Category Archives: Stories from the past

The People in Power

Having devoted me last few blogs to the learning of the Thai language and the seedy goings-on in Kanchanaburi I thought I would do a u-turn and and go back to one of me fave subjects and that is, the gory details surrounding the ins and outs of the country’s leaders.

Thailand has many a great rivalry. We have Pizza Hut vs Pizza Company, Man U vs Liverpool, Nana Plaza vs Patpong, Channel 3 soap operas vs Channel 7’s but at the end of the day, nothing quite matches The Thai Army vs The Thai Police. For many a strange reason the two great forces behind ‘protecting’ the country have had it in for each other over the years and the story of a certain Maj-Gen Sae Dum vs Pol-Gen Sun says it all.

Well, our army friend in writing here, Mr Dum, had a fascinating infatuation for a collection of guns with which the police weren’t too pleased about and so they tried on occasions to have Mr Dum quit the habit of driving around Bangkok with a hundred machine guns in his car. Eventhough just a little Major General, Mr Dum had won admiration for all sorts of dangerous missions and was not in the habit of being spoken to by the pompy police. The police on getting pretty cheesed-off with the lawless behaviour of Mr Dum decided to arrest him outside his office a few years back only for the arresting officer to be on the receiving end of a dozen kickes to the head live on TV with Mr Dum swearing at the cameras to the likes of ‘Darned police have no respect for an Army Officer!’

Well, that was the start of a barrage of verbal assault thrown from both sides and especially Mr Dum’s. It grasped the attention of the country’s police chief Mr Sun and he arranged to dice up a bitta revenge and had a whole string of commandos, fifteen helicopters and three tanks pursue Mr Dum at some hotel on Ratchadapisek Road while Mr Dum was stashing up a whole car full of ammunition while a team of TV reporters are ‘in on the action’. All the viewers were soon witnessing Mr Dum madly throwing a few punches and smacking a couple of the police round the back of the head with one of his guns. Absolutey infuriated at the disrespect shown by Police Chief Sun, Maj-Gen Dum who was/is an incredibly influential military man and a personal friend of the PM’s was seen after, on a few chat shows swearing about the corrupt behaviour of Mr Sun and calling for his resignation. Well, by this time no-one was listening to his complaints as Mr Sun had become famous for cleaning up the image of the police and known for his well-known ‘anti police corruption stance’.

That was, until Mr Dum had somehow managed to receive copies of a whole stack of bank-books ‘made in the USA’ and millions of dollars in the name of Mr Sun’s minor wife in California. Not long after, Mr Sun, on getting a bash in the face by his formal wife and a right telling off by the PM Thaksin decided to hand in his resignation only for him to swear avengance against Mr Dum. As I said, Maj-Gen Dum has made quite a name for himself for his ‘dangerous missions’ and his last one, just last year, saw him sunbathing for two months, growing a two foot beard, learning the southern dialect and infiltrating the Mujahadeen in a top-secret mission in the restless deep south provinces. That was until the former police chief Mr Sun somehow got to contact the terrorist organization and give them the lowdown on Maj-Gen Dum and his antics dressed-up as a Muslim Roti Vendor pushing a cart outside the Mujahadeen’s main office. Finally, Mr Dum fled for his life and is now back in Bangkok (I think) and back to a cozy office job and still enjoying his collection of ‘big guns’. As for the former police chief, he has fled the scene.

Besides just Maj-Gen Dum, a whole flurry of other folks have had a full-on confrontation with the country’s police and the most famous of such folk over the past couple of years or so has had to be…a certain Mr Chuwit. Our massage parlour tycoon friend here Mr Chuwit was the owner of a whole fleet of naughty massage parlours on Ratchadphisek Road and made a name for himself along the lines of ‘mafia-like’. Mr Chuwit first made headlines when he decided to bulldoze down a hundred or so bar-beers along Sukhumvit as they hadn’t paid the rent owned to him for the use of his land. Next, the police got into the action and before we know it they are arresting Mr Chuwit for naughty goings-on behind the curtains of his massage parlour rooms. Fuming at this, Mr Chuwit was seen ranting away live on TV for the next couple of months claiming the reason behind his arrest was that he hadn’t paid enough money under the table to the local police. A total of more than fifty high ranking police officers got transferred out of the area because of the so-called ‘kick-backs’ they had been receiving from Mr Chuwit over the years.

