Sanyo’s off! Who’s next?

11 Months, 14 Days, still sober.

 

Mobi-Babble

I know it’s still early days, but, health-wise, things definitely seem to be on the up and up.

I can well recall, way back in 1999, when my diabetes and coronary problems were so bad that I was told by my two Harley Street specialists that if I didn’t give up my high pressure job and adopt a new, healthier lifestyle, that I would probably be dead within 10 years.

There then followed a planned process towards early retirement,which occurred in June 2000, and was followed by my determined efforts to take some exercise and lose some weight.

For a number of years, in spite of my  pre-disposition towards  alcohol abuse,  I was a bit of a medical success story. Subsequent medical check-ups revealed that I was a fine example of what could be achieved if the patient was sufficiently determined and dedicated.

I well remember those early days and weeks, when I was so unfit that I couldn’t even walk down the driveway of my home without breaking out into a sweat, experiencing chest pains and my legs aching from the effort.

Yet slowly, day by day, things started to almost imperceptibly improve. It really seemed at the time that the ‘mountain I was trying to climb’ was so great, that I would be unlikely to achieve anything beyond the simple ability to take a short stroll without dropping down dead.

But within weeks I was heading off on brisk daily walks into the East Northamptonshire countryside, gradually interspersed with short periods of jogging, and within months, I was actually jogging, non-stop for up to thirty minutes a day.

Along with my ‘sensible’ eating – without really depriving myself or going on a specific diet, (just watching my sugar and fat content and cutting out sweets, cakes and so on), my weight came down, from 90 kilos to about 78.  So did my blood pressure and sugar levels, and despite my continued drinking, I actually started to feel healthier and fitter than I had for many years.

Over the next few years I did try quite hard to keep to this healthy regime, but the break-up of my fourth marriage, my subsequent move to Thailand, and my disastrous 5th marriage all took their toll.

But even as recently as around 2006, I was still using the tread mill, (which  I had bought in Bangkok, as jogging is so hard to do in Thailand, what with the soi dogs and many other distractions), and also did a daily swimming routine. But inexorably, my emotional and drinking problems got the better of me and in the end, all efforts to stay healthy evaporated and my body weight and health embarked upon a five year decline.

Up to recently, apart from a  few odd ‘miracle’ occasions, such as the one when I travelled to the UK earlier this year , I have felt like a very old man, with aching, stiff  limbs, unable sometimes to get up from my sofa or from sitting on the floor, without assistance. 

I haven’t been able to walk more than a hundred meters without being in pain from chest and joints, and my weight has been higher than at any time in my entire life – almost 100 kilos. (15 stone to you Brits), with a belly so pronounced that  nothing fits me any more.

But during the past few days I have noticed a marked improvement on all fronts. My weight has dropped to about 93 kilos (14.5 stone), my ‘belly line’ has gone in a couple of inches, and most of all, I feel quite a bit fitter.

For two days in a row, I have experienced no ‘muscle/joint’ pains and hardly any ‘heart’ pains during my evening walks, and I have felt so much better, that I have actually extended my walking time  by around 50% and have still felt pretty good when I arrive back home. In particular, the pains and aches in my leg joints seemed to have more or less vanished and I feel much more able to get around and stay active.

Anyway, it’s onwards and upwards, and it is now important that I continue to build on these encouraging signs. It is fortuitous that we have now entered the ‘cool’ season here in Pattaya and it is extremely pleasant to take our evening strolls with temperatures in the early to mid – 20’s, with low humidity and a nice breeze wafting across the lake. It could almost be a stroll in the English countryside on a nice summer afternoon.

Our trip to Bangkok and Nong Kai is still on and I am looking forward to taking long, cool evening walks along the Nong Khai waterfront promenade that looks out across the Mekong River to Laos.

This morning, even my sugar levels and blood pressure were better than they have been in weeks, so all in all, I think it really is time for some cautious optimism.

I don’t have to tell you how much this has improved my mood, and I am already thinking about becoming more active in the home, rather than being permanently stuck to my computer chair and TV sofa. I actually want to get up and so something useful.

I am now dreaming about a time in the New Year when I might even be able to do a bit of jogging….

Yesterday, I had a call from a car dealer in Bangkok who said he had a buyer for my car and wanted to see it in Pattaya that day. I quickly re-arranged my plans for the day, sorted out all the car papers, took the car for a wash and drove to the agreed meeting point in Pattaya for the afternoon inspection.

Five minutes before the appointed time, the dealer called and said that his buyer could not make it and requested to reschedule for the next day – today.

