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Dispatch / September 27, 2009

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Just beyond the main business district of Sathorn, where the main Japanese banks have 50 story-gilded towers, there are acres of terraced housing projects and thatched roof shanties. The apartments lack telephones and even bathrooms. A ten-foot portrait of the king in full 19th century dress marks the neighborhood’s entrance. Walking past it at 1pm a poor imitation of a lady boy—a mustached victim of hormone shots—grabs my arm. As I Shake off his clutch, he lets out a pseudo-effeminate growl: “You know you want it.”

Rows of heavy steel pay-phones, operated by a company owned by the king, surround low slung, drab concrete blocks of flats. The only place to buy food besides street vendors is a 7-11, which offers family-sized 3 foot long hot-dogs to a population seemingly hooked on junk food. (There are seemingly thousands of 7-11s in Bangkok.)

The squalor couldn’t help but bring Davidsonn, the threatening Swede—who works as the manager of a 4-star hotel’s rooftop bar, Le Fenix—to mind. Looking out at the Chao Praya River, he smugly told me how nice it was to be in a city where one didn’t have to pay high taxes. “I can build what I want,” he gushed. Without taxes, it has been left to the king to personally assist his people. Davidsonn’s blonde pony-tail and silk scarf being thrown around by an industrial sized whirring fan, he explained: “[Bhumibol] done a lot for the poor people, he doesn’t give them money, but the tools to become, how do you say, do for themselves.” Like what? “He’s given them the coffee bean,” the Swede adds seriously.

snakemans

Toothless bald beggers jump out from in between parked cars where they are sleeping. Shirtless children play in the streets. There is no hope here, only motorcycles, Yaba and the Buddha–who’s smiling gold covered statue, is the only thing that shines in his neighborhood. Thai Buddhism is the ultimate control for a kleptocratic ruler—teaching a dogma of absolute serenity in the face of crushing inequality from within. As you move further away from Wireless Road, where the banks are located, the flats get more and more drab until they collapse into thatched shanties, and you’re hit by a shocking realization. The people in the projects are lucky by Thai standards.

Thailand’s mystical regent is the son of a commoner mother who rarely set foot in Asia before he was 21. But in 1946, his brother, the king, was murdered at point-blank range and Bhumibol was shipped in from a Switzerland. He has been America’s biggest stooge in SE Asia ever since, turning Krup Thep (Bangkok)—the city of Angels—into a sprawling concrete playground of slapdash slums, hotel districts and red-light districts. His function of main-procurer for the Armed forces has earned him the title of world’s longest running monarch; and according to Forbe’s magazine, the richest—this, despite Thailand still part of the Third World. Officially, the US and Thailand have several bi-lateral treaties. More importantly, Thailand was an important buffer in US anti-communism strategies as far back as 1954, when it joined SEATO.

When he is mentioned at all in the Western press, Bhumibol is usually portrayed as a benevolent, but detached, patriarch—a stern judge of how much westernization his maturing population can cope with. A much more cynical figure isn’t far behind the soothing image, however. The Crown Purse Bureau, his economic arm, is the majority shareholder in Thailand’s heavy industry across the board—the corporations include the most powerful in construction, banking and telecommunications. (Bhumibol also owns personal stakes in them—like Thai Insurance Company independent of the CPB.) The CPB hold leases for the properties of many large western hotels, including the Four Seasons.

In 2007 the CPB served evictions to entire districts of food stall vendors—many of them very long-term tenants—in the service of a scheme to create the “Champs-Élysées of Asia.” This was only one maneuver on a much larger strategy, in which, according to a muckraking article in the Asia Sentinel, “most of Bangkok’s best real estate is owned by Thailand’s royal family through the [CPB.]” Sadder still perhaps is that most Thais live under the fiction that this Frankenstein of Darwinian capitalism is, in fact, a charity.

With such a clear-cut economic incentive, is it any wonder that there is no urban planning in Bangkok? The city is broken up into districts that were thrown up fast and all look the same—low-slung concrete terraces dotted with plazas and high rises. Because of the pollution, it’s impossible to keep anything clean. When a section gets too old and its soot covered buildings start to crumble, the government clears out a slum for a shiny new development. Beneath ancient decrepit signage, touting the wonders of another era, businesses in the older districts are left to battle it out for warm-bodies. A Playboy Bunny shaped sign still trumpets to 70s soul brother GI’s. “Jim Man Tailors and Silk.”

