Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Square Eyes


Both your mother and I are thinking may be you have been watching a little too much tv lately, especially when you have to stay at home. The weather hasn’t helped, it has been far too hot for the past few days, even adults were having difficult breathing in the heat and it isn’t even summer yet.

At least you’ll go swimming tomorrow so you’ll have some time out of the house. I am sure you’ll be a little upset at first, like tonight when I got home all you did was to drag me to the remote control, that will definitely have to change :)

Probably the Last Place on Earth…

Now baby, I do like playing hide and seek as much as the next dad, but when you play hide and seek with the house keys it’s just not on baby. You are almost two now, and perhaps playing hide and seek should be behind you :) what made it worst was that you still won’t talk (can’t would be more accurate), so my Spanish Inquisition attempt was just a waste of time.
IMG_1199 Last Sunday’s morning was especially a lazy Sunday, I believe you were the first one up and running. While your mother was in the bathroom, somehow you managed to find the house keys and all I heard were these jingling-jangling of keys while I was snoozing (half as sleep).
I didn’t notice when the jingling-jangling stops but by the time I was fully awake you were now running around with your teddy, honestly I didn’t even notice the keys were missing, that was until I wanted to get out of the house a couple of hours later.
Just like a flash back in a bad film, I had a chilly sunken feeling when I realised you were the last one who had the keys! First thought that immediately came to mind was, “it should be fine, at least it must be in the bedroom”, that line was repeated several times in my head as I got to the bedroom.
Cutting to the chase a little here, after combing through the room ‘five’ times with increasing woe and focused on detailed each time, it was becoming apparent that you had truly trumped yourself this time… I had even resulted to simulation! I took you to the bedroom, gave you another set of similar keys and let you do your thing :) hoping you would put these keys with the old set of keys! Useless, may be you were in a different state of mind but you just gave the second set of keys back (and I swore you had a huge grin on your face :) )

My search was getting to the point of insanely-illogical, I was looking in the top cupboards where even I could not reach, then doubt began to come into play, “did you give it back to me? And it was me who had misplaced it?”, “Did you threw them down the toilet?”.

IMG_1191 After the fifth time, I realised I was looking in the same place again and again… a passage came into my head, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity”… So I stopped (had a shower), and changed strategy, ‘where do you usually play? And is it within your reach?’. Not more than a few minutes later I was shaking the speaker and heard the gorgeously wonderful jingling-jangling I head this morning :)

You had put the keys inside the right speaker, the hole at the base was just big enough for your fist to go through, and this music stereo had been forgotten yonks ago so I had not even though of looking here :) Please don’t be upset if I don’t let you play with the keys for the next couple of hundred years or so :) or until you can speak and tell me where you had put the darn keys :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thailand’s Politics Soap Opera (more than a trilogy)

(All pictures came from various sources from the Web, thank you to all :)

2005 – A New ‘Yellow’ Hope

  • Yellow shirts (People’s Alliance for Democracy - PAD) first came out in about 2005 with the main aim of getting rid of the then Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra and his ‘Thai Rak Thai’ (TRT) party. Several peaceful protests were organised throughout 2005 to 2006.

    pad_leaders_pageHere is a picture of the Yellow Shirts’ leaders, the first one (far left) is Sondhi Limthongkul, he is the initiator of the Yellow Shirts (there was an attempt on his life on April 17th, 2009)


