Corruption is a part of life in Thailand. Anyone who tells you otherwise, a) Has not been living here long enough b) Doesn
Yesterday’s public debate about the ongoing ‘bomb-scanners for the airport’ scandal seems to have been an overwhelming victory for Democrat MP’s.
The whole reason this has come into the light is for a number of reasons.
- The price for procurement of some 26 CTX scanners for the new Bangkok Airport somehow had one billion baht added onto it after quotation. That’s 1,000,000,000 baht (a lot of money).
- 1.5 billion baht has been paid even though no scanners have been delivered and even after it became clear they would not be delivered on time, payments were still occuring.
- This was all going on with the full knowledge that the machines would never be delieverd because one of the companies involved (GE InVision) are under investigation in the US for corrupt business practices.
The man behind the scandal, Transport Minister Suriya Jungrung-reangkit, presented a piss-poor, half-arsed attempt to explain himself using slides and charts that had been prepared in advance (allegedly by Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob), excuses such as attempting to blame the opposition for only giving half the truth (although he failed to produce the other half) and even went so far as to say that the Democrats were ‘spoiled sports’ and that they were just upset because they lost the last general election. Clearly, he is either an imbecile or wasn’t taking the whole thing very seriously.
Last week we had a TRT MP diving from his apartment balcony and this week we have one who has done the same thing in a metaphorical sense. Of course, should he be dismissed, someone just like him will take his place.
And it’s getting worse.
This article in the Bangkok Post reports that there has been a 900% increase in mental health problems in Bangkok over a three period. It goes on to talk about air quality, eating habits and what sounds like the really horrible life of Bangkokians.
I would be the first to say there are things which should be improved upon urgently, but that isn’t to say that Bangkok isn’t a great city to live in. The one thing that Bangkok has that I love more than anything else (except maybe cheap games and films) is that it feels so alive 24 hours a day.
The Thailand Elite program has been brought to my attention recently and, after checking out the website (thailandelite.com) I can say with all honesty that Thailand is for sale.
The tag-line shown during the flash intro to the site worries me:
“The best of Thailand is reserved for the elite”
I guess that means average Thai citizens are shit out of luck then! In fact, it is specifically noted on the website that Thai people are ineligible for the program.
One of the biggest benefits of this program is that it offers a ‘virtually indefinite stay visa’ (which means that it isn’t indefinite). Could it then be said that the Thailand Elite program is available ‘virtually for free’? Apparently the most basic form of membership is a cool one million baht and there are a number of additions to the basic package, one that allows you to schedule a meeting with the deputy prime minister to discuss anything you would wish.
Another addition to the basic package is the ability for foreigners to purchase land in Thailand, something that has always been impossible except through backwards methods (where the land is never in your name still).
Unfortunately, the law which would enable them to offer such a thing has failed to materialise at this point (some say it never will), but the company behind the Thailand Elite program are offering to ‘take care’ of your property until it is. This means it will be in their name – not yours.
Since it’s launch in 2003, the program was forecasted to attract around 3000 new members in the first year, but only managed under 900. This was accompanied by a failed television advertising campaign with CNN which netted zero new customers.
The reason this package would be attractive to most people is the immigration benefits, because Thai immigration for those not with the Thailand Elite program (or those who know the right people) is an absolute mess. The government decided that, instead of improving the existing system, they’d make another one that costs even more! Of course, they also doubled (in some cases tripled) the normal immigration prices.
Is there anyone who thinks that the Thailand Elite program is a good idea?
Buddha Bar by DJ Ravin at The Zuk Bar at Sukhothai Hotel
Ravin, the current resident DJ at the world’s famous Buddha Bar in Paris, will perform live an in-person DJ session in The Zuk Bar , Bangkok as part of his
june 23 thurs Morning Surfer, Sweet Mullet, Retrospect at Wine Bibber, Sukhumvit Soi 53, in small soi across from Witch
The news is being dominated right now by the death of Thai Rak Thai MP, Atthapol Sanitwongchai, and his 1st-year university student lover, Wassana Sunee.
Of course, the details are where it’s all at and they can be found here.
I find it particularly interesting that some people suspect that the MP’s death may have been caused by his young lover. She’s dead too though, so even if she did do it (which I highly doubt) – it’s not like they can bring her back for the trial.
No matter where you go in the world, people love a scandal and they’ll do their damnedest to get one too.
Though this has absolutely nothing to do with Bangkok, for future reference, I think it’s a good idea if we don’t invite Maverick to the Land of Smiles during the Songkran season.
Hollywood star Tom Cruise is set to take action against the four men who staged a prank where the actor was blasted with water from a phony microphone in London on Monday. Cruise called the man a “jerk” and the “perp” and the three others were hauled off to jail by British authorities. They were later released on bail.
Now a spokeswoman for Cruise says he may press the matter and press charges.
ITV reports that the London police have said they will leave it up to Cruise to decide whether or not to press charges against the four fellows, who were filming a segment for a new Channel 4 comedy show in which people — famous and not — get squirted with water.
It now looks as if he will press the matter to the nth degree. “Tom wants to take action but we will decide in due course what that will be,” said the actor’s spokeswoman. “He is not just going to forget about it.
Is that part of the Scientology code? How about we just give Tom a super-soaker and let him get even?
Cruise was caught on tape berating the man. “Why would you do that…why would you do that–Why would you do that? That’s incredibly rude. I’m here giving you an interview and you do that…it’s incredibly rude — You’re a jerk… you’re a jerk.” Indeed. And wouldn’t it be jerk-like to press charges for a splash of water in the face.
Katie lovers can rest easy–she was at his side but unharmed in the horrible water assault. No word on whether she will sue for emotional distress.
Just watch the news!
Last nights story on Newsline about yet another outbreak of the bird-flu had some lovely footage of government officials ‘destroying’ (aka killing, but destroying sounds better) the infected chickens along with any other chicken that may or may not have come into contact. Too bad for the ones who were AOK.
Watching the footage of chickens in the burning pit (who had yet to catch alight) in a panic, trying to get out by using the charred bodies of their brethren as leverage was an image I would rather not have seen thank you very much.