Mr Chuwit spent just a night or so behind bars and even got a prison warden sacked from his job after the warden had charged him a few thousand baht for his wife to bring in a plate of fried rice for him. Fearing for his life of course, Mr Chuwit decided to become a politician and after a decent showing in the Bangkok Governor Elections in which he came in third, is now a party-list MP for the Chart Thai Party. Quite amazing really, for a guy with a Masters Degree from the US and a ‘lover-of-the ladies’ to be liked so much by the Thai people. Then, just last year he was down the police station again after his wife had reported him for ‘punching her in the face’ a few times. On being questioned by ITV News he stated ‘This is personal business, but all I want to say is that she deserved it. I also told her to watch her big mouth from now on or I’ll give her another big slapping!’

In fact, along with the thai-blog’s blogger – BKK Inkslinger, I’ve actually seen Mr Chuwit just the once, and that was ironically at a Catholic Church along Soi Ruam Rudee one Christmas Eve Night while listening to Mass by Father Joe!

Then we have the very well-known story of a certain former police captain cum lawyer cum politician from the Bang Mot District of Thonburi named something like Mr Chalert, famed also for his ‘mafia-like’ stance and the three obnoxious sons of his. Following in their father’s footsteps, the three sons were soon terrorizing the bars, pubs and discos of Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket and being arrested on a handful of occasions for physically assaulting anyone for staring them in the eye or not showing them enough respect. After a certain ‘happening’ at a disco (on Ratchadaphisek Road again!) in which a police sargaent was shot in the head, one of the sons fled the scene for 6 months and gone missing while ‘dad’ collected enough evidence to prove his son had nothing to do in the killing. As it is against the law in Thailand to critcize a judge’s decision I can only say that ‘It must have been a fair trial’. I don’t think many people in the senate were too pleased with the behavior of this one time popular politician and we rarely see his face on TV these days. As for his three sons, they have been banned by the police from entering any disco/pub for the next five years!

One other very familiar face to be seen virtually every night in the country’s pompous cocktail lounges and expensive discos has to be Mr Patong-ko, the beloved son of the Prime Minister. Well, not so long ago ‘dad the PM’ must have gotten tired of his sons behaviour which included flunking the exams of a dozen universities, drinking with a whole stack of lovely ladies every night and getting out of bed at three in the afternoon that ‘dad’ set up an advertising business for him. Even though Mr Patong-ko hadn’t a clue about such a business, his company were soon, miraculously, winning a fair share of ludicrious contracts including a massive one for the Bangkok Underground. When asked whether his father had been influential in winning some of the deals, quoted to the press, ‘Don’t talk nonsense, I won all those contracts all by myself!’

After a grand total of fifty years in the planning our new airport ought to be opened just a year late, next year. Unless you’ve been living on the Planet Mars you must have heard about the supposed corruption going on about that one. So much so, that i can’t be bothered writing about it, as it would take up the whole of the main page of thai-blogs. You may of read about some of the ‘wacko’government ideas in a couple of me old blogs but one of me favourites had to be the propostion to extend the skytrain route to the new Suwannaphum Airport miles outside of Bangkok. What a ridiculous plan that was after the government had decided that all the foreigners on arriving at the airport would be next seen climbing the stairs of the Skytrain with all their luggage in order to get to their hotel, downtown.

I have to admit, since being a teacher, I’ve known quite a few people during the time that I’ve spent in Thailand but can’t go giving away some of their so-called secrets on a public website. But for sure there are a lot of decent influential figures in Thailand and my favourite politician has to be ‘Ong Art’ the Head of The Democratic Party of Bangkok, based in Bangkok Noi, he has spent all his time fighting the poverty in this certainly ‘seedy’ area of Bangkok and not even a famous TV Presenter cum actor for the ‘Thai Love Thai’ Party could knock him out in the last elections.

This is the thrid part of the series and me two other ones on Thailand’s Leaders are in me archives. Titled ‘Are you being Serious?’

Related category: Stories from the Past

Also see: Are You Being Serious? and Are You Being Serious…Again?

