Archive for July 26th, 2012|Daily archive page

Rice Redux

For more than 50 years Thailand has been the world’s largest rice exporter. Now, thanks to the populist policies of Thaksin’s puppet government, it’s lost that position. That title now belongs to India, and by year end Vietnam’s rice exports will almost certainly have surpassed Thailand’s too.

It’s not difficult to understand why this has happened. Thai rice, thanks to the government’s rice mortgage scheme – a scheme designed to enrich the middlemen in the trade, not the farmers – costs as much as $170/tonne more than rice from competitor countries. Consequently exports have fallen almost 50% since last year, and the government now has 12 million tonnes of mortgaged rice in storage, progressively losing its taste, texture and value. The cost of this follow so far: 260 billion Baht (that’s 8.2 billion Yankee Dollars, or 5.3 billion Great British Pounds).

So, this is the cost of populist politics and politicians.

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Police & Cons

In Thailand there are plenty of policemen who share a rather-too-close relationship with those they should be locking up. Indeed, there are plenty of policemen who should be locked up themselves for their manifold crimes, ranging from taking bribes to let motorists off for minor traffic law infringements (which is rampant in Thailand) to running brothels and casinos (both of which are apparently illegal in Thailand). The situation rather reminds me of the final line of Animal Farm:

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

It was a bit of a shocker, though, to learn that the National Police Chief, Priewpan Damapong, recently made a trip to Hong Kong to have a chin-wag with Thailand’s most famous convicted criminal and fugitive from justice, Thaksin Shinawatra, who just happens to be his brother-in-law (or rather, ex-brother-in-law because Thaksin and his wife technically divorced to prevent her assets being seized for his criminality).

Rent-a-mouth deputy Prime Minister Chalerm couldn’t see anything with the country’s top policeman hobnobbing with a convicted felon, replying “Why was it inappropriate?” when questioned by reporters.

However, for the rest of us, the only question that remains is whether Priewpan’s actions broke the law, or were simply an ethical breach of staggering proportions?

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No News from Laos

It appears that the young son of a British MP was arrested in Laos recently on drugs charges. For some inexplicable reason this story was totally ignored by every single newspaper in Britain. Surely not another superinjunction to protect the reputation of a member of parliament and their family?

My failure to find out who the MP concerned is gives me a bit of a stumper. Should I be commenting on the hypocrisy of the Conservative party – the so-called party of “family values”? Or should I be talking about the Labour party’s moral degeneracy? Or should I bemoan the abject failings of a Liberal upbringing? Answers on a postcard, please.

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