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Found 68 results

  1. Midweek rant: Death penalty Thailand – make your bloody mind up File photo It is a given that the criminal justice system is in a mess in Thailand. The most absurd irregularities in sentencing make that case plain and simple. Five years potentially for vaping yet suspended sentences for assault. Jail time for defaming the guilty but get off Scot free for ripping off the poor. Run into and kill innocent people and just do a few weeks pretending to be a monk. Drag a cop along the road and give a garland and a wai and hope all will be forgiven. Or even kill an officer and just gallivant around the world waiting for the statute of limitations to run out. A police force that thinks it is the law and not the people who should enforce it. Yes, we have seen it all. But as bad as this is, it is not the essential heart of my rant. My rant is about the death penalty – or the complete lack of it. This is not an argument about whether Thailand should have the ultimate sanction. In fact I think they should not; that is another matter entirely. It’s just that I wish they would make their mind up whether they are going to use it or not. Time and again officials come out to say that such and such a heinous criminal will face death. It is almost expected of police and prosecutors in trying to satisfy a public baying for blood and retribution in the wake of the latest crime played out on social media. Yes, we’ll execute the men who killed for an iPhone in Lat Prao. Of course we will. Sure, the Krabi massacre people will all be dispatched to the next life. Twaddle. The authorities have no intention of carrying out their threats even if the courts impose the death penalty. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they fear a backlash especially from the liberals of Europe. Why do I always feel that the possible effect on tourism is some kind of common denominator, some kind of bottom line? The iPhone thieves were convicted and sentenced to death. It was a horrendous crime against an innocent member of the public. There was no doubt in the case. But they will remain in jail. Sure they are unlikely ever to see the light of day but they won’t die for their crime. The judge who said they would, knows it – just like most members of the public know it. Just like everyone else who has been sentenced to die in the last eight years. Remember the man on the railway who raped and killed the girl in the toilet. Uproar – put the scum to death! Isn’t he enjoying rice porridge every day – despite the public outcry. Yes, no one has been executed since 2009. It is only two more years before an organization as prestigious as Amnesty International will add Thailand to a list where – for all intents and purposes – the penalty, through not being used, in reality is not considered to exist. But still they bang on that people will be executed. It is nothing short of macabre PR. And a complete lie to keep the public from complaining too much. Just another tool to control and spoon feed the masses. And if you believe that the death penalty is actually a deterrent – then it is a toothless tool at that. When it comes to the death penalty the Thais need to scrap it or use it. And stop this play acting. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-19
  2. Midweek Rant: Thai adults are letting down their children File photo I am quite sick of hearing stories about child abuse. There is nothing new there. I long since realized that the party line, holier-than-thou approach that said Thais were beyond reproach when it came to the care of children was just pie in the sky. Those early images of older people standing up for kids on the bus have faded as the reality has kicked in. Thais are probably no better or worse than any other nationality when it comes to children. Though there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that shows children being treated like chattel I prefer not to dwell on that. What is sickening in the extreme is not necessarily when the abuse itself occurs. That is bad enough. No, what really sickens me is the response of those adults who should be investigating the allegations. The case in point this week is the ghastly case of the little five year old boy who had a hot water bottle thrust down his trousers while his hands were tied behind his back. The little boy had to have part of his genitals amputated. It hardly needs to be stated that this is inhuman in the extreme. But what did the police do? If the mother is to be believed….precisely nothing. Why the hell should it make a difference that the alleged torturer is a soldier? The couple who were paid to look after the child because the mother had to work have not just shown themselves to be unworthy of trust. They have tried to squirm out of responsibility and escape punishment. Both should be jailed with the soldier doing twenty years if found guilty. Instead they are free and it is clearly the connivance of the police that has enabled this to be so. And to what degree are the medical staff responsible in not following up on the case? This is just as sickening as the original sub-human event perpetrated against such an innocent child. Why should a mother have to go to a prominent human rights lawyer to get justice? Why do the supposed upholders of the law think they can do nothing? Is it just a question of corruption or don’t people care about children enough to do anything? This case needs instant and decisive action. With the highest levels of government getting involved. Firstly, against the couple whose behavior is sickening. Then against the people who have let the case go cold. The pictures of the little boy are gut wrenching in their sadness. If his treatment and torment goes unpunished then society should hold its head in shame. People who abuse children are the scum of the earth. Those who protect abusers are equally culpable. It is time for responsible adults to act on behalf of the Thai children. Or it won’t just be Thai –ness that you have let down. You won’t even be considered human yourselves. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-12
  3. Destination Thailand By PARINYAPORN PAJEE THE NATION The duel scene between Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) and the 007 James Bond (Roger Moore) was shot at Koh Tapu, Phang Nga in the movie “James Bond: The Man With The Golden Gun.” The Kingdom's value as a film location is given a boost with the screening of golden oldies and two tourism-related competitions BANGKOK: -- The Thailand International Film Destination Festival returns this month for its fifth edition and unlike in previous years is focusing on major movies filmed here in Thailand, two of them showing a very different country from the one we know today. Running from July 21 to 25 at Paragon Cineplex, the movie menu includes the 1974 spy thriller, “James Bond: The Man With The Golden Gun” and the multi-award winning “The Deer Hunter” released in 1978. The other three films are “Air America” (1990), “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” and Oliver Stone’s epic “Alexander”, both released in 2004. “Movies and TV series are far more powerful in encouraging visitors than promo clips,” says Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul. “We can see that from the Chinese tourists who flocked to Thailand after the success of the Chinese film ‘Lost in Thailand’. “We have tourism strategies which aim to generate income for the country, bring income to communities, improve the quality of life for Thai people, and add value to Thailand’s tourism. Actual number of tourists is not our priority,” she adds. While the older films have been carefully restored to ensure clarity of vision and sound, Thai films from the same era, among them a series of blockbusters featuring 1970’s superstars Mit Chaibancha and Petchara Chaowaraj, have fallen prey to the lack of proper conservation. A stuntman and actor who regularly appears in foreign films, Saichia Wongwirot is hopeful that the festival will help him and his colleagues find more work. “The pay for a foreign production is better than on a Thai one but there’s no stability, particularly for stunt work. Most actors, myself included, have to do other jobs to survive. “The festival will help attract more productions to Thailand that means we will get more jobs,” says Saichia, 49, who has been in the business for 30 years and is recognisable from Werner Herzog’s “Rescue Dawn” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” for which he also followed the crew to the UK and Kenya. The festival’s organiser had originally planned to show another James Bond film – “Tomorrow Never Dies” – shot here in 1997 and starred Pierce Brosnan as 007 – but later changed the programme. The film was shot mainly in Phuket and Phang Nga, particularly around Koh Tapu, which subsequently became known as James Bond Island. Directed by