Whether or not he is playing games with me to try and drive the price down, I have no idea, but I don’t really care. I have no great desire to sell, and I am not prepared to be messed around by effing farangs who break appointments with impunity. So I have told the dealer to forget it.

I still have it advertised on Thai Visa and another expat website in Bangkok, so I’ll see what happens in the New Year, but if it isn’t sold by the end of January, I’ll probably take it off the market and keep it for another couple of years or so.

I have just finished reading John Le Carré’s ‘Our Kind of Traitor’ (see review below) and have now started reading something very different; Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness.’

Our Kind of Traitor

One of my all-time favourite authors, John le Carré, seems to be back to something approaching his best, at the ripe old age of 79. ‘Our Kind of Traitor’, published last year, is a welcome return to his more familiar ‘British espionage’ genre, peppered with wonderfully crafted, typically ‘Le Carré’ characters and a relevant, topical plot, which for the most part has sufficient credibility to hold the reader’s attention.

Hand on heart, I can’t honestly say that it’s quite up to the standard of some of his best works, notably, ‘The Spy who came in from the cold’, the ‘Tinker/Smiley’ series, ‘Perfect Spy’, ‘Night Manager’, ‘Little Drummer Girl’ and a few notable others, but it’s a good yarn nevertheless.

The book seems to have been generally well received by the world’s press, and most agree with my view that it is a welcome return to the Le Carré of old.

The only issue I have with the book relates to the ending. Obviously I am not going to give the plot away, so I will simply say that, to me,  it is almost as if he lost interest, and in my view the end is a bit of a ‘cop out’.

I feel that if he is going to write an absorbing story that will hold his readers’ attention, then he owes it to his readers to wrap up the events in some kind of satisfactory manner. That doesn’t mean it has to be a ‘happy ending’ – or indeed a ‘sad ending’ – but frankly, in ‘Traitor’, it is almost as though the final chapter is still waiting to be written.

I hasten to add that this is purely my opinion, as no one else has seen fit to take him to task over it – but there again, they are professional reviewers with maybe a slightly different literary perspective  – I am just in it for the fun and enjoyment of reading a good book.

The Flood aftermath

I have already written that I believe that Thailand will probably suffer some short term adverse effects to its economic growth, but in the long term, in all likelihood, its economy  will recover completely and probably go from strength to strength.

This is because all the underlying fundamentals for a thriving economy are still in place and once they carry out the necessary infrastructure investments to ensure there is no repeat of the 2011 floods, then the world will once again be their ‘oyster’ with their growing industrial based exports, agricultural and commodity exports and ever flourishing tourist industry.

The ‘fly in the ointment’ has been the horrendous floods and as the water finally recedes, serious action must be undertaken if  the economy is to get back on course.  Failure to act quickly and decisively will result in a damaging economic slowdown.

But in the final analysis, it is the world’s reinsurance companies who will call the tune. Thailand’s key manufacturing auto and electronic industries are largely owned by Japanese and South Koreans. These international conglomerates have invested heavily in plants in Thailand, but they will not continue to operate their factories if they are unable to obtain adequate flood insurance.

The availability of flood insurance cover will depend on whether or not the major re insurers of the world are willing to take on, (i.e. re-insure the local insurance companies), up to 90 % of the underlying flood risk.

Without re-insurers’ participation, there is no insurance cover, and if the businesses are uninsurable, the Japanese industrial giants will move elsewhere. The re-insurers have already put Thailand on notice that they will not take on new flood risks unless action is taken to introduce and build effective flood prevention controls.

So it is clear that the government must indeed take urgent action, and I believe that they understand all this very well. The only problem is that most governments, and the Thai government is no exception, are only interested in short termism.

The investment required to ensure Thailand’s industry is flood proof will be enormous by any standards. Will this government have the courage to do what is necessary, or will they simply continue to feather their own little nests, and trust that the future will take care of itself?

There is much to commend the notion that in Thailand there is always a huge enthusiasm to launch major infrastructure projects, as they provide the ruling elite with so many opportunities to skim the ‘cream’ off the top of lucrative construction contracts.

But a word of warning: these days, there are  so many people and organisations in Thailand of all political hues, who are fully aware of the potential for corruption and corrupt practices, that  the fear of getting caught with their ‘hands in the cookie jar’ may outweigh the politicians’  passion for grafting easy money.

We shall no doubt watch it all play out over the coming months.

In the meantime, in the flood aftermath, the Japanese electronics giant, Sanyo, recently gave a salutary warning to Thailand on the kind of action to which they may increasingly become victim.