Now, the process has been brought to a virtual standstill by the slowdown of tourism. Construction sites either lie dormant, guarded by rent-a-cops and Buddhist shrines or just save face with skeleton crews. The English language business daily, The Nation, recently reported that, on the beach tourist haven of Phuket: “48% of all new hotel developments…are experiencing major construction delays triggered by the global economic downturn and concerns over Thailand’s political stability.” (Almost certainly a conservative figure.) When a few English-speaking Bangkok residents admitted the local economy’s woes, they were always quick to add that things were much worse in the South.

Thailand is officially a constitutional monarchy but Bhumibol—and the oligarchy he represents—frequently exercise naked political power to shut down democracy. Most famously, in September of 2006, after Thaksin Shinawatra, a rich populist backed by the country’s poor, was forced out after launching the  country’s first social welfare policies. The army— hurling charges of lese majeste against Thaksin and his cronies—staged a successful coup d’état. The king’s silence was deafening.

More recently, the monarchy has utilized a vast-array of social, military and economic tactics to shut down reform including corruption hearings, the banning of opposition political parties and destabilizing the country’s finances to retain control of the country. The popular political wing of the monarchists is a yellow (the royal color) shirted mob that frequently appears in force to bully the peasants back in line.

In late November, during a period when the reformers had been swept into power, Sondhi Limthongkul, head of the PAD— People’s Alliance for Democracy—threatened a bank-run by his supporters if the government did not step down. “The whole financial system of Thailand will go down the drain,” he told the media, much of which he owns. Sondhi was rewarded for his fidelity to the system with an assassination attempt. In April, members of the Army sprayed his chauffeured car with 100 rounds of M-16 fire, one of which grazed his skull.

Two months after the shooting, a recuperated Sondhi started talking. Comparing the army to the “Cosa Nostra,” Sondhi said he had been shot because he had “revealed the secrets of a lady who appears close to King Bhumibol.” Later, he gently raised the possibility—to a round-table of reporters—that the Reds (democrats) and Yellows could work together reforming the kingdom. “The only difference between red and yellow,” he said “is that when there’s a change we believe that change will have to incorporate the monarchy institution.” In other words, the throne might survive Bhomibol, but the monarchy’s power would be reduced. Sort of like in Nepal.

Perhaps the royalists had gone too far for Big Business’s tastes as well. In late November the PAD had been dispatched to storm the airport, which they did, shutting it down for a week. The elites were biting into the country’s jugular vein, tourism, and not letting go until the pro-democracy reformist opposition relented. Reformers again lost the government, through a combination of economic pressure and a rigged judiciary, but for the pro-business oligarchy it was a pyrrhic victory. Standard & Poor’s immediately downgraded Thailand’s rating and images of tourists being stranded by mobs holding up pictures of the king were beamed around the globe. All this political upheaval was not good for business.

The octogenarian king might be nearing his end, but he is determined to shore up his legacy any way he can. As an incident highlighted in late August—when a former journalist was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for violating his majesty ‘s dignity by criticizing him—Bhomibol looked ready to impose another round of clampdowns. The old geezer has been having some health problems recently, and was admitted to a hospital for “fatigue.”  Yet even while he’s preparing himself for reincarnation, the “great ruler” is fighting to ensure that his family’s plundering of Thailand outlasts him. No wonder he’s so sensitive to criticism.

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44 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. wengler  |  September 27th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Good article. I will watch future developments with much greater interest.

  • 2. foo  |  September 27th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    this, despite Thailand still part of the Third World. Officially, the US and Thailand have several bi-lateral treaties. More importantly, Thailand was an important buffer in US anti-communism strategies as far back as 1954, when it joined SEATO.

    Umm no, if thailand was a US ally it cannot be part of
    the “third world by definition. Third world == term
    invented by nehru about non-aligned countries. First
    world == us, nato, allies. Second world == warsaw pact.
    Third world == NAM. The swiss were and always have been
    third world, for example

  • 3. Christo  |  September 27th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Great post. I was wondering what was happening with those airport demos. Last night I saw a current affairs report on the Thai army winning hearts and minds in the south that made me want to puke.

