Our Bangkok correspondent H. Numan sends a gloomy account of the situation in Thailand as the coronavirus “pandemic” winds down.
Thailand, land of the no more smiles
by H. Numan
I’ve got bad news and I’ve got bad news. Which do you want to hear first?
Let’s start with the bad news. Thai International Airlines is on the brink of declaring bankruptcy. The airline has been very badly managed, long before the Chinese Virus struck. Countless efforts have been made to revive the company. You can read as: every executive lined his pockets. Thursday the axeman will arrive. The government stated it will not support Thai Inter. The decision of the shareholders should have been reached last Friday, but they asked for an extension.
It’s a pretty big deal here. You can see that because… everybody pretends it is not a big deal! Loss of face, you know. If KLM goes belly up, the Dutch would be up in arms. Thais are the most chauvinistic people on the planet. Their national pride goes down, and it’s not really important? Come on!
Thai International is the national carrier. A long time ago, one of the very best airlines in the world. The food was excellent and the service superb. The problem was that they didn’t make any profits. Why? Well, everybody working in Thai Inter got free flights. And their family members. And friends. And the royal family (always first class, of course). And their staff. And the friends of the royal staff. And most government officials. And their friends. You get the idea, I think. That can work in a well-managed company in a strong economic climate. It doesn’t most of the time. Thai Inter was never well managed to begin with.
That was no problem when Thai Inter was a government-run airline. After privatization this continued and became a serious problem. One of many. They did cut costs, but that took much of the shine off the airline. The last time I flew Thai, it showed. Food was not too bad — but that comes from me. In other words: from a garbage can with very low gourmet standards. If I find food mediocre, people with higher standards, beware!!! Entertainment was dated. Chairs were visibly well used. Staff was still friendly, but clearly overworked.
It’s a very big deal for Thailand, as it is the national carrier. The reason of the postponement is to put more pressure on the government to cough up something. Which they won’t do. Currently, the offices on Vipawadee Rungsit Road are for sale. The company staff works in rented space. They were able to sell off their old Boeing 747’s. However, that is not enough. Thai bought a lot of big Airbuses 340 and 380 — which nobody wants. Those planes are brand new, and can only be sold for scrap value. That really hurts.
That was the bad news. Now for some more bad news. Thailand survived the Chinese Virus pandemic relatively unscathed. The first two waves, that is. Until third wave hit us, hard. The death toll rose from under a hundred for a whole year to 614 in a matter of weeks. It’s still pretty good, compared with other countries. Thailand ranks 117, whereas The Netherlands ranks 27, with +17,000 deaths. As Thailand has four times as many citizens and is a third-world country, that’s actually pretty good.
I live in the dark-red zone, being Bangkok. Dark-red is an euphemism for black… One of the reasons is the outbreak of the virus in Thai prisons. Especially in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Thai prisons are notorious all over the world. One can, with good reason, call it Auschwitz in the tropics. Cells are vastly overcrowded: 40 men to a cell with barely room to move. Prisoners are kept in their cell from 3pm until 7am. With one jar for a toilet. No air-conditioning and all the mosquitoes you want. Thai cuisine is served: the cheapest rice possible with meat (cockroaches) or vegetarian (without the roaches). Water comes from a nearby canal. The guards differ from the ones in Auschwitz in that they don’t speak German. You won’t be surprised to hear that medical care and especially hygiene are matching. Hence, 6,853 cases in just the Bangkok prisons.
This recently came into the news when a political activist, Parit Chiwarat (Penguin), was released on bail on no less than twenty charges of lèse-majesté. That can give him up to 300 years in jail, when convicted. Upon his release he told the press he contracted the Chinese Virus in prison, and that many inmates were infected as well. The prison authorities tried to deny it, but in vain. They couldn’t stop an official medical inquiry, after a huge public outcry.
Which I find a somewhat hypocritical reaction. Just about everybody over the age of 4 years knows Thai prisons are really, REALLY, REALLY bad. Thais can proudly say: our prisons are the worst in the world! Bang Kwang is the most famous prison in the world! Add a highly contagious disease to that extremely unsanitary situation with far less than the barest minimum in health care. What do you expect? Miracles?
