Everyone suffers when lunatics run the asylum

Everyone suffers when lunatics run the asylum

Thailand has reached a tipping point. A point of no return, and from here it could just be a race to the bottom. As a society and as a democracy, we're damaged goods. We're essentially Humpty Dumpty that can't be put back together again. Why do I say this? Just look around. The lunatics are running the asylum.

The plight of Thai Airways (THAI), our once-proud national carrier, is a prime example of this. It's apparent to everybody that THAI is being run into the ground and sucked dry by whichever vampire is in power; drowning under the endless list of phoney VIPs.

Just look at senior management's response to the recent runway accident. Out of all the things management could have done to mitigate the fallout from such a horrific accident, guess what they did first? They tried to quickly conceal the THAI logos visible on the aircraft. That's right, their first instinct was a "cover-up", as if that was even a plausible option to begin with. I feel dreadfully sorry for the airline's dedicated and exceptional staff. Having to witness the decline of their institution and the unwillingness of senior management to address the problem head-on must be excruciatingly painful. It's time someone said something and sort this out before things get even worse.

Thailand is a leading tourist destination. The tourism industry brings in vast sums of cash - nearly 10% of the country's GDP. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a 2013 target of 22.22 million international tourist arrivals, generating an estimated foreign exchange revenue of 966 billion baht. So I find it abhorrent that consecutive Thai governments seem hell-bent on killing the goose that lays the golden egg by failing to protect forests and oceans from large-scale pollution and over-development.

More must also be done for the safety of tourists, especially in the area of scams. Hotel scams, taxi scams, jet-ski scams and all the other scams we have. We are quickly developing a new reputation as "The Land of Scams".

Even faith and trust in our Buddhist denomination has reached an all-time low. Charlatan monks like the infamous Nen Kham have made a mockery of the teachings of Lord Buddha by being allowed to rampage unchecked for years, living a debauched lifestyle even Charlie Sheen would envy.

Other examples of this kind of abusive behaviour are rife and no doubt without a motivated wholesale review of the funding and internal management of all our temples, other Nen Khams will be rearing their ugly heads elsewhere in the near future.

To any impartial observer our justice system is riddled with inconsistencies and double standards. Every time the rich and influential get let off the hook, it demeans our society and insults our intelligence. Somehow we are powerless to do anything about it.

But what I can do is write about it. Pracha Maleenont, the former deputy minister of the Interior Ministry, being handed a 12-year jail sentence for malfeasance in the BMA procurement case, is a salutary victory for the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC). Therefore, I feel its work must be supported and lauded by the public. The commission have done us all a service worth its weight in gold by putting crooks where they belong: behind bars. So it's a great pity that Pracha Maleenont was able to escape his 12-year stay in the big house by doing what Thai politicians do best - running. No, not running for office. Running away.

But let me do something I rarely get the chance to do. I'm going to give credit where credit is due and commend the Democrat Party, in particular Apirak Kosayodhin, for facing up to corruption charges that were also levelled against him in this case. In the end, justice was served and he has been vindicated by the Supreme Court's not-guilty verdict.

I will go further and say even Abhisit Vejjajiva also deserves praise for deciding to stick it out by fighting dubious murder charges that the Department of Special Investigation has thrown at him. Mr Abhisit is many things, and I'm certainly not a fan of his, but a murderer he is not.

However, on the subject of murderers. Somchai Khunpleum, the influential godfather, who is a convicted murderer that was caught a year ago after jumping bail, has yet to spend a single day in jail. Instead he's been left to languish in a VIP wing of a Chonburi hospital, suffering the horrible fate of being cared for by a flock of trainee nurses and tortured by the indignity of the best medical care money can buy.

What will be the straw that breaks the camel's back? How much more of this can we take? And is it indeed too late for Thailand to change? Let's hope agencies like the NACC can rise to the occasion and rescue us from this dereliction of duty on a biblical scale, by many of our leaders that simply don't deserve to call themselves "public servants".

Songkran Grachangnetara is an entrepreneur. He graduated from The London School of Economics and Columbia University. He can be reached at Twitter: @SongkranTalk

Songkran Grachangnetara


Songkran Grachangnetara is an entrepreneur. He graduated from The London School of Economics and Columbia University.

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