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VOCAB FOR TODAY;

Gory = horrible
To be cheesed-off = to be angry
Dice up = to make up
Infuriated = really angry
Stash up = fill up
Bash = punch
Cozy job = easy job
A flurry = a decent variety
Rant = shout
Pompous = หรูหรา
Wacko = crazy

Are You Being Serious…Again?

Well, in the second part of this series, here are just a few more sordid stories from the back-bench…and yes I’m being serious. Would I ever exaggerate?

There is a ‘saying’ in Thai that goes something like ‘Just sprinkle some parsley over it’ which means to make something, which is obviously quite bad, nice-looking on the outside, and our friends in parliament have successfully done that on plenty of occasions for the sakes of VIPs from foreign countries arriving in Bangkok.

Over the past few years, no event has been made more fuss over than the APEC summit a couple of years back and the arrival of a certain American president himself. Arriving in Bangkok, the VIPs must have stunned by the sight of the roads with hardly a car insight! “What a crock-of-rubbish, those rumours are, about the Bangkok traffic congestion!” a few of the VIPs were supposedly have said! Obviously having been disappointed not to witness one those world famous ‘jams’, they probably weren’t informed that our beloved leaders had told the capital to ‘relax, fellow citizens, take a few days off work and stay at home!’ Thus, making it look as if such daily traffic scenarios certainly did not exist in The Big Mango. Then, to follow this up, all the vendors selling garlands were banned from making any money for the week and cleared from the streets.

Of course, Bangkok has more than its far share of flea-ridden stray dogs and our leaders before APEC ordered that all the mongrels be rounded-up. “Where are we to dump all the draggled dogs?” was the next question and then broadcast on TV we see all the hounds being rounded-up off the streets in ‘mutt vans’ and waltzed off to Sra Kaew province to the obvious distaste of the local villagers there!

Then finally, for the APEC summit, it was decided that all the world leaders admire a traditional boat show from opposite the The Grand Palace. The politicians soon realized that if the VIPs looked just a little down the river they’d get a sight of some supposed riverbank slums! Not needing the VIPs to think that such a thing existed in Bangkok, a massively long 150 metre banner was erected with ‘A Warm Welcome to all the APEC Delegates’ written on it, stuck right in front of the slums barring them from view.

Now, we all know that the country’s leaders may lack a few qualities and one of them certainly has to be ‘religious sensitivity’. Well, right after Sept 11, one of the country’s ‘big’ politicians stood up and gave this advice to be passed on to the American government “Since the people and government of Afghanistan have no shame, I advise that they should be on the receiving end of some of their own medicine and that all their big cities be bombarded with…..pork fat”

Having to listen to such slanderous remarks you could well have imagined that a few tempers have been lost in Parliament over the years. Just a few months ago one of the ruling party’s members stood up and complained that ‘the’ MP sat opposite was involved in crooked drug deals up there in one of the border provinces only to told back that it was ‘he’ himself that was running dodgy deals. A verbal fight soon erupted before the former policeman turned MP run from his seat over to the other MP and give him a few punches to the face live on TV. After, when asked whether he was going to apologise to the Mae Hong Son MP retorted by saying “Get out of it, the animal deserved it!”

Our friends in parliament have been famed over the years for their supposed ‘influence’ in trying to sway voters to vote for them. Just there in last year’s general election one of the candidates took this a little too far and was photographed carrying a gun into a local voting booth, and instead of using a finger to point his name out to the voters was using his gun instead! When being grilled later by the police to such an act, he replied “It was only a plastic water gun!”

Everyone knows that our leaders have a name for ‘supposedly not’ exactly being the most honest of folk and one of the classics is this one and it actually concerned a former PM a few years back. – It had come to the opposition’s knowledge that the PM’s qualification from a well-known university was rather suspicious. The thesis he had supposedly written for the degree was astonishingly good as it had been written completely in French and read almost identical to ‘this one’ – and there in front of the viewers was a thesis written up 50 years ago. “Complete co-incidence!” was the PM’s reply, and when asked by one of the opposition MPs to the likes of ‘How old are you? (in French lingo)? Replied “I’m fine thank you and you!” to the laughter of the opposition. Of course the PM, on having being able to write a master’s thesis in French couldn’t speak a single word of the language.