Michael Cimino, “The Deer Hunter” stars Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken and tells the story of three Russian-American steelworkers whose lives are changed forever after serving in the Vietnam War. Thailand portrays war-torn Vietnam and Sai Yok in Kanchanaburi the Viet Cong prison camp. The Russian roulette scene was also filmed here. The film went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Cimino, and Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Walken. “Air America” also dealt with the Vietnam War and starred Mel Gibson, an A-list actor from the action comedy franchise “Lethal Weapon” franchise, and a very young Robert Downey Jr, as two American pilots. This time Thailand doubled for Laos and Thai actress Sinjai Plengpanich played Gibson’s wife. The 2004 epic “Alexander” directed by Oliver Stone was based on the life of Alexander the Great with Colin Farrell in the title role. The film was shot in Saraburi and Ubon Ratchathani and also featured Thai actors Bin Bunluerit as King Porus and Jaran Ngramdee as an Indian prince “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”, the sequel to the hugely popular “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, saw Bridget (Renee Zellweger) on holiday in Thailand where she gets arrested and spends time in jail. Our very own Rong Khaomoolkhadee also starred. Another highlight of the festival is the Thailand Short Film Competition. Organised by the Department of Tourism, and designed to push Thailand as the “World’s Best Film Location”, this year’s theme is “Fascinating Destination” and is focusing on promoting eight tourism clusters in Thailand to international filmmakers. Running from July 21 to 25, the competition will see 24 teams, three for each cluster, selected by the judges to make a short film at each of the eight tourism clusters. Each team consists of three members, namely two foreign film students in charge of producing the film, and one Thai film student as a production assistant who is also in charge of coordinating with film locations. This grouping method aims to promote international collaboration and encourage knowledge exchange. Eight prizes will be given out to the winning team of each cluster with the overall winner taking home Bt300,000. Another special activity for this year is a short film competition for Thai students on the topic “Tourism Linked to Royal Projects” to pay homage to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Participants can choose any of the 29 Royal Projects selected for this competition. In the first round, a total of 30 teams will be chosen to present their ideas to Thailand’s top directors including Nonzee Nimibutr, Prachya Pinkaew and Soros Sukhum, and Assoc Prof Patamavadee Charuworn of the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University. Nine teams will then be chosen to make short films at actual locations with the best team winning Bt100,000 and the chance to join film festivals in other countries, such as the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. “The competition is designed to raise awareness among young Thai filmmakers of the value of the royal project. The contest will let them visit the project and witness how the King’s initiatives help generate income for communities,” says Kobkarn. The panel of judges for this competition includes Chantima Choey- sanguan, director of the Film and Video Rating Committee 1, which gives permission to foreign filmmakers to shoot here, the Thailand Film Office’s director Worateera Suvarnsorn, Assoc Prof Chamroenlak Thanawangnoi, a film lecturer from Thammasat University’s Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication and Bangkok Critics Assembly president Nakorn Veeraprawat. They’ll be joined by foreign judges Glenn S Gainor, president of Sony Pictures Screen Gems, South Korean director Park Kwang Soo, and American actress from “’Til Death” and “Desperate Housewives” Joely Fisher. The awards ceremony will take place on July 27 at Siam Pawalai, Siam Paragon. In 2016, more than 700 foreign films were shot in Thailand, generating Bt2.3 billion. In the first five months of this year (January-May), 369 films and videos were shot in Thailand, generating Bt1.4 billion, higher than in the same period last year, which saw 323 films and videos and Bt846 million in revenue. Check out the latest updates at www.ThailandFilmDestination.com Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/life/box_office/30320384 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-07-11
  4. In search of a better life By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM, PARINHA SEYHAK THE SUNDAY NATION BANGKOK: -- IN THE EYES of some Thai people, migrant workers seem to be alien to Thai society, but a closer look shows they are the same as other people who work hard for a better life. Walking down a small but crowded alley of Pratunam district in downtown Bangkok, you can see many people working hard among the crowd of tourists shopping in this famous shopping district. Many of these workers come from Thailand’s neighbouring countries, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, to work for higher-paying jobs in Thailand. Pratunam would not be on the top of any list of places to look for migrant workers, and yet many migrants are working here, contributing as an integral part of Thailand’s economy. Employees in wholesale clothing stores, cooks in street-side restaurants, fruit juice vendors, and labourers in the market, these hardworking migrant workers are driving the economic wheel in the heart of Bangkok. Sarath Ros, a 30-year-old bus-ticket seller, was one among many migrants working at Pratunam market. He shared his story about moving to work in Bangkok with his wife in the hope of a better life. “I was a farmer in Cambodia, which did not get me a constant income,” Sarath shared. “Here, I earn up to Bt30,000 per month, which can sufficiently cover the expenditure of our family.” Even though he earns a much larger income compared to what he could earn in his home country, life in Thailand is tough for him and also for many of his fellow migrant workers. “It was hard when I first came here. Just because I was a newcomer, people often called the police to arrest me. It was very easy for the police to extort money from migrant workers, even though we had all the legal documents,” Sarath revealed. A female Mon migrant worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that she and her husband had illegally crossed the border into Thailand to work in an effort to have a secure life. As an illegal worker, she did not have many choices and had to work for a very low salary, she said. “I am working as an employee in a restaurant for three years, but still cannot achieve my goal. I don’t know what the future holds, I just want me and my family to have a happier life.” Sarath added that he would prefer going back to Cambodia when he has enough money to open his own business. “It is certainly harder to make money, but it’s much safer when we live in our homeland,” he said. Despite the government’s tough measures on migrant workers, they remain an integral part of Thai society and the economy. Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30320294 -- © Copyright The Nation 2017-07-10
  5. Thailand's New 10-Year Visas Meet Mixed Reactions By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, Staff Reporter - BANGKOK — Expats have expressed enthusiasm about the approval of a plan to issue 10-year visas but worry they may be of benefit to few as more details about how they would work have came to light Thursday. Since the cabinet approved Tuesday a plan to offer 10-year visas to foreign nationals over 50, a number of have expats welcomed the news but said they were concerned about their accessibility, health insurance requirements and unaddressed shortcomings of other visa offerings. Full story: http://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/business/2016/11/24/details-10-year-visas-meet-mixed-reactions/ -- © Copyright Khaosod English 2016-11-24
