The chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau and 18 senior officers are allegedly involved in illegal gambling dens in Bangkok. This in itself isn’t really very surprising. It’s also not very surprising the it was Chuwit who blew the whistle on this. What’s surprising is that there will be an investigation into their (alleged) involvement.
If found guilty, the senior officers will be punished with a 5% salary cut for 3 months. After that, they will receive their full salary again.
In case you’re wondering if there is a typo – no, it’s really just five percent. Considering how much money they (allegedly) might have made from their (alleged) involvement in illegal gambling in Bangkok, this is a joke.
At least some of the Thai people have embraced the true spirit of Euro 2008 and have opened betting schemes. 99 people have been arrested for illegal gambling activities, although the amount of cash apparently recovered seems a little low. Thais, to generalize, love gambling and there are all kinds of ways in which they can seek to gain instant fortune. Young people are starting even younger, if this research is to be believed. A few years ago, when football was shown on the television people could text in to predict the final score and the man of the match (they don’t show women’s football) – there would be a lucky draw from those who predicted correctly and the winner would receive a new mobile telephone or a buffalo or something. This has all now been stopped because it promotes gambling and, for reasons it would take too long to explain here, we are currently going through a moralistic phase in society, in public at least.
No doubt we will shortly start seeing newspaper stories blaming late night football watching for students falling asleep in class, being disrespectful to parents and teachers and having sex with each other. By this time next week, I would have thought.
Anyway, people use all kinds of pretexts to gamble. Any time a famous person is hospitalized, for example, people try to find out the room number in the hospital concerned and use that number for the lottery. People will use the date on which people die as another message from heaven or just about anything which can be even loosely construed as a sign (it is, incidentally, a bad tactic to follow, assuming that these messages are not genuine because if then umber does come up, you have to share the winnings with all the other people who followed the same sign. Then again, reasons for certain numbers cropping up are often difficult to understand. This is Thailand).
Lumpini Park is best known for being the national capital for Muay Thai – the eight-legged form of martial arts unique to Thailand (although some Cambodians argue that it is just an adaptation of an older Khmer form).
It is called ‘eight-legged’ because fighters are allowed to strike with two fists, two feet, two elbows and two knees. This could make the fighting very deadly. The roots of Muay Thai, like most martial arts, appear to have been low cost ways of providing means of defence to poor peasants and villagers who were subject to the predations of bandits and wild animals – and were too far away from the authorities to expect any protection from them. Knowledge was, it seems, most commonly passed on to the local people by Buddhist monks – which supports the tradition of the fighting monks in Shaolin style which is an important shared point of East Asian culture.
Well, this is all very good but it appears that Muay Thai, notwithstanding the big strides it has made as a participative sport internationally, is failing locally. Lumpini Park management are concerned that it is only foreign tourists and local gamblers who are turning up for events. Worse, the influence of the gamblers is making the spectacle of fights boring for most spectators.
The problem is that gamblers want (understandably) to make sure that their ‘investments’ are as safe as possible and so wish to minimize the risk of losing. They identify the stronger fighter in the bout and then somehow influence that fighter to adopt a very conservative style of restricting the movements of the opponent through the early rounds and then throwing him down for the clinching points in the last round. This means all fights become very similar, dull and lacking in flair or wild kicks or other unexpected events. The result is that events at Lumpini Park only may embrace new rules to make them more entertaining –although there will be no rule changes in the rest of the Kingdom or internationally.
Muay Thai is still very popular – go to any university, for example, and the security guards can be found whiling away the tedious hours watching it on the telly and bantering with their friends.