Next, if that wasn’t enough for the former PM’s disgust the opposition had managed to get their hands on his supposed ‘real’ birth certificate which read ‘Born in China!’ meaning he didn’t have any rights whatsoever to be a politician let alone the PM. This is Thailand however, and such sordid accusations were soon forgotten.

Talking about honesty, or lack of it, it was brought to the nation’s attention a few years back that the quality of the ‘milk’ given to all the country’s school kids was supposedly ‘poor’. Having no sympathy for the kids whatsoever, it was found out later that this MP was supposedly getting a roaring commission fee to pass this obviously low-nutrition milk on to the nation’s kids to the complete shock of every mother.

I may be wrong, but I doubt that the west has so many TV commercials made up by the government that go something like this – ‘Be a good family man, love your wife, love your children and don’t smoke, drink alcohol or thump your wife in front of the children’. Then just last new year (what a time to start!) it was made forbidden to sell any alcohol between the hours of 2-5pm and midnight to midday! What a quack-wack law! Then even sillier than this, it was propositioned a few years back that ‘since Thais drink too much, the amount of their alcohol consumption be limited!’ and one MP went on to say “I suggest that it be made forbidden for any person, on entering a pub, to order anymore than two bottles of beer for himself”. And, for the bartender to know whether a patron had reached his limit or not, the drinker’s hand was to be stamped every time he ordered a drink! Of course, this wacko idea was never implemented as it would have been the end of the nation’s tourist industry!

And finally, to top all things off. Just last week the big news headlines of the previous seven days, were – ‘Bosses of the Anti Corruption Panel found guilty of affording themselves an over the top salary pay rise, all given a suspended jail term!’

Are You Being Serious??

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (C) visits Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi International Airport. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Every four years or so here in the ‘Land of the Lottery & Ladyboys’ the Thais have the very tricky task of having to fork their brains and select the best there is on offer to rule and govern this blessed country for the next government term.

Should you yourself feel fit to apply for such a position, here below is a list of the criteria of which you will have to fulfill:

Holder of at least a Bachelors degree in any field (Or a piece of paper that looks like one)

AND

Be a retired Police or Army officer (Connections are a plus) OR

Been a very successful businessman ( If you can run a business you can darned-well run the country MBA-style) OR

Have a close relative who is already a politician ( What you expect to get the job on your own??) OR

Have been a shockingly good-looking TV star before (The uneducated masses believe ‘Looks = Brains’, just like every where else in the world)

So, as you could have imagined we have only the finest quality to choose from. With all the troubles that Thailand has had over the past decade or so it has taken the elite politician to think up the best policies possible to combat such ‘hassles’ and for those readers out there who have missed out on some of the hilarious-quackwack ideas over the years from those in power, digest some of these.

Heavy rains in Bangkok always cause traffic jams

Everyone knows just how many awards Thailand has won over the years. On top of the award-winning feats must be the one for ‘the infamous Bangkok traffic jam’. On just arriving in Bangkok and before even setting foot in the hotel the ‘tourist’ can be seen spotted on a footbridge staring in awe and taking fotos of the world famous ‘Silom Traffic Jam’.

Embarrassed by this daily scenario, it has been the politicians who have had to scramble their brains and think of ways to solve this irritating problem.

Just last year in parliament one of the politicians came out with this for an idea “Since the motorbikes are a darned nuisance just let them drive down the road any side this wish!” only for another politician to argue that it was us pedestrians that were the reason behind so many jams and questioned “How about we just do away with so many useless sidewalks?” As he went on to argue that most sidewalks were just stalked with vendors and most pedestrians enjoyed walking in the road anyway!” well, I suppose that makes a bitta sense.

Then, how many times over the past decade have we been advised in a ‘Mega Capital Campaign’ to ‘Get on Yer Bike and Ride!’ That was until one of the promoting politicians on waving to the camera rode his bicycle straight over an open manhole while another was hospitalized cause of the ‘excessive fumes’ he had inhaled that day!

