Thaksin’s Loss

Everyone by now knows Taksin lost over a billion US Dollars yesterday.

You know, in the big picture it’s not such a big deal. He may make a big deal over it – but he still has a billion dollars left that we know of. He’s a crafty guy… crafty being defined as intelligent + street-smart. Do you really think all the money he has is in the public eye? I don’t.

If I were Thaksin I would probably do this…

Come back to Thailand and face the music. Plead not guilty. Face a year of jail. Someone will let him out early on good behavior. He’ll be back in politics in a very big way in the coming years.

He can still roll with it and come out a winner – a very big winner in 2 years time.

Not that I agree that it’s the best thing for the country… but honestly, I cannot come up with a best-case scenario for a government in Thailand.

Can you?

I don’t forsee anything good – really good, coming out of Thailand for many years… I hope I’m wrong. I wonder what Thailand would be like with an amazing government in place – everyone fighting for the same thing – the good of the NATION.

It’s not happening anytime soon… that’s my guess. I hope I’m way the hell off – but I’m not.

Anybody think Thailand is ready to be the number two economy in Asia after China? Could it be in 5 years? 15?

Is Thailand Safe (Feb 2010) for Visitors?

Again – the question.

I have same answer as always… Thailand as a country – is safe. Come and visit and ignore the craziness going on – if there is any.

Bangkok is probably not safe at this time – as 2 embassies – AUS and CA (That’s Canada… lol) have issued statements that Bangkok might not be a good place to be in the near future.

Tourists are not being targeted. Have they EVER been? Not from my understanding of it all.

Stay away from Bangkok and the southernmost 3 provinces and you’ll likely be fine. Things are coming to a head soon because Thaksin Shinawatra, ex PM is set to lose about 2 billion US Dollars. Of course he doesn’t want that to happen. He has millions of followers, mostly in the northeast of Thailand – the red shirt country.

Look for some excitement in the next few weeks… or a total non-issue.

In Thailand: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, YouTube… All Blocked?

Woke up this morning to a weird situation… and I won’t speculate on the WHY of it – because that is too weird a thought… and heck, might even be disallowed to say it here…

Youtube – down. Google – down. Yahoo email – down. Yahoo chat – down. Google chat – down. Facebook – down. Twitter – down.

Google search – up. Any other site – all up. I’m still looking for other blocked sites but as of now many, many sites are down /blocked?

This comes after the military was urged to put a cap on some websites…hopefully things will open up a bit and we’ll be able to use email again soon!

Thaksin Tells Red Shirts… BLOOOOP!

This is really funny – I was just made aware of it. I stopped watching anything about the red shirt protesters after they left Bangkok and some of their leaders surrendered to police.

Apparently ex Prime Minister Thaksin was live on TV and talking about how he’s happy to work so hard at 60 years old to bring the country around to prosperity again…

and that the protesters wouldn’t have to line up to get 500 baht (to protest anymore)! (He admits he paid them 500 baht to come to protest with the red shirts apparently!)

His train of thought… his confidence… it all dies right there on live TV.

His face is priceless as you see – he knows he dorked it up completely.

See the Thaksin YouTube video – translated for you…

Thailand’s Red Shirts, Thaksin, Military

I spent today with the TV running – which, though I hate it – I’ve found it invaluable to keep up with what’s going on with the red shirt protests in Thailand. TV news here has been dumbed down and is on a serious delay – hours or tens of hours in some cases.

Some say that the media is controlled by the Yellow shirts – who don’t have a real interest in reporting the red shirt protests except in a negative way – biased. I can go for that. The news I”m able to see on Thailand TV on ASTV, Asian News Channel and other Thai channels are pretty lame.

If you’re very interested in what’s going on in Thailand or even anywhere in the world you best shot at this is Twitter. Now is the time to get to know Twitter because it’s a hell of a news source. I’ll create another post somewhere and link to it from this one to show you how to use Twitter to follow the goings on – breaking news in Thailand -and you can generalize the info to apply it to finding out about ANY breaking news event in the world. It’s an AMAZING tool. The entire world should be using it. Anyway, more on that later.

Red Shirts
So – recently the red shirts have crashed the Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya and caused the leaders of Asian countries to escape by helicopter from the rooftop. They’ve parked gasoline trucks in residential areas with the idea that they would blow them up – I heard. Not sure if that’s true. If true that is more akin to terrorism than just protesting the government and wanting it to change.

They’ve hijacked about 30 city buses and parked them places to block the roads and set their tires on fire – some say to negate the effects of tear gas police might fire, others say – which I find much more likely, they ignite the fires to make it much harder for the police to move the buses.

