As a party of Indian tourists left a Pratunam restaurant and waited for a coach last Sunday evening, members of rival gangs spilled out of the next-door pool hall — guns blazing. The Indian visitors and others were caught in the crossfire including possibly even an AK-47. One of the Indian tourists, 41-year-old Dheeraj Gakhreja, was shot and killed on the spot. Another Indian, a Lao and two Thais were hit, but not fatally. The unprecedented display of blazing guns is still somewhat mysterious. The cause of the sudden battle is yet to be revealed. At press time, police had nine of the youths and men in custody, with warrants for another 18. At least one of the gangs appears to be from the southern province of Chumphon — a serious way-stop on the meth-heroin-ice drug smuggling train, if that even means anything.
The director of a tambon school in Phayao managed to demonstrate pretty well every systemic problem in one great example. Ban Dong School of Dok Kham Tai district has an 8th grader who is autistic. While teachers left pupils unsupervised, a startling number of her classmates beat the crap out of her, stomped on her face — captured, because it is 2018 even in Phayao — on mobile phone video. Teachers and school director Nanthapol Fusrikul served no lessons on autism, before or after, and went straight to cover-up mode. From the eight identified bullies’ parents, they gathered 500 baht each and offered the bribe to the horrified victim’s parents to hush it all up. That was the subject in Ban Dong School classes last week, that bribery and payoffs are the way to go.
Life teaches that most human actions have two kinds of consequences. There is the predictable kind, such as if you complain in a Buddhist country about the monks ringing temple bells too early in the morning for your sensitive ears, social media is going to be on your case like white on rice. There also are unpredictable consequences, such as who could know in advance that such a complaint would blow a fuse of the brand new (acting) commissioner of the Immigration Bureau Police? And you might not like Pol Maj Gen (soon to be Lt Gen) ‘Big Joke’ Hakparn when he’s ticked off. He ordered a full shakedown of the entire two-tower Star View Rama 3. He immediately found a Korean criminal fugitive and did a meticulous “papers, please” on residents, renters and building owners, with lots of ticky-tack charges, fines and sudden visa problems uncovered.
In yet another twofer by Pol Maj Gen (soon to be three-star) Big Joke, he busted the Visa On Arrival scam at Don Mueang airport. It was pretty simple, really. When there was a long line of arriving Chinese or Indians, flunkies of the immigration visa-stampers informed them that for just 200 baht more, they could skip the line, save an hour or three and head to town. Like all excellent corruption plots, it seemed a mutually beneficial deal, and 200 baht a head adds up very quickly. There now are “no tipping” signs at all VOA airport desks.