Talking about ‘Get Fit’, just a couple of years ago the new Minister of Education told the media that ‘A New System of Education is Needed!’ ‘The Kids Must Play More Sports!’ were the headlines the next day. He proposed that every school in Thailand would with this new policy of his, everyday ‘Teach 3 hours of lessons in the morning and in the afternoon play sport for 3 hours!’ What a great idea until the capital’s schools were up-in-arms complaining to the likes of ‘Where are 2,000 students going to play sport every afternoon??’ as the not-so-mindful- Minister hadn’t the brains to realize that 99% of Bangkok’s schools have a mini parking lot as a sports ground. Then that famous girl only school on Ratchadamnoern Avenue named something like ‘GirlieWitthaya’ started their demonstrations up and down the street protesting that their 3000 girls would have to jog up and down Ratchadamnoern Avenue every afternoon for 3 hours as they had no kind of sportsfield whatsoever. As you could have imagined the idea was never implemented!

Talking about the education system. After our beloved PM’s son was escorted out of his university finals a few years back for ‘supposedly’ taking in a few answers with him, he wasn’t cheating of course, it was conceded by the PM himself that ‘Thai kids cheat too much!’. After a few weeks of ministry deliberation on ‘how to deal with this cheating problem’ came finally to this conclusion “Cheating in school exams is ingrained within Thai society and has become part of the culture. We must therefore accept this and hope in the future to do our best to reduce the amount of cheating involved”.

Having to listen to such dribble in parliament you may well have heard that one of the major problems concerning debates over the years has been ‘lack of attendance’. Of course all the politicians had an important business client to see or was in Burma having to play a couple of rounds of golf on ‘personal business’ with one of the leading generals. The PM on being tired on having to tolerate such ‘excuses’ decided therefore that on top of their monthly politician salaries that an incentive bonus of 2,000 baht a day was to be given to all the MPs who just showed up to work!! In fact that idea was actually passed!

A few years back the female members of parliament were up in arms furious about a report in a popular European Magazine with the nauseating headlines which read ‘Pattaya, Thailand and Girls for Sale!’. So, Mrs Paweeda, head of Thailand’s club for ‘Women and Kids Rights’, disgusted and angered at such slanderous reporting went for herself to see if such goings-on actually happened in Pattaya. So, then a couple of nights later on the evening news Mrs Paweeda reported for the local and international press “After my undercover visit to Pattaya I can promise and declare to yous all that NO sinful extra-curricular girlie services are on offer in Pattaya!”

Then, talking about Pattaya it was debated (once again) to develop Pattaya into ‘The cultural hub of Thailand’ after it was accessed that all the foreign tourists in Pattaya were most in love with visiting temples, riding elephants and passing the nights away listening to Thai traditional music being played on a Thai-style xylophone. When the idea was passed on to the Pattaya Board for Tourism, it was quoted to the press “A very fine, well-thought over proposal, we shall look into this fantastic idea with intent”. Perhaps they are still looking at it now, four years later!

Of course Thailand’s politicians have been called ‘rather randy’ themselves over time and so just last year our dear PM called up a press conference and quoted “From this day onwards I want only family-loving folks in my cabinet and for all those politicians of mine who have a ‘mia noi’ (mistress) I need to see your ‘letter of resignation’ on my desk by this Friday afternoon!’ All sounded good until one of the Ministers informed the press “It is unfortunate that should the PM’s new policy be implemented we would have to dismiss 95% of the cabinet. As you could of imagined the PM spent the next couple of weeks saying to the likes of “Did I really say that? Oh come on you must have mis-understood me!”

One very serious problem that the PM did have to face a few years back before all the dealers were shot dead, was ‘drugs’. Of course the problem was a serious one, but according to one politician “They are darned hard to find!. So, one of the opposition MPs from Chumphorn province on hearing this was disgusted and went out to prove just how wrong such a quote was and on the evening news that night was seen holding out a handful of Methamphetamine pills he had just bought for himself quoting “What a crock of rubbish, drugs are easy to be found!” only to be seen a few minutes, live on TV, being escorted down to the local police station on the charge of ‘possession’!