  • 4. LM  |  September 27th, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    It’s true that most of my countrymen are stupid and blind about the king. But not all of us are. Our time is coming.

  • 5. Ong bak  |  September 27th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    This article is full of shit. For starters, the king’s family, unpopular? I lived in Thailand for 2 years. They love the king. They revere him. And after spendign the last 24 months with my syphilitic nose sucking up fumes out of a cheap whore’s manhole, I think I like him too.

  • 6. bemused  |  September 27th, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Re: “The swiss were and always have been
    third world, for example.”

    We can only dream…

  • 7. Ong bak  |  September 27th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Did I already mention that I like to suck the juices out of a 5-baht whore’s sphincter? Cuz I do.

  • 8. Ranger One  |  September 27th, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Great read, thanks.

    Somehow you managed to write it without once saying “Land of Smiles”.

    2. Foo gets a blue ribbon as well.

    This post and the Memphrica guy have made some quality addtions to ExiledOnline.

  • 9. foo  |  September 27th, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Re: “The swiss were and always have been
    third world, for example.”

    We can only dream…

    No dreams necessary. They wre non-aligned .

  • 10. madeline albright  |  September 28th, 2009 at 3:07 am

    Foo, for nirvana’s sake, they’re using third world in the more general sense meaning a “developing nation.” Economics. Nothing to do with cold war political alignments. Why can’t you grasp that my good man?

  • 11. אברהם  |  September 28th, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Foo:

    Could… could it be possible that the term “Third World” has economic dimensions that have outlived the paradigm of the Cold War? Ugh. Historical materialism in my Exiled article?

  • 12. darthafro  |  September 28th, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Foo: Wikipedia disagrees with you. Check the map.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_world

  • 13. Ong bak  |  September 28th, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Wow, I can’t believe you guys give me such freedom of expression here. Your rock!

  • 14. patrick  |  September 28th, 2009 at 10:28 am

    The fun can be taken out of anything I reckon. My mates and I are looking forward to visiting those thirty quid a toss whores when we’re working again. I’ll still go but I’ll probably tip this time.

  • 15. Anonymous Commenter  |  September 28th, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Your critique is a bit too dramatic I think, though you’ve sort of got the general trend. There are a number of omissions that would offer better context.

    The beggars, for example, are almost exclusively Burmese, Khmer, Rohingya or other refugee nationalities – not to say that there aren’t desperately poor Thais, but most of the beggars aren’t Thai. Once you live here a while you can tell the ethnicities apart to a degree.

    Mentioning Thaksin, social welfare programs and the coup in direct order gives the reader the impression that he must have been thrown out for instituting programs to help the poor. The truth is much more complex and I don’t think I’d be going too far to say that in any way lionizing Thaksin would be like the people who lionize Chavez in Venezuela. The enemy of your enemy isn’t your friend, he’s just convenient as a prop. The Temasek deal alone would have made Bernie Madoff skip a beat. Thaksin was probably a necessary evil on a rocky road to democratization, but he was a thorough cheat who got started in business through a government monopoly on cell phones granted through, let’s say, less-than-transparent means.

    You do pay taxes here, quite comparable to America actually and almost every business owner I know (outside of bars or outright illegal establishments, like back home) pays them fairly religiously because the Thai IRS, while not exactly incorruptible, works on a quota system that makes it much tougher in many ways than our own IRS, which was finally defanged after decades of attempts in the 1990s.

    It’s generally spelled Sukhumvit.

    The economic problems of tourism are bad, that’s for sure, and a lot of it is of the Thais’ own making – the airport shutdown, the protests, the coups, etc. Still, you kept highlighting tourism as if all they do here is pander to Westerners on holiday. That’s what’s most easily visible to tourists, but the reality is that the country has a large export base for all kinds of goods (it’s among the largest rice and chicken exporters in the world, maybe the top chicken exporter) and the global drop in demand has caused tons of factories to shut down, putting a lot of pressure on the tourist sector, which has been hit even worse because of the economic woes and the missteps. It’s unfair to characterize Thailand as a monochromatic economy.

