Thai Days: The last executioner

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Hugh Paxton’s Blog has read quite a handful of books written by convicted foreign visitors to the Kingdom – all jailed for drugs offences. Some good, inspiring, some rather obviously opportunistic and repulsive.

Every convict had a hard time. Thai prisons are unkind. Sometimes, in the not so distant past, they were a bit barbaric. Sticking a prisoner in a ball and then having it kicked around the yard by an elephant that then gets annoyed and stamps on it – well, that’s not Amnesty International stuff.

I’ve reviewed some of these books. The reviews will be lurking somewhere in this Blog’s increasingly sprawling and over crowded
library. I really must sort this jumble out!

The Last Executioner is a book co-authored.

Nicola Pierce and Chavoret Jaruboon. It comes from a different perspective. Nicola I suspect wouldn’t hurt a fly (or might if it was annoying). Jaruboon’s job was to operate a machine gun shaped like a sewing machine and execute convicts.

It is a strange book. The front cover is a portrait of Jaruboon and he looks like a monster. Toad-like, threatening, without mercy. That’s a publishing thing. You can’t sell a book called The Last Executioner with a happy smiling Thai guy playing guitar on the cover. There are some photos of him doing that inside the pages. Also some photos of the prison and one of the execution bungalow. It looks quite attractive. Almost has a holiday feel to it. If you are looking at it in a photo in a book.

The stories told by the writers in the book are alternatively happy and nostalgic memories of wanting to be the next Elvis and doing gigs for GIs on R&R from Vietnam and then shooting criminals at Bang Kwang, “the Bangkok Hilton”.

Some events make the elephant ball executions look humane. One woman was shot repeatedly but like James Bond, her heart was in the wrong place. Despite being riddled with bullets she revived while being stuffed into a bag. One guard decided to strangle her to keep things convenient. Jaruboon was appalled by this cruelty and had her taken out and he shot her again. She had been involved in the kidnap of a child and was complicit in the burying of the kid alive in a panic to avoid detection. It was a messy, foolish and brutal affair.

We have, in Jarapoon a very moral man following orders, not through fear but motivated by normal things such as feeding his family and keeping society intact.

Dedication:”To my father and teacher Chum, the best father a son could ask for. Thanks for sending me to a Catholic school. Thanks for the guitar you bought me. I guess I inherit the passion to teach people from you because I am now invited to speak to students in schools and universities about crimes, so I am a sort of teacher too. I hope you are proud of me.”

Jaruboon.

“23 November 1984. There were three that day; I shot two.”

Jaraboon.

“An eye for an eye – personally I think that’s the way it should be. There are some people who will never see the error of their ways; who would not benefit from years in prison. They would go back into the world and kill again. The death penalty is not a perfect solution but I cannot think of a perfect alternative.”

Jaruboon.

The death penalty is still in place in some Asian countries but you won’t be machine gunned in Thailand any more (although you will still be executed). Jaruboon and his weird sewing machine gun have been retired. The book is published by Maverick house.

But chaps! Don’t smuggle drugs! Not here. The Bangkok Hilton is still in place and any books you may have read about it still have the ring of truth. Drugs, lousy food, ultra violence, overcrowding – a brutal snake pit.

I’m not buying any more of these “I spent a living hell in Bang Kwang” books. If you are currently writing one in a cell expect no royalties from my direction!It’s your fault. You should have read some of these books before getting busted and starting your own! On the bright side, you won’t be facing Jaraboon. So you are rather fortunate. Even if you are living in hell.

My advice to visitors? Don’t be a criminal.

Hugh

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2 Responses to “Thai Days: The last executioner”

  1. Stella Says:

    Sounds like a very interesting book. I’ll have to get hold of it and take a look. I’m not a fan of the Bang Kwang memoirs genre because it’s been done to death and we all know Bang Kwang is horrendous. But Jaruboon seems like an interesting chap with an interesting perspective.

  2. Hugh Paxton Says:

    Stella, you are right. absolutely right! The Bang Kwang memoirs have indeed been done to death! And the Bali imitations are pitiful. This book is un-sensational. Rather reserved. I wouldn’t describe it as a page turner. But I read every page. Thanks for visiting this blog! Hugh . .

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