HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

A brief history of the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club

500,000 Brits Have Pensions Frozen

Under the spotlight – Pattrawut Muti

Oscar is One Lucky Cat!

A brief history of the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club

The Chiengmai Gymkhana Club out on the old Lamphun road once again played host to this year’s Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes tournament. Many tournament goers, in between watching the cricket, having a few cold beers and enjoying the food on offer may have looked at the lovely old colonial building and wondered about its history.

The renowned 150 year old raintree that is the heart of the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club.

The club was founded in 1898 by teak loggers and British expatriates who defined the goals of the club as being “the encouragement of sport in Northern Siam”. At the time the club was founded there were about 50 foreigners living in the Chiang Mai area, these included the British Consul, British and French Vice Consuls from Nan, Forestry Department officials, American missionaries and the teak and trading companies.

The sporting facilities at the inception of the club included polo, horse racing, shooting, athletics, a 9 hole golf course; tennis courts; squash courts; football and cricket; and darts. It is believed to be first sporting club established in Thailand one of the oldest clubs in Asia. It is the venue for the first cricket match ever played in Thailand.

This lovely old building is a scene of serenity set in the city, surrounded by gracious old trees, the heart of the Club must certainly be the magnificent old tree set directly behind it. At least 150 years old, the rain tree is currently covered in blossoms. The Club’s annual Christmas Party is held under the tree. While the span of the tree is certainly magnificent, the sheer size of it must be seen to be grasped.

The Club continues to host meetings and offer 9 hole golf in a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere that reeks of the old colonial days.


500,000 Brits Have Pensions Frozen

By Colin Jarvis

Last month the European Court of Human Rights upheld the British government’s decision to freeze the pensions of British pensioners living in Australia, Thailand and some other non-EU countries. One third of the judges dissented from this ruling.

This means that a British pensioner will receive the same government pension from the day they retire, to the day they die. This could be a period as long as 35 years.

Pensioners who remain in Britain, or live in some other countries, will have their pension index linked to Britain’s inflation.

In the past 30 years the British state pension has increased by more than 400%. Should history repeat itself it means that British pensioners, living in Thailand, could end up receiving a state pension that is 25% of the value of their ex-colleagues residing in the UK. Yet during their working life they will have paid the same in contributions to the British government in order to pay for their pension.

Although the government puts forward many arguments as to why this arrangement is “fair” the real reason is that they believe it will cost the government ฃฝ billion a year to pay these pensioners who are unlikely to vote or cause a fuss.

In a previous article we tried to show that it is to Britain’s economic benefit to encourage as many pensioners as possible to live abroad. Let us now consider the aspect of fairness.

Since writing the first article many pensioners have approached me to explain that they have an arrangement with a relation in the UK so that the British government believes they are residing in the UK and pays their pension in the UK. So it appears that if a pensioner has compliant relations in the UK they have an unfair advantage over pensioners that do not.

For over 100 years the British Army has employed Ghurkha soldiers to fight on behalf of Great Britain. Until last year Ghurkha soldiers were given a pension that was reasonably substantial by Nepalese standards. These soldiers were never promised anything else and they signed up happily, indeed there were always far more applicants than vacancies. Last year the courts in the UK upheld that the Ghurkha soldiers should be given the same pension as their British counterparts on the basis of fairness.

A retired Ghurkha soldier, living in Nepal on any British soldier’s pension is a relatively rich man. I do not begrudge the Nepalese this benefit I simply use this instance to show that the British government can decide to be fair, even though it costs them more.

Why did the British government accept the position of the Ghurkhas and will not accept the position of the British pensioners?

One reason is obviously that there are very many fewer retired Ghurkhas than there are British pensioners living abroad.

Another reason is that a very effective publicity campaign was undertaken on behalf of the Ghurkha pensioners, the figurehead of which was that famous British iconic actress Joanna Lumley.

The British government is unlikely to change its stance unless it believes that the present and future pensioners, who decide to live abroad, will cause a fuss and lose them votes.