    Finally, and this could get me in trouble I suppose, but you wrote an entire article about the royal family in Thailand and didn’t mention The Crown Prince. That shows that you need to hit the books. The succession is arguably the number one issue behind all of what’s going on right now and the cause for most of the posturing from all sides (and there are more than two, which you did somewhat allude to in discussing the strange case of Sonthi). The Economist article on the same topic was more circumspect and they’re generally pretty douchebaggish about making everything about “The Market,” but their article was really much better because it didn’t try so hard to incorrectly explain what’s going on in Thailand. Got that issue banned in Thailand too, for what it’s worth.

    Wouldn’t agree with many of your general characterizations about problems, just your one-sided focus and the inaccuracies stated or alluded to.

    I would advise other readers who aren’t familiar with The Kingdom to read more elsewhere. There are plenty of very critical and accurate accounts out there that don’t try so hard to make the place sound like a Hellhole that it isn’t.

  • 16. Anonymous Commenter  |  September 28th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Oops – typo in there:

    “Wouldn’t agree with many of your general characterizations about problems, just your one-sided focus and the inaccuracies stated or alluded to.”

    That should read “wouldn’t DISagree…”

  • 17. Iok Sotot, Eater of Souls  |  September 28th, 2009 at 11:12 am

    This is a terribly sad article, the Thais are lovely people and deserve mmuch better.

  • 18. Anonymous Commenter  |  September 28th, 2009 at 11:34 am

    “But in 1946, his brother, the king, was murdered at point-blank range and Bhumibol was shipped in from a Switzerland.”

    Forgot this one, it’s an important detail. The current king was not “shipped in” from anywhere to succeed, he was in the damn palace when it happened and saw his brother that morning – that’s why the death is controversial. A simple googling of Wikipedia could have taught you this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananda_Mahidol#Events_of_9_June_1946

    This is just sloppy work. I love The eXile and thoroughly enjoy Ames’s writing on workplace violence and other topics (and Taibbi’s, though he’s no longer with The eXile), but you don’t get points for stories full of mis-characterizations and factual inaccuracies.

  • 19. brian  |  September 28th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    The nicest people money can buy yet
    “Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril”-

  • 20. STM  |  September 28th, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Anonymous Commenter: you don’t see the irony of anonymously writing: “this could get me in trouble I suppose”? Mostly, it’s important however to point out that you seem bent on splitting hairs.
    What you do not add to that last comment is that, before he took the throne, Bhumibol returned to Switzerland after the murder. Weird.

  • 21. Anonymous Commenter  |  September 28th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    “you don’t see the irony of anonymously writing: “this could get me in trouble I suppose”?”

    Did you see me disputing the absurdity of the laws that prompted me to mention that? No. I’m not disputing that at all and the author gets points for nailing some of the complexity in application, though it’s also worth noting that it’s even more complex than stated and that The King has protested the existence of the laws publicly on more than one occasion and regularly pardons foreigners prosecuted under them. They’re really useful for clubbing political opponents over the head though if you’re a Thai politician, so they remain.

    “Mostly, it’s important however to point out that you seem bent on splitting hairs.”

    Disagree. It’s not at all splitting hairs to point out the succession issue, without which any discussion on the topic of what’s going on with the political actors here is like discussing healthcare reform in the US without discussing campaign finance. Pointing out the spelling of Sukhumvit was splitting hairs for sure.

    “What you do not add to that last comment is that, before he took the throne, Bhumibol returned to Switzerland after the murder. Weird.” Yeah, I didn’t feel the need to add that as it wasn’t directly relevant to the point I was addressing. I also didn’t add the conspiracy theories and the rest of the story, which is pretty interesting and which I’d recommend just on general interest.

    As for the general thrust of what you’re getting at, look, people fly over here all the time, visit some go-go bars, see some bums on the street, see the tourist activity and then write an article about it. We see it day in and day out. It’s a popular destination and it’s easy to stereotype. I did not dispute some of the focus of the article, but it’s needlessly hyperbolic to the point of misrepresenting what Thailand’s like and has a number of facts either wrong or misrepresented. I didn’t even bring up why the cab driver is quiet. It’s because the author doesn’t speak Thai to him. Speak some Thai and I guarantee he won’t pipe down about Thaksin and the police forcing him to pay bribes and how much it costs to rent his taxi for a day and whether you have a Thai wife and how many kids you have and how many kids he has and everything else that most taxi drivers talk to you about. But a stereotypically meditating brown third worlder makes a more compelling character than a flesh and blood taxi driver (probably a farmer from Nong Khai).

