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  1. BEC-Tero Education's CTO George Anderssen gives you a unique look behind the scenes while live broadcasting TV Channel 3's morning show this morning.
  2. The week that was in Thailand news: Thais have a long fuse - but be careful when it's lit. by Rooster, ThaiVisa News What the h*ll does 'safe' mean? I don't mean those things that hold money and jewels - having four children has meant that I've never needed one of those. No 'safe' as in free from danger. My online dictionary tried to pin it down: "Protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost". That sounded like a recipe for the most boring life imaginable. Of course, the perception of risk and danger is in the eye of the beholder. Or to mix my metaphors, one man's meat is another man's mad cow disease. Some people wouldn't be seen dead doing what another considers just part of living a normal and adventurous life. Most people who know me well would probably consider Rooster to be a risk taker. I read the Sporting Life in my early teens and bet on horses far in excess of weekly pocket money and later my monthly salary. I quit a promising job as a journalist to fly one way to Afghanistan when the country was gripped by war. I put all my eggs in one basket and decided to make my life in Thailand completely bankrupting myself to learn the Thai language, gambling that it would pay off one day. That was a bet I won. I "retired" from a lucrative job in Bangkok with a second family on the way while in my fifties. It was a retirement well before I had enough money to be comfortable. I have ridden half a million kilometers on motorbikes in Thailand wearing 99 baht Tesco Lotus helmets and flip flops for protection. I bought and sold property in Bangkok and up-country, sometimes making a wedge like on those horses of my youth. Sometimes coming the idiotic cropper. I eschewed insurance unless it was absolutely vital to avoid the attentions of the constabulary. It seemed like a gamble I wouldn't want to win. I once even bought a shiny but very expensive and dodgy old Jaguar. When a mate called me Arthur Daley and the exhaust fell off at the lights in Sathupradit, I knew I'd overdone it. But I still chastise myself that I have been too safe. Too conservative.....what might life have been like had I taken a few more risks! What few regrets I have are mostly based on decisions I now see as too safe. Like not taking advantage of financial crashes when I was in a position to do so. Like not investing in friends when they seemed on a winner in business in Thailand. How much richer and perhaps happier I could have been! Once again on the hallowed pages of Thaivisa this week posters debated the question: Is Thailand safe? ... Source/Full story: https://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/1073295-the-week-that-was-in-thailand-news-thais-have-a-long-fuse-but-be-careful-when-its-lit/
  3. OPINION Nicknamed "Big Joke" - Thailand's Immigration Bureau Commissioner Surachate Hakparn "Today the number of foreigners who overstay their visas is zero" Thailand's Immigration Bureau chief Surachate Hakparn is quoted in Sunday's Bangkok Post as saying that "Today the number of foreigners who overstay their visas is zero". Surely this statement raises a number of questions, not least of all how he could definitively prove the claim. And can it thus be concluded that immigration can not from now issue one single baht in visa overstay fines backdated to any date before he made the statement? The article also, at one point, reads: 'The immigration bureau chief, however, claimed that a lot of visitors from certain African countries overstay and also commit crimes in Thailand.' If this isn't a racist remark, then it must be bordering pretty damn close to it. Further on, in relation to how some brokers reportedly assist foreigners to exploit Thailand's visa rules, the article reads: 'It is not such a serious matter if their clients are decent people, but some might be criminals, he [Surachate] said.' Source: Mark Glanville, MCOT News
  4. admin

    The Art Of Transport

    THE ART OF TRANSPORT By Andrew Biggs There is a new business that has opened up on my way to work. It’s called “Car Media Solutions” and that very name sums up everything that’s weird about modern society. It was difficult to guess initially as to what service was being peddled. The fact it is offering solutions means there is a problem, and that problem is in the form of “car media”, whatever that is. If I had to guess I would say car media involves publications, broadcasters and websites devoted to automobiles, although the last time I flicked through True Vision’s plethora of TV channels, not one of them boasted being a “Car Channel.” If only the same could be said of shopping networks. My assumption was completely off beam. “Media” here is not of the communication kind. Rather, it means bells. Whistles. Lights. Neon. And