How about a Few New Laws for Thailand?
BANGKOK – The following are some of the new laws which I think if judiciously implemented would make a lot of sense and bring happiness to the general public. No doubt readers will be able to come up with some of their own new laws too.
New Law No.1: The government must explain in easily understood layman’s language why Preah Vihear, a Hindu temple named after a Cambodian province, built by Khmers in the 10th century during the reign of the the Khmer King Suryavarman, actually belongs to Thailand.
New Law No.2: All motorcades must openly declare with highly visible signs for what and for whom the motorcade is actually for. This way the guy dying from blunt force trauma wounds to the head in the ambulance will at least appreciate he’s not being held up due to an urgent delivery of double cheeseburgers and extra large fries to the Speaker of the House’s office or rushing to get the deputy prime minister’s son to a very important late night meeting with a certain Mr Johnnie Walker.
New Law No.3: Too much emphasis is placed on “work” experience and too little on “life” experience. Therefore, all candidates for parliament must first demonstrate they have relevant life experiences such as the following before being considered eligible;
a) Must demonstrate proficiency in navigating their way through Bangkok’s public transport system without their nanny or chauffeur as guide.
b) Must have at least seen an electricity bill, can afford their own house that’s not paid for by mum or dad, and be capable of being friends with people who didn’t attend Eton or Winchester.
New Law No.4: Qualified foreigners should be eligible for high office. Why limit our choices to only Thai nationals? It’s ridiculous. I’m Thai and I couldn’t give a cat’s whiskers who does the job as long as it’s done well. If England can hire a Swede and subsequently an Italian as manager of their national football team and just recently a Canadian as governor of the Bank of England, why can’t we attempt to hire the retiring Mayor Bloomberg of New York to run in Bangkok’s governor election or the outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as our minister of foreign affairs or the abandoned David Miliband as leader of the Democrat Party? This would be the very definition of putting the right person in the right job.
New Law No.5: The police should issue an electronic tag to all motorists equivalent to the “Easy Pass” and call it “Easy Bribe”. That way motorists won’t need to stop for police checkpoints. We’d be able to drive straight through and 200 baht in tea money could be electronically deducted from our “Easy Bribe” account. This will make checkpoints more efficient and less time consuming for the general public.
New Law No.6: Shopping malls in Bangkok should actually be forced to have some Thai restaurants available instead of the plethora of choice for Japanese and Korean cuisine. It seems that due to this cultural invasion by Japanese and Korean influences, Thai food has been kicked out of the malls and on to the streets. What a pity.
New Law No.7: All MPs during parliamentary debates should be physically connected to two devices: a) a lie detector with real-time results appearing at the bottom of the TV screen so you know exactly when they’re telling the truth; and b) an electric shock apparatus that is capable of administering a spritely 280-volt jolt when activated by any member of the live audience to the MP who’s acting like a monotonous runt or caught taking an unearned siesta on the backbenches.
New Law No.8: Since it’s so prevalent in Thailand and getting much worse, all tea money, brown envelopes, backhanders or bribes should be tax deductible.
New Law No.9: If the Thai government is allowed to sell cigarettes to the public under the Thai Tobacco Monopoly, then all Thai citizens who have developed lung cancer directly from the effects of smoking shall have their medical expenses paid for by the owner of the Thai Tobacco Monopoly, namely the Ministry of Finance.
New Law No.10: The timeless economic principle of “high risk, high reward” should apply to everybody, not just to bankers and businessmen like myself. American Insurance Group’s (AIG) stomach churning decision to sue the US government citing onerous and unfair terms relating to its US$182 billion government bailout is a glaring example of capitalism gone astray. If reward truly reflected the amount of risk undertaken, then farmers would be much wealthier than the middlemen who trade off the backs of these poor souls and those brave young Thai soldiers patrolling our troubled southern provinces would be paid three times more than some of the desk jockey, pen pushing generals currently sitting in the safety of their air-conditioned rooms 1,000km away from the firing line.
New Law No.11: Lastly, all stuffy bureaucrats should be made to study and follow the example of the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s public service counters at their headquarters on Chaeng Watthana Road. Rarely do I get the chance to laud Thai public servants but I have taken all my children there to apply for passports and on every occasion the service has been exemplary. The queues were efficiently managed, the service came with a smile and at the end I was charged a fee of 1,000 baht, which I paid willingly and would be happy to pay double that!
Songkran Grachangnetara is an entrepreneur. He graduated from The London School of Economics and Columbia University. He can be reached at Twitter: @SongkranTalk