Dear Editor. My office and that of my neighbor was
recently broken into. Nothing of value was stolen in either building but it
was still, as they say, breaking and entering. The police came, had a look
and said that since nothing of value was taken there would be no
investigation. They only took photos for the report after my encouragement
to do so. They took no fingerprints, initiated no investigation.
A friend has had her house broken into twice with the
same lack of result from the police and another friend had her motorbike
stolen with the police again, saying there was nothing they could do.
I made a police report as did my friends but of course,
with no evidence and no investigation the burglar is free to break into more
offices and homes at will. What happened to the idea of catching criminals
to prevent further crime? Is there no training for police here? Perhaps it’s
part of the mai pen rai attitude? I do not know, but I must say I was rather
surprised at the nonchalant atttidue of the police. Perhaps it’s only
investigation worthy until the burglar breaks in and hurts or kills someone
in their home? A preventable crime were they to actually start investigating
crimes and pursuing criminals.
But perhaps the police academy here does not actually
train the police recruits in investigative techniques? I realize it’s an
underpaid job, so perhaps it’s time Thailand realized the need for decently
paid, professional police force?
Last week the son of a close friend joined a college in
Mae Jo as a new student. A quiet, studious lad he was eagerly looking
forward to making new friends and continuing his studies. During the whole
week he and the other new students, male and female, have been beaten (the
bruises on his stomach and shoulders prove it), humiliated and deprived of
sleep in the practice commonly known as “#1’I-C+!H.” This may not be a
problem that concerns many expats here but to my mind it is a stain on
Thailand’s character as bad as any that are more often complained about. My
friend’s son laughed off any suggestions that he should complain to the
college concerned as the staff and college authorities turn a blind eye to
A few minutes’ Googling revealed that the practice is
quite common- as one Thai critic put it: “it is not tolerated especially
being broadcast across media, if behind closed doors and people don’t see or
hear about it, all is fine”. I think it is high time it was broadcast in the
media, international as well as national, and that foreign bodies that
support Thai educational institutions should think twice about helping those
that tolerate such practices. Bullying, after all, does not stop at school.
Enjoying How Does Your Garden Grow column even in England
Just a brief note to say how much we enjoy reading your
column in the Chiang Mail Mail, which we access on line here in the UK. You
provide some really interesting angles on plants and people. It is
refreshing to read your wider perspective of gardening - I was fascinated
but your experience with the Marbled Cat Snake. Gardening is not just about
plants it is about all the many things that take place in and around our
gardening experiences. You may remember Ann and I visited Dok Mai last year
and we will be returning to Chiang Mai on a more permanent basis in the
coming Autumn and it will be interesting to visit Dok Mai and see the
changes that will have taken place as the garden matures.
What has become of ‘Dek Mong’?
In September last year a Stateless schoolboy, of Shan
parents but born in Thailand, was all the buzz in the media. Little ‘Mong’ (real
name ‘Sai Mawng’) was initially denied travel documents but PM Abhisit
intervened to allow him to travel to the international paper airplane
competition in Chiba, Japan.
Even though he is not a Thai citizen he represented
Thailand with honour, success and dignity. Before departing for Japan he
said, “I believe I will return as a champ to Thailand because I am doing
this for my father, mother and for the people in Shan State and Thailand.”
Little ‘Mong’ did succeed (in more ways than one) and due
to his success and, no doubt, the extensive media coverage he received, he
was granted the role of Youth Science Ambassador by the Science Ministry.
‘Mong’ stated that his dream and ambition is to study to become a pilot. The
Science Minister Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich promised, “We will offer him
scholarships”. (Thaindia news 24/9/09)
Well, this little boy has dropped out of the media’s
attention now but I am probably one of many wondering what has become of
him. Has he been granted the promised scholarship? Is he still fulfilling
the role of Youth Science Ambassador? And, more importantly, is he still one
of the 3.5 million Stateless residents of this country who have not been
granted citizenship (even though he was born here)? Are he and his parents
any closer to becoming Thai citizens?
Nawarat Bridge needs a traffic light
Today, I received an email with a letter giving the
Chiang Mai Governor’s office phone number. I felt this was a ‘sign’ that I
should make a complaint about the Nawarat Bridge traffic light that has been
out of order for more than ten days. I had already googled the governor’s
email address from the Provincial website. The email had not bounced back to
me but I did not receive any response in Thai or English either I called the
phone number printed on the official Provincial letterhead. No one answered
the phone. I glanced at the bottom of the letter and saw the number again
but the last two numbers were transposed. Most likely one number had been
I called the second number. That person refused to
identify the name of the office I had called. She asked why I wanted to
contact the Governor. I said I wanted to ask some information. She gave me
the phone number of the Provincial Office of Information. I phoned that
office and explained to the person who answered that I wanted to complain
about the Nawarat Bridge traffic light. She politely informed me there was a
sign there at Nawarat Bridge explaining why the traffic light was not
repaired. I said I cannot read Thai and I want to make a personal complaint
about the situation. She said I should phone the municipal department’s Suan
Yota or Traffic dept.
I called that number. Instead of the Suan Yota, it was
the phone of the office of Dir. Vichai. The receiver of the call hesitated
to say anything and tried to say she did not understand my accent when I
spoke Thai. So I spoke louder and I got from her a different phone number
for the Suan Yota. This time, yes, it was the Suan Yota but this office does
not accept calls for-out-of-order equipment. I should phone another number.
Using this number, an automatic recorded operator came on
with instructions to dial “0”. A young woman answered the phone and informed
me they do not “have the budget to repair” the transformer that had been
burned. I told her I had seen three traffic accidents with my own eyes. I
just could not accept that the city does not have a budget to repair the
A man came on the phone with the same reply about the
lack of budget. I asked him for another name or phone number to follow up.
He refused to mention any names. He said it was too soon after the recent
councilmen’s election to do anything about the budget.
Then, my husband felt sorry for me “spinning my wheels”
and dialing number after number. He said he appreciated my efforts trying to
do something to benefit the community. He gave me the mobile number of our
area’s elected City Councilman. The Councilman answered the mobile phone. I
could feel his smile in his voice. At first, he would only speak about his
side of the problem not listening to me. I spoke louder and louder until I
got his attention. I informed him that until the budget comes through that
it’s necessary to have a traffic policeman on duty 24 hours to direct
traffic or to set up a temporary light. How would he feel to see a young
person down on the street with the smashed pieces of a motorbike strewn on
the road? What if you were that young person’s parents— how would you feel?
I had seen sad repercussions like these three different times.
He assured me the municipality would solve the problem.
Lightless on Nawarat Bridge