every conceivable thing that can flash and wink at me, affixed to a moving vehicle. It’s not enough to have red brake lights at the back and white lights at the front of your vehicle for night driving, nor are the cute indicator lights enough to break the monotony. It is now possible to transform your vehicle into a discotheque. Is this a portent of the apocalypse? We have witnessed the death of book shops and music stores only to be replaced by shophouses that can turn your pickup truck into a Studio 54 on wheels. I may not be able to find a shop that sells dictionaries or classic novels along Srinakharin Road, but thank goodness if I ever feel the need for red, green and blue flashing lights that trill up and down the contours of my sedan synchronized with my brake pedal? It should be hardly surprising, since this is a country where expressions of popular art are found in the place we spend such an obscene amount of time — our roadways. Just yesterday I returned from a couple of hours viewing such a display of Thai modern art. Some of the depictions were of well-known identities of Thai folklore. More than a few were of a religious nature, weaving traditional Buddhist notions into a more contemporary theme. Others were a little racier; expressions of the female form, highly stylized, yet exuding a pastiche of emotions that captured the mood and tone of the artist while evoking feelings within the observer of a nature that complimented the easily-apparent and undiluted intentions of its creator. Excuse me while I pause … not just to turn down the Pedantic Meter, but to take a breath. That last sentence was 46 words. You have probably already guessed the artistic works in question were not rendered on canvas. They were painted on metal. This gallery passed me by, generally in the left lane, as I sped along highway 36 to Rayong two hours west of Bangkok. Rayong is Thailand’s wealthiest province. Approximately one-third of all tax is collected from this single province, thanks to all the national and international conglomerates who have set up factories and refineries there. Last Monday was a holiday for you, dear reader, but your favorite columnist had a gig in the heart of the eastern seaboard. During that trip I realized I was being distracted … by art! There, emblazoned on the sides of every second truck and bus I overtook, were scenes as colorful as they were diverse. There was, on the back of one truck, the Lord Buddha at the moment he attained enlightenment, his head shooting forth a golden aura as asps wove themselves around the Bhodhi Tree, a picture of serenity and all-knowingness, right above YOU ARE PASSING ANOTHER FOX. (It did make me think twice about overtaking the truck, but even the Lord Buddha’s serenity couldn’t assuage my fear of not making it to the gig on time.) I think it’s great that in an industry as dull as logistics, colorful art has permeated the very trucks that make up its core. I saw a bus covered in Japanese anime – girls with big eyes and tiny waists holding bouquets of brilliant flowers, staring up into the bright electric blue sky while a nameless superhero with a bulging chest and equally-bulging red crotch flew overhead. A Somchai Sinla bus went for a more American approach. Mickey Mouse beamed at me next to a very imposing bald eagle. Another bus had what appeared to be Adam and Eve on the plains of Isan, each giving the other a look seen commonly on the second-floor bars of Nana Plaza. Then there was the truck with six macho cowboys with handlebar moustaches; the truck owner was clearly a fan of either the wild west or Silom Soi 4. On the return journey the sun had gone down and the painted art was replaced by art of a neon kind — the type sold at that new establishment I mentioned at the top of this column. I witnessed a bus bathed entirely in purple neon light. It looked like something out of The Matrix. The dark purple lights curved around the mudguards and on the corners of the bus, not unlike the lights at the disco at the Sunnybank Pub where I grew up. While dancing to “Get Up And Boogie” your teeth would light up, not to mention the dandruff on the oversized collars of your purple polyester disco shirt. There used to be a time you would see buses like that one all the time, a time when all Thailand’s provincial buses were travelling discos. At the back, a disco ball and flashing lights blazed all night as drunken travellers danced and cavorted with total strangers to “YMCA” and Boney M’s “Daddy Cool”. Restrictions on alcohol consumption on public transport has meant the death knell for most of these buses, but I still saw one last Monday night. Where does a truck driver get the money for such adornments? Neon lighting isn’t cheap. It is little wonder truck drivers can only afford flip flops while driving, and the very cheapest of methamphetamine, when they have to pay off their works of art! I’m not complaining. It is refreshing to see artistic