2006 – Political War

  • thaksin_interview Thaksin (left) called for a General Election on April (April 2nd for House of Representative, and April 19th for the House of Senate, although the previous General Election was only held just a little over a year ago in February of 2005), this action was to (one believe) due to the pressure from the Yellow Shirts and more importantly because Thaksin knew that his party will win comfortably. And of course he was right, simply because the main opposition party decided to boycott the General Election   thai-protest
  • Yellow Shirts continued to protests, while the main opposition party (Democrat Party, headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva) piled on political pressure 
  • The army stepped in with a bloodless Coup d’etat on September 19th, 2006, while Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York City or a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, subsequently the Yellow Shirts announced its voluntarily dissolved 
    coup2In all honesty it didn’t feel like a military coup, it was quick and peaceful, but again this coup had the so called support from the Yellow Shirts    
  • thailand_coup_leader_sonthi The leader of the coup was General Sonthi Boonyaratglin (see left), who formed the ‘Council for Democratic Reform’ (CDR), and soon after suspended the Constitution, cancelled the up coming elections and dissolved the parliament  
  • SurayudChulanontA monthly later an interim civilian government was sworn in by the King on October 9th, 2006. Headed by General Surayud Chulanont (see right) as the Prime Minister. This interim government ruled for just a little over a year, and as promised, a General Election was held on December 23rd, 2007


2007 – Thaksin Strikes Back

  • 0013729e4abe08ffc7cf2d Here is the fun part; the clear winner of 2007's General Election was the People's Power Party (PPP, now headed by a veteran politician, Samak Sundaravej (deceased, see left)), many strongly believe that PPP is simply the ‘Thai Rak Thai’ party under a different name, in simple words the government is once again under the control of Thaksin Shinawatra who still remained overseas 
  • Subsequently and without wasting time, the new ruling party (PPP) set out to amend the constitution, the Yellow Shirts see this amendment as a way of letting Thaksin back into Thailand with his full reputation back… and of course the they were never going to let that happen



2008 – Return of the Yellow Shirts

  • So there wasn't a surprise when the Yellow Shirts again came out on March 28th, 2008 with a meeting at Thammasat University, and this is where the game of Yellow vs Red Ping Pong truly began
  • 2008 is the year of ‘Political Melt Down’, probably from August 2008 and onwards the Yellow Shirts were out in huge number, in various widespread protests (30,000 reported for one of the protest), strategically they took over the Government House Compound, blocked off several airports around Thailand including the country’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport (November 25th, 2008)


  • Quick recap, in 2008; PPP is in power as the ruling party (government), Samak is the new Prime Minister (PM), Thaksin is still overseas; PPP (in simple words, belongs to Thaksin) is trying to amend the constitution where the Yellow Shirts believes this will let Thaksin back into the country; Yellow Shirts start protesting again
  • 080908_samak By September 2008, Samak (the PM) was in trouble of his own. Samak loves to cook, so it was natural for him to have had a TV cooking show! This resulted in several court cases charging him with a conflict of interest by being a private employee (and receiving a salary) while holding the Prime Minister position! To my understanding this instantaneously terminated his political position

  • So what now? After the termination of Samak, it was decided by the PPP and their coalition partners to form a new government while for the interim Somchai Wongsawat (see below)  was appointed as the caretaker PM, and guess what? He is the brother in law of Thaksin, just imagine how the Yellow Shirts were feeling
  • PPP and their coalition partners decided to reappoint Samak as the PM! (one didn’t know they could do that), but Samak decided not to take the post, he then resigned as the head of the PPP
  • resize.php Do remember that all this time the Yellow Shirts were still occupying the Government House, they were committed to remain there (and were committed to more protests) forever if the next PM came from the PPP, nonetheless (like they give a s%^t), the next PM was in deed the current caretaker PM, Somchai Wongsawat (see right) from the PPP
  • The highlight came in December, on the 2nd of December the Constitutional Court ruled that the three government parties (including the PPP) committed election fraud thus immediately dissolving the governing coalition… … … …
  • asia_0216_p028 This dissolve ruling sees several members of parliament and parties jumping boat to join the Democrat Party (the main opposition), now with the majority, Abhisit Vejjajiva  (head of the Democrat Party) was appointed as the new Prime Minister (endorsed by the King on December 17th, 2008)


