Election Promises & ‘Selling A Dream’

(The following blog/article was published in The Nation newspaper last Saturday. Here below, however, is the originally un-edited submission)

(Wow! A couple of political parties have promised that they would extend the skytrain routes to Pathumthani, Nakhorn Pathom and Chachoengsao. Friggin Unbelievable!)

Just a few days back, I had the fine pleasure in reading through the complete Thai language election manifestos of two of the land’s latest political parties. The advertisements were so huge in fact that both of them took up the entire page of a newspaper. There was no need to tune into any slap-stick Channel 7 comedy that day for a laugh, as some of the unbelievable policies I read had me in such hysterics that I literally spilt my beer all over my pants.

May I compare something first? Whenever, for example, you fancy going on a package tour abroad for a few days and so look for something in the Classified’s section of your morning newspaper, there is a decent enough chance that below a travel agent’s ad will be a warning posted something like ‘All prices are subject to change without prior notice’. This is of course, due to a thing called ‘consumer protection’ as by jove the company doesn’t need to get sued in a court of law for deceiving customers.

So, how come political parties can get away with advertising whatever expensive policies they can imaginatively dream up and sell to the customer, or in other words your average voter, without being forced to print in small font at the bottom of their ads ‘All policies are subject to change without prior notice’?. It only makes sense. Quite obviously, what the country needs is a splendid new organization set up for ‘Voter Protection’. That is, an organization which can check on whether all the promises being advertised are neither exaggerated or simply a crock of made-up whoppers. Moreover, should any governing party fail to implement any of their policies without indisputable good reason within their allocated time in power, then their 15 million or so original voters ought to have the right to sue for fraud.

Or is it just my pessimistic self? I mean, perhaps the next government really will be able to make all their ‘Selling a dream’ policies come true. And talking about dreams, I had one just last night which was so incredibly vivid that this morning I was able to write it down word for word in the space of half an hour. The dream, based in the future, was about a Grade 10 girl, named Somying, who lives in a provincial village not far from the capital. She was writing a Letter to the Editor of The Nation. At the top of her e-mail it was dated 7 Dec 2012. Her letter went like this.

(With a new government in power, it has been promised that all the streets will be free of scumbags once and for all!)

Dear Editor,

My letter today is about sharing my warm-hearted thanks to the great government that my mum voted for in December 2007, one that has gone on to fulfill all the promises it said would.

I am very happy to say that after every single civil servant, government officer, policemen, soldier and not forgetting the lovely politicians, got a really fat pay rise after the 2007 elections, very bad corruption is a thing of the past. Now, my mummy can go the big authorities and make a complaint quickly. She doesn’t have to wait hours on end anymore, while the very important boss drinks endless cups of coffees, reads every newspaper stacked on his desk and waits for a donation slipped inside a pink envelope. The government was very correct to pity all these kind people and write off all their debts (Fairness and Justice they called it). Sure, it wasn’t their fault that they each owed hundreds of thousands of baht, important people like them need two houses, two cars, fancy hair-dos for the women and a weekly soapy massage for the men. The government was really right, low salaries were the root of all corruption.

Wow! Look at our economy now, it’s wonderful. I thank the government for their policy about ‘Protecting economical national interests’. Now we don’t have many of them rich frivolous Farangs coming into our country, making lots of money while the Thai people suffer. It’s great that the government gave some of them the red-card and booted them and their business interests out of the country. The government was really right, it was because of all the selfish Farang businessmen that Thailand was so poor.

Wow! Look at Thailand’s transport system now. Before, I had to stand on a bus for three hours to get from my village to downtown Bangkok. But now, because the government built sky-train routes to every province around Bangkok, I can make the 40km trip to Siam Square in only one hour. And when I get bored of that place I can pop on the sky-train and go to the likes of Pathumthani, Nakhorn Pathom and Chachoengsao provinces. So cheap it is too, it costs just 15 Baht for unlimited travel and the price will stay like that for the next ten years. The government was really right, a good cheap sky-train with super-express links to all the big brand-new highways was the answer to all them traffic jam problems.

Wow! I can also go to Bangkok now and breathe in all the lovely fresh-air. The government policy about combating foreign imported products like petrol has brightened our skies. These days, because of them, every vehicle in Bangkok uses only the Thai product ‘Gasohol’. Thanks too for that other environmentally-friendly Thai invention ‘Solar cells’. The government was really right, Thailand doesn’t need them expensive Farang things that damage our economy and environment.

((With a new government in power, it has been promised that Thailand’s education system will be as good as anything you find in the West)

Wow! My village is super-excellent now, even the buffaloes are smiling. All thanks to a groovy government policy, every house is made of concrete and has fresh clean drinkable running water. What were once dusty paths and hole-ridden roads are now all cleanly paved. Every teenager goes to school too, free education for all. The government has promised too, that we are now getting an education as good as those European children. Just a slight pity though, that there was no policy on building new schools or hiring new teachers. 120 students these days is quite a lot to fit in one classroom. The government was really right, you have to take care of the poor people too.

Wow! Everyone is getting so rich thanks to the government tax policy. Hardly anyone has to pay tax anymore and if they do it is so little. Even the richest person in our village now, the village headman, is also really happy. He makes a few million baht a year from his businesses but he’s only got to pay 20% tax as that is the highest level in Thailand. All the old people are also smiling now as they each get 30,000 baht a year in social welfare and all the disabled people who can’t work a good job receive 2,000 baht a month. The government was really right, with a self-sufficiency economical policy in place, we can be happy and rich.

Wow! Thailand is so safe now. All them nasty criminals are sentenced by the judge to the highest the law allows. Our streets are clean of all the junkies too. In the past they only got put in prison for 6 years for some Ya Ba pills but now the losers get 60 years banged up. Hee hee…pity for them scoundrels that there was no policy to build any more prisons or improve their living conditions. The government was really right, to combat crime and clear our streets of scumbags forever, is to sentence criminals to even longer times behind bars.

Wow! Thailand’s athletes are brilliant now. Thanks to the government, Thailand won dozens of gold-medals in this year’s Olympic Games. Great to see all them foreigners looking up to us now. All around us are lots and lots of terrific new sports stadiums and training facilities, perhaps even better than China’s. Anyway Mr Editor, when I grow up I wanna be a sports-star because if I win a gold medal the government will give me millions of baht. The government was really right, Thailand always had the potential to become a great sporting nation, it was only a matter of money.

Miss Somying

Nakhorn Nearby

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