It’s now been a little over five months since the elected government was overthrown in a coup d’état and military junta installed with General Prayuth Chan-ocha at its head. Since then the country has been under military rule it has been forbidden for anyone to write or say anything critical of the junta. And as the junta works to “restore happiness to the people” who would have any criticism anyway?

The junta has done a thorough job of exposing the problems with the rice pledging scheme initiated by the former government. It’s now been found that 70% of the rice stored is seriously degraded and a further 20% is so rotten it’s only fit for making ethanol. Only 10% is fit for sale. It would appear that a lot of the rice is old stock from somewhere or other which has been used to replace the good new crop which has then been sold off covertly. Genetic testing continues to determine how much of the rice has surreptitiously been brought in from abroad and passed off as Thai. The total loss from the damaged rice alone is estimated at 580-700 billion baht (US$17.8-21.4 thousand million), excluding bank loan interest and storage fees the government has yet to pay.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of negligence or worse by former Prime Minister Yingluck who was in charge of the scheme, none of the responsible bodies seems keen to charge her for her inaction. (And nobody is talking about prosecuting her brother, Lord Voldemort of Dubai, who designed the scheme.)

The government has pledged to cut out corruption. In the area of illegal encroachment into national parkland it’s done an excellent job. Already 500 poor peasants have been evicted. Doubtless it won’t be long before land is also reclaimed from the extraordinarily wealthy people who’ve built expensive resorts and created vast plantations where they shouldn’t.

And thinking of extraordinary wealth, the wealth of government ministers was recently disclosed by The Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission. Many of them are extraordinarily rich. General Prayuth, now the Prime Minister, has assets of 128 million Baht (US$3.9 million) which makes him relatively poor compared to some other cabinet members. He says he can explain his great riches, but hasn’t done so yet. Early days, though.

One of the junta’s first actions was to confirm spending US$11.8 thousand million on flood defences proposed by the previous government. I do wonder why that figure hasn’t gone down since corruption and its costs will be eliminated under the junta. Perhaps they’ll build to better quality or do the work faster putting up costs. It’s been three years since the terrible flooding of central Thailand and Bangkok. It’s about time something was done to prevent a repeat.

And in other news, the Thai Navy recently opened its new submarine base and submarine training centre at a cost of 540 million baht (US$16.8 million), even though Thailand hasn’t had a submarine since 1951 and doesn’t look likely to be getting one any time soon. Indeed, some say that in the shallow Gulf of Thailand submarines are easily spotted from the air so may not be particularly effective in the event of war. I wonder if there might be another explanation for the base’s construction.

It’s just occurred to me that this Postcard’s title is the same as a line from a song by a popular beat combo. Now, if only I could remember the next line…


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