    I think it’s important when you’re attempting journalism to get the facts straight and I don’t think what I did was mostly nitpicking. If the piece didn’t go out of its way to paint a specific picture of Thailand then I would consider it hair splitting to point out that the beggars aren’t usually Thai and that tourism is not the only sector of the economy and that Thaksin was not run out of office for promoting social programs and that you actually do pay taxes here. Yeah, it’s a corrupt third world country, but it’s not a banana republic from a cartoon. It’s a complex society with its own political ecology that goes beyond bargirls and beggars and massive disparity of wealth.

    Really the fact that Thaksin was, himself, a massively corrupt shitheel and the complete omission of The Crown Prince are the most two important takeaways from what I wrote. If you take interest in further reading on nothing else, you’ll want to read up on those topics because you simply cannot begin to grasp what’s going on here without familiarizing yourself with the trajectories of those two. And it’s an interesting bunch of political intrigue, frankly.

  • 22. Spanky  |  September 29th, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Anonymous Commenter’s posts contain more interesting and accurate information about Thailand than the article itself. Cheers for your contributions! Feel like writing a whole piece?

    The article is okay, but it smacks of someone who’s been to Thailand once, for a week or two.

    Also, it’s full of typos and spelling errors.

  • 23. jim fry  |  September 29th, 2009 at 5:05 am

    great writing, very descriptive, the poor prostitutes!,I’ll never go there because of the violent regime

  • 24. Elvin  |  September 29th, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Anonymous Commenter is a fucking shill (whether he knows it or not) who is mixing official information with an ounce of fake skepticism. He knows less about Thailand than the writer, who at least, is interesting.

  • 25. WE  |  September 29th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Anonymous commentator, I also think your posts are better than the actual article. It doesn’t make for quite the sensationalist read, but as you’ve mentioned, crude caricatures of places like Thailand have a niche market in that they appear to extrapolate on all of the stereotypes and add the perception of depth while remaining one-dimensional to some degree.

    I spent almost 5 years in Kazakhstan and Russia and once you learn to speak the language(s) and strip off the patina of culture shock and fascination, you often find that the society you are living in is nothing like the one you experienced in your first few months. Matt’s article, while entertaining, reminds me of the type of simplifications you get from hack journalists writing about Russia from their laptops at the Posh Cafe on Kamergersky Pereulok. They tend to be the kind of people who never learn Russian, never venture beyond Koltsevaya unless they’re going to the airport, and think that English speaking liberal Russians are unfiltered conduits of truth. I spent a few months in Thailand but what I really know is superficial. You really have to dig in and live in a place for some time to get even a glimmer of what’s going on, but most people would rather just write colorfully about what’s apparent after a week or two of backpacking. Maybe you should start writing, you’ve got that unobstructed view that most seem to be lacking.

  • 26. Chelsea Ann  |  September 29th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Very evocative–I enjoyed getting a glimpse into this world.

  • 27. armchair_intellectual  |  September 29th, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    The point here is that he IS a tourist–it’s obviously not a piece where the author is expected to “dig in and live there for awhile.” That’s not what it’s trying to set up.

    It’s also trying to get readers to take the reverence of the King that they see in the Western media with a few grains of salt.

    As a writer, I know that any time you take on a subject that people know a lot about, you open yourself up to criticism–some of it warranted, but not all.

  • 28. Frank McG  |  September 30th, 2009 at 1:07 am

    All those chicks?

    They have dicks.

  • 29. Nicolai Ceske  |  September 30th, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Stayed in Bangkok for about six months back in 2003. I’m no expert on the city, the politics, or the culture but I made friends with a lot of bright guys who’d been living there for a long time and we discussed a lot of the topics being touched upon in this article.

    I’m not going to go through all of the items I disagree on or see differently, but I think the writer does make some very broad generalizations of the society there.

    They are unmistakably “poor” by Western standards and the people at the top do have a vast majority of power and wealth (where have we heard that before? :) But I don’t see any reason why one would expect things to be any different than they are.

