When one thinks of Thailand one might think of elephants, golden temples, beautiful beaches, elegant dancing girls and the spicy food with its wonderfully fragrant, soft Jasmine rice.

The Pheu Thai government is doing its best to ruin one of these icons.

One of the government’s headline policies in the run up to the general election last year was to guarantee to buy Hom Mali (Jasmine) rice at 20,000 Baht/tonne, and other white rices at 15,000 Baht/tonne – about 40% above the then current market price. This sounded great to the farmers, and was yet another great way to buy votes. The subsequent election was like turkeys voting for Christmas.

The scheme works with local millers storing the rice, and the government then trying to sell the rice on the open market. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the price of Thai rice is now about $170/tonne above similar rices from Vietnam and India, so overseas sales have fallen dramatically. (Sales fell 41% in the first two months of this year.)

Vast amounts of rice are being stored and going stale. In a year or two they’ll only be fit for the pigs. And storage doesn’t come cheap.

Millers have been mixing the Jasmine rice with cheaper rices. Initially they started by mixing the Jasmine rice with Patum Thani rice, which is also fragrant. Now Patum Thani is in such short supply that they’ve switched to non-fragrant long grain rices, including rices smuggled from neighbouring countries. This adulteration has already badly damaged the reputation of Thailand’s premium rice.

So, sales have been slashed, and the international reputation of Jasmine rice has been trashed, but still, the farmers are better off, right? Uh, no.

Some farmers are receiving only 9,000 Baht/tonne because they don’t have a truck to transport the rice to the rice mill, and have to take whatever price they’re offered by the miller.

Most farmers don’t have the equipment to dry the rice to the necessary level of moistness, so are offered low prices by the millers, who do have the necessary drying equipment.

Farmers depend upon the millers to weight the rice, and the scales can be rigged.

And there are other forms of corruption.

Millers can sell off the mortgaged rice, yet still continue to receive money from the government for storing the rice. They then buy rice to replenish their stores when the government calls the rice in. The inspectors who are supposed to monitor the rice in storage are, shall we say, not incorruptible. Or they may simply be shown a token storage amount of good rice.

Another scam is to take already mortgaged rice and then resubmit it as newly mortgaged rice, thus receiving double payment.

This scheme was always designed to benefit a select band of middlemen – not the farmers. And the cost so far is estimated at 260,000,000,000 Baht ($8.2 billion) – $188 for every man, woman and child in the country. (The cost estimate is from the Commerce Ministry.)

The Thai government is committed to continuing the scheme.


The front page headline in this morning’s Bangkok post declared that Lady Gaga had arrived in Bangkok in a private jet. Not being acquainted with her, I asked a young friend who she was. It seems she’s a chanteuse. My first reaction was that this was a pretty rum job for a member of the British aristocracy. Then I suspected a rat when my friend told me that she is, in fact, American. It’s absolutely clear from Debrett’s that foreigners, including colonial types, can not use English titles. It’s rather when Bob Geldof was given a knighthood. (I understand, again from my young friend, that he’s a popular entertainer who used to beguile audiences with his troupe of performing rats.) He wasn’t entitled to call himself “Sir Robert” because he was (and, I presume, still is) a Fenian. It does appear that “Lady” Gaga’s claim to the aristocracy is fraudulent. It is therefore most regrettably that the Thai authorities are unaware she is an impostor. Those in Malaysia were more on-the-ball and banned her.

If her misuse of a title weren’t enough, her rather vulgar “tweets” have shown her to lack the refinement of a true lady. (I understand from my young friend that a “tweet” is rather like an office memo with cc’s, but sent via Telex, rather than on paper.) Her first “tweet” read:

“I just landed in Bangkok baby! Ready for 50,000 screaming Thai monsters. I wanna get lost in a lady market and buy fake Rolex.”

One is left speechless.


when i take masterWhisky Portrait
out for a drag
i get to meet the neighbours
i can broadly divide them
into friends and enemies

my arch enemy of course
is pocky
the whore for whiskytreats
though i do feel a bit
sorry for her
she s younger than me
and seems very sad and lonely
her master never plays with her
and she s never allowed
to take her master
out for a drag
that s probably why
she comes to the fence
whenever master goes outside
and why she likes to lick
my master s hand
when he goes to stroke her

pocky lives with two other dogs
they don t come to the fence
but when i m out for a drag
and walk past their gate
they rush to and fro
which doesn t seem
very friendly to me

a little further down the street
is a miniature hush puppy dog
he s very old
he ll walk slowly to the gate
wagging his tail
with a surprising vigour
we ll rub noses for a bit
and then he ll lift his leg
and pee over the gate
i respond in kind by
peeing over the nearest bush
i think of him as an old friend

i m a bit wary of my gay stalker
i still see him
from time to time
and let him sniff my butt
as i sniff his
i guess i d call him a friend

near the entrance to the moobaan
there s a siberian husky
who i think also might be gay
he wears a decorated collar
with a little bell around his neck
very chi chi
and obviously spends hours
blow drying his fur
to make it particularly bouffant
he s very friendly though
and often moves from
lying in front of his personal fan
to say hello at the front gate

next door is a golden retriever
with what seems to be
a terrible case of oedema
he s so large
he can barely drag himself
to his feet
let alone walk
and he can barely bark
i guess he must feel bad
that he can t protect his master
against the frogs
it s very sad

and in the next house
there are three dogs which
bark and snarl as i pass
frantically trying to force their way
between the bars of the gate
definitely enemies
i just ignore them
there are quite a few
similar dogs around