The company says it will lay off about 1,600 workers and close its plant in Thailand permanently. Sanyo Semiconductor (Thailand), which has operated since 1990 producing semiconductors, transistors and large-scale integrated circuits, has decided that it would have to spend too much money repairing or replacing the flood-damaged machinery.

It was determined that given the severity of the flood damage to the production facilities Sanyo ‘operates in Thailand, and the excessive cost required to recover and reconstruct these facilities, it is not financially viable for them to fully restart the assembly and test operations in Thailand for an indefinite period, if at all.

Sanyo Semiconductor (Thailand) is a business unit of US-based ON Semiconductor Corporation. The disruption at Ayutthaya’s Rojana Industrial Park had an impact on the supply chain of ON Semiconductor worldwide.

Sanyo’s Thai operations are estimated to have produced about 5-10 per cent of ON Semiconductor’s worldwide output as measured by revenue of US$905.8 million (Bt27.92 billion) for the second quarter of this year.

The bulk of the company’s Thailand operations will be permanently transferred to other existing ON Semiconductor facilities that have available production equipment capacity and excess floor space, and to some external subcontractors as appropriate.

The Sanyo Semiconductor case confirmed the concern expressed by Thailand’s Electrical and Electronics Institute that some electronics companies would leave Thailand because of the damage they sustained from flooding.

The Institute is keeping an eye on whether other electronics plants decide to close and flee Thailand because of the disaster.

The Sanyo decision follows that of Maxon Systems, a South Korean electronics firm, which recently decided to move one of its operations to Cambodia to avoid the planned rise in the Thai minimum wage to Bt300 per day in April, as well as uncertainty over future floods.

The institute said it was not clear whether other electronics companies would close their operations, as some of them were still evaluating the damage from the floods.

It is expected to be a month or two before a clear picture develops. Electronics companies are currently evaluating the damage, so the result of that assessment should come soon.

The Thai electronics industry employs 500,000-600,000 workers.

Let’s hope the government acts quickly and decisively…….

A Lustful Gentleman

For those of you who may be wondering, I have I have written another small piece of Chapter two, but I have decide to publish these ‘tracts’ on days other than my normal blog days, just to keep the blog going and not have my ‘best work’ hidden’ at the foot of a long blog!

So tomorrow, or maybe on Friday, I will publish some more of my novel in progress.

Next Blog

I am driving to Bangkok on Sunday so I doubt whether I will publish a blog on that day. An alternative may be to write it on Saturday, but I’m making no promises. If all else fails I will write my next blog once I am settled in the north-eastern kingdom of Nong Khai….

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT…I don’t give a hoot!..

 

mmmmmm

Carousing, Post-bagging, and Flooding.


9 months, 26 Days, still sober

Mobi-Babble

It seems like a lifetime ago since I quit the booze and weaned myself off the high dosage of antidepressants that I used to take. So I have been clean of alcohol for nearly 10 months and antidepressants for 8 months. In the general scheme of these things, it’s not that long and nobody knows better than me that I am still not out of the woods.

Recently, there have been some worrying financial issues that have sent me into a mild depression, although at the time of writing, I do feel a bit better than I did even a day or so back.

Don’t get me wrong, the ‘financial issues’ are not going to bankrupt me, but without  going into details, I will just say that if not resolved, they will burn yet another small  hole in my projected monthly income and I will eventually have to adjust my lifestyle accordingly.

All in all, a bit of a blow, and largely of my own making, harking from the days when I didn’t take proper care of my money matters. Let that be a lesson to any procrastinating alcoholics out there. Closing your eyes to necessary business matters doesn’t make them go away.

Anyway, the depression has led me to feel a degree of boredom and lack of purpose in my life, (or maybe it’s the other way round), but at no point have I even considered the notion of having a drink or going back on anti-depressants. I actually recognise the danger signals. It is a known fact that many alcoholics return to drinking after weeks, months or even years of abstinence, purely and simply because they are bored and seem to have no happiness or joy in their lives. The solution is not to start drinking again but to find more purpose in my life.

I am not so much bored as dissatisfied with my daily life. I seem to spend all my time downloading stuff from the internet to watch in the evenings, dealing with all my myriad emails and working on my blog, even though I have now reduced its publication to twice a week. I have made no progress on my novel since I had that first rush of optimism following my return from the UK, so now, what with the problems in my finances, I don’t feel too positive about things as I did just a couple of weeks ago.

Things would be a whole lot worse without the wonderful Noo to take care of me and I am so thankful that she is here to stop me doing anything stupid.