expressions as opposed to commercial ones on the sides of private buses and trucks in rural Thailand. They are bright and creative and nothing like the clean, soulless buses and trucks in civilized countries like Australia. There are no Buddhas or Japanese anime on our freighters. Our buses and trucks are adorned with such killjoy information as HAZCHEM or phone numbers in case the truck driver is driving recklessly. Bravo to the trucking and bus industry here for adding vibrant color to its vehicles. Is there anything harmful about such artistic depictions on the sides of buses and trucks? Well, maybe. A Thai friend tells me the religious icons are talismans. They are visual amulets to ward off bad luck, to protect the driver as he makes his way along the upcountry lanes, roads and super highways. That’s a nice idea but one wonders if our drivers are placing too much faith in them. Are we also forgetting that “car media” is a distraction from the job of driving a motor vehicle? Today on a local news website there was a picture of a bus crash. The driver lost control and crashed into a ditch. As the bus is being dragged out of the khlong, one can clearly see, covered in streaked mud, the row of intricately-painted Buddha images along the top just above the windows. A talisman is ultimately just paint on metal, and that is no match for methamphetamines and a leaden foot in flip flops. /Andrew
  5. A MILITARY COUP ... AND NOTHING TO SAY By Andrew Biggs (Note: Written during the week of the military coup, May 2014) This week your favorite columnist is restricted by what he can write. According to the National Council for Peace and Order, I am not allowed to criticize them. Nor am I allowed to tell lies about them. I can live with those two edicts. Throw enough money and alcohol in my direction, packaged with a few veiled threats concerning the ease with which a visa can be abruptly cancelled, and it is quite startling, if not pitiful, how quickly I will toe the line. My question is this: If I can’t criticize or tell lies about them, can I tell the truth about them? Now we are in murky water because if the answer is “yes”, what if the truth is unpalatable in the eyes of the NCPO, which in turn makes it tantamount to criticism? That would bring me face to face with the coup leaders faster than I could imagine. Thus I am in the position of being unable to write anything that criticizes, lies or tells the truth about NCPO. Nor can I ignore the NCPO, considering the current climate, for fear of being branded a military lackey. Lesson to be learned; don’t let your kids grow up to be columnists in a failed state. The only way I can get around my unfortunate predicament is to make this column an educational experience. What have I learned from living under curfew owing to a coup d’etat? Here goes. 1. Working in the electronic media is a bitch “Read this,” my radio producer said to me upon reaching the studio last Monday night, pushing an officious-looking document towards me. It was a directive from the NCPO. Under no circumstances were radio announcers allowed to give any opinions. News was to be read, and that was all. There was to be no comment, no explanations, nothing. “How intriguing, considering we’re a news analysis program,” I replied. “How come newspapers are still printing opinion pieces?” My producer gave me that “don’t give me any of that farang gobbledygook” look. “Because they are newspapers,” she answered. “They have more freedom than the electronic media. Just read the news reports I have printed out and nothing else. They will close us down if we make any form of criticism.” “Can we mention the anti-coup protests?” My radio producer gave me a look as if her grandmother had been hit face-on by an amphetamine-crazed bus driver as she quietly masticated betel nut at a Vipawadee-Rangsit bus stop. “Okay I get it,” I said. “No mention of the protests.” “Just act as if everything is normal,” she said, a sentence that could very well end up as a nomination for Ludicrous Directive Of The Year at the 2014 Stupid Awards. What was I to do? I had a brainwave. I would take the opportunity to teach vocabulary associated with the coup. You know, words such as “coup d’etat”, “curfew”, “military” and stuff like that. That killed at least ten minutes and ensured your correspondent was safe from the lumpy pillows at military prison for another day. Trust my inquisitive co-host to ruin it for me. “And what about the word ‘junta’?” he asked. “Oh that’s a military government, but it’s a very negative word. It conjures up ideas of a forceful, strict, unjust group of soldiers taking control. I don’t think you could use it here.” It turns out that’s exactly what they’re using here, in the local and international English media, including this one. I had no idea. I had just inadvertently offered an opinion on the new military government. Nevertheless we managed to pull off an informative, albeit dull as ditchwater, radio program without a single intentional opinion thrown in, just as our radio producer told us. We didn’t act like the newspapers. We read directly from the scripts. How ironic. All our scripts are lifted straight from newspapers. 