The minister of Justice just announced that 50,000 prisoners will be released next month, and can serve the remainder of their sentences at home with a digital detection device. The prisoners have been convicted of small non-violent offenses. Usually drugs-related. (A teenager with a joint, for example.)
Now this Mr. Penguin is ordered to refrain from any political activity. Informing about a highly dangerous situation in a government facility is not political, but admit it: a pretty severe kick in governmental nuts nevertheless. Penguin is, or was, a student activist. Remember the student protests last December? All leaders were arrested. The movement has been beaten to a pulp, utterly squashed. For the moment. You don’t hear even a peep in the media. They have been advised to be very cautious about what they report.
That doesn’t mean to say everything is now on the beam. More like the grumbling has been obliterated by force. The students keep their mouths shut for the moment. Nothing has changed; the problems haven’t been resolved or even addressed. I’m afraid that this is a ticking bomb. No idea when the bomb will go off, but it will.
Going back to the Chinese Virus pandemic. Thailand is doing relatively well health-wise. Most other countries do far worse. Businesswise, it’s a very different story. The Thai economy rests on service industries (mainly tourism) and export. Exactly those two industries have been hit the hardest everywhere. Not just in Thailand. The only hotels still in business are the top five star hotels, which have deep enough pockets to weather the pandemic. And smaller cheaper hotels that cater to local tourism. Most other hotels are either boarded up permanently or temporarily. Even in my area of Bangkok I’ve seen hotels that closed down forever.
“Oh, it’s only the hotels. That is less than 1/3 of the economy. So, it could be worse.” Indeed, it can be worse. Because no tourists means nobody buying fake Gucci bags. No tourists to eat in restaurants or bars. No tourists to take tuk-tuk rides. Tuk-tuk drivers are hit really hard. They are at the rock bottom end of society, and always have a week left over on the end of their salary. It reverberates through the economy: hotel workers are laid off, so they won’t buy or rent a new house. Or a new car or motorcycle. Certainly not the latest model phone or a new computer. In other words: everybody suffers. The whole economy is in survival mode. For a whole year, with little progress on the horizon. After the outbreaks in Bangkok (among others in the densely populated slums of Klong Toey and Din Daeng) bars and restaurants have to close early, restrict the number of patrons and much more. The only thing we don’t have is a curfew. If you were to travel elsewhere within Thailand, some provinces have set up checkpoints. Supposing you come from a dark-red zone, you will have to provide a valid (<24 hrs) test certificate and proof of vaccination. Otherwise, it’s compulsory 14 day quarantine. Quarantine has been made more strict: you have to stay in your room for 14 days now. Going out to the bar of the hotel, or going for a swim in the pool, is a no-no.
Many factories build for foreign companies. For example, American and Japanese car manufacturers. Due to the slump in demand, many workers have been laid off. Factories produce at a reduced rate. The Thai baht is very strong. That’s good monetary policy, for which I compliment the Bank of Thailand. The downside is that a strong currency is very bad for export.
The government is introducing vaccination for the whole country. Two vaccines are available: AstraZeneca and Sinovac. Moderna will be available after August. The island of Phuket is trying to get everybody vaccinated, and plans to restart tourism in July. Foreigners (me, for example) are hung out to dry by their embassies. They can’t do anything, or so they say.
The government announced that expats can apply for vaccination in the next round, which will be August.
— H. Numan
Really appreciated. I still don’t understand how people put food on the table. And what happened to all the brothels? Sold their cargo to the countries where sex slavery still flourishes? Mindboggling.
There seems to be no plan. Zip. Or do I read it wrong, H. Numan?
so how is Vietnam, Thailand’s historic other side?
What a sad story. I feel sorry for Thailand’s people.
All about Covid, what about the coup? Is the military still in charge? That alone probably suppressed tourism before the Covid panic.