Anyway, yesterday I decided to go out on a bit of a ‘girlie crawl’ in the hope that it might cheer me up a bit, and I am actually pleased to report that I think it did just that.

In recent months, most of my carousing has been done in the company of Rick, and more recently Bob, but I have now concluded that I am happier when on my own. If I am on the hunt for female companionship, then I’d rather do it alone. Having someone with me is distracting and invariably I have to fall in with their wishes as regards when and where to move on to pastures new. We may be at a particular bar where  I may have found a nice lady that I wish to spend time with, but my companion may have not be so lucky. So he wants to go and I want to say. And vice versa….

But at the end of the day when I go out on these lady-hunting expeditions, Iwant to spend time with some lovely, scantily clad women – not to chat with friends. If I want to out for a chat I will go to a beer bar or a cafe  and have a chat. If I want to have a nice kiss and cuddle, I will go to a different sort of place and indulge my weaknesses. I have always been like this; a loner as far as chasing whores is concerned.

So yesterday went pretty well. I had a pretty good time in a number of disreputable establishments and had fun with some very horny, gorgeous ladies whose bodies were so delectable that most of you living in the west would die to get your hands on one of them if you had half a chance.

I didn’t ‘go all the way’ but I wasn’t far off it, and more than one lady suggested that  even if I hadn’t, she had….

I won’t go into the gory details as I used to in the past, as it seems to bring out the worst in a number of my readers and they tend to get beside themselves with anger – accusing me of all manner of terrible sins – from distorting the truth to barefaced lies, to challenging me to going with them on some kind of whore-monger competition.

What tosh! I know what I know and I do what I do, which is a helluva lot more than most punters succeed in doing, but I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. If you don’t believe me, it’s entirely up to you.

Did yesterday’s exploits have the effect of lifting my depression? I actually think that they did; I suppose it was all good for my bruised ego. I returned home at around 8.30 p.m and Noo was waiting for me patiently. She looked absolutely lovely and it made me realise, yet again, what a gem she is.

Today, I feel much better, though still haven’t decided what I need to do to change my life for the better to avoid more depressive periods. But at least I am still sober and feeling more positive about things and that can’t be bad.

Postbag

It’s been quite a while since I published a postbag, mainly because there has been little of interest in the way of comments to bring to my readers’ attention.

Obviously everybody must agree with what I say, and has no need to write any comments. ☺ (I’ joking…)

Anyway, I recently had an exchange of correspondence with ‘Rebel’ and  today with ‘TT’. and a new correspondent called Elijah Green. Both Rebel and TT are two of my long term readers, and as  many of you do not bother to click on the ‘comments’ section, I publish below a  recent exchanges of views.

Rebel

Submitted on 2011/10/20 at 4:26 pm

Much better interpretation of the current political condition here in the U.S.A. than some of your previous commentaries. The bottom line is that money regardless of the source has polluted our system, it is the agenda of nearly every politician. In order to keep their positions and for many a higher standard of living then they’d otherwise have accomplished their votes are for sale.

The dumbing of America is no accident, it is by design. It is much easier to herd an ignorant population regardless if they lean left or right. It is the independent vote that is the unknown and decides elections currently. Their numbers will be curtailed as we become less sophisticated and fall in line with the undereducated. We then can be counted to choose left or right instead of compromise thus their votes easier calculated. It is easier to conduct business as usual when the population is struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. The current “Moral Majority” on the right and the “Nanny State” on the left only assist the politicians by masking their dysfunction to compromise in the best interest of the people. What use to be an accepted difference in opinion is now a make or break issue on nearly any legislative attempt by either party. A point of view based on a political/religious philosophy is more important than solving the economic problems now infecting the world. Our politicians have failed to lead and will continue to do so until their pockets are separated from the corporate or special interest cash that controls them and ultimately all of us!

Money is said to be the root of all evil, never a truer saying than evidenced by today’s problems regarding child abuse as your blog stated. It is the children who pay the price for the failures of humanity. The European model of health and welfare is a more humane system for the masses, yes the cost is enormous but is used as an excuse not to do the humane thing here in the U.S. The children don’t vote so they are not a threat to the current politicians, they are the easiest of targets when it comes to how money is going to be allocated. We will and are paying a higher price for our failure to protect, provide and properly educate the most vulnerable of society. It is now less expensive to send a kid to most Universities than to incarcerate them per annum, yet we can’t build prisons fast enough. A system that values wealth greater than its humanity will someday be consumed by the very inhumanity and stupidity that their greed has created.

