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.



  1. Put in a Thai nutshell. The majority of Thais have welcomed the "coup" because it is seen as a positive change from Thailand's dysfunctional governments. The NCPO has indeed acted quickly and strongly, and as you say pragmatically, over a number of issues. One especially is very acceptable to the average patriotic Thai. They have been reported on the nightly broadcasts and can be checked out independently. Prayuth is communicating with the people, a major change in Thailand. My understanding, in speaking to a wide range of Thais, is that his Friday summary is watched by many and relayed to others.

    Put in a farang nutshell. The foreign media, posters on Facebook and Twitter, and bloggers with few exceptions are not reporting the NCPO's broadcasts and are selectively commenting on their actions. According, I assume, to a mistaken agenda. As soon as the word "coup" appears the concept is attacked without reference to what the NCPO are actually doing. In my view, it is irresponsible journalism (and in the case of Andrew McGregor Marshall and some others I use the term loosely) to only give one side of a story. Journalism is about factual reporting not regurgitating entrenched views.

    "Democracy" of course is a good word. Always. So the selective analysis continues on that topic also. Is that unthinking journalism or irresponsible journalism or both? There are bad elements in democracy as there are good. It is a mix. Both should be reported.

    I have reservations about some of the decisions made by the NCPO, particularly on economic policy. And I suspect farangs may not benefit as much as Thais from their new initiatives. I do not like coups on principle but accept why this one had to took place. The election system was dysfunctional and government was not working. Reform is needed to achieve a democratic system that fits Thailand. I think that there is a chance that will happen. The NCPO has been positive so far, has popular support whatever some farangs are saying, and democratic reform may well be possible..

  2. a couple of years ago in case of defamation at Samui court the passport was kept. But it seems to be a general policy in Samui to keep the passports of all foreigners; however small the charge.

  3. As Andrew admits, this site is sometimes a bit of a whipping post for the British embassy. There's not a lot they can do as all the policies are set in London with the current emphasis on the withdrawal of human contact services and encouragement to use the internet instead. Thus the newly opened British passport application centre in Bangkok (Trendy Office Building) doesn't even have a published phone number. Perhaps that's just as well with applications taking two months or more to materialize. Anyone answering the phone there would need to be on treble overtime. The real issue is whether other EU embassies in Bangkok give a better service than the British one. Answers on a postcard please …

    1. Ah yes Barry it has become something of a hobby but they do, some of them have a sense of humour, – The problem is that all the civil service speak and all these policies from London do rather lend themselves to the occasion and they are in essence writing their own comedy.

    1. As a holder of a British passport I am grateful for the policies set out in London … I would never want to be over serviced! I like the new business concept of paying the most for the least!

      I recently submitted a question to the UK Bangkok embassy on how to register with them online, similar to the USA embassy. I dutifully checked their website and pertinent links before emailing them using the address posted on their website. I received an automated email stating in bold letters that it could take up to 20 working days before I would get a response. Furthermore, they requested me to review their site and the UK government site (many web pages) to see if there was an answer. Once reviewed, I had the option of re-submitting the question to a different email address with the word "RESEND" in the subject heading of the email. Reminds me of my childhood when it was mandatory to say "Abracadabra" before every magic trick. I guess if I didn't say "RESEND" in the subject heading of the email it wasn't a question!

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