Rumors run crazy in times like this – on Twitter I heard that the Thai government was ORDERING Americans to leave the country immediately. This same idiot on Twitter also said there was mass food poisoning in Singapore – though I found nothing about that on CNN, BBC, or elsewhere. I didn’t look again – that was about 6 hours ago.

So, everything that comes across Twitter is not the complete truth – like no news source is.

Thai Military
The military was promising to keep control of Bangkok, and so far that’s not been realized at 6:30pm Monday evening, the first day of Songkran, Thai New Year 2052.

The military was videotaped shooting at protesters – and military authorities said they were using blanks – packed paper bullets in that case. They were also seen firing their automatic weapons into the air – and they say – these were real bullets. Then there were seen on tv and in photos online (linked to from Twitter users) that show clearly some red shirt protesters with serious wounds – some said they were absolutely bullet wounds.

Expats in Thailand
Many foreigners have taken sides in the situation – most, surprising to me – seem to favor Thaksin and the red shirts. Apparently they can overlook everything that’s been said negatively about the guy. Corruption seems to be embedded in the government – no matter who is in charge. There may be 50 more years of corruption here before that kind of thing changes.

Anyone think it can happen sooner?

The current government may or may not have a right to be in power. Another election isn’t going to resolve anything at all. There is no good alternative, nor will there be – for about 50 years in my guess. Why 50? I’m not sure, I think when the current crop of politicians all die off and the next generation, or the next is growing up in this amazing place – someway, somehow it’s all going to move toward less corruption. Maybe they’ve got another 100 years or more.

Thaksin was rumored to be staying in a resort on Ko Chang. I think that’s a rumor, who knows. I’d believe anything about him – he’s pretty resourceful. I think it’s more likely he’s pulling the strings from far away until he knows whether this red shirt effort will be successful. Most Thais I know and have talked to about this believe Thaksin is pulling out all the stops to try to save his 2 billion USD locked up in Thailand by the current government. Sounds like a good reason.

Will the country be better under Thaksin? The country is pretty seriously divided between those that hate him and those that love him. Way too divided to ever agree he should rule – even if by majority of the voting population he’s elected. The group that hates him wouldn’t let that stand. Looks like the group that loves him won’t let Abhisit stand as PM either. I’ve no affinity toward either one. Educated Thais seem to have taken the yellow shirts side, and support Abhisit. Many think he’s the best chance for the country. Maybe he’s the better choice of the two – but, in an election – would he be chosen?

It’s amazing to me that Thaksin, with more money than god – can have the poorest people in the entire country fighting in his name. The wrongs don’t matter to those that love him because he DID make their lives better. For once someone seemed to care about farmers and poor in the northeast region. They didn’t forget it – they’re ready to die for this cause – many are saying on TV.

You can be sure that, if Thaksin gets another chance at an election and actually WINS – he’s going to solidify his position there. The guy is a brilliant player in Thai society – you’ve gotta give him that.

So – that’s the situation. I don’t side with either group – any group. I don’t see anyone that deserves to rule the country at this point. I don’t see anyone – any person or any group that has Thailand’s best interests at heart. That’s what Thailand needs. Not more of the same corrupt politicians.

Do you see anyone that’s fit to rule Thailand?

Thailand FAQ

I’ve been meaning to do a Thailand FAQ for a long time. There are many questions visitors and expats alike have about Thailand and most visitors I’m sure end up using a TH FAQ before coming to LOS. I wanted to make one that’s useful and that combines not only my knowledge but other resources as well.

Thailand FAQ is a pool of information from a number of sites – and I’ll be adding to it over today and tomorrow as well. There are many subjects that deserve a whole FAQ for themselves. The Full Moon Party was one of them.

If you have written a FAQ about some part of Thailand – the culture, attractions, anything really – shoot me a link and let me see if it will fit with this Thailand FAQ collection.

If you have information you think should be part of the Thailand Snake FAQ – please also let me know.

How can you stay safe in Thailand?

You can start by getting The Ultimate Thailand Survival Guide.

Thai Black Book.

For an absolutely unique guide with info about subjects you’ll never find in Lonely Planet or other Thailand travel guides – see the ultimate Thailand Guide – Thai Black Book – your guide to staying safe in Thailand

Thai Black Book information page- >

Joe, an American inside Suvarnabhumi, Joins PAD

I’m watching some American clown on Thai PAD TV named Joe. A “marine” from Boston, Mass. in the states. Quoting John F. Kennedy… telling PAD at Suvarnabhumi Airport they should continue to fight for Democracy and independence.