even worse is the pomeranians
they re everywhere
in fact
i think there are probably
more pomeranians on my patch
than there are in pomerania
the house on the corner
has three of them
and they follow me
from the other side of the fence
the full length of their garden
yapping and baring their teeth

actually a lot of the dogs are foreign
what with the pomeranians from pomerania
the dalmations from croatia
the labradors from canada
the lion dog from china
and there s a little ball of
fuzzy black fluff
so i guess he s probably from africa

i m pretty sure that
they re all illegal immigrants
after all master tells me
hes never seen them signing in
at the immigration department
in fact i might be
the only proper thai dog here

some people think these dogs
who come over here
and steal ours doggie jobs
are in some way high class
well they re wrong
the ones that bark at me
so rudely
obviously don t know
who i am
they don t even recognise
one of the world s greatest living artists
only a lowbrow philistine
wouldn t know about art

i believe elvis presley
sang about dogs like these
which begins

you ain t nothing but a hound dog
barking all the time

it concludes

when they said you was high classed
well that was just a lie
when they said you was high classed
well that was just a lie
well you ain t ever caught a frog
and you ain t no friend of mine



The Greeks had a word for it, and that word was δωροδοκία; the Thais apparently didn’t have a word for it, so borrowed the English word “corruption”, only slightly mangling the pronunciation and adding a few tones.

The funny thing is, to someone raised in the West, corruption is all about secret deals done in smokey back rooms with dodgy handshakes, all kept very hush-hush. In Thailand, however, the blatancy of much of the corruption is almost laughable.

One recent case (of many, many, many) which springs to mind is the decision of the new government to buy a new iPhone and iPad for every member of parliament. Now, let’s forget that most MPs already have a mobile ‘phone, and some may lack the technical nous to use a tablet. The budget allocated for the purchase of the devices was 25% more than the retail cost of buying the absolute top of the range devices in both categories. The excess was undoubtedly destined for somebody’s pocket.

Another case was the estimated cost for building a few kilometres of elevated walkway. The estimated cost was, per kilometer, more than three times the actual cost of a similar, recently completed project. (And that project itself was almost certainly cost-padded for the benefit of someone or other.)

However, the recent actions by Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand almost defy belief. (MR are not his initials, they are rather a designation that show him to be of royal decent. He’s actually a great grandson of King Rama V.) Now, as governor of Bangkok there are plenty of issues to be addressed, from the dilapidated state of the pavements to, oh, I don’t know, the omnipresent corruption in official contracts. But rather than address any of these important issues, he decided that his priority was to extend the contract for running the Skytrain for a further 17 years until 2042, even though the current contract still has 13 years left to run. And he didn’t bother with anything so tiresome as a competitive tender. One can only applaud his advanced planning and forward thinking.

I had cynically assumed that MR Sukhumbhand had extended the contract apparently rather prematurely because he was a little short of cash and needed an instant kickback, and given that he’s shortly up for reelection, he needed to line his pockets now, rather than risk not being able to do so later. But a little chicken tells me that it’s not the governor who’s in line for a bumper payout: it’s a Mr. Big, who’s just gotten a little bigger.


The case of Ah Kong, or Uncle SMS as he’s commonly referred to, is shocking in many ways.

What is known for sure is that an assistant for former Prime Minister Abhisit received four text messages which insulted and (reportedly) threatened Her Majesty The Queen. The text of those messages has not, however, been made public.

What is also known was that Ah Kong is barely literate (he scraped a living as an odd-job man) and he claimed not to know how to send text messages.

What appears to be the case is that those four messages came from his ‘phone, though that is not a 100% certainty; the ‘phones ID could have been faked on the messages.

What is definitely not known for sure is who sent the messages.

Despite the apparent lack of certainty in the evidence, Ah Kong was sentenced to 20 years in prison under Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté laws. Not a great outcome for a sick old man, his body riddled with cancer.

His lawyers made eight applications for him to be released on the grounds of ill health, and so he could receive medical treatment. Each was refused. Apparently a poor, sick man dieing of liver cancer is considered a “flight risk”.

The courts considered his condition “not yet life-threatening” and that “the prison infirmary could meet his medical needs”.

When he recently complained of stomach pains he was given a handful of painkillers. Only three days later was he admitted to the infirmary. It didn’t meet his medical needs, and he promptly died.


It’s a bitter twist to think that if he hadn’t appealed against his sentence, he could well have been granted a royal pardon long before now, and he could have spent his final weeks or months with his grandchildren and loving wife, rather than locked up behind bars.



it was the one year anniversary
of my coming to live
with master
so i decided
i wanted to celebrate
and make master happy
i decided i d make him
a really special piece of art
i couldn t find any blue paper
but i did see some lovely grey paper
there was a problem though
the paper was rather stuck to the wall
still with a bit of perseverance
i was able to get it off

Ripped wallpaper

nothing can deter a great artist like me

master really liked my work
in fact when he saw it
he cried out
oh my god
i m just that good

Whisky art in grey

master can be a little insensitive at times
if i hear him say
one more time
just how beautiful pocky is
and just how soft her fur
i think i ll bark


pocky is one of the neighbour s
siberian huskies
they have two
along with a hushpuppy dog

she s an absolute whore
for whiskytreats
every time master goes outside
she comes to the fence
hoping master will give her
one of my treats
this makes me quite irate

master says i have jealousy issues
but they re called whiskytreats
for a good reason
not pockytreats

when she comes to the fence
i now try to nip her nose

and what sort of a name is pocky
fancy being named after
a japanese crunchy stick
dipped in chocolate
that s not a proper dog s name
far better to be like me
and named after the scots god