The “Baby Boomers” are now starting to retire. This will greatly increase the number of pensioners eligible for a British state pension and at a time when the British economy is in a very bad state. The government will therefore be very reluctant to give foreign retirees the same rights as those residing in the UK. Unless, that is, there are votes in it.

If you are or are likely to be affected by the European Court’s decision, or perhaps you know someone who will be affected, then you may wish to become involved in trying to change the British government’s mind. If you wish to do this a very simple way to start is to look at the web pages of Pension Parity UK. Their website is www.pension-parity-uk.com. This site gives the history of all the court cases and suggests further action. If this iniquitous situation becomes more widely known it is likely to become a serious political topic. If you have an MP, and know how to contact him or her, why not do so now during the current electoral campaign? If not, go to www. parliament.uk where you will find a list on names and contact details. If you happen to know Joanna Lumley perhaps you would ask her if she would like to help.

Under the spotlight – Pattrawut Muti

By Jai-Pee

What happens when you cross the guitar playing of Jimmy Page or Jimmy Hendrix with that of Pete Townshend and add a little Thai red curry? Well, the unlikely mixture might come close to Pattrawut Muti’s exuberant and exciting music and playing. At thirty-five years old, and now a resident of Sansai, Chiang Mai, Pattrawut, or Eak as he prefers to be called, is a master in a class of his own. He has three limited edition albums already released and his music has been recently described by a British rock composer as ‘brilliant’.

Eak was born in neighbouring Lampang and his father, pursuing an army career, introduced him to the great sounds of pop music when he was at that impressionable age just before becoming a teenager. He listened to a wide range of music from the Beatles through to Perry Como and the influence of those singers and musicians is quite apparent in his own work. He arrived at Chiang Mai University to study physical education, still a major interest of his, about ten years ago. But sometime earlier on his thirteenth birthday, just like the song of Bryan Adams, ‘Summer of ‘69’, his father bought him his first guitar – a six-string acoustic. Eak’s father had already recognized a strong talent in his son, and did everything he could to promote and encourage him. Eak took to playing and composing just as a duck takes to water and it was not long before he began to experiment with electric guitar, having begun to learn the drums at age nine. When he arrived in Chiang Mai in his twenties he was already an accomplished musician. Following his graduation, he decided to make music his career. He now teaches electric guitar, bass guitar and drums at the Santi School of Music and Music Way School. He takes on private students, too, and when he is not teaching, he is hard at work playing with the rock band ‘DD’ or composing more songs.

His albums are released in limited edition only and they contain a fusion of contemporary metal with Thai music. His composition ‘Back Home Again’ from the ‘My Inspiration’ album is just such a classic – it owes a lot to the Beatles and at times is reminiscent of ‘Let It Be’, which just happens to be his favourite album. But other songs show him as a master of the electric guitar with fantastic fingering and lengthy solo spots that are dazzling in their brilliance and execution – ‘Country Colour’ being one such memorable and vivid song from his earlier ‘Infinity Imagination’ album. He readily admits to foreign influences in his music and is keen to acknowledge the greatness of people such as the Beatles, Deep Purple, The Carpenters and the Steve Moss Band. But underpinning all of this is his great love for modern Thai music, none more so than the songs of the supergroup ‘Carabao’, his all-time favourite musicians. He admires and respects their impact and influence on Thai culture with their music rooted in ordinary people, poverty, strife and love for their King – ‘Peua Chiwit’ (Songs for Life). Recognising the importance of expressing feelings and emotions while carrying a strong message, Pattrawut Muti is at the forefront of progressive music and his modest aim is that his music, with its individual style and unique sound, will touch the lives of others. Both the albums quoted above can be purchased privately by phoning 0845016974.

Oscar is One Lucky Cat!

Oscar would love to the spend the rest of his eight lives in a loving home.

This beautiful cat was found in the park, his jaw badly broken. He’s had surgery and is making a good recovery. He is currently in foster care. He’s only 8 months old and although he can be returned to the park, he’s an amazingly friendly and confident cat who just loves people! He will make a wonderful pet for someone looking for an active, chatty cat for company. Can you help? Gill 0871 891623 [email protected]