2. The Cartoon Channel is dangerous to Thailand’s stability, but Facebook isn’t I can understand wanting to ban E! Channel, and we owe the NCPO a vote of thanks for taking all cable stations, including E!, off the air, giving us respite from the relentless waves of celebrity news. The first two days after the coup were a landmark in the history of modern Thailand. For the first time ever, 68 million Thais sat down in front of their idiot boxes, ready to watch their favorite game shows and soap operas. Instead they were greeted with ancient marching songs extolling the virtues of being born to be a soldier. That wasn’t a criticism, by the way. They are, after all, soldiers, and what other music would they think to subject 68 million people to? Playing the same three marching songs 159 times over, however, reminded me of a hideous weekend back in 1991 when an American radio station did the same thing to Michael Jackson’s brand new single, Black Or White. Not my favorite song either, but at least Black Or White had a hook. When I first heard there were protestors after the coup, I immediately started making placards with messages such as HOW ABOUT SOME DISCO HITS and GIVE KATE BUSH A CHANCE. That came to an untimely end when I learned with great disappointment they were protesting the coup, not the choice in music. What a pity I wasn’t the musical director for the junta. I would have started with some classical music like the Brandenburg Concertos. In Australia at a juvenile detention center, they started blasting those concertos out on loudspeakers instead of the usual rap and hip-hop music they allowed the young detainees to choose. Despite an initial uproar over the switch, violent acts at the detention center dropped by 30 per cent. That wasn’t a criticism, by the way. I’m just saying if you want to placate the masses, the Brandenburg Concertos are a good start. At least the game shows and soapies were off. In the west we have laugh tracks to tell us what’s funny. Here in Thailand, they have all manner of strange noises, such as “bleeeeep” “whoop-whoop-whoop” and “boingggggg” and it has now reached the point where on some programs those noises are non-stop. It is a true assault on your senses. Watch a Thai comedy and you will understand why otherwise normal people pick up M-16s and mow down innocent schoolchildren. All that went silent for a full 24 hours after the coup. The effect was horrific. Vast swathes of the population had nothing to do. In some parts of the country people even took to reading books. Thai Mensa estimates the general population’s intelligence collectively rose 2.45 per cent as a result, alarming news to any military junta in any country around the world. The shows quickly went back on air. As the Cinderella song says, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Sunday morning I was at the gym when a game show was being blasted out from a nearby TV as I engaged a futile machine to increase my abs. It was a show featuring stars and starlets whose immense physical beauty was inversely related to their grey matter. “Which of our star guests would most likely fall in love with his enemy? Hahahahahahah!” Whoop whoop! Bleep! Boingggg! How I yearned for a decent military marching song. By Sunday things were just like they had been pre-coup. And that is where we are today, dear reader; a country of bleeps, boings, no critical thought, no lies, lots of whoop-whoops, and a gaping chasm where truth should be. /Andrew
  6. admin

    Custard's Last Stand

    CUSTARD’S LAST STAND By Andrew Biggs It’s been a hectic few weeks for your columnist as he entertains visiting family members and tries to work. Work and family. Just that would be enough, but I had to go and eat a piece of chicken that gave me the worst food poisoning I’ve had in years. My doctor wanted to admit me to hospital, but my mother was flying in that night and it might be a little melodramatic if she went directly from Suvarnabhumi to a Samut Prakan hospital where her son lay dying. So the doctor wrote me an extensive prescription. “Er … can you throw in some Xanax as well? Four would be enough,” I said as he wrote, trying to sound as casual as possible. He stopped writing momentarily and looked up. “What is the reason?” he asked. “I have half a dozen family members arriving in the next 48 hours,” I said. “I’ll give you ten,” he replied, bless his heart, and went back to his writing. Family, food poisoning and work … thank goodness a lot of that work took place in lovely Hua Hin. The first time I ever drove from Bangkok to Hua Hin was in 1991 with two Thai colleagues. A little more than halfway down we hit the city of Phetchaburi. “We have to stop!” my colleague who