Well, some wacky ideas have been heard on how to solve this problem and the stevesuphan award for ‘Curbing the drug problem idea’ goes to one big politician with this: “Since the market price is an expensive 100 baht for one pill I advise therefore that the government produce and sell our own pills at 10 baht a shot, that way we will know exactly who the junkies are and be able to afford them doctorly advice on ‘how to quit the habit’. At the same time a politician friend of his was raving on about ‘such a fine idea’ that he went on to advise “Yes, and on top of that the junkies be allowed to purchase from a government hospital ‘ganja’ free of charge. As of course we would much prefer our youth, if they need to take drugs, to be stoned on ‘ganja’ instead!’. Well…. I suppose his meaning was meant to be a helpful one.

Finally, let me say that the above are just ‘some’ of the quack-wack ideas heard in parliament before and I can assure you that there have been lots more.

Gimme a break…… Part Two

In the second part of ‘Gimme a break’ I thought I would write about the exploits of another bunch of ‘gimme a brain’ criminals, the foreigners. You would imagine that us foreigners would be perhaps a little smarter when it comes to illegal activities, but the is not always the case.

Even Hambali (The Bali Bomber) and head of the terrorist squad The JI, who having the brains to blow-up a couple of discos, didn’t have the brains to realise that may be his phone calls home from his flimsy apartment room in Ayutthaya would be traced.

Before the arrest of Hambali, I laughed in amazement when our beloved prime minister explained to the country “There never have and never will be any foreign terrorists residing on our soil”. Perhaps the PM was rather busy vacationing abroad or playing Hi-Lo across the border in Cambodia when the biggest terrorist plan ever to executed in Thailand was thwarted at the very last moment just a few years ago.

It all started out when an Arab terrorist squad spent the best part of a year planning to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok. The plan, the ID, the size of the truck bomb was perfect, until: on the way to the embassy while driving the bomb along Chitlom Road the truck accidentally hit a motorbike-taxi-driver. When the terrorists-to-be attempted to speed off, the infuriated moto-driver leaps in front of the truck and refuses to let the terrorists-to-be leave until they have forked over compensation for the smashed-up bike. The terrorists to be, completely baffled, bahtless and not speaking a word of Thai didn’t have a clue. A right bunch of spectators came to witness the scenario and when the police arrived on the scene the terrorists-to-be fled, leaving behind their truckbomb in the middle of Chitlom Road, as for the terrorists-to-be, they were never heard of again.

Talking about ‘Israeli’, I do remember the story of an Israeli guy who just last year on leaving Israel, pledged to family and friends “Im going to kill that girlfriend of mine”, what is exactly what he did do. After fulfilling the mission, instead of fleeing the country, decides to report her missing at the Israeli Embassy and stay at his and her hotel as if nothing had happened. One plus one equals two, and after being caught carrying a massive suitcase out of the hotel by security camera in the odd hours of the morning was very soon arrested. In court he came out with a ridiculous pledge of “I am innocent, but I will plead guilty if you let me do my sentence at a prison in Israel” the judge replied “Certainly, in another 6-7 years, perhaps.

Then there was the story of an English guy last year, embarrassingly from the same town as me, who after just having arrived in the country with a few thousand ‘pills’ sewed into his trousers, decides to pop a few himself for the fun of it and run around Sanam Luang shirtless swearing at the vendors. Bewildered by the antics of the guy, the police arrested him for not wearing a top and seeing him on a certain ‘high’ soon did a body search before being paraded in front of the cameras in time for the evening news. Obviously still ‘high’, the guy smiling away had nothing to say but “I only wish I had seen more of the country. I wonder whether he still laughing away now as a long-term guest of the Corrections Department.

Talking about ‘plans’ or a lack of one, there was the story of a few Russians in Pattaya a couple of years ago, who after having robbed one of the town’s banks at gunpoint then had to make an escape. As the area had been blocked off the Russians went and bought a brand-new speedboat in cash to make their dash. While on the beach it soon occurred to them that petrol was needed to start such a mechanism and were soon rushing back in to town to buy some. In the meantime the speedboat salesman had heard the news about a bunch of reckless Russians at the bank and called in the police. The Russians got about 200 meters out to sea before being caught and later paraded in front of the cameras wearing only their briefs.

Last but not least is one scenario that I actually witnessed within the very first few months that I came to Thailand a long long time ago. I won’t exactly call him a criminal but somewhere along the lines of ‘quackwack’.