  6. Midweek Rant: Police and the press – time for more professionalism File photo: Manager Professionalism and the police. Hardly two words that fit like a glove. The same could be said of the press. But throw the two together and any semblance of professionalism just seems to go out the window – what we are left with is rather pathetic. Many police officers – some of them very senior – see meeting the press as a possibility for self- promotion rather than any service to the public who are after all their paymasters. Recent extravaganzas like the arrest of suspects in the karaoke girl’s murder produced a government backlash – but like countless police crackdowns are we to believe that anything will ever last more than five minutes in Thailand. Appearing this week at the press conference for the woman charged with assaulting a man she met on Facebook was none other than metropolitan chief Sanit Mahathavorn. Was it really necessary for the chief of police to get embroiled in this unseemly soap opera? Yes, it is in the public eye but does the chief believe that he comes out smelling of roses for being at the station to lead the investigation? Should he not be doing more important things – and seen to be doing more important things? And what does it say of the confidence he has, or does not have, in the ability of his underlings to do their jobs? Surely a good boss delegates tasks to employees and handles the vital roles. Adopting more of a seemly attitude at press conferences would go some way to improving the image of the police. If they care about that, that is. Khun Sanit needs to set the tone and take the lead. Over the last year he has popped up everywhere getting involved in some puerile stunts, even by Thai standards. And other senior officers have seemed to take their lead from this. Perhaps he could work on a code of conduct for those under his control for press conferences. That would be the kind of leadership that might stop critics calling them the Keystone Kops. But there is much more than the top brass showing a lack of professional leadership. Last year the prime minister ordered for suspects to stop being paraded. Some stations heeded this for a week or two. Others just ignored it until it was all conveniently forgotten. Once again police promotion took precedence over the rights of the accused. Even when admissions are made have the police never heard of people retracting confessions? Edicts were also made about the reenactments that are so popular in Thailand. These were to stop forthwith. These continue unabated it seems – how many times do we see that 100 army and police personnel were needed to protect the suspect from angry villagers as he brandished his toy gun or pretended to rape a stuffed toy. Is it really necessary to have the accused act this out as part of the confession process? Is the force so scared of adverse comment that they can’t take statements and follow procedures aware from the public’s lurid glare? Again, it is unseemly and gives so much ammunition to those who scream banana republic and third world when it comes to the antics of police and what passes for the justice system. Deploying all those men to protect suspects is such a waste. Would they not be better employed doing something useful…..like catching a few more criminals? Then we have the antics of the media at these press conferences. The force seems to connive with them to give the baying public what they want. Who cares about truth – that might get in the way of a good story, it seems. The press prints ream after ream of details about which officer was on the scene, the names of every sergeant and captain, constable and lieutenant involved. Sure, it probably eases the working relationship with the force to drop their names every five minutes. But would it not be better if they came up with some questions that the public are asking. And if they did and got fobbed off then ask them again. To get some answers. Like reporters are supposed to do in the public interest. Above all stop treating police stations, investigations and arrests as a soap opera. As something you might see from a teenager on Facebook. Show some professionalism in your jobs and you might garner a bit more respect. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-07-05
  7. Road Rage – time for Thailand to face the truth File photo It really is time Thailand stopped hiding behind the “jai yen” myth. Increasing exposure to dash cams and video phones are showing that “Road Rage” is out of control. Sure, violence in Thai society is hardly a new phenomenon – but it looks like half the population is resorting to violence to handle small scrapes and disagreements on the highways. It is increasingly looking like a nation of “jai rorn” people or hotheads. There is a pertinent question too – how long will it be before one of the daily assaults ends in the death of an innocent person or their entire family? As if the death and carnage from road accidents is not enough – now there is an ever greater tendency for violence. Just sounding a horn seems to be an excuse for a beating or waving a gun. Thais have been bleating that society is going to the dogs – but it is now time for action, not just empty words. It seems like every Tom, Dick and Somchai who goes out to visit their gran is tooled up for a fight should the slightest thing go wrong. In the last few days we saw a man taking a baseball bat to a family car for a small accident. He then chased them down causing a serious accident. Never mind the occasions when guns have been brandished from windows. Swords and large knives seem to be essential items to be kept under the dash. A woman was brandishing a golf club the other week. And it is not just private drivers – drivers of public vehicles seem to have even more weapons at the ready. A check of minivans last year found a veritable arsenal of machetes, guns and other weapons. A few fines were handed out but it was woefully inadequate punishment. But even when weapons are not used Thai drivers are making good use of their fists and feet to supposedly teach other drivers who have upset them a life lesson. Even rude and aggressive celebrities – like Nott Graap My Rot – are setting the worse of examples to their fans. This week was no exception – a driver was mercilessly bashing a motorcyclist after a minor scrape. The greater tragedy was that bystanders just looked on as if it was a humdrum daily occurrence. The nation needs to wake up to this widespread and appalling violence. So what needs to be done – or is it just a case of sweeping everything under the carpet and pretending that Thais are the sweetest people on the planet and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Firstly the lawmakers and politicians need to take a long hard look at the legislation about the carrying of weapons. If it is weak it needs to be upgraded. It certainly seems to be. Surely carrying a weapon in a car or on a bus is not just transporting it from one place to another. Is it any different from having it on your person? Penalties must be severe for people with weapons in their vehicles. Heravy fines ten times what they are at present. Jail time for anyone using them in any way. Then the police must be told to enforce the regulations and not connive with the public to treat it as something that is acceptable. For the lawless public are culpable too – it is all our problem, not just “them”. But keeping weapons out of cars is one thing – the root cause of road rage runs deeper. Politicians, police, and particularly parents need to educate the young. They are seeing many images on social media and are beginning to accept dealing with problems in a confrontational way as the norm. The prime minister has mentioned it many times – the problem is many just ignore him. Why don’t some celebrities step up to the plate? The young need to be shown another way that avoids confrontation without resorting to violence. But above all everyone needs to accept that there is a problem. Stop the denial. Stop hiding behind the acceptance of cute national traits. And face the truth that something is seriously wrong. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-28
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    Koh Chang Guide Issue 3 - July 2017 - download the PDF version using the green download button or read the issue online here. All the latest information about Koh Chang
  9. Koh Chang Guide Issue 2 - July 2017 View File Koh Chang Guide Issue 2 - July 2017 - download the PDF version using the green download button or read the issue online here. All the latest information about Koh Chang Submitter Jonathan Fairfield Submitted 06/23/2017 Category Thaivisa Members Files  