2009 – The Red Shirts Menace

  • Ok, Yellow Shirts are the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), consists of mostly people from Bangkok the capital city who opposed to Thaksin and his government
  • Red Shirts are the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), consists of mostly people from Upcountry regions, loves Thaksin and his government
  • udd_leaders_page Red shirts (UDD) (see right for leaders) have been around probably since the late 2006 after the military coup, of course they were opposing the army who had just thrown out Thaksin. Following similar trend to the Yellow Shirts, widespread protests were held during the military rule, of course by this time Yellow Shirts had disbanded as their job was done
  • Here is the Ping and the Pong of it all (another recap);

    • 2005: Yellow Shirts came out in protests to get rid of Thaksin
    • 2006: After a one sided General Election (boycotted by the opposition party) Thaksin still rules, September saw the military coup d’etat and an civilian government was set up, so Thaksin was out, subsequently Yellow Shirts disbanded, then come the rise of the Red Shirts, set out to oppose the military government
    • 2007: Yellow shirts are back, in this year a General Election was held and won by the PPP (who is simply TRT under a different name, Thaksin is still ruling by proxy), so the Yellow Shirts came out once more
    • 2008: Yellow Shirts stepped up its action, taking over the Government House and airports, the constitution court ruled that the PPP and other 2 parties committed election fraud so these parties had to be dissolved causing several MPs and other government coalition parties to jumped ship to the Democrat Party
      By the end of 2008 the Democrat Party was the ruling party as the majority party in the government, so the Red Shirts wasn’t going to have any of this, they once again took to the street
    • 2009: As there have been no changes in the government, Democrat still holds the power so the Yellow Shirts were no where to be seen, while the Red Shirts have been causing a havoc.
    • Throughout 2009 the Red Shirts were as disruptive as the Yellow Shirts ever were, although they did not paralysed the airports but they did manage to storm the location of the ASEAN meeting (Pattaya) causing it to be cancelled, eventually a state of emergency was declared for the surrounding areas (April 11th, 2009)

Red shirts demo in Pattaya (Reuters)6a0105357b4689970c01157015516f970b-800wi

bangkokThe state of emergency was extended to Bangkok as during the ‘Songkran Festival’ (Thai’s New Year (a week long holiday, starting on April 13th, 2009)), the protests by the Red Shirts became a little more serious. Cars and public buses were hijacked then burnt, the Red Shirts had taken over several areas in Bangkok with the main focal point at the Victory Monument (see left). There were clashes between the protestors and government supporters, eventually the Army stepped in and warrant were issues for the protest leaders. Can not remember if anyone died (Red Shirts claimed 6 had died), and the violence had ceased by April 14th, 2009.




2010 – Will the Yellow Shirts be back?

  • Right now Abhisit (Democrat Party) is still in power, the Red Shirts are gathering up their pace, only last Saturday (20th) they organised a long march paralysing most if not all of Bangkok, their demand is very clear this time, ‘dissolve the Government’ making way to yet another General Election 
  • I have to mention this, for one of their stunt, earlier this month on March 16th the Red Shirts asked for 10cc of blood from the willing protestors, by the afternoon they have gathered (to me) quite a lot of it… and what did they do with all that blood? By the afternoon they had marched to the Government House (the same one that the Yellow Shirts took over back in 2008) and poured some of the blood in front of the government house, then they marched to the Democrat Party HQ and poured blood on their gates (for both case they could not get any closer due to the police), the following day they marched to Abhisit’s house (out of line here I think) and poured blood on his gate too, not only that the Red Shirts puts blood in small plastic bags and threw it over the gate landing and spattering all over Abhisit’s house (why?)
     U100P200T1D309127F8DT20100316051827 U100P200T1D309127F10DT20100316051827 
  • Right now we are only weeks away from Songkran Festival, we are all hoping it won’t be as violent as it was last year. The main question is “what if the Abhisit did call for a General Election and looses that?” There is no doubt the Yellow Shirts will once again put on their yellow shirts (of course) and march out again, just like that was the ‘Ping’ from the Reds and now it would be the ‘Pong’ from the Yellows… All one is hoping for is for the next chapters not to be named, ‘Attack of the Reds’ follow by ‘Revenge of the Yellows’…