Staying in Krabi Town for a while I usually had my breakfast at the May&Mark restaurant there. One morning, in walks this Dutch guy who on sitting down ask for a glass of Champagne. He was told that they didn’t stock such a beverage so orders a cup of coffee instead. Next, he goes to the bathroom and before long we all hear him taking a shower and singing away to himself. Very soon however, he is banging away at the lower panel of the door, breaks it and crawls out covered in soap. Completely stark naked he walks out of the restaurant and is seen running up and down the road singing Dutch football songs while shaking his ‘thingy-a-bob’ up and down. Of course, the police show up and after a quick shuffle is heaved into the back of the cop pick-up and taken to the police station.

It was found out later, that when he was being questioned, decided to Bruce Lee style the cops’ TV set. Banged up for a couple of weeks in Krabi, his mom arrives to escort him back to Holland. At May&Mark restaurant she was seen in tears when she learnt the truth and quickly set off for station to pay his fine. As the police weren’t too pleased about having no TV to watch, before he was released, his mom had to go buy the station a brand-new Sony 24’’. He was never heard of again. So, next time you come to Thailand don’t go scoffing special mushroom pizzas, as this guy as it was later known, had consumed just one too many on Koh Phi Phi.

Gimme a break…. Part One

Fo those who have been here for a quite a while would have realised by now, that some of the world’s most crackpot villians walk our streets. For those who haven’t, pls let me enlighten you with a few news stories from the past.

Just a couple of years ago the Headlines read ‘Millions gone missing after security van’s door is found open!’ On arriving at it’s destination the backdoor of the van was found to be open and the drivers were soon taken into questioning by Bangkok’s finest. They had no ‘excuse’ whatsoever but “We forgot to lock it”. The police were confused however, as the drivers had a perfectly clean record and after thorough searches of their abodes found nothing, they were held anyway.

A week or so later however, the police were informed of a suspicious looking Tollway cleaner, who in the spate of a week had given the local temple a massive donation, a gigantic Buddha Image and bought all the monks a brand new Sony Sound System each, and on top of that had been seen generously handing out 500baht notes to all the temple-goers. It didnt take the authorities to realise that this guy worked on the same part of the tollway of which the millions had supposedly gone missing. Having heard that the police were after him, decides to leg it – home!. When the police arrived to search his house, they find him sitting in the attic and in the basement, the missing millions. When asked why he hadn’t returned the money, his alibi was “I wanted to take from the rich to give to the poor”.

Then i remember the time a few years ago about the ridiculous IQ count of a Bangkok Bank security guard. One morning the police were called in to the bank’s branch at The Mall, Bangkapi and were informed that over the past few days the sum of 967,000baht had gone missing from the ATM. After intensive investigation the police were stupified and could only presume the bank’s security guard was involved, “but he couldn’t have been” they thought, as he was at work as usual and hadn’t done any kinda runner. Not until a bank clerk from the bank across the road told the police that a scruffy looking security guard had deposited the sum of 960,000 baht in his bank account just a few days ago. When quizzed by the police to the origins of this fond amount of cash , replied “I won the lottery’.

Talking about the Govt. Lottery, everyone in the country knows that it has been fixed on and off for years. Just last year the country’s lottery players were up in arms. While the draw was being broadcast live on TV one of the ball grabbers who was to ‘pick a ball’ was seen taking a ball from the ‘wheelie tub’, have a good look at it, but throw it back in to grab another, if that wasn’t obvious enough, performed the trick yet once again. It was found later that he had been using state of the art contact lenses and that in each wheelie tub was one ball that had been coated with some kind of liquid only seen through these high technology goggles.

Talking about morality, just a few weeks ago while going through the ‘juicy’ Thai Raj newspaper i came across the unusual antics of a few youngish monks. A couple of days before, at one of the Kingdom’s temples, the police had been informed by some villagers about a handful of monks at their local temple being up to no good in their kutis (monk’s hut). The police on hearing this decided to put in a video camera to back up the claims. Just that evening, the police, ‘done the bust’ to find a few teenage monks with a couple of crates of Beer Chang, a stack of ganja, and if that wasnt enough, were also caught watching a dirty video with a couple of equally dirty looking girls. The local news channels made no hesitation to show the video to the whole nation at mealtime the following day.