was driving announced, to which the other Thai lady in the front seat nodded vigorously then looked to me, sprawled in the back seat reading “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance” (big at the time; I was only reading it for show). “There it is!” the first colleague shouted as she pointed to a big sign. “Mae Gim Lang!” Phetchaburi is famous for its palm sugar, and thus it is the Thai capital for all things sweet, sticky and sickly. If there is a Hades for diabetics, then it’s Phetchaburi. One big store that sold these products back then had the name “Mae Gim Lang”. “Mae” means “mother”, and I was a little disappointed not to have seen Mother Gim Lang in the flesh. I did, however, walk away with enough sugar to bounce a hyperactive kid into the stratosphere. For all the amazing tastes Thai food has to offer, I just can’t seem to get off on Thai desserts. To me they are all water and sugar and ice cubes in a dazzling pastiche of colors that reminds me of “Strutters”, the Sunnybank Hotel’s discotheque of the late 1970s. There was one dish that was delicious at Mother Gim Lang’s, and that was the Thai custard known as mor kaeng. Every time I went to Hua Hin after that, it was mandatory to stop at Mae Gim Lang to pick up some Thai custard. Two weeks ago I made that trip to Hua Hin after not doing it for several years. Mae Gim Lang is still there, but boy oh boy does she have company. There is now a Mae Gim Lai store selling Thai custard. A little further along is Mae Gim Lui also selling Thai custard. Gim Lang. Gim Lai. Gim Lui. What a coincidence – three mothers with similar names all selling similar custard! If only that were the end of it. Also beaming at me from the side of the road were signs for Mae Samarn who, surprisingly, sells Thai custard. Not far away is Mae Luan who has Thai custard. As you pass Phetchaburi city and head towards Cha-Am, there is now Mae La-Miad and -- as shocking as this may be for some of you – she is selling Thai custard. Would you believe me if I told you there was also a Mae Tom, a Mae Ploy and a Mae Boonlam selling Thai custard? (I spotted a single father -- Por Kheng -- in Phetchaburi selling Thai custard. I hope his friends don’t make fun of him.) What is it about the proliferation of these mothers whipping up thousands of square tins of sweet Thai custard every day? Market forces mixed with a dearth of copycats, and Thais are very good at this. Down in Chinatown there are entire streets where you can buy identical Buddhist paraphernalia. Near Nang Lerng is a stretch of road where three different fried banana shops try to peddle their wares as you sit in traffic – which one started it all? The road to Surin reminds me a little of the mothers of Phetchaburi province. This road is in the Isan heartland, home of sticky rice and somtam and … grilled chicken. “ONLY 30 MORE KILOMETRES TO THE MOST DELICIOUS GRILLED CHICKEN IN THE WORLD!” the sign trumpeted at me as I sped along the highway observing the sign for a speed limit I’d exceeded by a good 20 km per hour. Grilled chicken! The best in the world? How exciting! Then: “ONLY 15 MORE KILOMETRES TO THE MOST DELICIOUS GRILLED CHICKEN IN THE WORLD!” This time there was a giant statue of a smiling rooster as if being killed, drawn and quartered was a fun thing. By this stage I was getting really excited. “ONLY FIVE MORE KILOMETRES TO –” you know the rest. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you I was slightly aroused by the thought of eating the most delicious grilled chicken in the world. Thank goodness there were no traffic cops to pull me over – how embarrassing would that have been in my aroused state? Then finally up ahead, two big roosters with happy smiles and the restaurant sign: “THE MOST DELICIOUS GRILLED CHICKEN IN THE WORLD.” I parked the car and purchased two whole chickens. I took a piece of breast and sank my teeth into it. Star Wars fanatics who waited sixteen years for The Phantom Menace will understand how I felt. There was nothing superlative about the chicken at all; it was dry and withered and didn’t have the spice one can find on the side of any road in Thailand – except for where I was. Ten kilometres down the road came another sign: “17 KILOMETRES TO THE MOST DELICIOUS GRILLED CHICKEN IN THE WORLD!” All in all I counted four “MOST DELICIOUS GRILLED CHICKEN IN THE WORLD” restaurants and not one of them would have withstood a polygraph test. It is the same anywhere in rural Thailand. In Samut Sakhon, it is a small stall selling plastic bags of salt. One hundred metres down the track, there’s another … and another … and another. Nothing different about the stalls at all; exact replicas selling exactly the same thing. This used to upset me. I mean, couldn’t there at least be a token attempt to make your stall different to your neighbors? I had got myself really worked up when I was informed of the truth. They are all the same owner. The one company creates 15 