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whatever it takes :)

IMG_1131 We have to resort to different strategies/tactics to get you to sleep, at first it was a simple case of holding you while we walked. Then that developed to putting you in the pram while we push you around, when we say ‘time to sleep’ you would simply pick up your favourite teddy then trotted off to the pram, climb in and promptly fall asleep after a few minutes of us pushing the pram around the house, well that worked for a couple of weeks.

On one occasion, when it was time to sleep, you found your favourite teddy, then just like usual trotted off to the pram, but instead of climbing in, you decided to dive down into the storage section of the pram and lay there wondering when I was going to push off. After a few minutes of pondering if whether I should pull you out, I decided just to push off and you felt promptly asleep soon after.

Decided to take a snap before we took you out and put you in the cot :) by the way this was the only time you had chosen this place to take a nap, I had tried several times afterward to get you into the pram either in the seat or in the storage area but you wouldn’t have any of it.

Currently we have 2 different ways to get you to sleep, for the afternoon nap we would simply put you in the car seat (that could be an ordeal in itself) and drive around, but for the nighttimes we would simply turn off all the lights, I would leave the room and your mother would pretend to sleep, eventually you would succumbed and snuggle up to your mother with your favourite teddy :)

Tighter than sardines in a tin


This isn’t an uncommon sight around Bangkok, workers/labourers crammed into a back of a truck, probably either heading towards or away from one of the many high-rises building projects.

I do wince every time I see this, a picture does not even begin to convey the searing  heat, the noise, the fumes nor the movement of all the bodies when the truck jolted off or to a stop, lives are certainly cheap around this part of the world.

A friend of mine noticed the signage above the truck, “Safety Zone” (white letters on the first line) followed by “Increase discipline traffic” (this is a direct translation, or perhaps “increase traffic discipline” would be better, basically it is saying, have more discipline in your driving).

Perhaps, it isn’t just the discipline in driving one needs to develop, there is also a need to go back to the basic in developing one’s ‘common sense’, there is no doubt that in several, if not in all cases, ‘Business Decision’ have made these lives (perhaps 60 to 80 lives) get into a back of a truck that could safely only fit 25 – 30 lives.

Perhaps, this was the last free truck to take them home, and they were willing to risk it at their own decision… or may be one of the other truck broke down so the only option is to fit all the people into the one truck… but can all these ‘perhaps’ make it right? :)

First Class All the Way :)

metroOne must admit, public transport in BKK isn’t the best in the World by a long chalk, the relatively recent introduction of BTS (aka Sky train starts its operation on the December 5th, 1999) and MRT (aka Underground, July 3rd 2004) was a God-sent, during peak hours the picture somewhat resembles closely to the often used shot of Japanese underground officers politely pushing the commuters into the train.

IMG_1004All in all, whether it be the public buses, BTS, MRT and even a troop of private ‘long tail’ boats have not elevated Bangkok’s horrendous traffic, my only choice of transport between A and B during peak hours is the ‘Motorcycle’ taxi :)

Better than any xtreme sport out there, after negotiating your ‘death’ ride price (to me the fare vaguely depends on the distant of the trip, the amount of the traffic and sometimes also on the state of mind of your driver/rider).

This is a second posting on ‘Motorcycle’ taxi on this blog; previously while riding pillion the picture was taken using a very old Nokia, this time the picture was taken with an iPhone, managed to take several photos, chose the best one, edit the chosen photo using a couple of apps, reviewed then post it to flickr and Facebook, all while still riding pillion (without a helmet and travelling (what felt like) at the speed of ‘Tron’ motorcycle). One tip, do keep your arms in tight when they weave in and out various gaps between the cars, clipping the side mirrors can be somewhat painful :)