Next, there was the story of the elusive ‘Gold Shop Robber’, who after robbing a few gold shops decided to ‘give it a go’ at acting in a music video, unfortunately for him, the video he was in became a mega hit and there he was in person, witnessed by the police, booping away right in front of their TV sets at home. Perhaps he is still bopping away now, behind bars.

Bangkok’s finest aren’t exactly famed for having ‘clean hands’ themselves as was witnessed by the whole nation last year. Caught on camera was a traffic policeman clearly receiving a hundred baht from a motorist after being flagged over. His alibi? “The guy just last week asked me to lend him some money as he didnt have any cash to buy petrol, so he was only giving me my money back” fortunately hovever for the policeman he was transferred to one of those most enviable positions of ‘inactive duty’ where all he has to do is sign-in, sit around drinking coffee all day and watch football.

The local cops are also among the world’s finest when it comes to acquiring evidence. A couple of years back, the infamous Mr Chuwit (now an MP)had a feverish run-in with the police on the grounds of ‘kickbacks’ after they had busted his naughty massage parlours on Ratchadaphisek. The police accused Mr Chuwit that his massage parlours also consisted of ‘little extras’ for well-paying patrons. Mr Chuwit denied any extra-curricular goings on at his establshments. Then the next day on the news Mr Chuwit had been caught! There in front of the camera was a massage girl with a towel over her head and the sight of a beaming looking policeman, while still pulling up his trousers was flashing a used contraceptive in front of the cameras!

Then finally the ‘Legend of Ai Dum’ that goes down as perhaps the most classic of all.

A long long long time ago the nation were awoken to read a frightening newspaper headline that went something like ‘Ferocious beast on the run’.

The day before, it was reported that a leopard had broken loose and was ravaging its away around Taling Chan. To back up the claims, carcasses of dogs and a few cats were found scattered along the railway line, the nation was terrified. Next, there were interviews of eyewitness accounts of the beast who reported seeing this hellish looking black tiger with the remains of a buffalo hanging from its mouth. The beast was nicknamed by the press ‘Ai Dum'(The Black Beast!)The days went past and each day the nation were to read ‘close-up-accounts’ of Ai Dum and how they had manged to miraculousy escape the vicious claws of the beast. Many parents used the story to get their kids in before dark with ‘If youre not back in time Ai Dum will get you!’

The days turned into weks and Ai Dum was still on the loose. Next, there was a new sighting of Ai Dum in Saphan Kwai! were there now two Ai Dums?! or had Ai Dum produced offspring to the fear of the capital! Some people did begin to suspect the authenticity of the beast. One man was shot dead by another after getting into an arguement about whether the beast existed at all! The govt. decided therefore to debate Ai Dum in parliament and quickly issued a massive reward to anyone that caught ‘dead or alive’ the ghastly Ai Dum. For a couple of days a few hopefuls showed off to the press that they had ‘caught’ Ai Dum. The public weren’t too impressed however when their Ai Dum resembled a louse-ridden temple dog. Numerous stories filled the bars about “I nearly got the beast, but his claws were just the size of daggers!” The kids were petrified.

Then a few days later it hit national headlines ‘Ai Dum caught alive!’. There in front of the camera was the awesome sight of Ai Dum, a pretty massive leopard, but on the other hand did look rather tame, not as ferocious looking as the reports had made him out to be. Nevermind, the next day, escorted by the Prime Minister, the heroes took Ai Dum into the skies by helicopter and released him into the jungles. The two glory hunters were National Hereos and on receiving a handsome reward retold how they had risked their lives capturing Ai Dum! The story was terrifying and tens of millions of viewers lapped up the story.

A couple of days later however, a frail old zookeeper reported to the press that The National Hereos looked extremely like a couple of lads who had just last week, bought an imported leopard from him and hadn’t yet paid him for it . The National Heroes were soon telling their stories from behind bars and the real Ai Dum was never caught.
So, if you do come to Thailand – be aware, ‘The beast of Taling Chan’ is still out there.

NOTES: A warm thanks to Roger Crutchley of the ‘Bangkok Post’ for allowing me the inspiration to retell his classic, in my words ‘The Legend of Ai Dum’.