Is Uncle SMS Totally Innocent?

Here’s an article at the Bangkok Post I found interesting.

Uncle SMS, Ampon Tangnoppakul, has been convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Supposedly he doesn’t even know how to send SMS.

Click below to read the story in the Opinion section of the Bangkok Post.

Uncle SMS Saga ->

Thailand’s Future and Other Possibilities

Thailand elections are coming up in July and we’re only like a 1.5 months away. Once again, uncertainty fills the air. It’s hard to imagine a country with this much flux can carry on as it does… and yet it sure does. Thailand is resilient. Apparently investors aren’t scared off by the prospect of whatever might happen in Thailand up until this point because – it just hasn’t been THAT bad. Sure it’s been bad, the way political parties and groups kill each other off is disturbing. The way people get shot at during protests is disturbing as hell.

But the thing is… Thailand keeps right on rolling because there hasn’t been a really major event – an uprising. A revolt. A revolution.

Is such a thing coming to the streets of Bangkok this year? To the smaller districts?

I’ll venture a “no” guess. Not yet. But, I don’t see anything really good happening this year – Thailand united behind one Prime Minister and government. If Thaksin’s younger sister wins – the military may have a coup. If the yellow shirts win there may be a revolt. Either way – just not much chance of anything great happening.

Over the past few years I’ve been trying to figure out, as you probably have if you’re an expat living in or spending a lot of time in the country – is it still safe to be here? That question is almost always, unless you’re living in Bangkok or the deep south – YES. It’s safe.

Is it smart to remain here?

That’s the other question. As expats we have other options at home. Most of us do. Personally I could make enough money to pay the bills and get back into American society – if I could stand it. I’m not sure I could. I don’t see the US as a great alternative to Thailand.

I wish I had another alternative. Don’t you?

The Philippines is some place I’ve never wanted to live – the food really. I just couldn’t take the local food on a long-term basis. I’m sure of that. I had a lot of it in Hawaii – and had my fill really. I’m done with that. Chicken Adobo is great… the rest of it, you can keep.

I like Indonesian food – but don’t think it would be a great transition from Thailand. Anybody done that?

I like Japanese food – but they seem to have zombie problems up there at the moment.

I like Indian food – to beat all. Is there a quiet place in India where I wouldn’t run into annoying Indian business people much? I think I would love India – but quite honestly, after living in NYC, and experiencing them in Penang, Malaysia and some parts of Thailand – I just couldn’t stand it. Is that what living in India is like? Anybody know a great place in India to live and have a peaceful life?

Laos is pretty damn sleepy, and the food is OK – almost Thai-like. I don’t think it is a good place for expats. I’ve talked to expats that live there and they are followed around a lot. That’s weird enough to turn me off the country.

Singapore seems like the USA – or worse.

Malaysia might be OK. They also have a lot of political issues, corruption, and other undesirable elements, but maybe for expats it’s pretty OK for living. Anybody done that?

China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, those places never interested me at all.

Vietnam might be a place to consider. I have heard it is a little more harsh than Thailand. Meaning, the people aren’t as nice and smiley as Thais. LOL. Is it as safe for foreigners in Vietnam as it is in Thailand? Anybody?

Which brings us to Cambodia. Sure, the only decent place for foreigners in the country might be Phnom Penh, and even that has a very limited infrastructure for expats. But, it’s damn easy to stay there and create a business. They have great food (the foreign restaurants). Cambodia seems like an alternative in some ways. In others, no.

The people are living in squalor, but that means there is a lot of opportunity to help them. I’d love to try. Wouldn’t want to move my family there though.

So, for the time being… Thailand is it. If Bangkok erupts in flames and bullets – we’re far enough away not to catch any of it. I hope it always remains that way.

You have any reservations about staying in Thailand for the foreseeable future? What about long-term? Five years from now – will you still be in Thailand?

Thaksin Returns

I just cannot see Thaksin Shinawatra disappearing for very long. He has:

1. More money than god.
2. More connections than god.
3. Nobody to compete against.
4. Quite possibly, a genuine concern for Thai people and the country.

I’ll keep my personal views about whether I am/was for or against Thaksin Shinawatra – out of this. I really think foreigners should shut the hell up about the matter – insisting he is this or that. He obviously made mistakes. He obviously did a hell of a lot of good for the country. He obviously made some mistakes.

I predicted years ago that Thaksin would return for a 2nd go at this – and maybe it’s what the country needs. For me, it is taken for granted – the higher levels of government and well, just about every damn thing – is corrupt and it won’t change anytime soon. Is Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, the US, UK, AUS, or anywhere else – any better? We only know what we can see…

Thailand has been like a beached flounder flopping on the hot sand and being scorched by the sun, for years now – unable to do anything great, and yet not falling back into the stone ages. Thailand is a country that wants to do well… that wants to prosper… that has the essentials needed to go forward…

Thailand is lacking a political leader.

I predict again that Thaksin will return to power as Prime Minister. I further predict he will be on the straight and narrow for a long time to prove himself to the country. He’d probably like nothing better than to stay prime minister for the next 10-20 years and do all he can for the country. I’m sure he feels wronged. I’m sure he knows he could have done some things better than he did.

Regardless what I think about what he will do once he’s back in power – he will be back in power. There’s nothing preventing that, is there? In a democracy, the people decide. I think he has the overwhelming backing of the people and will return to being Prime Minister within 2 years, surely, but perhaps before that. If there is a military coup again, of course this could delay his return, but not negate it.

There are many factors at play – but I just have a feeling – he’ll be back in power and after a year or so of that, two years… three… the whole country will “mai bpen rai” what happened in the past and welcome the new age of prosperity.

