Memo to Antipodean Prime Ministers
Memo to the Right Honourable Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, and the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand:
Congratulations on eradicating the coronavirus from your countries. Much of the rest of the world looks on with envy, and all with admiration.
Your proposed Tasman Tunnel travel corridor between your two nations is an excellent idea, and will speed your economies’ recovery.
Most of the South Pacific islands (including Vanuatu and the Cook Islands) have few cases of the virus, and given their appeal as travel destinations for your citizens, and your nations’ appeal as medical tourism hubs for South Pacific Islanders, it is no surprise to learn that you are considering including those islands in your travel bubble.
But before long, chances are another country which fancies its handling of the virus will ask to join your scheme: Thailand.
Admitting Thailand to the travel bubble would certainly be a feather in that benighted nation’s cap, and would mean Antipodeans could once again visit the Land of Smiles. Your universities would benefit too, as the Thai c̶a̶s̶h̶ ̶c̶o̶w̶s̶ students who study at them could travel freely among the bubble countries.
But before you admit Thailand to your club, Westerners who have visited or lived in Thailand ask that, in the name of fairness, you follow these guidelines when negotiating Thailand’s membership:
1. Insist on meeting in person, and keep your Thai counterparts waiting shoulder to shoulder for the meeting to start. See late March and early April photos of the Chaeng Watthana immigration bureau and similar shots from immigration bureaus in Thai resort destinations for the best way to crowd people together.
2. Keep them waiting for a long time. Do not start the meeting at the designated time. That way, they’ll understand how busy and important you are.
3. Text incessantly during the meeting, make and receive personal calls, and keep your phone on the table when you aren’t using it. This is the Thai way.
4. Insist on paper copies, in triplicate, of all application documents, including a fit-to-join certificate issued within 72 hours of the meeting. And be sure that every member of the Thai committee signs every page of all documents.
5. Demand background checks of each Thai negotiator. Police reports from their districts of residence will suffice. Original documents only.
6. If you and the Thai delegation meet in Australia or New Zealand, force the Thais to report their local address to your immigration bureaus within 24 hours of arrival. Insist that they do so in person. Tell them it is a national security measure.
7. Perhaps most important of all, screen all luggage carefully for heroin. Especially if one of the negotiators is Thammarat Prompao.
8. If you catch any members of the Thai delegation smuggling drugs, incarcerate them in overcrowded, inhumane prisons. For suggestions, read Amnesty International’s most recent report on Thai prison conditions.
9. When you give the Thai offenders their day in court, be sure that the judge is immune to the influence of evidence, is incapable of logical reasoning, and toes the government’s line. This is the only type of judge Thais know, and you’ll want them to be comfortable.
10. Last but not least, disinfect each Thai negotiator immediately upon arrival in your country. Tell them you are afraid of bac-tee-ree-UH. They’ll understand if you pronounce it that way.
With that, I wish you a successful negotiation.