Apparently he’s the only foreigner in the airport – and he just stood up in front of the whole group on a microphone to tell them he loves Thai’s and he loves the King. A woman asked what he wanted to say to HM the King…I cringed… he said, POM LA RAK Si Luang or something like that. Nobody said a word. He tried again. Silence. The woman told the audience what he said…

He’s wearing a yellow shirt and headband.

One of first things he said to the crowd that he has been “sleeping with all you people”. He then went on to explain he’s been talking with many people there at the airport about the corruption in government and that Thaksin was the head of it. He went on and on… warning them against violence…

Then he said, there’s only 2 ways he’s leaving the airport:

1. He gets dragged out, forcibly removed.

2. The airport opens. He is NOT leaving until he can fly out of the Suvarnabhumi Airport he insists.

Jesus… It’s time like these that you’ve gotta question Americans getting involved in things they don’t understand. The guy doesn’t speak Thai – though he tried, so he’s not been in-country long enough to not make an idiot out himself… Oh well. He sat down now – almost 10 minutes standing up making the whole group uncomfortable. I thought it was a teacher, “Mark” that I worked with at one time – that would have been great.

Why is it always an American?

Another Perspective on PAD, PPP

There is so much resentment toward People’s Alliance for Democracy, but I must say I see can see their side. I understand what they’re fighting against. I don’t agree at all with their methods, but, if I were really incensed about something going on in my country where I felt like the whole country was being taken advantage of by those in government – whose to say what I would do?

Here’s an interesting article about a guy – expat maybe, that makes an argument for PAD based on his experience living in Thailand.

While his experiences with PAD show them to be non-violent and non-radical, events of recent days show otherwise. There is a lot of emotion behind their protests, understandably so.

The current government – the People’s Power Party (PPP) – I keep hearing people say, was “Democratically elected”. There is a shade of truth to this as elections were held – but maybe Thailand has never had an election free from corruption. Allegations are that PPP, like Thaksin did years before, bought votes and manipulated polls and polling stations. Allegations are that Thaksin is still pulling the strings of the PPP from abroad. Having Thaksin’s brother in law as the current Prime Minister probably is fueling those accusations just a little. Probably the PPP that exists now is no different in spirit than Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party.

PAD appears to really want a government free from corruption – at least the current brand, and is fighting for an idea that is very strong in their minds and hearts. Their real goal is to remove anyone associated with Thaksin so he can’t affect anything in the country anymore. Thaksin made billions of dollars for himself, family, and friends while Prime Minister… some insist it wasn’t above board. I don’t know one way or the other – neither do you. What we read in the newspapers is of course not 100% truth. Government controls much of what is released through the media, including TV, radio, and newspapers. Still the TRT government watched helplessly as huge allegations of corruption slipped into the media and gradually gained a following as charge after charge was leveled at Thaksin and members of his TRT party.

Before this current crisis I heard many expats that have been living here for many years complaining about Thaksin and how he’s corrupt through to the bone and they couldn’t believe the Thais’ ignored it and went about business as usual. Now – when there is a group fighting against Thaksin and all he stands for – these same expats want airports open and business to be as usual. Expat business ‘owners’ were prospering under Thaksin – but wanted to enjoy their prosperity AND have him ousted as PM. Now – he’s ousted and the country is dying economically.

Can Thailand have good leaders AND economic prosperity at the same time?

Now Thaksin doesn’t seem to have been that bad to many expats – and Thais. Some (most?) are willing to accept Thaksin’s return if he can turn the country around economically – and he probably can. The guy is brilliant in his manipulation of people and cash. Will he return? I’m betting he will. Apparently he has a few BILLIONS of US Dollars on lockdown in Thailand that the courts won’t release. That’s a lot to fight for. I think he’ll give it everything he’s got to return.

Probably today is going to be the day of action by PPP, police if Prime Minister Wongsawat can mobilize them, and maybe the Army will either be called in or step in.

What if Thailand had a government almost free from corruption? What if the government was transparent and all dealings were subject to scrutiny and punishment if found to be self-serving or otherwise corrupt?

You know how far we are away from that today? Wow. Every bit as far as in the 1990’s I think. Is PAD any better? Any less corrupt? The politicians, chiefs of police, generals, business leaders and more that have enjoyed a corrupt Thai society because it gave them freedom to do as they chose is still here. Everyone has their own selfish interests at heart – not really the good of the country or the prosperity of the country as a whole in mind. Those with billions of baht are still in charge. The people are relatively clueless about the level of corruption that goes on. It’s accepted most times – it’s the way Thai society “is”. Usually it’s nothing Thais’ get upset about.

Now PAD is upset about it – is it for reasons of self-interest or the good of the country?

Probably a little of both.