similar stalls and sets them all up on the side of the road. Not so in Phetchaburi. Capitalism and competition are the driving forces in that city of sugar, but I just worry Phetchaburi is going to suffer the same fate as Strutters, that disco at the Sunnybank Hotel 30 years ago. It wasn’t long before Sunnybank had a “Bell Bottoms” and “Groove Factory”, not to mention “Disco Ball” and the intimate “Funky Niche,” which died a quick death because nobody in Sunnybank could understand French. The point is, saturation comes to all things on the market, be it Sunnybank discos or Thai custard. Some of these mothers are going to end up with a lot of excess sugar on their hands. These days I dare not stop for Thai custard. There are too many mothers and I have my one and only mother with me this week in Thailand, and that is enough. With her and another five family members staying, I don’t need any excess sugar. Xanax? That’s another story. /Andrew
  7. admin

    Death And Inactivity

    DEATH AND INACTIVITY By Andrew Biggs There has been a push this week for the death penalty for corrupt government officials — may I be the first to announce my opposition. The push is an amendment proposed by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, better known as the NACC, though perhaps FUTILE might be a better abbreviation for all that commission is up against. In a nutshell, punishments are going to get tough for government officials who engage in bribery. A corrupt official would be liable to five to 20 years’ imprisonment, life in jail — or execution. Talk about going from one extreme to the other. As I said, I am opposed to this but not on any humanitarian grounds. I’m all for putting corrupt officials to death. The first few we could even make a public spectacle, say, in that space between Paragon and Siam Center reserved for Thai pop stars whose mini-concerts require a substantial bribe to sit through. Imagine if we really did put officials to death. We’d save so much money on salaries. We’d lose all those gnarly heads of departments who drive Mercedes Benz cars and live in mansions, replaced by bright young things not yet exposed to the rotting system in place now. Surely that has to be good for Thailand. Well, yes. But killing corrupt officials is not going to work, which is why I am really opposed to it. Thailand is trying to make a giant leap, when really all it needs is a small step. Getting a job in the Thai Civil Service is the dream of every mother and father for their children. On paper the salary is not great, but there are all sorts of added benefits, of which the main one the NACC is admirably attempting to quash. You and your immediate family get good health care. You receive a pension. Your community respects, and indeed often worships you thanks to the perceived power you wield. Have you ever been at an airport when a high-ranking civil servant is about to board? The only thing lacking in the send-off is a chorus of archangels accompanied by a marching band. In short, you are secure, well-respected – and unsackable. It is that unsackability, along with the propensity to secure ill-begotten gains, that is Thailand’s lethal cocktail. There is a very good reason why corruption is rife in Thailand. You can get away with it. Nobody denies corruption is rife, and it invariably stretches to the top of any ministry. With that in mind, off the top of your head, how many high-ranking officials have been jailed in recent times over bribery? I can think of just one, and that was back in 1996. Does that count as recent? It’s just worth the risk. It’s like when I cross Rama 4 Road in Klong Toey late at night after finishing my radio show. There is a footbridge above me, which would be the decent, law-abiding way to cross. But the truth is, at 10 pm there aren’t that many cars on Rama 4, and my propensity to get splattered is low. If it were 5 pm, when the cars are relentless and there are lots of people around, I wouldn’t dare cross both for safety and face-saving reasons. Government officials engage in bribery because they can. The difference between those officials and me is when they do get “hit”, they don’t get splattered on Rama 4 Road. They don’t get sacked. They get transferred. Actually, the full phrase is transferred to an inactive post. In Thai it is sent to examine government business at the ministry. A rose by any other name; both mean go stand in the corner for a few minutes. (It happened again this week, though not for bribery reasons. The head of the waterworks was “transferred to an inactive post owing to his handling of the lack of water,” as if the poor guy could have reversed this current lack of rainfall.) What exactly is an “inactive post”? In my 26 years in Thailand I have visited some government offices full to the brim with inactive officials, but not posts. These are men and women whose inactive demeanor is only broken when they announce with triumphant malaise: “You