New Consumer Act Implemented on August 23rd


A couple of years ago, on the pavement outside this building (while I sat obliviously in my office upstairs), a woman took a stick to her brand-new car – this was when ITV was operating from here before it was stolen by the secret puppetmasters. The woman was angry about the quality of the car and the unwillingness of the showroom to do anything about her complaints. Some readers may have been put in mind of the episode from Fawlty Towers when Basil decides to administer a damn good thrashing to his car, which had just let him down again at an inopportune moment.

There are regular complaints about customer service in the letters pages of the newspapers – just yesterday a correspondent complained about the fact that the Charity Shield had been advertised but then did not appear on the screen – on complaining to the station, he was told it would be shown one hour late at ten o’clock on a delay basis – ten o’clock came and no football appeared so he rang back to find that ten o’clock was when the call centre was closed.

Well, things should be a little better henceforth, at least in theory, as a new law is being introduced to protect consumers. The 2008 Consumer Case Procedures Act (it comes into effect on the 23rd so hold on) will make things easier for consumer complaints by restricting the use of counter-suits, limiting delays and opening cases in distant provinces, which have all been legal tactics employed by businesses seeking to evade complaints. The real estate industry is likely to be the most affected – of the 4,210 complaints recorded from October 2007 to June of this year, 1,901 concerned real estate. Not sure how many of these involved farangs buying properties and then feeling themselves cheated one way or another but they are a very vocal subset. Consumers will not have to pay court charges of various sorts unless their suits are found to be ‘unreasonable’ or the damages sought ‘excessive.’ Well, we will see how this plays out in reality as the courts have been making some interesting decisions recently.

New Cabinet Line Up; Bombs; Doing the Timewarp (Again)


The new cabinet has been announced and received its royal endorsement. Perhaps the most noteworthy change has been the demotion of former Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamruang and his replacement by a copper, Pol. Gen. Kowit Wattana, who also becomes one of the (far too) many deputy prime ministers. Mingkwan Saengsuwan has moved from Commerce to Industry, although Finance Minister Surapong Suewonglee has kept his job. Chaiya Somsab, who was forced to resign in one of the court attacks, has returned as Commerce Minister. There are various other changes but do not seem to be any more women and diversity is noticeable by its absence. Such is life.

Seven bombs exploded in Songkhla last night, fortunately wounding only two people. However, a man described as a ‘Muslim teacher’ was shot dead in Yala, On Thursday, a bomb explosion injured 17 people and closed circuit TV has apparently helped identify some suspects. Two soldiers were wounded on Tuesday by a remote controlled bomb, also in Yala. In other criminal news: anti-democracy activists are holding another mob demonstration in Central Bangkok, disgracefully trying to attach their names to those who died actually protesting for democracy. Some are determined criminals intent on bringing down democracy in Thailand altogether and others are just useful idiots.

Ten debutantes have been unveiled as the newest entrants to Thailnd’s high society. The young women, sorry ladies, are apparently ““instilled with good education, good manners and special skills that are good ideals for the new generation.” Let’s go back to the 1950s, when paramilitaries patrolled the streets, the courts threw people into prison without evidence or after show trials, war was threatened with neighbours on the flimsiest of pretexts and all was well with the world. Eh? Oh.

Black Magic Woman


Fiendish Khmer wizards have been meeting at Preah Vihear during the solar eclipse to cast black magic spells at the poor Thai people – well, of course the Khmers have a reputation for doing that – monks too. Fortunately, the good citizens of Si Sa Ket are ready to protect us all by donning yellow to resist the vile magic.

The wife of Cambodian PM Hun Sen, M. Bun Rany has been identified as the leader of this occult war and has ‘called upon ancestral spirits’ in a new supernatural offensive. It is not reported whether the spirits replied or what, if anything, they thought about all of this.

Here is what the Bangkok Post has to say about the event: “Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife Bun Rany yesterday hosted a huge ritual at the Preah Vihear temple to bless the country with good luck and to give it power against the backdrop of a dispute with Thailand over the area surrounding the temple.

