your neighbours or buddies isn’t exactly the most popular of pastimes. Here, in ‘The Land of Rice Whiskey and Ragnarok’ though, such a hobby is thoroughly recommended with the aim of kicking all the scummy trash off the streets. I very doubt any country particularly needs a huge police detective branch to cope with social ills when the entire population is constantly inundated with government TV Commercials and Advertisements along the lines of ‘Do you know anyone who breaks the law?’ if so, then you can call our special ‘15.. ‘no. 24 hours a day or send us a mail with all the gory details to this completely confidential P.O Box No. and we’ll have our spoof-special investigators on to the case straight away.
Just when you thought that this ‘grassing-game’ only dealt on targeting hard-earned criminals such as big drug-dealers or notorious mafia-like figures, you are wrong! Just for the fun of it, you can grass on practically anyone! Even the nation’s student population are under ‘observation’ these days with posters stuck up everywhere reading ‘Do you know of any kid that jumps school?’, then call us immediately on this emergancy number and we’ll have the little rascal back into class in no time. Or how about this one, ‘Do you know of any loser who takes drugs?, if so, then ‘grass’ on the low-life and have him put straight into rehabilitation’. If these junkies, in the eyes of the authorities, include half the populution of our upcountry elderly ladies, who pop their Valiums like ‘Choco-balls’ or munch away on their daily dose of Betel-Nut, then i hate to say it, but if they were all grassed on and busted, then there just wouldn’t be any old folks left to help in the raising of half the nation’s newly-born babies who are always tossed by their moms and dads into the hands of ‘grannie’ to take care of.
The latest big target of recent months are any officials asking for a back-hander! Geez, sounded like an brilliant idea but after a certain Bangkok PO Box no. was over-flooded with the postman bringing in daily Santa Clause-like sacks of literally thousands of mail within just the first week or so, it fell on the hands of one top crime-buster to unfortunately inform the public to the likes of… “Contrary to prior knowledge, it’s starting to look-like there are just far too many cases of dodgy officials to have us look into each and every one but we shall try our best!”
Talking about clearing the streets of scum, one of Thailand’s most controversial politicians came up, just recently, with these wickedly well-thought over suggestions and I am not joking! In his opinion, two of the worst social ills affecting the streets of Bangkok were 1. The stray dogs, and 2. The beggars. (Not exactly unique insight!) Now, since there just weren’t enough Boys-in-Brown employed by the law authorities our politician buddy here advised that a force of vigilantes be dispensed in the form of bedraggled delinquent techno-college boys with a history of violent behaviour. It was proposed that these techno-lads be granted an amensty is they assisted in ‘strangling’ as many stray dogs as visibly possible! As for the capital’s beggars, it was suggested that our lads be given the power to literally ‘hassle’ all the beggars off the streets and included allowing them to ‘give a right smacking to’ any beggar who failed to heed the attention of the techno-lads’ warnings. Of course, such plans never took off but I am sure our controversial friend in power here is back in his office thinking up some more wonderful and intricate ideas. Well, I guess he is doing what he is getting paid for, better than just sitting around drinking coffee all day.
Now, one great thing about Thailand is that everyone is afforded the opportunity to make money and get rich and that includes all the monkhood. I was originally shocked when I first found out just a few years back that one of the problems facing Thai society was of, ‘monk-imposters’! It had never previously came to my attention that being a monk was one excellent way of scamming people. In fact, it is one of the ‘Tetsabaan Police’s’ (Metropolitan Police) jobs to hunt round the streets of Bangkok and interrogate any dodgy looking monk who is begging for money at any old street corner. Just in case you didn’t know, the country’s monks are in possession of ‘Monk ID cards’ which state the monk’s name and the temple of which he is resident. Failure to show such an ID on inspection by the Metrolitan police will result on the old monk being escorted to the local cop-shop in order to make enquiries into the authenticity of his holy-hood.
Before I first came to Thailand I had only imagined Buddhist monks to be completely depleted of any wordly possessions except an alms-bowl and flip-flops etc… How far from the truth could I have been! There are many a monk in Thailand who is certainly far better-off financially than you or me. One classic example of this wealth can be found at the site of one of the Thailand’s most well-known, and ‘believe-it-or-not’ revered temples, located just north of Bangkok. In fact, the Abbot has came under investigation stacks-a times over the years in regards to ‘unknown source of wealth’. Should you wish to meet this very well-known (but not all together popular) abbot for some discussion on ‘impermanance’ or ‘meditation techniques’ your chances are rather slim. Firstly, it’s the only temple in the land that requires proof of ID before you are allowed to enter and the abbot himself has his own fleet of bodyguards. Since the Abbot is getting rather old, his disciples have purchased for him a whole charade of 7 million baht Mercedes Benzs to take him from one temple to the other. And talk about wealthy disciples donating money to this Temple Co. Ltd…., well, every one of the temple’s kuti’s (monk’s room/hut) is equipped with air-con/DVD players and even elevators to take the monks up to bed after a hard evening of chanting. The temple prides itself with the biggest, most incredibly huge, Buddhist ‘meditation/seminar’ hall in the world, actually in my opinion it looks-like a corny spaceship from some 1960’s sci-fi B-movie. It’s so massive in fact, that it makes the Boston Big Sox’s stadium look like your local school playground!
Should you be tired of the hard-life and wish to ordain at this certain temple, let it be known that a ‘good connection’ is needed as not just any old down-and-out riff-raff are allowed to ordain here. Some reports over the years have even mentioned that a handsome donation afforded to the temple before ordination is another way to secure a place in the holy-hood at this temple. Sorry, I forget the name of the place…
You may have read in me last blog a few of the ‘ins and outs’ into the country’s corrections department and with loads more stories under me sleeve I thought I’d continue with the subject! I already mentioned that if it’s the cash you have then a ‘time’ behind bars in Thailand may not be the horror which you have read about in some gruesome foreign reported tabloid. In fact, it was once rumoured that you you could simply pay off some poor farmer’s son to spend the time in jail for you instead of having to be there yourself. Not exactly that difficult to do, just had to have a family member run round the local village with flyers advertising to the likes of ‘Do you have a resemblance to this guy (the convicted millionaire criminal)? If so, how about getting paid on a daily basis for the next three years, no hard labour required, just simply sit around and chat to a hundred room-mates from dusk til dawn, wonderful opportunity to make money, you’d be a sucker to turn down this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just think about it! far better than working three years in some Saudi Desert anyday!! Then, after a suitable canditate was found, within no time at all, he had been mysteriously swapped for the true criminal behind bars to the complete indifference of any of the prison’s wardens!