    This is a largely undereducated, economically immature country with a mainly rural population. Of course you will find extreme poverty and prostitution in this environment. Should one expect it to be like an upper-middle class city in Europe or the US?

    It sounds a bit like the writer has just arrived in Thailand and is absorbing all of the shocking differences that Bangkok has in comparison with the United States. In an effort to make sense of it he is trying to find reasons why it could be in such a “dismal” state.

    Evil monarchy…corrupt politicians…crashing economy…all the usual, most obvious suspects are present.

    In my opinion, the reasons behind why so many people have less is much more complex than whats been outlined.

    I’m no genius, but I can see that things are never as simple as they seem on the surface.

    BTW, Thai’s are quite accepting to the shit that life throws at them due to their religion. I think thats something to be commended rather than looked down upon.

    Interesting and well represented article regardless. Thanks for sharing your opinions.

  • 30. Whatever666  |  September 30th, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Matt Harvey, what the fuck is your problem? Now, Mark Ames and the other top editors of The Exiled have a heightened risk of being thrown in jail if they visit Thailand for whores. Good going.

  • 31. Helmut  |  October 1st, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Matt sorry to say this but you don’t know much about Thailand, it is a very onesided story with a lot of hearsay. I’m living 15 years in Thailand so far, the country is neither paradise nor hell.

  • 32. thuggin  |  October 2nd, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    what kind of loser do ya gotta be to PAY for a handjob? i don’t even let my girlfriend give me one … i can do THAT myself.

  • 33. Chris  |  October 5th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    “Umm no, if thailand was a US ally it cannot be part of
    the “third world by definition. Third world == term
    invented by nehru about non-aligned countries. First
    world == us, nato, allies. Second world == warsaw pact.
    Third world == NAM. The swiss were and always have been
    third world, for example”

    =

    Dumbest paragraph that I’ve ever read. Even if this is the context under which the term was invented, this definition is currently completely irrelevant.

  • 34. Johnny D.  |  October 11th, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I dunno, I liked the article at face value. Harvey didn’t say or even suggest that it was anything more than a tourist’s perspective.

    A bunch of haters on the Interwebs got something better from Mom’s basement, you say? Either fuck off or sign up and write for the rag. You can disagree with a civil tongue in your head.

    And, yes, Anonymous Commenter is completely splitting hairs.

  • 35. Uncle B  |  November 1st, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Soon, the U.S. will be exporting 12 year old Daughters with blue eyes and blond hair to the Arab Princes in exchange for oil, and even the ugly ones if they think they can get away with it, just so those Mustangs and Hummers can roar! Now, with all thoise hormones in the meat here in the U.S. the Princes are getting a bargain dream come true, very horney little girls with big tits, nice round asses, ready to go, no priming necessary! This ought to pleans the old senators, someo\ne else to sell out so they can continue playing 1940’s war games while China stages an economic war on the U.S. and wins! Sadly the U.S. is not really ahead of the Thai people, they eat bugs to survive, and fuck and do blow-jobs for sp ort – they do not die from this, and they make some cash in an otherwise empoverished nation! What will the great hulking american Neanderthal do for food next time the shit hits the fan stateside? He will peridh under his own great weight of starvation for lack of more food Thai’s eat in a month to survive! and he still won’t eat bugs, not yet anyway!

  • 36. Seinbeetre  |  January 12th, 2010 at 2:10 am

    Nah Johnny D.

    He aint splitting hairs. What is the use of an article that describes a country the way it most definitely isn’t. Live in the country and learn the language, then you can write an article about it, while you most likely still won’t understand what is really going on.

    The article is just the typical foreign “journalism” that does not even bother to try and understand the background of a culture but immediately judges it on one’s own cultural values. Its worse than useless as it creates a completely unrealistic image for the readers, at worst creating or supporting stereotypes.

    Still living in Thailand I can say that Anonymous is far closer to the truth.

    @27 If he is clearly writing from a tourist perspective he should refrain from certain statements that are just plain wrong such as the King’s family being unpopular. I am sorry but even as a tourist you should get the idea that this ain’t the case.- If you plan to write an article on a country, even if its from a tourist perspective make sure you get a more balanced view.

