Before we invest 2 trillion baht in high-speed rail, we must first be able to have high-speed traffic, high-speed tax refunds, high-speed immigration queues ... and last but not least, high-speed justice. Parliament will be busy over the next few weeks with the usual political bluster surrounding constitutional amendments and massive loans for murky megaprojects. But perhaps our esteemed politicians should first consider some rather more pressing legislative changes, such as the following:
New Law No. 1: I realise Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is new at politics and public speaking but my Lord, her pronunciation of Thai words is simply appalling! As a prime minister of Thailand, I don't expect her to parlez Francais or speak the Queen's English, but for God's sake woman, when you're reading a prepared speech in parliament, at least try not to sound like you're a contestant on Season 12 of America's Next Top Model. Therefore, by law all prime ministers should be required to undergo a taxpayer-funded speech therapy course before being permitted to speak in parliament.
New Law No. 2: All those involved in producing the programme on the monarchy aired by Thai PBS should be flogged in public and submitted to a parade of shame. Let's hurl rotten tomatoes at them for daring to organise a free and honest debate on the contentious issue of lese majeste. These producers should just leave the Thai people alone, because although we want to be enlightened to new communication, medical and transport innovations, we prefer to remain in the Dark Ages when it comes to trivial matters like the very system by which we're governed.
New Law No. 3: Every time Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung walks into parliament he must first be subjected to a breathalyser test before he is allowed to speak on matters of national importance, including the government's 2-trillion-baht loan for transportation infrastructure.
New Law No. 4: Since army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha thinks he's been ordained by a higher power to judge who deserves to live here and who doesn't, then the good general should also be appointed Protector of The Realm, Lord Chief Justice and Head of the Immigration Bureau and Deportation Department. Every new citizen will from now on be required to swear an oath of allegiance to the almighty Gen Prayuth and swear never to think for themselves or do anything deemed remotely destabilising to the establishment. Otherwise, the most revered general will ram through your front door and personally put you on a banana boat and send you back where you belong.
New Law No. 5: Let's just make it official because we all know it's true; from now on, all rich and influential people don't have to go to jail. Jail is for poor people who can't afford bail or good lawyers. Let's see; if you're the infamous Uncle SMS (now deceased), who allegedly sent four messages deemed unlawful under section 112 to Abhisit Vejjajiva's secretary, then it's bail request denied resulting in a sentence of 20 years. That's five years per SMS sent. However, what's your fate if you're Somchai Khunploem or Kamnan Poh, father of Culture Minister Sonthaya Khunploem and a convicted murderer who had been on the run from justice for the past few years? Then, I'm afraid it's all of five minutes in a high-security prison because you're able to fake a small epileptic fit. From there you're transferred and left to rot in Chon Buri Hospital's VIP section where young nurses in pretty uniforms will make your life hell with daily supplies of freshly ironed Egyptian cotton bed linen while force feeding you repulsive rations consisting of Hainan chicken rice and crispy shrimp spring rolls garnished with sesame seeds.
New Law No. 6: No more shopping malls in central Bangkok. How many more monstrosities like Mega Bang Na do we really need? Why can't the Crown Property Bureau turn the 88-rai plot that used to be Suan Lum Night Bazaar into something all Bangkokians can be proud of?
Maybe a development in line with a Hyde Park of London or Central Park of New York with low-rise structures that might include shopping facilities, restaurants and vast fresh food markets where farmers can sell their produce, together with world class museums and exhibition halls that celebrate Thai art and culture. Maybe, if the newly minted governor can use his high influence and go in to bat for Bangkok for once, instead of the usual baby kissing, bike riding and ribbon cutting routine.
New Law No. 7: All American and European pop stars who people don't listen to anymore should be prevented from using Thailand as a spring board to resurrect their already flatlining careers. Look, if I wanted to waste my time listening to a collection of fossils making a pathetic attempt at entertainment, why would I spend 2,000 baht on a ticket when I can just switch on Channel 11 and watch parliamentary debates for free?
New Law No. 8: Before we invest 2 trillion baht in high-speed rail, we must first be able to have high-speed traffic, high-speed tax refunds, high-speed immigration queues, high-speed visa extensions for residents, high-speed internet, high-speed police investigations and last but not least, high-speed justice.
Just think about it: Where are we speeding to if we can't even get the basics right?
After all, it's not how fast we get there but where we're going that's really important.
New Law No. 9: Since Bangkok is the most important part of Thailand, all Bangkok residents should be granted two votes each in all general elections instead of one. Bangkok as a result will also have more MPs than any other region, which will mean in a parliament of 500 MPs, Bangkok will require at least 200 MPs. Because let's be honest, we're the ones that really matter aren't we?
Anyway, all the really important people that form the bedrock of our nation live in Bangkok _ movie stars, fashion designers, socialites, plastic surgeons, bankers and derivatives traders.
Only seriously irrelevant people live in the provinces and work in industries that produce things we don't need like rice, coffee, milk and eggs as well as our protein supplements like poultry, pork and beef. You can accuse Thailand of many things, but at least we've got our priorities right, don't you think?
Songkran Grachangnetara is an entrepreneur. He graduated from The London School of Economics and Columbia University. He can be reached at Twitter: @SongkranTalk
About the author
- Writer: Songkran Grachangnetara