Thai Thoughts and Anecdotes Part 279
Attn: Dana fans and Stickman fans—
My dog Rufus is a mix: half (front half) basset hound, half (back half) greyhound. So he kind of slopes down. Not a lot to do with Thailand I guess—just sayin’ is all. If you love dogs and you respect me please do not get him to run on the boardwalk in Pattaya. Inevitably his back half over-runs his front half and the result is embarrassing. Please do not embarrass us on the boardwalk. We've got enough problems already, believe me. The other day Rufus took a leak on a tranny. Cost me a fortune to get out of that little mess. People think my life is all cookies and cream. Not even close brother. I've got problems. And Rufus.
But that is not really what I want to talk about today. What I really want to talk about today is:
PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
“Thailand is a wonderful place. You just need to learn to smile.”
“Thailand is a horrible place. You are an idiot.”
“No, you are an idiot—another disgusting ignorant low standards westerner.”
“Well, I know a dirty glass when I see one and every glass in this bar is filthy.”
“Typical—a pig in a bar who can’t see beyond bar glasses. The Thais are right to abuse foreigners. We deserve it.”
Perhaps instead of calling each other names it might be interesting and instructive to reflect on the fact that there is currently a Thai gentleman in his eighties battling with the infirmities and the indignities of age in a public manner. After sixty years of government service he might be asking himself:
“Except for the regular meals, what was it all about?”
To wit: objectively speaking, is the Kingdom better off now than it was sixty years ago? Opinions differ. All countries can be fairly judged by their ability to do two things: collect taxes and collect trash. Thailand can do neither. On a worldwide country relativity scale Thailand is not competitive. It is the year 2011—enough time for evidence, enough time for a verdict. In spite of this gentleman’s lifetime of service, good heart, and focused energy: little progress has been made in the categories of:
2. Modern infrastructure.
3. Recognition of obligations and responsibilities regarding accurate record keeping. Without accurate record keeping you can not collect taxes or track crime.
4. Enforced banking rules to protect depositors.
5. Civil rights for non-Thais.
6. Reciprocal contract behavior. Yes Thailand, you have to abide by the terms and the conditions of the contract.
7. Desire to join the international community.
8. Recognition that lying is not ‘saving face’—it is fraud.
9. Desire and follow-through on getting along with neighboring countries.
10. Taxpayer financed safety nets for the infirm, sick, homeless, disabled, and unemployed.
12. Tax collection.
13. Trash collection.
14. Recognition of the values of civil rights, human rights, womens' rights, childrens' rights, rights of the disabled, animal rights, citizens' rights, legal rights, and religious rights. I am sure I left something out but you get the idea. A government that does not endorse and enforce human dignity for it's citizens does not have the right to govern. Governing is a privilege, not a right.
15. Elimination of class warfare and abuse.
16. Requirement that profit and non-profit organizations should act as responsible cultural citizens. Rapine and indifference is not good business. Historically governments are needed to remind organizations that their sometimes naturally inclinations are not acceptable.
17. Recognition that successful business is not war, it is collaboration–both sides must leave the table smiling.
18. Crime is not cleverness–it is crime.
19. Government and police and military are to serve and to protect: all other activities are suspect.
20. Democracy is a flawed form of government–all other forms of government are worse.
21. Stop living just for today, think of the future.
22. Practise the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).
23. Stop littering. Nothing is more transparent and sad and defining than making a mess in your own bed.
24. Travel to some other countries so that you can establish some reference points of behavior. I recommend Switzerland where you can see a culture with no litter, no graffiti, high educational standards, enforcement of laws, low crime, rule of law, and an understanding of the value of punctuality.
25. Punish criminals.
26. Encourage critical thinking and intellectual risk taking in schools.
27. Establish the notion of goverment transparency as a good thing: example–the citizens have a right to know what government department audits show.
28. A free press highlights individual, group, and government misbehavior–be happy about this.
29. Foster national debate on the Thai justice system. Have things improved since Siam? If not–why not?
30. Seek to understand modern and international standards for the scientific method, rule of law, modern science, rules of debate, and parliamentary procedure.
As the Thai government official of sixty years service reflects on his career I am sure everyone of these issues occurs to him. How sympathetic should we be? In the corporate world of the west would so little improvement over so many years have been allowed? Would the C. E. O. or the administrator or the general manager have kept his job? Could I have done better? Possibly not. And it is possible that this high government official never forgot the dramatic way he got his job. I know I would never have forgotten it. It might have effected my job performance in a big way. I am trying to be charitable. However, in any event; the battle daily fought and lost was with corruption. Corruption begets and displays hopelessness, indifference, and loss of dignity. A cancer. It is hard to beat a cancer. Cancer of record has been winning for six thousand years. The high government official in the gold coat had sixty years. I am trying to be sympathetic.
I would like to love Thailand, or I would love to like Thailand: but it is hard to love a place and a state of mind that frightens the wits out of you every day you are there. And none of this has anything to do with some unappealing westerner sitting in some unappealing bar.
While some things may seem to have improved on the surface, you only have to scratch around a bit and realise that many things have not improved at all. Education remains a problem, corruption is much worse, all the same scams tourists have suffered for decades still exist (perpetrated by the very same people in some cases…need I go on?!