In Alan Morison, Edwin Wiek, Natural Fruit, Uncategorised by Andrew Drummond

Flying Sporran’s Weekend Diary

Well here we all are and according to a Suan Dusit Poll 8.82 out of every ten of Thais seem quite happy with the actions of the country’s military government.  The Europeans, Brits, and Americans are of course not happy with this state of affairs of course.  (Nor is the BBC which did not report the poll)

The Europeans have cancelled all their trips to Thailand (not the tourists – the EU) and lo and behold Thailand has been condemned by the United States for its habit of using slave labour, and trafficking in human beings, under a, dare I say it, a ‘democratically elected government’.

Had a long chat with Andy Hall (pictured here with H.E, Mark Kent, the British Ambassador) this week. He is of course the courageous human and labour rights activist who is being sued by Natural Fruit in Prachuap Khiri Kan province for reporting in an interview conducted by al Jazeera in Burma on the alleged abuses of Burmese migrant workers in its factories.

(Yes the alleged offence was not committed in Thailand)

The case has been taken up by the Ministry of Justice who are now looking at setting trial dates. Andy’s bail has been paid by Thais in the frozen food industry who see something is wrong.

Wyn Ellis

You have to pause for a minute on this one. Why would a military government who now seem to be at last offering fair treatment for migrant workers want to allow this case to continue – after all Hall is looking after the interests of migrant workers, just as were Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathien of Phuketwan, trying to look after the interests of the Rohingyas?

Whatever trials take place in both these instances will never be considered by the west as fair, no matter what spin Natural Fruit puts on it (using its political connections).

Alan and Chutima

Let’s hope the army gets more pragmatic on this issue. The generals seem to have been pragmatic on most other issues.

Anyway Andy Hall’s passport has been taken. He’s been asking foreigners who have been accused of libel if they have had their passport taken as well.  None of us have had, although blocks have been made with immigration.

He asked Dr. Wyn Ellis, Edwin Wiek, and myself. (You’ll have to Google those names if you do not know them).  None of us have had our passports taken.

Edwin Wiek

Then he asked us what consular assistance we have had. Well, I have never asked. I was going to ask years ago but a friend in the Embassy warned me off: ‘Don’t bother. You know the risks of reporting in Thailand. They won’t help.”

Dr. Ellis has had some ‘moral support’ from the British Embassy – but Edwin, the Dutch boss of the Wildlife Fund of Thailand came up trumps.

This is what the Royal Netherlands Embassy did for their national:

 “They attended every court hearing, they visited the prosecutor and even bailed me out when I decided to go to the monkey house.” ( on the orders of the Ambassador).

But this was a message for Andy Hall from the British Embassy:

Above – the new and improved Brtish Consular services

 “In line with our usual consular policy we were unable to send an official to observe the hearing today, however should Andy’s case proceed to the next stage we and/or EU colleagues will do our best to attend, in order to demonstrate to the Thai authorities our interest in the case.”

‘In line with our usual consular policy we were unable?’ – Some mistake here.  Did they mean ‘In line with our usual consular policy we did not want to?”.  No. There are policies laid down the British government on what NOT to do for British citizens. They were deliberately NOT there.

Seems like false cost cutting here. When they go along to the second hearing does that mean: ‘We don’t want to be here, but I guess we have to this time’.

Never mind, they have left it open to their EU colleagues, if necessary to represent the British Embassy at the next stage.

Now considering Britain’s increasingly fragile relationship with Europe I might not be happy with that response.

But actually Britain is committed on paper to support human rights defenders – along with European policy. Not only that – the support should be financial too.  I am sure they have looked up the relevant clauses but I am guessing that due to their ‘usual policy’ this action is also going to be difficult to enact.

In a way we are defending human rights on this site. We’re certainly saving people from being scammed in Thailand. I’m wondering if I can apply for a British  government grant, or an EU grant.  Too late now I guess. No more bail to pay and I have won most of my cases.  Not like the old days of the Raj at all. The future of naughty Brits like Brian Goudie would be discussed over cucumber sandwiches* on the veranda by the tennis courts and the miscreant would be on the next boat to Blighty before you could even utter ‘pass me the petit fours’.

British Embassy desk – Tsunami Phuket 2004

 **British Embassy officials do not use the word ‘wallah’ and probably no longer eat cucumber sandwiches by the tennis court – as it may now be part of Central Department store. In fact many are very down to earth, some even with ‘gor blimey’ accents, when they actually say something. 

This true story is just a little bit of fun, with a little bit of irony added to pander to the prejudices of thousands of Brits in Thailand among the readers here.  This is also why I often bring out this picture above,  totally unfairly, on occasions like this but especially this year when Scotland decides to go independent or, in my view, preferably does not.

I have consumed copious cucumber sandwiches at the Embassy and at previous events have often been in the last group to be ushered out of more substantial events. This however has not happened with the current regime who recently have been baiting me by suggesting I might take up an offer of a Buckingham Palace tour for 67 bloody quid, three quid discount for pensioners! on one of the Palace open days – when I should be clearly there for one of HM’s Garden Parties.