The current state of affairs in the U.S.A. is troubling; I can only hope that someday a true leader will arrive on the scene, that will save us from our apathy. If you’ve watched any of the resent debates of the republican challengers to Obama, you will have noted none of them are of the calibre to lead our nation to a corrected course. They are all more of the same, all to ready to serve their corporate master$. My prediction is Obama will be re-elected by the slimmest of margins. The crook you know is better than a crook you don’t know, the march to ‘corporatocracy’ continues.

It is much easier to live with ones countries short comings when all you have to do is blame them on someone else or pray them away on any given Sunday. It is much easier to navigate a known corrupt system than one disguised as democracy.

What’s to get Mobi?

MOBI

Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 5:32 am | In reply to Rebel.

Hi Rebel,

Thank you for your comments.

Most, though not all, my articles on USA issues in previous blogs have been deliberately provocative, so I am not surprised that you find my latest comments more ‘reasonable’. In this piece I have tried hard to moderate my language and keep things in proper perspective so as not to antagonise my American readers too much.

What I don’t get is the increasing divergence in cultures between the US and Europe; between the caring and the selfish, between the quasi religious and the secular – between middle ground, consensus politics and partisan, extremist, hate-filled politics….

Of course I am generalising – no nation or group of nations is perfect.

After all, ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.’

I agree with all of your comments and in particular I too deplore the lack of an inspirational candidate to challenge Obama and lead the ‘free world’ at a time of crisis. You may be correct about Obama scraping back in, but much can and probably will happen over the next 12 months.

Personally, I suspect that Romney might just wing it, but this Yankee-watcher will derive no pleasure from such a victory, as Romney is every bit a part of the corrupt political machine as all the others who have gone before. It will more of the same, and the politicians will continue to play the same games in Washington and nothing will really change.

What was that about: “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve”?

Rebel

Submitted on 2011/10/21 at 4:44 pm

Your definition of politics is apropos Mobi.

The divergence you speak of is a result of how superficial America has become, it’s the reason we have lost the status we once enjoyed in the free world. Our morals have been compromised, we are getting the respect or lack thereof that we deserve.

Romney is a Mormon, the Christian ludicrous are not capable of casting that vote for a “cultist”. He is too liberal for that faction of the conservatives. The imbecile Perry is a better fit for those waiting for the return of the invisible man. Huntsman a moderate, who is also Mormon would be my first choice, he’ll never make it through the first few primaries.

Thank you for clarifying my point about not having a government we deserve. The amount of money it takes to buy an election in this country, we get a choice of whoever the financiers decide to support. The population of working stiffs are merely ponds in the chess game for dominance that the wealthy and connected have rigged.

TT

Submitted on 2011/10/25 at 10:34 pm

Hi Mobi,

It is rare that I disagree with anything you say, but your words on Libya there sound like some David Cameron press release. It is us who hired the gunmen to fight the war – errrrr……factions of Al Qaeda if you’d have look at the press. Their massacres are now coming to light as are questions on the amount of civilian casualties created by their habit of standing off from built up areas and blasting away blindly. And the whole UN mandate of protecting the population? Dropping bombs on urban areas would achieve that I am sure.

And the raggle taggle army of ‘freedom fighters’ that you speak of ; Did you note the hardware that these ‘freedom fighters’ were armed with? Wonder who supplied that then? And how is it to be paid for? Hmmm.

And of course the latest footage of Gaddafi’s demise is nothing like the original story, or the next story, or the one after that. He was sodomised with a bayonet after being brutalised. With friends like that do we need enemies?.

Whatever you choose to believe of the propaganda, Libya had women’s rights, it had a good state medical system (Medical tourism being a money earner there), and a good educational system. I have known many guys in the oil industry who’ve worked there so can only base my opinions on what they have told me and of what I have read.

In all reality, can you assure me that our ‘freedom fighter’s will still be allowing women to walk around in Libya unmasked in one year’s time?. I’ve got a fiver says ‘No’.

As for the knock at the door – you do remember what country you live in?. In Libya it might have been political, in Thailand it is normally financial. Same, same, but different.

Cheers,

TT.

MOBI

Submitted on 2011/10/26 at 8:14 am | In reply to TT.

Honestly, TT, it almost sounds as though you have been brain washed by some fringe conspiracy theory hand out.

As I wrote in my piece, I actually lived for a year in Libya, albeit many years ago, but long after Gadhafi was well entrenched as the nation’s feared dictator. I lived there and worked there, never leaving the country until the day I climbed on a plane to leave for good – unlike a vast majority of oilfield workers , who only go into a country to do their tour of duty on an oil rig, and then leave immediately afterwards for their ‘R & R’

As a young man I worked for more than 8 years in the oil industry in all manner of third world countries, but everywhere I worked, I actually lived there, with the local communities, unlike most of my colleagues who were flown out of the country as soon as their tour of duty was over.

