Monday, August 20, 2007

The Last Gasp of Resistance

"Despite the growing picture of a nation at peace pursuing its economic fortunes, out in the remote tropical rainforest of the Annamite Cordillera, a handful of armed Hmong remain. They are the remnants of the “secret army” paid by the US and led by Vang to fight against Vietnamese and Laotian communists."

I have recently had an article about General Vang Pao and the Hmong insurgency in Laos published at the Asia Sentinel.

Please click here to read the full article.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hello Kitty and Thai Police - Together at last!

This photo was nicked from but I, along with almost everyone who is following this story, will be eagerly scouring the Bangkok streets to take a souvenir photo of the real thing.

Thai police don't have a great reputation. And, as numerous critics might argue, their ongoing corrupt and violent antics certainly don't deserve a good reputation.

But Hello Kitty might help.

Officers guilty of "failing to report for duty, parking in a prohibited area, fighting, or being the subject of a complaint about poor service" would earn the above pictured Hello Kitty arm band.

Acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division, Pongpat Chayaphan, told the Bangkok Post that ''This new approach is intended to engender a feeling of guilt and discourage them from repeating the offense.''

I would like to suggest a couple of other offenses, ones that I have personally witnessed, that should also win a cute pink kitty arm band.

  • For arresting the victim of a violent beating instead of the group of thugs that dispensed the beating. I am beginning to think this is actually common practice as I have seen it a few times times.

  • For taking 50-100 baht bribes from taxi drivers.

  • For giving an on the spot 'fine' of 2000 baht to a tourist near Khao San road for littering. (the fine was bartered down to 1500)

  • For drunk driving. Very common.

  • For drinking whiskey on the street with motorbike taxi drivers before both police and taxi drivers ALL get on their bikes and drive away.

  • For charging me 100 baht to fill out a report of a lost phone.

  • And for one of my favorite memories of Thai police; For drunkenly throwing a police helmet in the street while in a rage for not being bribed enough by a motorist.

This list could actually go on and on but I think the point is made.

I was tempted to add; For wearing skin tight uniforms while being comically overweight but I think half that problem rests with the department's decision to outfit their force with 'painted-on' tight uniforms.

Hello Kitty arm bands will certainly make for some humorous jokes at the expensive of the police but it does take the focus away from the a very serious crimes that Thai police are involved with.

But lets not venture into the real world now and look forward to spotting the first Thai cop sporting Hello Kitty pride. สวัสดีตำรวจ!