Why don’t they just open up the country? Tourists who are healthy and not scared of Covid will come. It’s a no-brainer. 99.5% survival rate doesn’t scare me. Gratuitous 14-day quarantine’s, however, DO scare me. Erase restrictions!
And finally, how is my beloved Shanghai-La Hotel doing?
Sorry for typos above!
I was in Central Airport Plaza in Chiang Mai a few days ago. The Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai had opened two ad hoc stalls manned by members of its staff selling fresh cakes and pastries cooked in its kitchens. Everyone seemed to be very positive and the cakes we bought for us and our neighbours were delicious.
In spite of our earlier ban on going to populous areas, we were in Central Airport Plaza in Chiang Mai a few days ago. The Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai had opened two ad hoc stalls manned by members of its staff selling fresh cakes and pastries cooked in its kitchens. Everyone seemed to be very positive and the cakes we bought for us and for our neighbours were delicious.
“Tuk-tuk drivers … always have a week left over on the end of their salary.”
What does this mean?
It means that when they run out of money, there is still a week to go before the end of the month.
I have occasionally found myself in similar circumstances when I was in London.
There is no sex slavery in Thailand. There never was. Allow me to explain:
In Thai culture sex is seen as something quite normal. When you are hungry, you eat. When you are thirsty you drink. When you are … (fill in the blanks) Doesn’t want to say Thai hump everything that moves. Far from it. Thais are far more prudish than you can imagine. Even holding hands or kissing (even on the cheeks) in public is frowned upon.
Prostitution is just a job. Not a respected job, but a job nevertheless. And the ONLY way out for girls (and boys!) from real poverty. What options have poor teenagers (+18) in rural Thailand with little education? Work in the fields for a pittance until they die. Or pump gas until you are too old to do that. Very little else.
Or they move to Pattaya or Bangkok (and lots of other places you don’t know about) and make for 10 years as much money as a senior manager makes with a degree and a LOT of experience (+Bt 100.000/month).
Not all but many of those boys and girls use that money to support their family, build a house and retire in comfort at the age of say 35.
People who abhor ‘sex slavery’ and ‘save them from a fate worse than death itself’ exclusively want them to stop working in that job. They have no realistic alternative. There is no slavery, simply because those people line up for the job. They consider themselves very lucky if they are accepted. They know it’s a tough job. Usually they don’t like to have intercourse with old men as you do. But someone has to do it, and it pays very well. Better lay half an hour on your back and get the same money as cleaning sewers for a year.
Do mind that +90% of all sex workers work in local brothels serving Thais only. What you see it the other more visible 10% that cater for the top end of the market. Should you be visiting Bangkok, I’m happy to show you around. Point out the largest brothel in Asia – which looks like a large hotel on the outside. And the many “karaoke” bars which have little to do with karaoke.
A minister got egg on her face in a massive way: she personally accompanied a police raid on a brothel where underage girls were working. For publicity, of course. Well, that didn’t work out as she had planned. The underage girls (17 years, all of them) were furious. “What have you done, old crow? We should be happy? Now we are forced to plough the fields until we die.” In front of cameras. Who were more than happy to broadcast it to the nation.
I do understand your position, but there are two sides to the story. Just wanted to show you the other side.
Very interesting, thanks. If we are ever allowed to travel again, I must put Thailand on my list of places to visit.
Oh wow. Thank you. That makes a lot of sense… I read years ago, that the brothels that served foreigners kept the girls as prisoners after buying them from their parents. Maybe propaganda? Well, then, these jobs are still mostly there, as you say.
Anyways, not something I hear talked about much these days.
But what about the people who used to run shops, or the hotels you say are closed, or even the tuk tuk drivers. How do they put food on the table these days?
Oh and one more question. Why is ag work so… undesirable and unrewarded? In the smallholding situations in Europe and America I am familiar with, smallholders can live quite well, provided they avoid debt, self-provisioning and selling some on the side (like the Amish). Why not in Thailand?
Many thanks, H. Numan. I follow your updates with great interest. News from the ground is the best.
Indeed. Some decades ago I did the math and found out that a top notch girl( by the looks only) could make a month’s income of an employee in a few days.