The ceremony, chosen to coincide with a solar eclipse yesterday, was attended by about 1,000 people, including high-ranking officials, priests and experts in rituals. The ritual started at 9.30am.”

This is all going to end badly, isn’t it? The blood will be on the hands of ringleaders of the anti-democracy movement who have deliberately stirred up nationalist sentiment for their own grubby purposes. Shame on them and the useful idiots who protest with them.

Inflation rose to 9.2% in July, the highest rate for ten years. High oil prices are identified as the principal cause, although the annual rate remains apparently at the projected rate of 6.6%. Things do not seem likely to get better for the foreseeable future, either on the economic or political fronts.

Death of Asia’s Leading Elvis Impersonator; Unwanted Faktongs; Rogue Monk Defrocks Self


Asia’s top Elvis impersonator, Elvis Ballard, has died from cancer, leaving behind a wife and 11 year old child. So many people came out to pay their respects at the memorial service that South Pattaya suffered the worst traffic jams for years.

OK, 42 words so far and I haven’t said anything illegal or controversial.

Tragic news from the Lua Hill Tribe people from around Chiang Mai, who are now unable to sell their pumpkins owing to their rising prices. As much as 10,000 tons of pumpkins are being wasted on a daily basis, on account of the lack of cold storage for the now sadly abandoned faktongs, which were once a staple for the khanom trade. The government is being petitioned for some kind of help.

127 words and no mention of anything dangerous. Anybody eating anything unusual?

No – but here’s something: Rogue Monk Defrocks Self. This is a story that has been taking place in Nong Khai – all was apparently well between Lampang and husband Wichai Khambai until the latter went to work in Bangkok. On his return, he was informed (it does not say ‘with glee’ but we can imagine) that his wife had rarely returned home during his absence but had spent most of her time in the room of ‘naughty abbot’ Phra Wanchai Mahapanyo. Khun Wichai did not at first believe this but a confrontation led to a physical conflict and things took off from there. The killer line is this: “As often happens in small Thai villages, news of the incident spread quickly.” The second killer line is this: “At a meeting of villagers and local religious authorities to discuss allegations of sexual impropriety against him, he showed his contempt by lifting up his robe and giving the assembled a good look at the organ that had got him in trouble in the first place.”

Saved once again by human frailty.

Death of Asia’s Leading Elvis Impersonator; Unwanted Faktongs; Rogue Monk Defrocks Self


Asia’s top Elvis impersonator, Elvis Ballard, has died from cancer, leaving behind a wife and 11 year old child. So many people came out to pay their respects at the memorial service that South Pattaya suffered the worst traffic jams for years.

OK, 42 words so far and I haven’t said anything illegal or controversial.

Tragic news from the Lua Hill Tribe people from around Chiang Mai, who are now unable to sell their pumpkins owing to their rising prices. As much as 10,000 tons of pumpkins are being wasted on a daily basis, on account of the lack of cold storage for the now sadly abandoned faktongs, which were once a staple for the khanom trade. The government is being petitioned for some kind of help.

127 words and no mention of anything dangerous. Anybody eating anything unusual?

No – but here’s something: Rogue Monk Defrocks Self. This is a story that has been taking place in Nong Khai – all was apparently well between Lampang and husband Wichai Khambai until the latter went to work in Bangkok. On his return, he was informed (it does not say ‘with glee’ but we can imagine) that his wife had rarely returned home during his absence but had spent most of her time in the room of ‘naughty abbot’ Phra Wanchai Mahapanyo. Khun Wichai did not at first believe this but a confrontation led to a physical conflict and things took off from there. The killer line is this: “As often happens in small Thai villages, news of the incident spread quickly.” The second killer line is this: “At a meeting of villagers and local religious authorities to discuss allegations of sexual impropriety against him, he showed his contempt by lifting up his robe and giving the assembled a good look at the organ that had got him in trouble in the first place.”

Saved once again by human frailty.