Thailand vs A Sensational Foreign Media

(The following blog/article was published in The Nation newspaper on February 2. Here below, however, is the originally un-edited submission)

(Watch out for that Thai wife of yours – she could be extremely dangerous! Thai wives are highly skilled at throwing Farang husbands over 12th floor Pattaya hotel balconies!)

Besides being home to countless noodle soup carts, coyote dancers and moaning air-hostesses, the land is also home to some of the most sensationalist rumours east of the White House – not only spread by Westerners over a few too many glasses of the intoxicating type, but also and more importantly by sensational foreign media.

Let’s start with some of the ‘bar-stool’ rumours, so terrifying that if you were honestly sane enough, you’d be packing your bags and heading for safer destinations like the Gaza Strip. Thailand, a country so berserk, that if you are cheesed-off with your next-door neighbour, you can with the assistance of one of Thailand’s most wanted professional gunmen and a ridiculously low payment fee of 5,000 baht, have the geezer instantly shot into his next life. As for that menacing looking tuk-tuk driver who hangs outside your favourite bar, never get into any kind of minor conflict with that guy – instead take extreme care and caution, the guy is probably part of a ruthless criminal gang. Watch out too for every murdering ex-police officer who is supposed to be serving life behind bars – he has been swapped around for a ‘look-a-like’ and is out roaming the streets again. And don’t forget too about all those Thai women in Pattaya who are extremely skilled, at lifting up their 6 foot tall overweight rich Farang lovers and tossing them over a 12th floor hotel balcony – doesn’t matter even if they are only 5 foot 1 and weigh 45 kilogrammes. You have to realize of course that all those newspaper reports of ‘Farang suicides’ are completely fabricated cover-ups.
Geez…. what a place Thailand is, you’d think it was one the most fanatically dangerous places in the world!

But it really is (for Brits anyway) according to a well-publicised investigative piece of journalism printed not so long back in a leading ‘intellectual’ UK tabloid. The headline read ‘With so many Britons murdered in Thailand, why does our government not warn of the dangers faced there?’ Later on in the article it states that ‘Thailand may be friendly and engaging, yet its dark side is clearly visible’. And as for each and every Thai themselves ‘they tend to separate the persona they present to the world from their interior character’. Just when you were suspecting a little bit of sensationalism there, the article clearly argues its point of view by offering staggering statistics of at least 17 Brits being murdered since 2003. The highest percentage of any country in the world for Brits brutally slain, expect that is for Iraq. And they also go on to speculate that figure to be even higher! Wow…. and what about this one…it’s not just ‘bar-stool talk’ after all – even this article mentions “suspicious-sounding ‘suicides’ – jumping from balconies seems to be a favoured method!”

Of course, most foreigners reading this are gonna be quick to point the fingers at the local Thais and put the entire blame on them. Yet, after doing a bit of research myself and obtaining the names of those ‘supposedly’ horrifically murdered, I found no news coverage whatsoever for two of the murdered, found another two which obviously read like manslaughter and another five who were actually murdered by foreigners. That original statistic is therefore slashed by half if you don’t count actual local killers. There is no way that I am not gonna say that Thailand doesn’t have a high-rate of Westerners getting knocked-off, as it does. But however, I’d like the Western media for a change, on reporting these kind of statistics, to mention the quite obvious fact that Thailand doesn’t always attract the nicest Westerners in the world. As mentioned above, it attracts a lotta killer-minded Farangs. Perhaps the British government ought to put out a warning stating that too.

One ‘supposed’ murder case (which could legally be considered manslaughter) is the much publicized case of the shooting, by a police officer, of two North Americans lately in the hills of Mae Hong Sorn province. One died while the other survived. Even though, it was later stated by tens of foreign witnesses living in the area that the surviving women had a well-known history of violent drunken behaviour which including punching law-enforcers, the foreign media stuck to the original one-sided Thai-bashing reports. I mean, even though the female victim later went on to change the story of events proceeding the shooting – the foreign press sensationalized by continually adhering to the originally fabricated reported story that the nice innocent woman was shot for no reason whatsoever by a ‘drunk’ policeman. A cop who had a history of violence and immediately after the shooting ‘fled the scene’. Sure, I pity the murdered guy in Pai district and hope that the officer spends time incarcerated for this hideous crime. Yet though, I only wish that the foreign media, wouldn’t jump on their sensational bandwagon every time ( as for an example this time round, they immediately compared the crime in Pai to the awful backpacker killing cop in Kanchanburi a few years back). It is advised instead to wait for clearer and more precise on-the-street first-hand reports before already setting-up the gallows and taking Thailand and not just the police guy to the cleaners.

(Perhaps this pedophile who got arrested here lately had previously watched some TV documentary back home that claimed there were pre-pubescents to be had at every street corner!)

Let’s get off the subject of sensational ‘murder’ reports and on to that other controversial subject of Farangs and lustful-orientated nightlife. Some foreigners may conclude that the true fault behind sensationalist reports of such activity is Thailand’s own; due to governments and law-enforcers constantly turning a blind-eye to the illegal goings-on involved. Yet however, it could be argued that foreign sensationalist reports just help make the problem even worse. Take a recent Canadian documentary which was written up by an award-winning journalist from Global BC. According to this enlightened reporter, after two weeks of intensive undercover research, it was found that ‘most of them (naughty show-time bars in two infamous areas in the Silom and Sukhumvit districts) operate under prison-like conditions’. On top of that at these venues ‘A 16 year-old can be had for 600 baht a time’ and ‘Under-aged girls are numbered like cattle’. Pattaya is no better according to her research ‘Pre-pubescents can be found at every street corner’, ‘There are many hotels that allow you to rape children’ and ‘Pedophiles who get caught can just bribe their way out’. Fortunately, this documentary, after being posted on YouTube, got so many lambasting complaints last week that it was finally pulled off the air.

I am certainly not saying that this kind of activity does not go on – cause it does, but sensationalist reporting like this is only going to encourage more of the ‘worst-of-the-worst’ to visit Thailand. Theoretically, it could be said that one reason a lot of perverts actually get arrested in Thailand is due to such sensationalist reporting.

I’ll admit and Thais will admit, Thailand has a high recorded murder-rate which includes Westerners (Thailand’s stats though, don’t differentiate between murder charges and murder convictions). I feel it unfair however, that the foreign media continue, as they have been doing for decades, to report on this in a sensational and sometimes fabricated way. The same applies to all types of prostitution available here in one form or another. Unfortunately, this sensationalism is very similar to some of the foreign gossip-mongers here who believe everything they read and here. And finally, I believe that it is more than possible that there is a strong connection between both them and sensational foreign reporters.

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