Archive for May, 2012

Thai Days: Dope of the Day Awards – Rolex watches

May 30, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is awarding two of its prestigious Dope of the Day awards in this post. This blog’s acknowledement of human stupidity goes firstly to Lady Gaga. Prior to her arrival in Thailand she twittered witlessly that she was looking forward to buying a fake Rolex in Bangkok. Probably a joke. As somebody who depends on international intellectual Property rights and laws for her income the tweet was rather dumb. She has given the fake Rolex watch vendors a much appreciated publicity boost and while shoppers are there they will no doubt be filling their fake Louis Vuitton bags with Gaga bootlegs. So yes, Gaga is Dope of the Day number one.

Dope number two is the Thai Department of Intellectual Property (DIP). They submitted a letter of protest to the US embassy vis a vis Gaga and fake Rolexes in Bangkok. What the embassy staff are expected to do is unclear. Arrest her? Phone her and say she’s annoyed some people? Inspect her luggage for Rolex watches made in Shanghai?

Obama has yet to announce a policy decision. But the DIP move has made the papers, the scandal rags, the TV and it even earned an editorial in today’s Bangkok Post. The Post notes that if everybody had ignored Gaga’s tweet the thing would have died the 24 hour media interest death and moved on to other issues.

As it is, the thing isn’t dead. And like Gaga the DIP have provided free advertising for every spiv in the city.

The Bangkok Post editorial states “a search on Google for “fake Rolex Thailand” excluding the Lady Gaga mentions finds 598,000 mentions.”
It then goes on to describe how Youtube can help you find a fake Rolex. I guess it’s not just Gaga and the DIP who are helping the fake trade. The media’s doing it, too, by reporting it and come to think of it I’m currently participating in making the problem worse by writing this. But for the record, Gaga started it and the DIP dopes gave it life.

Thai Days: A phone call to be regretted

May 30, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog regards the Philippines Supreme Court chief justice as a complete disappointment when it comes to clownishly hiding money. Renato Corona (who has been fired) failed to declare US$2.4 million and being a legal expert sort of criminal cited a 1974 law involving bank privacy as his excuse.

How dull!

Corona should take a leaf out of Thailand’s former permanent secretary for transport, and make a properly serious horse’s arse out of himself. OK, Supoj Saplom did go the Corona bank account way and a very large number of his bank accounts are currently being scrutinised. But Supoj didn’t leave it just to banks to hide his ill-gotten gains. He opted to stick quite a lot of them under his mattress and into his cupboards and on the bedroom floor.

Disaster struck in the form of burglars who broke in to his house last November. The criminals were appalled. There was just too much money everywhere. They couldn’t carry it all and had foolishly neglected to bring a fleet of Mac trucks.

They stuffed their sacks, their pockets, and fled heavily laden and in some cases destined for arrest.

Supoj must be regretting his response to the intrusion. He phoned the police.

He told them that he had lost five million baht in cash.

The police responded promptly and efficiently.

Not every burglar was caught. But arrests were made. Supoj must be regretting these arrests.

18 million baht and a significant weight of gold was found in the possession of the culprits and they explained to investigators that this was just the tip of the iceberg. Claims that a billion baht were in the house I find hard to believe. It would have taken them a week to count that lot. But there seems little reason to doubt that Supoj had feathered his nest to an extravagant degree.

Renato Corona with his legal background fled for inadequate refuge in a banking privacy law. Supoj opted for the wedding present strategy. The money was for his daughter who was getting married (while he was being burgled).


You decide.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has made its own mind up. Supoj the NACC suggests has ‘unusual wealth’. At least for the time being. All the gold and 17.5 million baht are destined for the state, his bank accounts and other investments are coming under painful scrutiny and his wife’s Volkswagen Caravelle has just been confiscated. Supoj claimed that it was on loan from a food packaging magnate who wanted his wife “to drive in a vehicle befitting her status”.

The Corona story has been described as a Manila soap opera and it has certainly kept millions of Filipinos entertained. This Supoj thing is becoming more of a farcical saga of Wagnerian opera length. The NACC is “widening its probe” and the deeper the probing, the lamer and more desperately creative the excuses are likely to be. A lot of business interests are involved.

Supoj has been given 15 days to explain where the tens of millions of baht in his numerous bank deposits have come from. This isn’t the beginning of the end and probably won’t be the end of the beginning.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog will keep you posted!