It is dangerous to generalise but I have heard more stuff and nonsense perpetrated by often ill-educated oil field hands, clearly ignorant in world affairs and history, who claim that they ‘know’ a country when all that they have done is work on one of the country’s oil rigs. Their only interaction with locals is on the rig and getting to and from their place of work so as a consequence, their views are extremely blinkered, and dare I suggest, somewhat self-serving.

I dare say many feel very aggrieved at having their generous, tax free income being cut off by a ‘pesky civil war’, started by Cameron.

Don’t’ get me wrong – I too do not claim to be an expert; I did state in my blog that  I lived a relatively rarefied, expat lifestyle in Libya.

Oil is the life blood of Libya, and the very best educated, (often overseas), and the most able Libyans work in that sector. Many of them were Gadhafi supporters because they came from that elite segment – mostly from Gadhafi’s own tribe – who were looked after and fostered by the ruling regime.

But even amongst those, there was a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing – and yes – getting a dreaded knock on the door. So any intercourse with such people might lead you to believe that Libya was indeed a well-run civilised society – but the whole world, (except it would seem, the likes of TT), knows very different.

I admit that I am becoming increasingly disaffected with Cameron as I feel his judgement on many issues has been shown to be flawed, but on the Libya issue, he and Sarkosy got it 100% right.

It took longer than most of us would have liked, and there a lot more deaths than any of us are comfortable with. But war is war and the rebels were determined to bring down a very brutal regime and if they hadn’t succeeded, then the slaughter in the streets could well have matched what transpired in Ruanda. Even the UN recognised this as a fact.

Of course, war crimes and unnecessary deaths and torture were carried out by both sides. Name me a war where this didn’t happen.

And quite frankly, I and a vast majority of the world couldn’t care two hoots if Gadhafi’s body was violated with a sabre up his backside – he perpetrated the most barbarous suffering and cruelty on his people and he deserved nothing less. Few will grieve his passing, or the manner of his death.

As for your bet as to whether all the women will be wearing veils in 6 months’ time – well I ask you ? Is this the acid test of what constitutes a fair and just society?

Sure it offends our western senses of what is right and how we should treat our women; but isn’t it time that we abandoned this idea that every country’s culture should be a carbon copy of our flawed western model, and when are we going to learn that any attempts to force our beliefs and principles on alien cultures and religions only leads to conflict?

When the Arab Spring has reached its zenith, there will be any number of Moslem states where the basis of their rule will be Sharia Law and where most, if not all women will have to wear the veil in public. If this is what the people of those countries, voting in free and fair elections desire, then who are we to gainsay them?

Surely all the rest of the world should try to do is to create a climate under which the people have the opportunity to elect their chosen government. As I wrote the other day in relation to The USA: “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.”

Of course it remains to be seen if such countries will be more democratic than they used to be and if their people are treated any better.

But we have to give them the chance, and maybe – just maybe – we will be surprised by the results.

BTW, please don’t fall into the ‘Big Skippy trap’ of trying to justify your point by bringing another country into the debate. We are talking Libya – not Thailand.

Thailand is a totally different kettle of fish….☺

Take care,

Mobi

Elijah Green

Submitted on 2011/10/24 at 11:27 am

Concur with your thoughts on H.C.

I recall reading a comment about her made by a contemporary university student:

“She was a bitch back then in college, and she ain’t changed a bit”

MOBI

Submitted on 2011/10/26 at 9:26 am | In reply to Elijah Green.

Hi Elijah,

Yes, I’m afraid she has never come across as the caring liberal that she purports to be. Even as Foreign Secretary she has given out some public announcements to which have been tantamount to barefaced lies, and she knows it. Most of us did as well.

It is an interesting dichotomy, as, I actually believe that Obama, deep down, is a principled individual who really believes that what he is trying to do is best for the American people. Unfortunately, his ideology is fatally flawed and on top of that he has shown himself to be an incompetent leader. A great orator and a great ideas man, maybe, but hopeless in leading and in the execution of his ideas.

On the other hand, Princess Hilary is a lying, scheming, wily politician, and who knows – quite possibly an effective leader. Maybe she would have achieved more than Obama if she had been elected President? What say you?