Do the maths for todays standards: 1700$ for like 4 or 5 ” jobs”? I stress that in those days it was no big deal for westerners, often one added an extra and the ambiance was far more pleasant than prostitution in our countries.
Numan appears to be another sufferer from the mass psychosis of the Covid Cult. A tribute to global mass media and Big Tech censorship.
He quotes Thai death toll figures (which he read in Thai media owned and controlled by whom?) with no doubt in his mind, (in spite of the fake PCR test no doubt used in Thailand too by another Gatesian corrupt medical bureaucracy) that the figures are rel and not fantasy.
People may well have died but of what, who is defining the death and who pays them how much to say so?
No doubt the economic distress is as Numan describes. Lockdowns with no basis in science are like that.
That is why it is not a pandemic but a plandemic and a scamdemic. Check out the Great Reset, a phrase that Numan does not use.
Lastly, Numan appears neutral to happy about getting a jab. Well, CDC VAERS figures at present show ca. 3.5k deaths after the jabs in the USA and EUdravigilance database figures of the European Medical Agency show ca. 7,000 in the EU.
Read healthimpactnews.com and watch the videos on brandnewtube. com or Bitchute of Dr Mike Yeadon, ex-Pfizer.
I read recently that Thai hospitals are more honest about the numbers, and that’s why they are so low, in comparison. Also that the hospitals there do not test unless there is a reason, they rely on old fashioned diagnosis, and only test for covid if other issues have been eliminated.
As I’ve said from the beginning, “It’s just the flu, bro.”
There is no quality data that can prove me wrong.
I would appreciate it very much if you keep your delusions and silly conspiracies to yourself. The Thai media, for example, are Thai companies. They cannot be owned by foreigners. The law explicitly forbids it.
If lockdowns are effective or not, is not for you to decide. I prefer to take my information from people who studied the subject for 20 years rather than a village idiot who spent 20 minutes on Google.
I don’t use the term ‘the Great Reset’ simply because nobody talks about that in Thailand. Only economic imbeciles and Marxist extremists (you) do that.
I am healthy, not elderly, and therefore am NOT THE LEAST BIT AFRAID of Covid. What about people like me? Open your country, no quarantines, and I will travel!
We live in a village just south of Chiang Mai. We don’t go into Chiang Mai at all now and our trips out consist of weekly journeys to our local supermarket to buy food for our various animals and ourselves.
I checked the exchange rate between the UK pound and the Thai Baht this morning. It was 44.56 – the highest it has been since Theresa May went through the charade of negotiating Brexit while remaining within the European Soviet. In view of the state of the Thai economy, the rate should be much higher but the Baht has been kept at an unsustainably high level. I guess when the crash comes, it will hit everybody, east and west. But I digress.
The Thai government is on course for vaccinating all citizens and, as I am married to a Thai citizen and have the necessary visa to prove it, I have been registered for vaccination next month. The only difficulty with that is that although vaccinations are free of charge (and worth every penny) only Astra Zeneca and Sinovax vaccines are available and I have doubts about the effectiveness of the latter even though the Chinese concocted the virus in the first place and, at my age, the former could well result in my demise as it has done to recipients elsewhere in the world. To add insult to injury, the Government has banned the sale of alcohol so I can’t even console myself with a bottle of Chang Lager.
We were hoping to visit the UK later this year but it would appear that all sorts of persons in white coats are hovering there to inject some poisonous potion into me, I think I’ll give it a miss. Things are looking grim but for the time being, we are still able to feed our cats.
They banned the sale of alcohol? That boggles the mind. So that adds a few more categories to people who can’t make a living. So how are they? It appears that the government of Thailand has not gone for printing money wholesale and handing it to all and sundry. How do people survive?
We look after each other, Vera. We have always had domestic or cottage industries and many people here cook food at home and take the meals to sell at the market. This puts a few coins in their purses and a few dishes on other people’s tables. We also have motor cycle delivery services that can deliver meals to those who can’t make it to the market. Like most countries, we will survive in spite of the efforts of our Government rather than because of them.