G’Day Vietnam: Three tiger carcasses found in car

May 30, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog recently posted a story on the Vietnamese appetite for cats sold by restauranteurs as ‘little tigers’ (because big tigers are too expensive and are on the brink of extinction). Unfortunately big tigers are still on some of the more exclusive menus. Three tiger carcasses have just been found in a car heading for Hanoi. One arrest was made but the other criminal gave the police the slip. The origin of the tigers has yet to be established. An AP report covering the incident noted that tiger bone paste, used as a painkiller, fetches US$1,000 per 100 grammes. I’ve heard that tiger whiskers are believed by some to cure lethargy, that the penis is credited with…well you are ahead of me here so I won’t pursue this particular avenue of superstitious folly… that teeth bring good luck and power and that tiger meat cures cancer (and tastes like chicken). But mashed bones as a painkiller? US$ 1,000 for 100 grammes of painkiller? What kind of numbnuts would pay that? One thing is abundantly clear – consuming tiger products doesn’t cure medical delusions, encourage frugality, 100 grammes of common sense or create law abiding citizens.


May 28, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog loves this one! Rich Arab action from Leonie!

Cheers! And read on!


An Arab student sends an e-mail to his dad, saying:
Dear Dad

Berlin is wonderful, people are nice and I really
like it here, but Dad, I am a bit ashamed to arrive
at my college with my pure-gold Ferrari 599GTB
when all my teachers and many fellow students
travel by train.

Your son, Nasser

T next day, Nasser gets a reply to his e-mail
f dad:
My dear loving son

Thirty million US Dollars has just been transferred
to your account. Please stop embarrassing us.
Go and get yourself a train too.

Love, your Dad

Thai Days: Lady Gaga

May 28, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is not a Lady Gaga fan but I admire her for giving many people pleasure and a chance to dress up and be silly and lively. Her Bangkok visit aroused fury among some Thai nationalists after she rather brainlessly said she was looking forward to visiting a lady’s market (it’s in Hong Kong not Bangkok) and buying a fake Rolex watch (again Hong Kong is the place to be for a really good Lorex copy watch), but the Thai audience lapped up the Gaga display and traffic congestion reached new highs as her expedition coincided with a royal convoy heading for a ceremonial rice planting event.

Overall, I’d say Bangkok enjoyed or endured the Gaga visitation with good grace and a bit of enthusiasm.

The Gaga Indonesia fest is off the menu. Islamist purists find her offensive. The Indonesian coppers say they cannot guarantee safety. That’s nothing new. 30 percent of the population of East Timor was killed during central government authorised military occupation. The police in Indonesia can not guarantee safety.

Gaga will skip Indonesia and the country will regret its fragile obedience to law and order and Islamic threats. The concert was a sell-out! People wanted to go!

I’m not a ‘little monster’ and I’d rather listen to The Clash or Skrewdriver or AC/DC but I think Indonesia has made a bit of an international publicity blunder. And has probably boosted sales of Gaga DVDs. I hope they are played at high volume next to militant mosques during Friday Prayers.



Strange but True: Unholy water?

May 28, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has posted some seriously stupid stories generated by religiously minded people. Islam has provided the majority – and I have every confidence that it will continue to do so – but today we cast our eyes towards India and some of its Catholics.

The tale begins in March this year. In the west of Mumbai.

An effigy of Christ on the cross began leaking.

“Thousands of believers flocked…when drops of water began to fall from the feet of Jesus on the cross, drinking the prized liquid in the hope that it had holy powers.”

Enter Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association. He inspected the miracle and declared that the tears of Christ were originating from a bit of faulty plumbing and that pilgrims were drinking toilet leakage making the beverage “dangerous to imbibe”.

This suggestion that the cross was releasing urine pissed off the faithful and after heated debates televised and broadcast elsewhere, Joseph Dias joined the fray.

Dias is the general secretary of the Catholic Christian Secular Forum. Dias described the Rationalist’s toilet water claim as exhibiting anti-Christian bias. He added that the dripping crucifix wasn’t a miracle because it had not been pronounced as such by the church.

But some enraged Catholics are not entirely satisfied with this rather luke warm attempt at pouring oil on troubled waters. They want the rationalist charged under India’s blasphemy law.

This bans “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”. It can earn the blasphemer three years in prison.

Says an unrepentant Mr. Edamaruku “I always think there are two Indias. The 21st century which is progressive, modern, scientific and 17th century India which is pulling us back to the dark ages of intolerance, bigotry and superstition.”

I wouldn’t describe myself as rational and I wouldn’t describe myself as religious. But I do heed good advice. When in India, don’t drink the water! Particularly this water.



Brigitte’s Pick: So sweet!! With dogs and elephants.

May 27, 2012
Hugh Paxton’s blog was about to bore you all with a review of the current political situation in Myanmar. Then Brigitte sent this. Myanmar can wait. Check out this elephant action!