The Thai Floods

There has been so much written about the Thai floods that there is little that I wish to add, and in any case the situation is continually changing so anything that I write will be out of date before the ink dries on the page.

I guess the only remaining imponderable is just how much of Bangkok will also succumb to the floods in the coming days and weeks. My guess is that most, if not all of Bangkok will suffer from some degree of flooding, even if it is only a few inches.

So what is really going on and is anyone to blame? Could the worst of the flooding have been prevented, and is the government completely incompetent in dealing with it? Are bi-partisan politics getting in the way of helping the people?

The possible answers to all these questions can be found in the newspapers and blogs that have churned out millions of words on this subject.

But to me, it is a bit like the Bangkok riots of last year? We are in uncharted territory and no one really knows exactly why it happened, whether timely remedial measures would have helped to alleviate the crisis and where it will all lead to.

One thing is for sure; it will have a considerable effect on the country’s economy. Last year, most people were surprised at how little the economy was affected by the Bangkok riots. The reality was that the great power houses of the Thai economy – industry and agriculture were hardly affected by what was going on in down-town Bangkok.

Sure the tourist industry suffered a small blip – but it was only a blip and it didn’t take long before the tourists started to return in droves.

But this time it is a bit different. Hundreds of major factories have been shut down for weeks,– possibly months; agriculture has been very hard hit and billions upon  billions of Baht in precious exports has been lost, some of it possibly forever.

After the 2009 riots, most foreign investors in the Thai economy, principally Japanese, reaffirmed their commitment to the country, but I wonder whether this commitment will stay just as firm after these devastating floods which have cost the Japanese their largest ever overseas investment loss in their history, some 50 billion dollars was a recent estimate. Maybe some of them will start to look for alternative places for on-going and future investment, particularly if the Thai government do not take immediate long term measures to prevent a re-occurrence of these widespread floods.

I haven’t yet mentioned tourism which also remained relatively unaffected by the 2009 riots. If Bangkok does become flooded, (I suspect that it will), and, heaven forbid, if there is even a slight disruption to flights at Suvarnabhumi airport, then I fear that it will have an adverse effect on tourist numbers for at least year or two – longer if the floods re-occur.

We have been mercifully spared the floods here in Pattaya, as has the south of Thailand which receives a huge number of tourists, but Chiang Mai has been badly affected, and if Bangkok goes under water, this will create a huge piece of negative publicity for Thai tourism at the event will surely be headlines in the world’s media.

So maybe some hard times lie ahead for Thailand’s economy. Not a total disaster, but it will certainly halt the previously burgeoning economic growth in its tracks. The government will have to tread a very careful path out of the resultant, as yet unquantifiable economic damage.

A couple of days ago, Al Jazeera had a thirty minute segment on the Thai floods, and the three participants were two intellectuals from Thai universities, plus the excellent Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is based in Singapore.

The abiding message that one could take from this programme was that even the experts did not really have good answers to the questions I posed at the top of this article, but all were agreed that to one extent or another, bi-partisan political forces were at play.

Since then I have found an article written by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, as a guest writer in the Nation. It is worth a reprint here:

Even this national disaster is being used as a political weapon

Such a stupid bitch, she is!

As dim as a buffalo! She’s a bimbo, a brainless Barbie doll. The first female prime minister – who has brought all this bad luck upon the country!

This is what Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is now called and labelled by her upper-class critics.

Much of Thailand has for some time been submerged under floodwaters. Bangkok itself is bracing for raging floods. Soon, the capital could be turned into a giant swimming pool. At the same time, Yingluck is about to drown in the political floods. This is no longer just an issue of natural disaster. It has become a ferocious political game.

The discourse of “stupidity” is being used prevalently and discursively. Yingluck has been made to represent the face of stupidity. The objective is clear – to discredit her and belittle her endeavours to find solutions to the problem.

In employing this discourse to assess Yingluck’s performance, many seem to assume that Thai politics is the realm of the “intelligent”. But if it is so, then why did past leaders also fail to solve the relentless problem of annual floods once and for all?

If Yingluck is to be judged, then perhaps the word “weak” would be better used to measure her leadership qualities. It is true that Yingluck has responded to the floods too slowly. While she works tirelessly to display her commitment, she fails to produce an integrated approach to ameliorate the grave situation. But it is very convenient, in times of crisis, to condemn others. All fingers are thus pointing at Yingluck’s lack of crisis management skills.

But would it be fair to put all the blame on Yingluck? Should she alone be held responsible for the overpowering floods? Why was the Royal Irrigation Department keeping huge reserves of water in key dams at the beginning of the monsoon season and refused to release it despite the prolonged and massive rainfall we have seen during this monsoon season? Why did previous governments, which also experienced threatening floods, not put in place an effective flood management system?