  10. Midweek rant: Bikers deserve some respect too, you know Yes, I accept I am a second class citizen. I can see why you might think I am near the bottom of the vehicular food chain. I admit I don’t have film tint on my windows. I don’t even have windows. I am just a downtrodden motorcyclist. Just a bloody biker…. But you know there are quite a lot of us and despite what some car owners say we are human. We have feelings…..all we are after is a little respect and consideration. And some fair treatment from the cops – if you can do fair. In return I promise to stay off the sidewalks. Promise to obey the rules of the road. I’ll even stop if I inadvertently scratch your car… Bikers in Bangkok – or any other major Thai city – are treated as the lowest of the low. It is rather unfair. Some of us have cars but we just want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. We have jobs to do and families to feed – in fact there are an awful lot of us about. And we take up much less space on the roads and rarely block other people. Firstly can I say to the police…… Would you mind not ripping us off and preying on us just because we are unlikely to be people of influence and are relatively easy pickings. How about show some parity with the car drivers who break all the laws – and often kill us because they don’t bother to look where they are going. How about stopping these ridiculous checkpoints that are used to fleece us for using various bridges and tunnels? It is absurd to stop us using such roads and thoroughfares. We accept that we have no right on the expressway or motorways – fine. But we all know why we are stopped in the middle of most days. And how you like us to bring out our wallets for disobeying the ridiculous. Wouldn’t your time be better spent making sure that cars are not making illegal U-turns, are not pushing in and holding everyone up are not running red lights? You can get your fines that way, and be doing everyone a favor into the bargain. Secondly to car drivers….. Would it be possible for you to stick to the markings on the road, stick to your lanes? That way we can get through easily and there will be less danger of damage to your precious paintwork or your expensive wing mirrors. It’s called consideration, even good driving – you may have heard of it. Also please try to look when coming out onto a main road. This involves using the eyes that are positioned just above your nose. It may be necessary to look for a few seconds to make sure you have not missed us. That way you can avoid damage to your car and it will have the added benefit of helping us return to our families at the end of the day. Win-win! To building owners…… Could you remember that we are also your customers? Would it be possible not to pen us in in these underground dungeons that pass for what you call parking lots. Apart from being very bad for the health of your own staff it is almost impossible at times to get our bikes out after they are crammed in. We are admittedly poor and low class but we have spent what little resources we have on our transport as well as car owners. Also to the places that charge for bike parking. It can easily build up to 100 baht in some places. That is a lot for a biker. Would a car that costs twenty times as much be prepared to pay 2,000 baht just to park…..I think you’d have a riot on your hands. For some who have what you call “big bikes” the situation is a bit better as you cordoned off another area. But I note that many of you have changed this to 400cc up. What about the thousands if not millions of us who have 250cc bikes – there is barely room to swing a cat in some of your parking lots. Some better signage about where we should go would also be appreciated – a bike with a big arrow would fit the bill. And not just one – keep the directions going until the parking is in view. To pedestrians….. Would you mind staying on the sidewalks and using pedestrian overpasses. If you have to cross the road try looking…..using those eyes I spoke about earlier. Jaywalking and appearing suddenly in a biker’s path is likely to result in your serious injury – and our death as likely as not. To the people responsible for the road surface…… Could you get out there and fill in some of the potholes. You see for cars it might be a little jolt or mean a spot of wheel aligning is in order. For us bikers we tend to come off and get our brains splattered on the tarmac. It’s messy and very unsightly. If we don’t die instantly just because of a small hole or ridge left unattended we are often flattened by oncoming cars. This can result in damage to expensive cars…… Finally to our dear friends the security guards who are most likely bikers just like us… Would you mind awfully pointing to where we can park first rather than let us park, take off all our protective gear, start walking to our destination……before you tell us that we can’t park there. Then we won’t get so cross. In return for all this we promise to behave ourselves and act as responsibly as you in your cars and trucks. Who knows – some of us may even live long enough to enjoy our grandchildren. We may even feel respected. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-21
  11. Midweek rant: Save Our Pattaya – time for less back slapping and more action The sight and sound of Pattaya’s top cop Apichai Krobpetch slapping the backs of his men and praising them to the skies last week was worse than laughable. Apparently his upstanding men were doing a great job and fully merited the millions of baht of new motorcycle presents they had just been given by HQ. Everything was just hunky dory down by the sea! Even by the double standards of Pattaya this was patently absurd. The force in Chonburi – read Pattaya – is rumored to be one of the hardest to get into. Not because of the difficulty of the exams or the quality of officers it attracts – because of how much that has to change hands just to get a job there. Such are the rich pickings. Many of the officers in the province make the rest of the country look like angels in comparison! How many times have we read about cops at the resort trying to fleece and extort money from the public? There was Nang Fa karaoke, women picked off the streets on trumped up charges, people harassed even raped….the list goes on. When the force investigates its own it descends into farce. How many times have we seen their total inactivity when they were needed most? And how many times have we seen their shambolic efforts to clean up the mean streets? Surely it is time to look at the performance of the force under the current leadership and at least have a few serious words. Make some threats – they might understand that language after all. Pattaya is now meant to be priding itself as a hub of all that is good in tourism. But as officialdom tried to play down reports of the dangers in Thailand as a whole the microcosm that is Pattaya could hardly escape the spotlight. Yes, foreign residents always bang on about it being like that since the year dot. Well, that isn’t good enough if the resort is going to drag itself up to a semblance of respectability…if that is ever or even possible. Two cases in the last couple of days seem to show motiveless attacks against foreigners. One was an Australian and one was an Indian out for a walk with his Thai girlfriend. Sure, people who have had a drink sometimes conveniently forget they might have upset someone but these two cases are nonetheless worrying and should be thoroughly investigated. The last thing Pattaya needs is roaming gangs of bandits in pick-ups out for a bit of Clockwork Orange style bashing. Then there is the continual cases of snatch theft happening almost daily. The victims seem to be blamed for wearing jewelry or conducting insurance scams more than the police for not being on the beat or trying to prevent and heaven forbid….actually solve crime. When the cases are reported the force go through the motions – they phone ahead to stop the miscreants, villains who always flee into the night on their bikes and escape; they check CCTV that is either not working or unhelpful; they promise a follow up. Yawn! Absolutely nothing happens and the next day there is another incident. And so the cycle of inactivity continues. It is a far cry from the chief’s utopian claims. Whatever happened to the “Happy Zones” where the eyes and ears of CCTV and an empowered public were supposed to be working with the police in eradicating crime? That is a rhetorical question because all we see is absolute total farce and pathetic lip service. The military obviously have their work cut out when it comes to reigning in the Chonburi force. Changes have been made to the top brass but it still seems to result in more tarnish. Apichai further claimed that his men represented value for money for public taxes. But for many people who love the resort, who call it their home and would like to see it cleaner, safer, friendlier and above all less corrupt, his words fell on decidedly flat ears. And the tragedy is that no one was particularly surprised at what he said. That is the level to which Pattaya has sunk. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-14