Hi, these delightful set of photos was sent by friend Colleen Taylor who lives in the Vumba outside Mutare. Cecil Kop Game Park is almost on Mutare’s doorstep. It is a battle to keep the Park going and relocate the elephants as settlements encroach upon the Park. There is little space for wildlife anymore

This is our Cecil Kop Ellies.

This is Love at its best.

BARAK BRAK our Basenji waiting for the love of his life.

Love of his life comes wants to meet him.

They meet up.

I need to get to your level.

So we can make eye contact.

A bit difficult as you are so small.

Now we can gaze into each other’s eyes, through the barbed wire. This is Love.

It did this 3 times for the camera


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Thai Days: An unusual one year jail sentence for smuggling geckos

May 27, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog rarely applauds violent criminal Islamic militant gangs for their work in fighting the illegal wildlife trade. Mainly because they don’t normally do it.

But Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines grabbed a scumbag Malaysian gecko smuggler and held him hostage for a year. I don’t think the Abu guys were too interested in the Tokay gecko angle. It was more ransom. He escaped and spent three days falling over roots, into swamps and being chased by radicals and kids with guns shooting into the air.

Serves the bastard right!

Perhaps this will be the last time he breaks the law and endangers an already endangered species!

No empathy from this end!


Hugh in Thailand

Thai Days: Heartbreak Hotel is demolished

May 27, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog posted several stories last year on the deaths of four guests – three tourists and one Thai tour guide – staying at the Downtown Inn in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. There’s still a degree of uncertainty about why the visitors died but it is possible that cleaners had been over zealous in their application of pesticides to eradicate bed bugs. The father of a 22-year-old girl from New Zealand, understandably distraught, made international news by announcing the launch of a website warning young people of the dangers of visiting Thailand. Mr. Carter seems to have abandoned the project (I can’t find the site), which I think is probably a good thing. Travel anywhere incurs risks and Thailand is overall a pretty safe destination.

The Downtown Inn is currently being destroyed – a common sense business procedure, nobody wanted to stay there. It will be replaced by a new ’boutique’ hotel that will go lightly on the chemicals.

Chiang Mai authorities, anxious to avoid a repeat tragedy, have initiated various “mechanisms”. These include an on line report on food poisoning on the local public health website, regular hygiene inspections of restaurants in tourist areas, visits to pest control operators to monitor the safety of their chemicals, and the establishment of a safety network of police, medical professionals, the Hotel association and tourism operators to ensure that any foreigner who falls ill and is admitted to a hospital will be noted and cared for. You won’t fall off the map fellows! They are making an effort!

“No further deaths from poisoning have been reported. However, public health reports say four to five tourists die in Chiang Mai monthly from other causes.”
Vichaya Pitsuwan
Reporter Bangkok Post

I include this quote not to deter you. Tourists die all over the place. And if they weren’t being tourists they’d do the same thing at home. The main thing is that Chiang Mai is making an effort to minimise risk. And if the demolition of the Downtown Inn doesn’t bring some degree of closure to the brave Carter family and the families of the others who died, at least the Downtown Inn is closed. For good!

Best wishes from Bangkok!


Save the Wayuu People from Extinction

May 26, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog announces petition time again. And yes, the story is familiar. Mining, pollution, biodiversity destruction, indigenous people taking it up the tail pipe.

Same old. Same old.

One day I hope to deliver a petition congratulating a mining company or a logging company or a palm oil plantation company for doing the right thing. If any reader is aware of such a petition please advise!



From: Kathleen J., Care2 Action Alerts []
Sent: 26 May 2012 02:07 PM
To: Hugh Paxton
Subject: Save the Wayuu People from Extinction

Care2 subscriber since Mar 13, 2012 Unsubscribe | Tell Your Friends | Take Action

you have 200 butterfly credits

Hi Hugh,

The Wayuu people are in danger of becoming extinct. According to Amnesty International, this indigenous group is one of 34 Colombian nations that are in immediate danger of disappearing forever.
If Colombia acts now, there could be still time to save the Wayuu. »

Angelica Ortiz, a Wayuu, testified at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights earlier on in the year and spoke about how mining has gravely impacted her community.

She states that her people have higher rates of diseases, including cancer, and their environment has changed as sources of food have disappeared.

Violence has also gotten worse among the Wayuu: the rates of murder and rape have dramatically increased. Many Wayuu have fled the area. If this continues, the whole Wayuu people will be dispersed and their culture will be lost forever.

Please tell the President of Colombia and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to intervene and save the Wayuu! »

Thanks for taking action!


Save the Wayuu People From Extinction

Take action link:

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