Rumours, lies and false statements regarding the flood situation have been found on social networking sites. A picture of Yingluck, taken before the July election, which shows her taking a photo from her hand-phone on a helicopter, has been circulated on Facebook, with captions such as: “The nation is in crisis but this bitch is having a good time.” Another picture of a Yingluck lookalike partying and drinking whisky from a bottle was also shared in cyberspace.

News of His Majesty the King mentioning that if the floods approach Bangkok, then let the water pass and do not block the Chitralada Palace, was found to be bogus. A photo of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, taken in 2010, offering bags of commodities, was also intentionally released to mislead some Thais.

Could this be a part of a coordinated attack against Yingluck with the aim of destroying confidence in the government? Certainly, the opposition Democrat Party has been busy contesting the legitimacy of the Yingluck regime. Its leader, former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, absurdly suggested the declaration of an emergency decree to fight the floods. Through this, the military would be granted full authority to operate in almost any way it likes – a decision that will not be accepted by the current government. Yet, Abhisit did not elaborate on whether the military could handle the problem better than the Yingluck government.

Abhisit has also worked closely with MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Bangkok governor, to compete, not cooperate, with the government. While many brand Yingluck as stupid, Sukhumbhand showed his superstitious faith in a Khmer ritual of “chasing water” in his search for a solution to the threat of floods in the city. He was intensely protective about his turf. At one point he declared, “Listen to me and only me. I will tell you when to evacuate.”

Meanwhile, footage of the military going into affected areas to aid flood victims is impressive. But the military, like the Bangkok governor, has functioned almost independently from the government. There is clearly a sense of competition between the government and its rivals. Some of the fiercest critics of the government have called for Yingluck to resign. Yingluck’s supporters interpret such competition and the pressure to remove her from power as part of a plot to stage a “water coup”.

This competition, even during the height of the crisis, unveils a reality in Thailand: this is a deeply fragmented society in which political ideologies have overshadowed public responsibility and the urgency for national survival. It is no longer a country where its members are willing to forge ahead and leave their differences behind. Eliminating political adversaries, at the expense of a national catastrophe, is seemingly acceptable today.

The last crusade to save the capital from the floods also reflects a self-interested mentality among Bangkok residents. Bangkok, once again, is a symbol of contentious politics. Other provinces have long suffered from flood-waters that do not seem to go away. It is a case of a great disparity between the people residing in the rural and urban areas.

For now, those who are complaining the most, the loudest, are the Bangkok residents, who have over the past two months been so fortunate to have been kept dry. Yingluck has fallen into the trap of political disparity: she recognises the absolute necessity to rescue Bangkok to please her Bangkok critics, but earlier acted so slowly to prevent surrounding provinces from being inundated.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun

PC is a fellow at Singapore’s Institute of South-East Asian Studies.

2011-10-26

I like to believe that if a similar disaster were to befall the UK, or indeed the USA, that at least during the time of crisis there would be a concerted effort from people of all political persuasions to first and foremost deal with the disaster and get all necessary help to the victims and to mitigate the flood damage.

Once the disaster is over, normal politics would hold sway once more and accusations would be levelled back and forth from all sides of the political spectrum. But at the height of the emergency, all would be doing their best to help and support the government in their efforts. We actually saw this recently in the cyclone and terrible flooding that ravaged Australia. Recriminations came later, but at the time, it was ‘all hands to the pumps’.

Not so Thailand. It is such a shame, and – dare I say it- that if it wasn’t for one man, the strong feelings and the deep divisions in Thai society would never have become quite as entrenched as they are today. 

I am not for one moment suggesting  that he was not treated shabbily – of course he was – but history will show that he has a great deal to answer for; from the terrible, bloody riots, to the polarisation of Thai society to the point where scoring political points is more important than the lives and welfare or ordinary folk.

I am sorry, Khun Thaksin, but two wrongs never, ever, make a right; I’m sure they must teach you that somewhere in Buddhism. In fact, maybe Khun Thaksin and all the many  Buddhists who are involved in managing this crisis, would do well to dwell on the Buddhist concept of ‘METTA’. 

Metta is the first of the four ‘Sublime States’: loving kindness, good-will, friendship, unconditional love for all human beings. Metta is the feeling of warm-hearted concern for the well-being of other people, whoever they may be, regardless of any ‘reason’ or any profit that might result. Metta is a spontaneous expression of a wish to do what one can to help.

BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot…