Stickman's Weekly Column June 21st, 2015

Casey Who?

There's one bar boss other bar bosses talk about more than any other. I know most of the foreign bar owners in Bangkok and those I don't know personally, I know of. But I don't know this guy. They all talk about him, but you seldom hear anything positive. So just who is this scoundrel that so many foreign bar bosses talk about. Who is Casey How?

The first I heard of him was when bar bosses complained that Casey How stayed open long after they had all closed. Apparently Casey How stays open well after all the other chrome pole bars have shut up for the night. How does Casey How get away with that?! Still, operating late is really no evil, is it?

In mid 2013 there was a much-publicised raid on Lone Star on the top floor of Nana Plaza. Many dancers were found to not be of legal age. Word went around the plaza that all girls not of legal age had to go, and go they did… work for Casey How. The very next night many girls who had been working in Nana Plaza started dancing for Casey How, some just 15 years old.

They say Casey How has long employed girls who should be in school. Technically it's considered human trafficking and that's big news these days – but that hasn't stopped Casey How.

Casey How does not discriminate and employs ladies from Laos and Cambodia. No work permit, no problem. In some cases it was no passport, no problem.

Casey How insists that every girl keeps their phone on and close at hand, even when they are doing a short time. If they can't be reached, they are fined. If they are out on a short-time and take too long to return to the bar they can be called and told to get back to the bar pronto. No dallying! Some exit the bar, do their thing and return in 30 minutes. Needless to say there aren't many old-style bargirl / customer relationships developing.

When it comes to being fined – not barfined but fined as in their salary being cut – they are fined for absolutely every imaginable infraction. They are locked down, controlled. Casey How treats the girls like cattle.

Bar bosses ask how Casey How can operate. How did he get a licence / does Casey How even have the requisite entertainment licence? How can Casey How operate outside of an entertainment zone?

Maybe that is why Casey How is so keen to take control of an adjacent bar and restaurant that would squeeze it in to an entertainment zone. Maybe that venue has a gogo licence that is renewed, even if that's not the current format?

How can Casey How operate the wildest and loudest gogo bar in Bangkok on a narrow road with a respected Bangkok university at the end, with just a curtain separating those passing outside from naked girls bouncing around on stage?

What must university faculty and Thailand's future leaders think when they see scantily-clad village girls stumble outside?

Word reached Casey How that the ajarns were not pleased about the comings and goings from his restaurant and bar – honest, guv, that's exactly what the sign outside says – the girls were told to change their wardrobe and to wear nicer clothes when customers took them out of the bar. No short shorts, revealing tops or general slutwear, thank you.

Uncle Sam's bureaucrats and attachés on Wireless are strongly discouraged from being seen in the likes of Cowboy and Nana, but Casey How is said to be specifically off limits. Trafficking, they say. Uncle Sam knows all about Casey How.

Casey How came up with an ingenious plan. What do you do when your business is booming? You sell it. The idea was to find some farang suckers to sell it to, the asking price a cool 40 million baht – easily justified given the money it's doing. Collect the cash, make sure the same staff are in place (some underage, some foreign nationals) doing their thing (full nudity, no holds barred action) and then raid the place. Now you have foreign owners looking at human trafficking charges = prison time in Thailand, perhaps their homeland too. In other words, total ruin. The solution? They give up the bar and the charges magically disappear. The original owners then take it back and resume where they left off, blaming all the bad stuff that had happened on the evil foreign owners yet they revert back to how it was. It's a story that's been overheard up and down Sukhumvit, from Bradman's to The Game, Lolita's to The Office.

I guess one day I will figure out who this Casey How character everyone is talking about is.

Where was this photo taken?


Last week's photo was taken about a kilometre up Sukhumvit soi 31, opposite the long-running cake shop and cafe, Mousse
and Meringue.

He Clinic Bangkok

(These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick.) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK – Don't go back for seconds.

Picture Pattaya at 7 AM, at a restaurant on Soi Buakhao. I'm having a quiet feed, passable bacon and eggs, awful coffee. From my table at the front is a pleasant view of folks going about their day, the odd farang straggler heading back to the hotel after a big night. In the distance is the sound of commotion. It's coming my way. Next minute this crazy looking guy comes running pursued by 3 ladyboys! They catch him not 10 metres from where I'm sitting and proceed to give him a nasty beating. He attempts to fend them off as best he can, but not before copping some decent blows to the head and knees to the body, all accompanied by a torrent of abuse. He breaks away and runs past me in to the restaurant, taking refuge behind the waitress who attempts to defuse the situation. It's 7 AM, it's daylight, and I'm trying to enjoy a peaceful breakfast! The abuse and threats continued from the ladyboys who for some reason didn't attempt to follow the guy inside. The guy suggests calling the police which has the effect of inflaming them more. Eventually the ladyboys depart with a chorus of f### you and f### your mother! You would think that would be the end of it. Not so! What does this numbskull do next? He decides to follow them to get the last word in! It was a classic case of déjà vu. Not two minutes passed before he was back, the ladyboys hot on his heels once more. From my grandstand seat it was apparent this idiot wanted more, the ladyboys obliged by beating him even worse this time, the melee spilling across the soi. I'm no fan of violence, but by this time my shock had been replaced by genuine amusement. I exchanged glances with the one other restaurant customer who just like me was watching with a grin. From what I could make out from the verbal barrage, our goose had taken his prize back to the hotel before reneging on the deal. Perhaps he had discovered the object of his affections was not what he had expected. Some minutes later, the ladyboys, satisfied they had proven their point, wandered off leaving one hapless moron bloodied and bruised. Whatever possessed him to go back for seconds is beyond me! Every guy here gets hit on by the ladyboys, but I've generally found most are ok with a polite refusal and a smile. From what I saw this morning, I won't be pissing them off any time soon. Vicious they can be!

CBD bangkok

Thais in Australia.

Your account of Thais in New Zealand is very similar to Thais in Australia. They are generally diligent and trustworthy, working mostly in restaurants and factory jobs. They are well regarded in the main and very much keep to themselves, not mixing very much at all with local people, similar to farangs in Thailand. However, unlike farangs in Thailand, they do not constantly whinge about the local people and the way things are done here. They adapt, but they don't really mix. They also, in my experience, have a very competitive streak among themselves, comparing their husband's salary, job status, education etc. I have witnessed quite a few 'battles for supremacy' among Thais here and it can get quite ugly. This tends to occur in organisations that Thais are involved in, or are running, such as language schools or temple-based groups. I made the mistake of getting involved at the organisational level of a Thai language school here in Melbourne, and it all ended in tears – lots of shouting at meetings, backstabbing etc.

It all comes back to the women.

You are right, there are many countries that offer warm weather, interesting culture, a low cost of living, good food, nice beaches and even highlands and mountains. In Asia, Malaysia is very appealing, particularly Penang, and beaches like Langkawi are as nice as Thailand. Mexico is a large, diverse country with nice beach towns like Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya as well as many nice colonial towns. Panama, Costa Rica are also good retiree places with a reasonable cost of living and geographical diversity. In some cases you get first world quality and developing country prices. I believe that what is a deciding factor for Thailand for many is the women and the relatively cheap adult entertainment. Though the quality is declining as has been well chronicled on your site, it still affords an older retiree on a modest budget better opportunities than other countries.

wonderland clinic

Not paranoid.

I was just reading your column from 10th May and it was a relief to see I am not the only person who feels like I do. I was trying to explain to my other half yesterday that money-making opportunities are quite thin on the ground for me in Thailand owing to the fact that I refuse to become involved with Thai businesses and I don't want to work with any expats because there just seems to be something 'wrong' with every single one I meet. I was beginning to wonder whether I was just another paranoid loser from the West (I may still well be one!) but at least others have noticed the same thing.

Steal from gentlemen, not from jackasses.

There's a Chinese proverb for just about any situation, including when it comes to stealing. Good practical advice like "work on rainy nights, but not snowy nights" because rain provides cover, but snow creates a trail. Another bit of practical advice – "steal from gentlemen, not from jackasses". If a thief is caught, he's more likely to get off with a warning from the gentleman than from the jackass. That's why big spenders and generous tippers are the preferred targets for scams like extra lady drinks and bill padding. The staff makes the correct judgment that such customers are less likely to notice, more likely to pay the bill. The Chinese proverb has been around for centuries, and the practice of bill padding a generous customer has been around for many years. In the early 2000s I was a repeat visitor at one of the King's Group bars in Patpong. The DJ was quite good and I actively enjoyed his playlist while relaxing with a beer. While visiting, I bought the DJ drinks, gave tips, bought multiple drinks for mamasans, tipped waitresses and bought lady drinks for the girls since I wasn't barfining them. The tips / lady drinks helped to ensure the staff didn't bother me about barfining, and the girls I liked to hang out with didn't have to do their turn on the pole while I was there. So would the staff try to cheat me? Of course they do. I retain sufficient memory / math skills even after half a dozen beers, there's a pretty accurate mental count of all drinks. The staff also see me do a physical count of the drink slips every 2nd or 3rd round. Nevertheless, the staff tried to pad the bill multiple times on me, in the order of a couple extra thousand baht. Each time they tried, I told them it's wrong. Then I verbally count out who had how many drinks, write it down, do the math, leave the correct amount (with tip), and walk out calmly. Since they didn't successfully steal from me, I saw no reason to deprive myself of an enjoyable venue. The next evening, I'm welcomed back and the random tourist sitting in my usual spot is ushered away to make room. Everyone pretends nothing noteworthy happened the previous night and everyone saves face. This continued over multiple years and many separate visits with the same mamasan / waitress repeatedly trying to pad my bill. Like the proverb says, "steal from gentlemen, not from jackasses". There's a difference between the Western and Asian mindsets, and the idea of "I'm never coming back because of….." is a good illustration of it. In a linear cause-and-effect viewpoint, that makes sense. But in a different perspective where you value your own enjoyment over the "principle" of not being the target of attempted larceny, the priorities / outcomes can be very different.

One small reason why Pattaya may be preferable to Chiang Mai.

I was prepared for the usual struggle getting a visa extension. Morning arrival, crowds, dreary waiting time, the "Come back after lunch" rigmarole. Recently it was an all-day affair in Chiang Mai with my buddy being told to come back at 5 AM to get a low number for retirement renewal. Anyway, today at 10AM I step in to a taxi to go from Pattaya Hill to Immigration at Jomtien. I arrive at 10:12. The lady inside the door does all my paperwork for me. I get a couple copies made, get the number for the waiting list and find that I'm next in line. Called up to the officer at 10:22. I ask when I should pick up documents. She says 10 minutes. They did it in five. Finished by 10:30 AM and I'm having coffee and awaiting my full English breakfast.

All of the bars on Soi Cowboy were collectively ordered closed at midnight on Wednesday night and have been closing at midnight each night since. Word is that this is a result of a raid on Suzy Wong which was found to be employing Thai ladies not of legal age, and the entire soi is subsequently being closed as a general punishment. There is no precedent for this happening ever before and even Crazy House was closed early. Word is that Soi Cowboy's punishment will last a week and the neon and the music must all be turned off by midnight.

The Crime Suppression Division which carried out the raid on Suzy Wong employed similar tactics to those they use when conducting similar raids in Pattaya. Two foreigners who work for the CSD went in to Suzy Wong wired with recording equipment. They requested two young girls, paid the barfines for them and took the young 'uns to a nearby short-time hotel where they paid the girls with marked banknotes. They then called the uniforms who stormed the short-time hotel, found the girls and then a large troop of brown-shirts descended on Suzy Wong where two members of staff were arrested. A 2-minute news report on TNN24
reported that in addition to the 2 ladies aged under 18, there were Cambodians working without a work permit – which begs the question of whether a work permit has ever been issued to a foreign national for pole dancing!

No-one knows how long Suzy Wong will remain closed but the owners will be hoping for a rather different outcome to the bust for underage at Lone Star in Nana, 2 years ago. That bar was told it could not reopen under the same name and it still has not reopened. One bar boss told me he would not be surprised to see a 90-day closure order and it might not be able to reopen under the same name. The manager and mamasan are facing serious charges and potentially years behind bars.

So why was Suzy Wong targeted? One rumour doing the rounds is that Casey How tipped off the authorities, sad given what Casey How is famous for.

It is expected that Soi Cowboy will close at midnight for the next few days while the doors at Suzy Wong look like they might not open for a period of time. There hasn't been any word on how long Suzy Wong will be closed for. For the time-being the team from Suzy Wong are doing their thing directly across the soi in Dollhouse.

Unrelated to the addition of the Suzy Wong troop, several members of Dollhouse's B team have left, some citing too many A team girls. Those who left can be found in Cocktail, Tilac and The Corner. Needless to say with all of the girls from Suzy Wong temporarily housed at Dollhouse, it currently has a very strong line-up. A note for those who like birthday suits, head upstairs.

The midnight closing has jumped the Asoke intersection and with it police districts as CheckInn99 was ordered closed last night at midnight. At 11:30 PM CheckInn99 was full, entertainment was in full swing and everyone was having a great time. Why CheckInn was ordered closed early, no-one knows. It's the quiet time of year, bars in downtown Sukhumvit – one of the tourist hubs of Bangkok – are fighting for every customer and they're being closes at midnight? This is madness!

Speaking of Checkinn99, one of the longest serving members of the team is Loong (uncle) Wat. In January he suffered a bad fall from the roof at his home while trimming mango tree branches. A fractured skull meant surgery and a lengthy spell in ICU. Due to advancing years, the doctors weren't that confident. Public hospitals have limits on how long a patient can remain in ICU and Loong Wat needed months for his brain to recover. Private hospitals are prohibitively expensive for most Thais. Many customers rallied to put together a hospital fund to cover his extended period in ICU and collectively with CheckInn99 were able to fund his recovery and rehabilitation program which ran in excess of 250,000 baht per month. Loong Wat visited the bar for the first time this week, 6 months after the accident. He has had to learn to walk again but has regained much of his old energy. CheckInn99 would like to extend their gratitude to those who supported his recovery which would not have otherwise been possible.

Loong Wat, CheckInn99, Bangkok

Loong Wat

The worst kept secret in the bar industry is now public knowledge and I can confirm that veteran gogo bar manager Dave The Rave has left Nana Plaza after 16 years to take on a new appointment at Patpong. Dave is now running the show in Black Pagoda and Bar Bar in Patpong soi 2. It is anticipated that at some point the one known as the gogo guru will run The Strip too so he is going to be a busy boy. Patpong will benefit from Dave's experience and no doubt many of his friends will follow him to Patpong. Dave will host an Office Party on Friday, June 26th at Black Pagoda. The party will feature sexy secretaries, shows, 2-4-1 Singha beer all night and free shots throughout the evening. Congratulations, Dave, and I'm sorry I won't be there to celebrate with you.

What was previously stated as rumour can now confirmed as fact with confirmation from the owner himself that yes, there certainly are plans to knock out the wall between Spellbound and Underground on Nana Plaza's ground floor and create what will be the largest gogo bar on Sukhumvit. The proposed name for the new bar is Bangkok Bunnies. When I raised concerns about filling such a large bar with enough dancers – necessary to create a fun atmosphere – the owner insists that it will open with more than 100 dancing girls which will grow to 300 by the end of the year. Given that one night this week Spellbound had 82 dancers report for duty, the new Spellbound owner has shown that he is quite capable of doing what many others cannot – recruiting. The plans include using the old storage areas and the girls' changing rooms as part of the bar proper. Only one changing room and one toilet area is deemed necessary and every little bit of space is going to be utilised. The new owner's ambition and passion is exactly what Nana needs. If Bangkok Bunnies is successful it could go a long way towards resurrecting the plaza. Failure on the other hand would be a total disaster!

Speaking of Spellbound, customers familiar with the bar will note that 70% of the girls and staff started this month and are new – a good reason to swing by and check it out.

The water leakage problem in Nana Plaza is to be fixed with walls and roofs repaired. The yellow roof of the outside ground floor bars will be replaced as the plaza undergoes necessary repairs.

Monster Ink on the ground floor of Nana Plaza will close and is to be replaced by a restaurant serving Italian food. A couple of friends I mentioned this to were shocked at the idea but I'm very much in favour of it. When Woodstock (formerly where Rainbow 4 sits) operated in Nana Plaza it was a great place to start a night out. You'd go there for dinner and then make your way around the plaza. Given that not all Nana bars are running at capacity – most are nowhere close – there is no reason a small restaurant can't add something to the plaza.

From August onwards most of the bars on the ground floor of Nana Plaza will open from midday. One or two bars may not participate but there is confidence that most will. It's good to see bar bosses in a bar area working together but we have to be realistic – it's only a couple of years ago since the Nana Group opened a handful of bars in the plaza during the daytime and that ended up being a failed experiment.

And in what is turning out to be a week of positive Nana news – which makes a nice change – I can confirm many bars have signed new leases which means that they – and the plaza – are going to be around for at least another 3 years. Amongst the bars confirming that they have signed new leases are Stumble Inn, Big Dogs, Lucky Luke's, the Nana Beer Garden (all the beer bars on the ground floor in the centre of the Plaza), PlaySkool, Temptations, Mercury, Balcony Bar and the Hollywood Hotel.

Bubbles on the top floor of Nana Plaza will be split in to 2. Part of what was Bubbles will become an office for the management of the plaza and the other part will become a smaller bar – which makes it more viable i.e. lower rent.

Candy Land 1 is currently closed and it is hoped it will not be long until a new operator comes along. Candy Land 1 is the space that was previously known as G Spot.

In the next couple of weeks Lucky Luke's will undergo a makeover. It will become Lucky Luke's Tiki Bar and have a beach and cocktail theme.

The kitchen in Soi Nana's best beer bar, Stumble Inn, is being expanded with all new equipment and you can expect a brand new menu to match.

The owners of Stumble Inn are going to move the bar area inside the bar which will give it an external service bar with seating and more customer seating inside the bar. It will also help to make space for the installation of a large projector for live sports.

There are plans afoot for Mercury to extend in to the reception area of the Hollywood Hotel which will allow for a refit of Mercury, with the goal of a bigger bar area with a better stage and more customer seating.

While I am on record as being pessimistic about the future of Nana Plaza, I am happy to be proven wrong by bar owners who are investing heavily in the plaza and who for the first time in a long time seem to be united in their efforts to really put their shoulders in to it and push the plaza up. When Nana is humming on a busy night, the enclosed architecture of the plaza can mean a real buzz reverberating around that you just don't get elsewhere. Will Nana rise again?

Oh for the days when the dancers in pretty much every chrome pole bar dancer wore boots. There's something about boots and sexy dancing that go so well together, while the footwear of choice in many bars these days does nothing for the general sexiness of the girls. Soi Cowboy's Long Gun was one of the last holdouts when it comes to ladies in boots but it too has now parted with them along with cowgirl theme attire.

For that matter, only a few bars still have any sort of cowboy theme or name. There's Rawhide, Long Gun, Cactus and Cowboy 2. All the others have changed or gone. There was a time when perhaps half the bars in Soi Cowboy featured a cowboy theme of some sort, often with the girls dancing in boots, a cowboy hat and nothing else!

Things are wild in long-running Patpong bar Goldfinger which has 26 girls for the next month and has been brought back to life. The new dancers have livened it up and one set of 13 dancers performs synchronized dancing, every one moving up and down together like a wave.

It was bedlam after midnight on Saturday in Goldfinger when someone bought a bottle of the girls' favourite whiskey. They were dancing in the aisles, on the seats and inhibitions went out the window. Customers passing outside saw the party atmosphere and flocked inside. There's plenty of life left in Patpong!

Last week a friend was in Cocktail where he was unimpressed by the cost of a bottle of water at 140 baht, especially when the very same thing sells for just 50 baht in Cocktail's sister bar, Tilac. He talked to one of the bosses at Tilac and utilised the power of suggestion. A few days later the price of a bottle of Sam's 2000 branded water reverted to 50 baht in Cocktail. 50 baht is a bargain for non-drinkers so for teetotallers who wish to support two bars which come to the party on non-alcoholic drink pricing, drop by Tilac and Cocktail in Soi Cowboy.

A common complaint in the bars these days is that some girls don't show customers much attention and are more concerned with playing on their phone between dance sets than interacting with customers. For some this is a cause for complaint but for others it's nice not to be bothered. Not everyone is there to meet a lady and pay a barfine. Plenty of customers are out for a drink, a laugh and the girls and the dancing is but a backdrop.

V8 Diner, the American-style dinner attached to the front of Insanity, is embroiled in a battle with the landlords who want them out so that space can be redeveloped in to yet another office tower. The land owners, who own other prime downtown real estate and businesses including the Rembrandt Hotel, put a fence around all the businesses which had vacated from the area including the small DHL office, the Pizza Delivery Company branch and the flagship branch of Sunrise Tacos. V8 and Insanity then put giant signs on the fence to make it clear that despite the shambolic state of the area that they are still open. With all of the signage promoting V8 and Insanity it almost looks like they have taken over the entire corner. V8 is very quiet during the day but very busy at night. The owners of V8 and Insanity, who are reported to have paid a fortune when they acquired what was then known as Insomnia, plan to fight this through the courts and word is they will use tactics to slow things down so they can remain there for years. With each side refusing to give an inch and much money on the line it has the potential to get nasty. Some pundits have speculated that a pyromaniac might resolve it once and for all.

Hooters is established in Phuket and it was announced that there are plans to open a new branch in Pattaya. What can now be revealed is that a branch of Hooters is also planned for Bangkok with the chosen location to be in the up and coming Sukhumvit soi 15, at the Four Points By Sheraton to be precise. It hopes to open in September. As an American friend said, Hooters is famous for….chicken wings!

The Thonglor police continue to operate a late-night checkpoint at the Asoke intersection and vehicles coming up from Rama 4 Road and turning left on to Sukhumvit Road are often stopped and the occupants questioned and sometimes searched. If you don't like the idea of being asked questions by a large group of coppers late at night and potentially being asked to get out of a vehicle and submit to a search of your person then avoid that particular route, or use the skytrain or underground. This spot has long been a favourite for police checkpoints, tends to be set up late and can go in to the wee hours.

The Strip Bangkok

Black Pagoda Bangkok

The BBC reports on a popular Isaan dish that is said to be dangerous and can cause cancer.

CNN takes a look at the phenomenon of counterfeit goods widely available on the streets of Bangkok.

An Englishman in Pattaya is shot by his Thai lover.

Three foreigners give the term mug shot a whole new meaning when they are caught in Cambodia on overstayed visas.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has downgraded Thailand's aviation standards.

An American is sentenced to 21 years in prison for interactions with young girls in Thailand and distributing
child porn.

Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department
directly for all of your legal needs.

Question 1: My Thai partner married a foreigner and after a short period the marriage ceased. The foreign husband has refused to sign the divorce documents and
has subsequently returned to his homeland. I believe that one of the grounds for divorce in Thailand could be desertion by one spouse for one year or more. Is this correct and if so how do we determine and prove the point at which desertion actually
took place? Desertion could be merely walking out the door for which there is no record or physically leaving Thailand for which there will be an immigration record. To invoke the desertion condition does this require an application to a court?
Can my partner sign a statutory declaration stating that she was deserted on a particular date and has had no support, contact or involvement with her spouse since that date? I look forward to your guidance.

Sunbelt Legal responds: According to Section 1516 [Grounds of action for divorce] of Civil and Commercial Code under Book V (Family), Sub-Section 4: If one spouse has deserted the other for more than one year, the latter may enter a claim for divorce. But there is another sub-section (Sub-Section 4/2) that must also be considered where it mentions that if the husband and wife voluntarily live separately for more than three years as they are unable to live together peacefully, or live separately for more than three years by the order of the Court, either spouse may enter a claim for divorce.

Your Thai partner, as the claimant, will be required to provide proof of the date that her husband abandoned her and confirm that there has been neither contact nor support provided by her spouse during the period of the abandonment. To dissolve the marriage in the simplest way is for both to register their divorce at any District Office (in Thailand) or Thai embassy / consulate (if both are not in Thailand), but since the husband is unwilling to dissolve the marriage (registering a divorce), the only available path for her is to complete the divorce process through a court order. The divorcing party (with legal representation) must submit his / her claim to the court.

It is important to note that if your Thai partner claims she was abandoned on a specific date and that there has been no contact or support but her spouse can provide proof that he is still supporting her financially or has seen her then your Thai partner could be charged with providing a false statement to the courts. It is also important that your Thai partner realise her husband could file for divorce on the grounds of adultery and that he could also file a lawsuit against the person she is having the affair with for damaging the marriage.

In the foreground, this 16-year old girl left home upcountry to work in Soi Cowboy.

The bust at Soi Cowboy this week highlighted much that is wrong with the bar industry. Many bar owners, bar managers and mamasans see employing ladies not of legal age in much the same way many see breaking traffics laws in Thailand – you hardly ever get caught and even if you are caught you can usually arrange for it all go away – although that doesn't seem to be happening this time around. The saddest part for me is that so many of the people involved have daughters themselves. Does that not cause them to think about what they're doing?! Don't think any genuine effort is being made to clean up the industry because it isn't. Not 50 metres away from where this bust took place is a bar owned by people of influence which everyone knows is the worst offender of all when it comes to underage employees. It's a sad blight on Thailand that despite human trafficking being such a high profile issue these days that little genuine action is being taken to tackle the problem of underage girls being employed in the bars.

Your Bangkok commentator,


nana plaza