  12. Midweek rant: A plea from a lowly pedestrian It’s not that I’m not grateful for the wonderful train being built outside my front door. It's not that I can’t wait for three or four years until it’s finished. It’s not that I can’t put up with the traffic and the mayhem that all the building is causing. It’s not even that I am so unhappy with the state of the bumpy footpath full of holes – at least clearing it of vendors has made it a bit easier to walk. I can even put up with the flooding. It’s just that when I am out with my daughter and her buggy I can’t really go anywhere any more. Are we expected to be some kind of prisoners in our soi and immediate area for the next several years…until things get better? You see, I might not have many years left and I want to make use of the time I have to try and enjoy life a bit with my kids. If I perch them on my motorbike I worry. If I get in the car we can’t move anyway. I don’t ask much – I just want to go out for a walk. My daughter feels the same. She'd tell you herself it's just that she is only one. I refer specifically to the building of the Green Line extension to Saphan Mai in the Ratchayothin area – but my plea is applicable to other construction projects throughout the country. Around here all the pedestrian overpasses have been taken out. I get that. But what did you replace them with – a few holes in the construction fences where pedestrians could dash across if they saw a chink of light in the onrushing cars. Yes, I know you call them Zebra Crossings – it’s just that nobody stops. They never have. Unless perhaps you’re killed on the road and even then they might not stop. There’s a sign on one disused bridge that says I can cross 15 meters ahead – I’d do that if I had a death wish and wanted to see the back of my one year old daughter. I don’t. Anyway, I remember seeing a video of some tourists in Chiang Mai doing that. It kinda scared me. I’d rather cross, if possible, with a modicum of safety. You see there are some lovely places to get to nearby where we used to go before you started improving things. The gardens at SCB with the fountains and the museum. The pond with all its animals and the well maintained aquarium at Kaset University. The playground on the other side of Pahonyothin Road. But I can’t get there anymore. I am afraid my kids will be teenagers before I can cross the road again. I am not asking for much. Just a bit of consideration. I know all Thais are world famous for that. I see it every day with the ordinary people in the streets trying to cope with the mess. They open doors for me and say lovely things about my daughter as they try to help on small flights of stairs. So how about a sequence in the lights to give pedestrians a chance to cross the road while the cars and bikes wait for a minute. Even thirty seconds would be OK. Then we could hurry to the other side – I can still step on it a bit despite the dodgy farang back I hurt falling in one of your potholes recently. And it’s not just me and my buggy. I imagine that anyone in a wheelchair would just have to live somewhere else. Even the most able-bodied people along with the rest of us are finding it difficult enough. Oh and another thing – it’s nothing really. Could you make sure those orange crane like things on top of the pylons are tied on with a few nuts and bolts. You see a couple of them, actually three, have fallen on pedestrians and workers in the area in the last few months. Four people won’t be walking anywhere in the future after that. Maybe someone forgot – please have a word. Throughout the city and in the rest of the country we are glad that one day we shall have some extensive public transport to be proud of. But for now could you just spare a thought for our lives as lowly pedestrians. And at least help us to walk safely in our towns and cities. And get from A to B. And maybe even back home again….. Alive, if possible. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-31
  13. Stand-Up Comedy – Chris Henry at Robin Hood Tavern – 10 June 2017 The Comedy Club Bangkok proudly presents stand-up comedy with CHRIS HENRY – live in Pattaya at The Robin Hood Tavern. As part of his his festival tour, packing out venues performing at The Edinburgh Fringe, down under at the Australian festivals and now touring Asia, CHRIS HENRY performs his latest exclusive show “IGNORANCE IS CHRIS” Also seen on British TV and the biggest clubs in the UK, Chris has packed all his observations of our planet into his sixth side-splitting show where you can expect tales of his strange experiences and silly exploits, using his uniquely Scottish perspective on the world. Chris will be joined by special guests. ฿600 in advance online at bit.ly/Comedy-RobinHoodPattaya and The Robin Hood Tavern Pub! ฿800 on the door. FB event page: Stand-Up Comedy – Chris Henry in Pattaya! Hosted by Robin Hood Tavern and Comedy Club Bangkok Saturday, June 10 at 8 PM – 10:30 PM
  14. Midweek rant: Thai news – all we get is tumbleweed File photo Following the Thai news is like going to the movies and suffering a power cut before the final scene. So often we are left in the dark. With no idea how it ended. Time and time again we follow the news faithfully only to be left high and dry at the crucial moment. The Thai news media fall over themselves in the early stage of an investigation. And the police come up with all sorts of theories as an arrest is imminent and the case is all but solved. Later today, Friday at the latest, Tuesday for sure… Then days become weeks and weeks become months before a year has passed. Has the case gone cold? Has the matter been shuffled under the carpet? Or have the perps been arrested tried and forgiven?! Or has the key been thrown away? Thai media seems great when a case is in the public eye. They love a soap opera. But it is like their attention span is five minutes. They move on before it’s over. And following up is a bit like Thai maintenance – virtually non-existent! Unless someone forces the issue that is. And who is around to do that – what pressure groups exist apart from the lowly victims of the crimes. Sure, there are many cases where arrests are made early and confessions extracted. Fine – but what happened next? Did the matter go to court – and if so what were the sentences? At the very least I want those tedious posters who talk about “brown envelopes” and “500 baht slaps on the wrist” as though they have some kind of advanced cultural knowledge of Thailand to be stopped in their tracks. But no…..all we get is tumbleweed. Everyone can think of many cases in the last year or so – cases of such public interest that it should be the duty of the press to follow up and let us know. There are the six police children and accomplices who murdered the handicapped bread seller in Lat Prao. They were initially held but where are they now? What became of Shimon the Israeli and his son who put a friend under the stairs? What of the US citizens who cut up their mate and put him in a Sukhumvit freezer? How about the Suan Kularb teacher in the case of sex with students? It started as scandal and ended in silence. Are the murderers of Tony Kenway in Pattaya just teaching English in Cambodia without a care in the world? The list goes on and on. It is not just crime but cases of all kinds. And the silence is deafening. Come on Thai press. Don’t let your police get away with inaction. Don’t let the authorities whitewash you. Roust them up, demand some answers – think about the public and their needs. Think about the victims. And do your bloody job and report! I’ll read it. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-06-07
  15. Top Hua Hin Hotels Spread Motorbike Safety Message Hua Hin, Thailand, 22nd May 2017 - A group of leading hotels and resorts in Hua Hin, including Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, recently held an important joint event to raise awareness about motorcycle safety among Thai schoolchildren. Shocking figures show that less than 7% of Thai children wear helmets when riding on motorbikes with their parents. This means that every day, all across the country, more than 93% of Thai children are risking their lives just by traveling to and from school. In order to address this alarming statistic, 10 of Hua Hin’s top hotels joined forces on May 22nd, 2017, to organize the "Helmet Extravaganza" 2nd year - a CSR event aimed at saving the lives of young people in Hua Hin and Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. Hotels taking part in the initiative included Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Intercontinental Hua Hin Resort, Anantara Hua Hin Resort, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villa Hua Hin, Putahracsa Hua Hin, So Sofitel Hua Hin and Amari Hua Hin organized a CSR event to generate awareness among the Hua Hin locals to start wearing helmets and provide safety for their children by donating more than 400 helmets to the Hua Hin’s student and schools within Hua Hin, Prachuab Khiri Khan Province, and provide fun activities at the same time by painting the donated helmets in each hotel. “It is a worrying fact of life in Thailand – and across many Asian countries – that many children do not wear helmets when traveling on motorcycles with their parents,” Goetz Bauer, General Manager of the Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa. “There are many reasons for this, but often it is simply that the children do not have helmets to wear.” “By donating more than 400 helmets to local students we could be potentially saving the lives of 400 local children. This is a truly incredible thought, and can I think of no more worthwhile activity to be part of.” The Helmet Extravaganza was attended by an estimated 500 people, including the schoolchildren, representatives of the 10 hotels and members of the media.
  16. Target the 21 million tourists per year in Bangkok Bangkok is the number 1 tourist destination in the world, bigger than London, Paris and New York; so getting your business in front of this tourist group represents a staggering opportunity - and until now it has been very difficult to do. On June 1st, Choice Group Asia Media Group launch the only 24 hour television channel in Bangkok that targets tourists. It will play in over 10,000 hotels (or 1 million hotel rooms) in Bangkok. Being the only local channel for foreigners it means it will be the go to channel for tourists wanting to find out more about where to go and what to do in Bangkok. Target Tourists on Huge Scale and for Less To celebrate this significant launch, Choice Group Asia offer low introductory prices. A 20 second advert played 12 times a day on this digital channel will cost only 15,000 baht, whilst a 40 second advert played 24 times a day will cost only 40,000 baht. A minimum contract of 6 months and a production fee of only 10,000 baht will be charged (reduced from 25,000 baht). This offer closes on June 15th 2017. Email dan@choicegroupasia.com or ring 086 155 2500 for more details. Example of Channel Content
  17. Foreigner jumps into Chiang Mai canal to save Thai teen from sinking car By Coconuts Bangkok Photo: Guru Chiang Mai/ Facebook CHIANG MAI: -- An elderly foreigner was praised online for saving the life of a Chiang Mai teen whose car had strayed off the road and into a khlong last night. The heroic act of James Charles Grand, 61, was shared by Chiang Mai Facebook community “Guru Chiang Mai,” after the foreigner dove in to retrieve the injured teen from the sinking car. Grant, whose nationality was not disclosed, was reportedly riding a motorbike when he passed by the scene of the accident in central Chiang Mai. The Thai teen was sent to the hospital by rescue volunteers. Full story: https://coconuts.co/bangkok/news/foreigner-jumps-chiang-mai-canal-save-thai-teen-sinking-car/ -- © Copyright Coconuts Bangkok 2017-05-23
  18. Midweek rant: The power of money – but what about the public interest? File Photo Too often in Thailand the soothing power of money replaces justice. What should be something in addition to criminal prosecution is frequently used as a convenient and easy way out. Especially for the rich and famous. But also for any Tom, Dick or Harry who has a reasonably full wallet. It begs the question – as more and more cases are settled by the passing over of cash is the public interest being served? Is it my foot! This week we were reminded of the case two years back when Thai/British actress Anna Reese simply bought her way out of trouble. It was all done in full view of the public. But it wasn’t a fine. It was just something agreed on under the auspices of the police. The family accepted money in the death of 44 year old Suphanburi policeman Napadol killed in his patrol car. Was it just celebrity and wealth that got the actress off? Not really – anyone with money can buy their way out it seems. What kind of message does this send out, especially to young people reading the news? I’ll tell you. It says if you can pay you don’t need to take responsibility for your actions, that’s what. And as we see the actress once again behaving atrociously and drink driving this week we can see that she has absolutely learnt nothing from killing another person. Do it again, just pay some more. The tragedy is, while the latest case is going to court, it may still have been settled in cash if she had hurt someone else. Time and again we see crimes settled with the handing over of everything from a few thousand baht to a few million. It happens in everything from assault, to criminal damage, to negligence – even in cases involving children who are maltreated. It happens everywhere, all the time. Sometimes the figures are not even revealed leading to more lurid speculation and lack of transparency. The time has come for the police to prosecute all cases especially those in the public interest. And stop interpreting the law when they have a duty on behalf of the public. If money is to play a part then it should be IN ADDITION to criminal prosecution and jail time, not instead of it. When OJ Simpson managed to escape justice in the celebrated double homicide case there was still the civil matter than gave something back to the families of his victims. He was hit for millions but only after he was tried. While many foreign legal systems try to grapple with the issues of compensation and justice few are like Thailand where financial compensation seems to rule the roost. Of course, settling things with money also suits the police. It is much easier and involves less work and loose ends can be tied up in one sweet little bundle. Everyone looks good and everyone seems on the surface to go home happy. But the law and the people are made to look like fools for the sake of cute expediency. The public should demand of their lawmakers that crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Not just when the police decide – and not just when poor people accept money. Criminals must end up in court and be given appropriate sentences. Not just allowed to open their wallets and move on to the next crime, the next victim. Victims must not be pressurized by either the police or the system into accepting money. Sure, many are impoverishedand we know why they accept. They need money even if it is a pittance to the guilty. And their cultural background screams too much to them to live and let live. Move on, a sense of fatalism prevailing. Your lot is what it is! These people – as much as the public – are not served justice. They should know that those that harm them are first and foremost being prosecuted for their illegal actions. THEN, and only then, will they have the opportunity to be financially compensated for their loss, for the damage done to them. The system needs to be a double edged sword directly squarely at the criminals with clear guideline to show that justice is done and seen to be done for the sake of all in society. Stop treating money as the universal healer. And start thinking about justice and appropriate punishment for crimes. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-24
  19. Motor mouth: T. rex could bite with the force of three cars By Will Dunham REUTERS FILE PHOTO - Bill Simpson looks inside a fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex known as "SUE", before removing its forelimb to be used for research at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. on October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have come up with one more reason to be amazed by Tyrannosaurus rex. When the huge carnivorous dinosaur took a bite, it did so with an awe-inspiring force equal to the weight of three small cars, enabling it to crunch bones with ease. Researchers on Wednesday said a computer model based on the T. rex jaw muscle anatomy and analyses of living relatives like crocodilians and birds showed its bite force measured about 8,000 pounds (3,630 kg), the strongest of any dinosaur ever estimated. "T. rex could pretty much bite through whatever it wanted, as long as it was made of flesh and bone," said Florida State University paleobiologist Gregory Erickson. In quantifying the power of T. rex's chomp, they also calculated how it transmitted its bite force through its conical, seven-inch (18-cm) teeth, finding it generated 431,000 pounds per square inch (30,300 kg per square cm) of tooth pressure, another measure of its power, on the contact area of the teeth. Bite marks on fossilized bones of dinosaurs like the horned Triceratops that lived alongside Tyrannosaurus some 66 million years ago in western North America indicated T. rex was a bone-cruncher. The ability to pulverize and eat bones gave T. rex, which was about 43 feet (13 meters) long and weighed about seven tons, an advantage over competing predators that could not. "Predators with bone-crunching abilities are able to exploit a high-risk, high-reward resource: the minerals that make up bone itself and the fatty marrow that is contained inside," said paleontologist Paul Gignac of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports. "The risk is the potential to accrue extreme tooth damage from biting into bone, making it difficult or impossible to capture prey effectively or rupture the long bones of carcasses." Previous studies have estimated Tyrannosaurus bite strength but the researchers in the new study called their approach more sophisticated. Their computer modeling was developed and tested on alligators, with the researchers studying how each muscle contributed to the bite force. They concluded T. rex possessed the greatest tooth pressure of any creature ever studied. Its bite force far exceeded that of any living creature, but was not the greatest ever. For example, they estimated in 2012 an enormous croc called Deinosuchus, which lived a few million years before T. rex and weighed even more, had a bite strength of 23,000 pounds (10,400 kg). (Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler) -- © Copyright Reuters 2017-05-19
  20. Midweek rant: The conflict of compromise and accountability File Photo One of the things that the Thais pride themselves on has become a public millstone around their necks. It is the ability to find a compromise. On first coming to Thailand it was always heartening to see the Thais’ ability to interpret the law. At first glance it seemed better than some rigid notion from the West. There always seemed so much wriggle room and, perhaps in a blessed state of rose tinted naivety, one thought this was a national trait to be proud of. I still do to a certain extent but those initial days of youthful optimism have now been replaced with more heard hearted realism. Because compromise often leads to a complete lack of justice with particularly the weaker and less influential members of society on the receiving end. And ultimately what began as a worthy spirit of compromise – seeing both sides of a conflict perhaps satisfying a mutual satisfaction for a semblance of justice as well as face - leads inexorably to just one inevitable and unwanted conclusion: An utter lack of accountability. How often do we see in high profile news stories where officialdom is not held accountable for their illegal and negligent actions? That is rather a rhetorical question – countless fires, boat accidents, building collapses and the like have largely gone unpunished. Corruption is one thing – but hiding behind a veil of compromise as if this is a human virtue to be cherished above the rule of law is quite another. It lends a kind of legitimacy to the result of cases and is fed to the public like cake. And leaves victims in a limbo where social mores seem to have been given priority while the law is merely paid lip service. Last week’s case of a gun toting cop threatening bank staff who came to repossess a car is a clear case in point. Despite ridiculous claims of extenuating circumstances the actions of the cop, a supposed upholder of the law, were threatening in the extreme and left the leasing employees scared and bewildered. Not only should the cop have been stripped of his job but there should be no doubt what awaits people who do this kind of thing – jail. There is no need for an inactive posting and an investigation. He needs to be locked up. But what do we see instead? Talk of a prosecution, yes, but the whole case then becomes muddied by compromise. The wife – who shouldn’t be part of what her husband did – goes on TV then shakes hands with the bank staff. The smokescreen of luvvy-duvvy compromise with handshakes all round tells everyone that a supposedly satisfactory solution has been found. The Thais have done it their way again and the whole world can rejoice! Who leaned on who is irrelevant. What matters is that by inference a man who should uphold the law is seen as somehow innocent for brandishing a gun at people doing their jobs in a lawful manner. The employees of the bank are left to wonder what will happen to them next time. For there will certainly be a next time if people are allowed to get away with such scandalous behavior. Maybe they will be shot….and the compromise will be a payment of 20,000 to help with funeral expenses. No justice was served in the case – either for the bank staff or the interests of the public at large. No one was held accountable and compromise was seen as somehow triumphing over evil. The police can talk all they want about the law running its course – it is almost a euphemism for letting time run its course until everyone has forgotten what happened. Then we had the tragic case of the four year old girl falling down the drain while playing at a housing estate south of Bangkok. It was heart wrenching to see the hapless little child step on some flimsy sticks and fall to her death on CCTV. Where will be the justice for Yosita and her grieving family? Just like countless negligence cases before and doubtless after one fears there will be none. The case will get lost in a mire of compromise and lack of accountability as the authorities who acted so negligently in leaving the drain open find excuses. And effectively are allowed to hide behind incompetence. For what – for face and dignity. Where is the dignity for a little girl who should be protected? Hiding behind a curtain of lack of funds is no good. Any right minded person knows that you need to cover a drain – especially in places where children might be playing. It is basic common sense. And what is the cost in some sturdy wood and a few bricks before the cover is properly repaired as was promised. Not a lot – certainly worth a lovely little girl’s life. Those concerned should already have been charged and held. And not just the workman. But their bosses right up to the top. But no one will hold their breath on that. The wais will come out, the forgiveness will be offered along with a paltry sum and everyone will go home. There will be pictures for the press as everyone slaps themselves on the back for the Thai way of doing things. Foreigners may look on aghast – but foreigners don’t understand our ways…. But Yosita will still be dead – there will be no justice for her. Who doesn’t grasp that conclusion? And what is the inevitable consequence of this compromise and lack of accountability. It will just be repeated, again and again. Because just like a schoolboy is not cowed by a teacher who threatens without applying sanction, a body of laws that exist without implementation are toothless and will make no one bother to obey them. Time and again compromise, the wai, the graap, forgiveness – noble tenets of Thai culture are used as tools of subjugation and injustice. The time has come for the law to be applied. The time has come for some Thai smiles to be replace by a sterner visage. The time is well overdue for accountability. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-17
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  22. Midweek Rant: When, oh when will Bangkok be finished? I know this may be asking a bit much for a Midweek Rant. But can I please ask on behalf of those of us who have made Bangkok our home? When will our City of Angels be finished? You see I am not getting any younger and I am genuinely concerned that all of you beavering away to try and improve it will still be doing just that when I am passing through my local temple’s chimney. On the way to another heavenly capital somewhere in the clouds that will hopefully have been long since completed. It’s not that I am ungrateful for all the improvements since arriving in the 1980s. For example, all those pipes you put in in Sukhumvit Road and elsewhere certainly helped with the flooding that used to stay festering on the ground from one month to the next. The stores and the supermarkets have been a boon for my shopaholic wife – I don’t even blame you for my bank balance going down. The sky train and the underground have been great, even the busses are a tad less smelly – it has all made the city so much better. But everywhere I look the evidence is mounting up. Nearly four decades down the line and it just seems as far away from finished as ever. I’m not blaming you for the traffic per se. But was it really necessary to build about ten major rail projects all at the same time? Yes, I know some of you wanted to return happiness to us after all those barricades and shouting but have you ever thought you might be overdoing it a little. Might your pursuit of happiness on our behalf be a little overzealous? Could you not have put a little store by the “P” word. Progress? The Public? Prosperity? No, no…the word I am thinking about is planning. How nice it would have been if someone somewhere had had an idea to stagger all these projects, just to make life in the intervening years a little more bearable for the average Bangkokian. We are, after all, the lifeblood of the nation… 40% of GDP doesn’t lie! I mean I love riding a motorcycle on these wide boulevards. I always leave the car at home to avoid murdering the wife and kids when stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. But now we are all stuck on the bike – all four of us….there is nowhere for even two wheeled transport to move. Unless it’s three AM. And all those signs saying 5,000 baht fines for riding on the sidewalks are scaring me into submission. Even if I know you really don’t mean it. Perhaps you could just let up for a year or two. Do a “Hopewell” on a few of the new projects and open up some floor-space to traffic for a few months. Just to show willing, you understand. Give a bit of respite to the weary. And could you put some new signs in please to tell me where I am. There are so many new buildings around or being demolished that all my landmarks have gone. It’s a bit like when my local pub in England was shut down – I don’t know where I am anymore. I thought I knew Bangkok now I am just as bewildered as the tourists off the plane who think it is all great fun. It just isn’t fair – I’ve paid my taxes, you see. Rather like looking after grandchildren the tourists don’t mind – they can give Bangkok back at the end of their stay. We have to live here. Day in day out. Now I know it is true that much of Bangkok is so ugly that it needs to be torn down and replaced. But how about coming up with a schedule – and sticking to it so that the residents know what is going on. Some of us lucky ones might even be able to move out for a while so you can finish the relevant bit that impacts us the most. We wouldn’t mind going somewhere dull like Hua Hin or Pattaya for a while if we knew that such a “prison sentence” had a reasonably chance of time off for good behavior. Then we could get back to normal. And smile those famous Bangkok smiles. I said it in the 1980s when it usually got a laugh. Maybe some in the 90s thought it still worth a grin. But by the noughties the joke was wearing decidedly thin. What was that I said? “I like Bangkok – but I’ll really love it when it’s finished”. So please try and complete the job as soon as possible. For the sake of my love affair. At least before the inevitable happens with my visit to the temple; and everybody else sinks beneath the encroaching waves of the Gulf. By which time you’ll have to start all over again. I’ll probably be looking down glad I’m not there for that. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-10
  23. Midweek rant: When will the punishment fit the crime? It is getting utterly ridiculous. Pick a mushroom in a forest and get thirty years. Have a trace element of an illegal substance in a wallet and kiss goodbye to freedom for a few decades. But rent a taxi to a double convicted rapist and pay 3,000 baht. This is not a rant about people who are not brought to justice a la Red Bull heir. This is not a rant about those who slip through the net and never face justice. Though that is horrendous enough in Thailand. This is about those people who have broken the criminal law or those who have fallen foul of government regulations – and get such ridiculous sentences that it makes a mockery of the very word justice itself. Lenient sentences that both belittle and are a disgrace to victims, light sentences that make criminals snigger with glee as they serve five minutes in jail and are out again to repeat their crimes. Severe sentences particular, but not exclusively, against the poor and downtrodden, that advertise Thailand not merely as a place with a ruling elite that can do as it pleases with its unwitting population, but as a country of absurd inconsistency and patent ongoing injustice. This is not a topical rant. One brought on by an isolated incident. Any week of the year you can find poor people like the mushroom sellers who are facing the most incredible harshness because they couldn’t afford adequate legal representation. Every week you can find people who will not see the light of day because someone had it in for them and the system could not protect them. Every week you can see terrible crime – crime that has been confirmed in a court of law, or admitted in a police station without duress – punished by the proverbial slap on the wrist, sometimes even let go because an apology was made to society or a graap or a wai was forthcoming. The inconsistency is staggering, shameful and institutionalized. It is nothing short of disgusting and an affront to the public who deserve so much better. But nobody seems to be doing anything about it. The clamor for change seems to be muttered in markets, quietly spoken of on buses and in queues for street food. The people who are so aware of injustice should be shouting for change. Many laws and statutes seem to have been in existence from a bygone era. They have simply never caught up to modern times. Fines seem to be stuck in a time-warp – it’s a wonder they are not announced in ticals. But it is the sentences that really rankle. Someone seems to have plucked figures from the air – where is the consistency, where is the fairness? There is virtually none and consequently the faith of the public in what passes for the justice system could hardly be lower. The jails are full to the rafters with those convicted of drugs’ offences – just like in America. While in the US the overwhelming majority are black and poor here they are darker skinned and poor. Seems awfully similar. Few would say that drugs are not a scourge in either society but is there not a woeful imbalance? And do the harsh sentences handed down to minor dealers address the problem. Of course they don’t – they just make the authorities look as though they have done something useful while the big fish go free and are almost never apprehended. So what needs to be done? Well first off, there needs to be a National Commission set up to review sentences and make recommendations to address the haphazard imbalances in both civil and criminal systems. Then those recommendations need to be taken on board - if and when the country is returned to democracy, that is. Equally, the fines that are handed out need urgent review. Companies that flagrantly rip off and con the public need to be slapped with something that hurts. Not something they can find in the till that might have been a reasonable sum in 1905. The rich who break the law need to pay. And pay through the nose. The commission’s watchwords need to be modernization and justice. The people – as quiet as they seem to be at times - are fed up with inconsistency and patent unfairness. The time to act is actually long past. But if something is not done soon those who point the finger at Thailand’s justice system and laugh at the absurd inconsistencies will just gain more traction. And the face that Thais are so desperate to protect will just get increasing hard for anyone to take seriously. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-05-03
  24. Midweek Rant: Pack mentality – why keyboard warriors are no better than the Thais they criticize Every time a story hits the news about a mob attack in Thailand the keyboard warriors are quickly on the scene. Thaivisa forum is no different to any other site where Thai stories are viewed. Though not always without justification, they attack the mentality that sees cowardly locals ganging up ten on one on security guards or defenseless members of the public. An unpleasant attack on a handicapped guard in Bang Saen this week is a case in point. Ok, fair enough it is despicable behavior and the guilty parties need to be jailed. But the matter never ends there. The very same people who scream to anyone who will listen that this is standard Thai behavior are themselves just the same kind of gutless bullies. They will pick on virtually anyone – always weaker than them, always outnumbering them. If it was just the angst shown against some Thais who hunt in packs it might be tolerable – but it never stops there. Firstly they cast all Thai men with the same brush calling them weak and scared. Every one of the keyboard warriors would see them off in a fair, bare knuckle fistfight, one on one. But then they take it to the next level – a level that shows who they really are – just bullies. The keyboard warriors themselves, be it on internet forums, social media or in the comments section on news sites then gang up on sub groups in Thai society. They often don’t even realize what they are doing. They feel right is on their side as they agree with each other in attacking all manner of people in Thailand. They have now become the pack themselves. So who do they target? I shall pick just three groups. The first are lady boys. Despite this group of people representing a significant minority in Thailand they are all tarred with the same brush according to the internet pack. They are thieving good-for-nothings who should all be jailed without so much as a trial. Get them off our righteous streets, they yell indignantly. Mmm. Might this be that many of the warriors are Pattaya based and have yet been unable to broaden their horizons in any significant capacity. I don’t know – what I do know is that it is totally unfair to pick on lady boys and associate them with those in their group who might break the law. Even in Pattaya. Law abiding lady boys are not responsible for the actions of a small minority. But the warriors condemn them all and the vitriol is nothing short of what the Nazi’s did in referring to untermensch or “the masses from the East”. Then there are gays. A recent very happy story about a gay wedding in Thailand between a Brit and his male spouse also featured a swathe of homophobic comments – once again here were the self-proclaimed “full blooded males”, as they probably see themselves, ganging up ten on one at least. Sure, some used the story to bang on about dowries but many used it for veiled if not direct homophobia. And before they deny it saying it was just a “bit of banter”, that is not the way some gays who commented on Thaivisa saw that reaction. One was moved to thank a Sunday columnist for standing up to the bigoted bashers. Is it right that people in our community should feel threatened for a lifestyle that is a little different to the “norm”. Of course it is not, everyone deserves respect and the right to lead their lives as they see fit within the law. My third “disadvantaged” group is the innocent. The pack online is never more vociferous than when a suspect has been arrested for a crime. These weedy warriors are convinced of their guilt just because the story is in the papers or online and like a pack of baying hounds they turn on the suspect with their gnashers drooling spit as they spout their interminable nonsense about “hanging them high” and “rightful retribution” awaiting in the shower rooms of Thai prisons. Not for them the courts, the pack have decided…and they of course are always right because they are so goddamn smart. So much smarter than everyone else in Thailand. Amid all the attacks it is noticeable that it is invariably Thai men who seem to be the root cause of society’s ills as the warriors complain of their “childishness” and “laziness”. With so few Thais on a forum like Thaivisa or commenting on the popular expat social media groups there are hardly any to speak up for them as the pack descends. And of course is people defend them, they are condemned as “apologists”. Absurd. But interestingly, these abject bullies hardly ever seem to turn on Thai women. Maybe they are scared that their strong Thai wives might be looking over their shoulders as they type. Bullies always fear strength, don’t they. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-26
  25. Survey results: Expats say no to Songkran! Picture: File photo The results are out for the Thaivisa survey about what people do at Songkran. And the figures are clear at least for the middle aged group of respondents - we hide at home or get the hell out of Dodge! Asked what people do at Songkran almost ten percent said they decided to leave the country altogether. While 71 percent of respondents indicated they would stay home or not venture out. Less than 20 percent of respondents said they played Songkran. However, it should be noted that 75% of the people who replied to the survey were aged 51 and over compared to just 4% under 30 years of age. The nationalities that responded the most were British, 30%, US, 25%, Australian 15% and German 3%. All the remaining were of other nationalities. Asked where they live 20% said Bangkok, 20% Pattaya, 8% Hua Hin, and 7% Phuket. The rest lived elsewhere in the kingdom. Forum comments on the subject mostly backed up the survey's findings. Darksidedog said: "I leave the country for ten days. And before anyone asks, yes, I am a miserable old git!" While Phuket Man was a stay-at-home-boy commenting: "I stay indoors for a week wearing noise reduction headphones". Some 162 people have filled in the survey so far. -- © Copyright Thai Visa News 2017-04-18