NYT Reporter FELT Bullet Fly By His Head – Bangkok

Now, was this memory created for sensationalism, or, did it really happen? We’ll never know. Apparently he isn’t injured, so he might have felt the air from the bullet whizzing by his head. That would be scary enough.

(CNN) — A journalist who was interviewing a key political protest leader in Bangkok said the sniper bullet that struck the man came so close that it “felt like it grazed my head.”

Describing a chaotic scene on the streets of the Thai capital Thursday night, Thomas Fuller of The New York Times described to CNN how Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head as he was interviewing the opposition figure.

“I was facing him, he was answering my questions, looking at me and the bullet hit him in the forehead, from what I could tell,” Fuller told CNN’s Michael Holmes. “It looks like the bullet came over my head and struck him. I don’t have any way of confirming this beyond what I remember from the scene but it felt like it grazed my head.”

Any bloggers want to play reporter in Bangkok and cover the Red Shirt violence?

Not me my friends. I don’t need to make myself famous by reporting what’s going on there. I found it strange that so many foreigners have this curiousity about it and go take photos of the whole scene… New York Times reporters – sure, they have to go. They don’t have a choice. That’s their life.

By the way – wasn’t any video rolling?

Thailand bloggers going to cover the scene from the inside? Is it worth the pageviews? The amateur want-to-be reporters are way too close to the action. Even if there is NO action at the present, it erupts anytime. Like during an interview! I don’t need bullets flying over my head for excitement. I’ll just watch it on the web.

Stay safe out there Stickmanbangkok, Richard Barrow, and the rest of you…

I’ll be watching the thailand.alltop.com to see what bloggers continue to think it’s a good idea to go do on-the-scene reporting. I’ll bet there’s not a lot after this incident!

Bangkok Sees Red! Bangkok Not Safe – Again

The Red Shirts in Bangkok have vowed to fight to the end. The end of what? Their demonstration? It’s sad because they had an opportunity to get what they wanted – all except for the time frame that Abhisit steps down and dissolves the ruling government. Elections in November now is anyone’s guess. I’ll guess they still happen, or soon afterward because Abhisit must accept the fact that a good portion of the country – probably a majority, want elections soon.

Apparently the rogue leader of the red shirts was shot in the head and is critically wounded. Just one injury, I’ve got to read up on that to see what happened. Was it a sniper? I’m curious how this went down – and usually I”m not all that into what’s going on in Bangkok.

Oh wow!

I just read how it went down… this from WorldBulletin.net:

Several Thai and foreign reporters said Khattiya was shot while being interviewed by them.

“It’s a clear attempt to decapitate the red shirt military leadership,” said Anthony Davis, a security consultant with IHS-Jane’s.

“It’s a smart tactical move that will cause confusion in the red shirts’ military ranks and send a message to the leadership that if they don’t want to negotiate and come out, they can expect extreme consequences.”

Can you imagine being one of the reporters – you’re thinking up the next question to ask him and suddenly his head explodes in front of you? Jesus…

Will this kill the entire Red Shirt movement?

Oh, here’s more news I just read, Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawadipol, (Seh Daeng), is in stable condition at the hospital.

Poof! Like a Magic Act, All is Back to Normal in Thailand

Notice I didn’t say all sorted? Sorted would be a miracle…this is just a magic poof.

Apparently the reds will accept some version of what was offered – elections in November 2010. That would be cool. Thaksin phoned in to Red Shirt leaders to suggest it’s a good timing for a truce – I read somewhere online. Sorry, I didn’t read the article, just the headline.

It seems like I’m the only one out here on a limb making predictions about Thaksin coming back to run this joint – but, it’s open to everyone to give it a shot you know.

What do you see happening over the next 1 year? 2?

I see this…

Elections are held in November or whenever they’re held – no matter really in my scenario… which takes into account the big picture. It might be another year for elections for all any of us knows for sure. Say there is an election.

Some “Thaksin Friendly” male will be elected. He will appear to run the country for a while, at the same time he is paving the way for Thaksin to return. I really believe Thaksin will return soon. Maybe a year? Maybe 2 at the most. He’ll return and he’ll run this country again. I don’t know the specifics of how it will happen, but, it’s bound to happen.

Just a guess anyway. Anybody else?

Thaksin Coming Back?

I did what I really hate to do… I read some of the political commentaries on the situation in Bangkok with Thaksin and the Red Shirts and the Thai Government and Military just a few minutes ago to see what the predictions are for the future of the situation.

I read some of the Bangkok2, BangkokPundit, TheNation, and something else I can’t remember.

Apparently the violence levels reached the other day were higher than the all events for the past 2 decades. Wow. I didn’t realize that. That’s meaningful.

It seems as if there is little for the government to accomplish by keeping PM Abhisit on. The Red Shirt protesters are still making Bangkok their home, and it seems as if they’re in a stronger position now that the military fired on them. Regardless what instigation led to it.

Will Abhisit step down and new elections be held within the next year?

I’m going to repeat my prediction… well, wait, I need to find out what it was first – something about Thaksin coming back and being Prime Minister again before long. I think I said this year – but, maybe now I’ll have to revise and say that he’ll come back and be PM in 2011.

Kind of a humorous moment this morning… my wife was telling me about an interview with Thaksin on Aljazeera network. They were asking him lots of questions he couldn’t answer – they were doing it on purpose, obviously.

One of them was – When will you leave for Thailand? You said before that when the first bullet is fired toward the Red Shirts you would be there fighting alongside them.