forgot a photocopy of your work permit in triplicate.” That seems to make them feel better. Is that where evil government officials end up – wedged between expressionless men and women in a barren office? Is there a sign on the door that says “Inactive Posts”? More to the point – what are we doing with a government service that admits to having inactive posts in the first place? How does that make us, the taxpayers, feel, knowing our hard-earned taxes are funding departments that proudly announce they do nothing? I know we’re not allowed to protest at the moment but if ever there were grounds for a gathering at Ratchadamri, there it is. Being sent to Inactive Land is only half the story. After that there is the establishment of a committee to get to the bottom of the situation. This committee’s biggest task is not to scrutinize; it is to buy time and that, more than a mansion and Mercedes Benz, is the best thing to purchase if you are a government official who’s been found out. When you are sitting at an inactive post you are essentially watching as you fall from page one of the newspaper down to page four, and then six, until you have fallen right out of the public’s memory. That’s when you slowly, and carefully, creep back to your former post. Shame, like fame, is fleeting. This is why we don’t need death penalties. Let’s be a little nicer and replace inactive posts with real punishment for wrongdoing, such as termination of employment and jail. This is a drastic step for Thai society, in some ways more drastic than a death penalty, because being sacked and going to jail for civil wrongdoings are just not part of the Thai way of doing things. It upsets too many members of your immediate family, makes you lose face, and no more 21-gun-salutes at the airport. This is why I am against this new law; not because putting corrupt government officials to death is bad. Let’s not make the leap from “inactive post” to “death.” Why not try sacking them instead? Times are getting tough for corrupt officials, since there is another law about to be enacted, at the end of this month, known as the Government Convenience Law. This law means government officials can no longer wrap you up in red tape; they must stipulate exactly what forms are required for doing government business – only once. Worse, they have to state how long the process will take. Roll on the new laws! Well, roll on, but not too quickly. I notice there is a clause that states those who pay bribery money to officials will also be arrested. A couple of years ago when I was on the lecture circuit, I was often asked to sign “extra forms” shoved in front of me while collecting my fees. These were blank documents and I always wondered what they were for, until I started to put my foot down. Are these new laws retrospective? I’d hate to lose my life over a How To Get Good At English speech. /Andrew
  8. A Maryland woman who couldn’t get to sleep looked at her bedside clock and noticed it was 11.59 pm. The next day she bought the numbers 11, 5 and 9 in the state lottery – and she won nearly half a million baht! The 72-year-old nurse, whose name was not released, won $13,323 in the Racetrax lottery. She said her insomnia the day before a long shift at the hospital put a series of numbers into her head. "I kept looking at my clock, frustrated that I was still awake," she said. "The last time I remember seeing was 11:56 p.m." The nurse said the numbers stuck with her when she bought a ticket the next day. Incredibly, it’s not the first time she has won a big prize in this lottery. In 2017 she won $125,000 or nearly 4 million baht.
  9. A woman has found her wedding ring 12 years after she accidentally flushed it down the toilet. Paula Stanton, of New Jersey, said the accident happened when she was cleaning her bathroom. "It was heartbreaking," Paula said. "I was embarrassed to tell my husband because it was meaningful." She did tell her husband, and he got her a duplicate, but Paula still longed for the original. She even went to the local public works department two years ago to ask if anybody had found it, but the answer was no. Public Works worker Ted Gogol remembered the conversation when he saw something shiny in the mud and sand recently near the Stanto's house. It was Paula’s ring. "I was thrilled. Stunned. I could not believe it" said Stanton. "That ring didn't want to leave her family" said Ted. "There are so many things that could have happened. It could have been washed away, it could have been crushed, but it was just meant to be."
  10. We are talking about lots of things (in Thai/English), also about เว็บไซต์ลามก. porn เกิดปัญหากับคนไทยที่มีชื่อว่า พร เพราะมักจะสะกดว่า porn ทำให้เจ้าของภาษานึกถึงเรื่องไม่ดีขณะอ่านหรือได้ยินชื่อ ผมไม่รู้จะแก้ปัญหานี้อย่างไร อาจต้องสะกด พร ว่า Phorn หรือ Phon ตามที่คนไทยชอบสะกด พ ว่า Phในภาษาอังกฤษ หรือไม่ก็ Pon หรือ Pawn คงไม่มีคำตอบที่ทำให้ทุกคนพอใจ
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