Readers' Submissions

The Current Political Situation In Thailand

  • Written by Anonymous
  • March 27th, 2006
  • 5 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

From The Nation's web board:

Should we ban Singapore products?
Author: Spore
Date: 6 Mar 2549 15:57

We should send out a strong signal to Singapore that we mean business and do not like to see our country being sold off. In short…don't touch us…or else… What is Thai belongs to Thai….don't mess with us. No more Bread Talk, Tiger Airways, Singapore Airlines for me.

When I rented my apartment here, I was asked to sign the lease contract by the receptionist. She pointed with her finger at the blank spot where my signature was supposed to be. Sign here Sir! I told her I would like to read the contract first. This seemed to irritate her tremendously. Please just sign the contract Sir she repeated. I took the contract away from the reception desk and sat down and I read it. I knew she thought I was crazy. Why read a contract, when you are only supposed to sign it?

I remember that my ex-girlfriend Nadja was ordered to rent out her brother in law's apartment around Nana. It was a really nice apartment and I flirted with the thought of renting it myself. Only the dodgy location was the main obstacle why I did not rent it (and to be very honest now I also thought maybe it is not so clever to mix relationships with business). I did not want to pass a thousand hookers every night when I went back home. So she hired an agency to help her. A couple of weeks later the agency called her and told her they had found somebody to rent it. I have never seen her happier. She told me the tenant had moved in already. I said: What do you mean? He has moved in to your brother in law's apartment? Do you know who this person is? Have you met him? Did you at least take inventory of the apartment? The apartment was fully furnished and had a new TV. Basically it was all brand new and she did not mind renting it out to someone she never met nor taking inventory before? Thais are eternal optimists. She was in good faith that everything would be fine and no problems would occur with her new tenant. This is how they do things here, they say yes yes yes and then, when a problem comes up, they are surprised and angry. Unfortunately, they do not think further than the tips of their noses.

So the Thais have elected Mr. Shinawatra two times as their prime minister. That is fine with me. They can vote for whoever they want, it's their country as they keep reminding me every day. Just look how Mr. Shinawatra won the second election! He and his party got a staggering 60.7% of all votes. The second place with only 18.3% of all votes went to the Democrats. That was only a year and a month ago. Now in March 2006 the streets are filled with protests against Mr. Shinawatra (in which we foreigners surely should not participate; I already heard some Thais making fun about foreigners who were marching with the demonstrators. Thais think that we don't understand Thai politics anyway, unlike the well informed farmers from Isaan who come to back Mr. Shinawatra), his sold businesses and his party. I don't quite understand it.

For me personally, Mr. Shinawatra was always a shrewd businessman turned populist politician who lured the Thais to vote for him with unrealizable promises. But the people of this country obviously believed him. They did not see the wolf in sheep's clothing, as many of us outsiders did. For us the maths was pretty clear: Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency. Now since the questionable selling of his business empire to Temasek Holding, which is the investment arm of the Singapore government, some people have finally (five years too late in my opinion) opened their eyes, because it was just too obvious to ignore. Opponents of Mr. Shinawatra say that he has sold has sold out his country to a foreign power and he did not even pay tax for it. Supporters counter that no criticism was raised when the Norwegian firm Telenor acquired Total Access Communications (DTAC), the country's second largest mobile phone operator.

Metaphorically speaking the landlord heard that the tenant has sold the brand new TV to the rich neighbor next door and that the tenant did not even pay the rent as agreed (of course the clever tenant will point out later that there was no written contract). Now the gullible landlord enters his apartment, sees the TV gone and is surprised and angry. He asks the tenant where his TV is. The tenant counters that he was the one who bought the TV and he could do with it what he wanted. The stubborn landlord says that this is not the case and the tenant should not have sold it to the rich neighbor next door, firstly because he claims that he had helped the tenant to buy the TV for a very low price from one of his family members who has an electronics shop and secondly because he thought he and the tenant were friends and many times them two were watching TV together, because it had a satellite receiver, the landlord did not have on his own TV. That is why he helped him to buy this special TV in the first place. Actually, the landlord hates his rich neighbor because he is a bit paranoid and thinks that many things out of his apartment had been stolen and later sold to the rich neighbor by previous tenants and he was counting on this tenant's loyalty, because this current tenant has sworn not to betray him. Confronted with his behavior, the tenant simply says to the landlord: Listen dear landlord, friendship is friendship, business is business and sports is sports. At this moment we are still not sure if the 'loyal' tenant has to leave the apartment or not. But for sure there is trouble in the house. We can hear it day and night.

Maybe next time, as for me, it would be advisable to take a closer look who you lent out your apartment and take inventory and make a waterproof contract beforehand, so you don't get unpleasant surprises.

PS. …but there is more to that, since we are in Thailand. So the landlord has entered his apartment and saw, that the tenant has sold the TV to his rich neighbor. We know the story so far. But what does a real Thai landlord do? He starts to sit in front of the neighbors apartment and waits with a stick in his hand until the rich neighbor next door comes home. He plans to give the rich neighbor a good beating for buying the TV which he thinks belongs to his apartment.

Stickman's thoughts:

Just a few days until the election…