(The following blog was published yesterday on the Opinion Page of ‘The Nation’ newspaper. Here below, however, is the originally submitted un-edited version)
There was nothing else which Mr Thaksin and his beloved TRT buddies enjoyed more – than a good-old crackdown! During his years in power, we had crackdowns on ‘minor-wives’, ‘bogus monks’, ‘Back-alley Farang English teachers’, ‘mini-skirt university outfits’, ‘Indian loan sharks’, ‘saucy on-line games’ ‘excessive alcohol consumption’, ‘child beggars’ and not forgetting the legendary ‘Bangkok stray dog’. How seriously these crackdowns were actually taken however, is a story for another day!
So, what with extremely high public expectation on our new clean-cut PM, Gen. Surayud to do a decent job, I would advise that he be forgiven for borrowing such classic Thaksin-style populist crackdowns and score some quick kudos to boost his popularity rating.
Crackdown On Official Newspaper Reading
It is common practice the world over to start the day at the office with a couple of coffees and a brief 15 minute read of the daily newspaper. Though such practice is generally accepted, many of the country’s government officials here in The Land of Smiles, do instead spend the entirety of their mornings reading through each and every newspaper they can lay their hands on. Should anyone wish to witness such extra-ordinary reading behaviour they ought to pop into any govt. office before midday and check out this rather amazing phenomenon for himself. Needing to complete some urgent bureaucratic business – well you’ll just have to sit down, bite your nails and watch the paint dry.
Crackdown On Bare-Chested Tourists
Even though it is actually illegal to walk the streets of Thailand topless, the authorities in charge, have for countless years, done absolutely nothing in their powers to ever crackdown on hairy bare-chested foreign tourists with an unpleasant odor parading up and down the beach roads of Pattaya, Patong and Chaweng. Completely indifferent to their visually polluting actions, such tourists fail to realise that their partially naked exposure endangers the local children to suffering from recurrent squeamish nightmares. Walking around topless is a criminal offense, posters verifying this matter ought to be posted at every beach resort in the country.
Crackdown On Drunk On Duty
Many of us may relish the occasional alcoholic beverage and the local ‘boys-in-browns’ are certainly no exception. While being slightly intoxicated may be considered a social norm, it is not acceptable however that law enforcers, who supposedly ought to be on night duty, do instead bunk off work and head for the nearest Karaoke bar. Half a dozen sing-a-songs and a bottle of whiskey later they are known for staggering around, toting their guns in the air and declaring to the fear of every customer “I am the Thai Police”.
Crackdown On Telephone Booth Operators
It has been public knowledge for decades that half the nation’s public telephone booths are permanently out of order. Down to your last 5 baht and in need of making an urgent telephone call you are enraged to find that your coin does nothing but – get stuck. Since operators must have been making fortunes for years now on such defunct telephone boxes, a crackdown is definitely called for.
Crackdown On Farang Gangster Wanna-Bes
For some mysterious reason, a plentitude of Caucasian ex-pats who on coming to reside in the country, do after a surprisingly short time here, suddenly feel the need to acquire some gangster-like self-security. Such folk can be found hanging around the bars of Pattaya, Sukhumvit and Chiang Mai and even though their biggest connected-asset is the name-card of some forlorn police officer they once befriended a couple of years previous – they are quick to point out to every newbie Farang around “Do you know who I am?” Of course, in reality, they are as connected as a wet noodle.
Crackdown On Lottery Forecasting Monks
Though monks ought to have little else to do besides going on alms rounds, teaching the Dhamma, sweeping the temple grounds, meditating and attending evening chanting sessions, many of them do instead spend much of their precious time forecasting the fortnightly govt. lucky lottery numbers. Such holy forecasting doesn’t come cheap however and the lottery obsessed villagers are expected to donate a generous donation to the temple each and every time they visit. Should their predictions fail to achieve the desired result, the devotees will be quickly advised to the likes of “The darn numbers must have been fixed again!”
Crackdown On Jewelry Touts
We have seen crackdowns on selling smuggled aphrodisiacs, illegal moonshine, Burmese-made cigarettes and naughty movies, so is it not about time for the authorities in charge to order a serious crackdown on Bangkok jewelry touts who knock off worthless gems to tourists? Found mainly near the likes of ‘Wat Phra Kaew’, they pounce on temple-going tourists and lie through their teeth “Today Bank Holiday, the temple is closed. You come with me – I know other good place to go” before waltzing the gullible tourists off to some dodgy gem store on the other side of the Chao Phraya river. Before you know it, the tourists are getting the cold-shoulder from the Tourist Police and being advised that “Sorry, but over-charging isn’t a criminal offence”
Crackdown On School Junk Food
Such vendors can be found clustered with their carts at the entrance of every school in the land. Even though the schools themselves have been trying their best to promote more nutritious healthier lunches, the junk food vendors have contemplated nothing of the sort. At budget prices, the brains of the future – the children, can feast away on a variety of junk food to the indifference of The Ministry of Health. Popular snacks sold include: ‘Hot-dog pieces fried in last week’s used fat’, ‘Sugar-coated donuts dipped in chocolate sauce’ and ‘Battered chicken wings covered in monosodium glutonate’.
Crackdown On Traffic Control TV Sets
Anyone who has ever traveled around Bangkok would undoubtedly, at one time or the other, been infuriated at traffic lights which turn green for twenty seconds each time on your congested end – while the other road, which is almost void of traffic, sees the light turn green for three and a half minutes. Of course, the crackdown recommended, is specifically aimed at the traffic-police controllers in Bangkok who spend more time with their feet up, watching the TV (repeats of English Premiership football matches particularly) than actually doing their job – which is watching out for any signs of traffic congestion.
Crackdown On Cowboy Tailors
With due respect a lot of the capital’s reputable tailor shops do a respectable job, but it has to be admitted though that plenty of others are as skilled in tailoring suits as I am knitting baby socks. Quite easy to spot, many of the cowboy tailor shops place whopping huge ads on their shop windows or in free tourist magazines offering breathtaking discounts – prices usually always in US dollars. Literarily too good to be true, the customer soon discovers to his complete shock and horror, during an extremely important meeting back home, that one of the sleeves has just fallen off of his imported Kashmiri cloth jacket. Next, while giving a sales presentation his zip falls down and stubbornly refuses to go up again.