  • 37. Stephen  |  March 2nd, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Matt,

    You call the CPB a “Frankenstein of Darwinian Capitalism.” Wouldn’t it be better described as a Frankenstein of crony capitalism? Considering its history, it’s not particularly fit, rather it has simply sweetheart dealt/looted itself out of trouble by using the levers of power.

  • 38. Thaifrelst  |  September 13th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I think all of you are wrong. Foreigners living in Thailand has a huge problem; They have to convince themselves that they are doing the right thing.

    How often do you read from men living in Thailand that they have met their wife’s in a bar? Are all of the wife’s teachers?

    The first thing I learned after spending some time in Thailand is that everybody is living on lies.

    You can hardly find an honest person anywhere. Not dishonest to me, but to them selves.

    You have to understand Thailand culture my woman constantly telling me.

    No, I say. I am norwegian, I have my own culture. When you comes to Norway I am not telling you to follow norwegian culture.

    I think the thai people biggest problem is to open their eyes. Sometimes it looks for me that they dont want to see the truth.

    Most thais are afraid of the unknown.

    Am I talking about my woman? NO!! She has proven for me that thai can lift them selves after the hair. Just give them the chance.

    Do you guys know where you find buddhist people? No? I can tell you. You find them on the west side of Norway.

    My woman call me angry man. I am proud of beeing angry. Also against my selves sometime.

  • 39. SiamSiam  |  February 8th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    So Thaksin is your idea of democracy? His wife’s brother was appointed head of the military. His personaly lawyer was appointed foreign minister. His wifes second brother was appointed prime minister. Start using your brains, somewhere lost in your shoes.

  • 40. joseph  |  June 28th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Yes, a big slip-up to write that king was in Switzerland when his brother was shot in the head in the secure inner sanctum of the royal palace.

    The present king and his mother were among the few other people in those rooms that night. At the time of the murder, the monarchy in Thailand hung by a thread, and some reports say the brother Ananda was ready to decline the whole mess and return to his pristine life in Switzerland (which is where the queen mother actually lived for most of her life following the murder and the rise of her second son).

    It seems clear that the present king dedicated his life to restoring and protecting the monarchy, not the people. It really worked, but look at the sees her sowed:

    His heir, the crown prince, who appears to be a mental deficient (possibly due to inbreeding in the royal line — Chulalongkorn married and had children by five of his half sisters and the present line is descended from them)is a detested creep who has left an entire cesspool of ugly actions in his wake.

    Another daughter appeals to be another inbred deficient who is rumored to be a recipient of one of the infamous Saudi jewels.

    The oldest daughter married an American and was essentially banished by the king, though she is working hard to get back in good graces now.

    The only apparently normal one of the bunch, the fat princess, is a lesbian who will probably never be allowed to reign.

    One has to wonder is it was worth killing his brother. If money and power is the object, I guess so — he is said to be worth $65 billion — but what and ugly legacy.

  • 41. Wally  |  November 19th, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I have lived in Thailand for 23 years. You know not what you’re trying to write about.

  • 42. Mitch  |  October 15th, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Fantastic article!

    Over time, more like you will raise and Not fear Thailand’s brutal strategy to intimidate and oppress their, as well as the international pussy folk and – Speak Up!

    The fall of Thailand’s Monarchy and their connected mafia and other royalists is near, very near.

    Can’t wait to see all – and that means All these sickening power and wealth hungry Thai royalists being brought before an international human rights law. After the trial of Nuremberg, this gotta be the second most interesting trial. To hell with all this Thai Royal Bullshit.

    Then, Thailand and its people – will be free !

  • 43. Mitch  |  October 15th, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Ong Bak, hey you, yes, faggot!
    ‘This article is full of shit. For starters, the king’s family, unpopular? I lived in Thailand for 2 years. They love the king. They revere him. And after spending the last 24 months with my syphilitic nose sucking up fumes out of a cheap whore’s manhole, I think I like him too’

    How difficult is it NOT to love one, if you’re being hammered it in from baby age onwards and, to reinforce it, punished by lethal punishment, if you DON’T.

    Holy cow, wake up, idiot.

  • 44. Mitch  |  October 15th, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Iok Sotot

    Agree.

    But then, the Thai must first accept the truth and second, get rid of this royal bullshit and inbreed!


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