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Bangkok - A safe place to be

Thai friends sometimes tell me that Bankok's not a safe place to be. That I shouldn't walk over Pinklao bridge or take a taxi home on my own at night. Dodgy taxi drivers, they tell me can take you in the wrong direction and have been known to rob tourists, or worse.

I normally laugh off their warnings. I spent 11 years in London and the last 2 of those, staying over with my ex-bf in Peckham. I slept to the sound of police sirens. At one time there were 7 murders (stabbings and shootings) within 7 days. Teenage gangs hang out on the street almost every night. Rival gangs fight against, and stab each other.

So, compared to inner city London, Bangkok's a pretty safe place to be. Thai people don't see it that way though. They see and hear stories of deaths in Bangkok everyday. There's normally at least one dead body on the cover of their daily newspapers. Traffic accidents, plane crashes, the recent caving tradegy or people robbing, stabbing and shooting each other.

The Bangkok Post and the Nation, the 2 main Engilsh newspapers rarely report most these stories. Without the gory pictures, they're not seen as being that newsworthy. As a result, foreigners probably have a false sense of security. It's easy to live here without seeing a copy of Thai Rath or the Daily News.

But in general, people don't waste time killing each other. They leave it to hired assassins, or to the local policeman.

A couple of days ago 2 policeman from my local police station (Bang Yeekan) had a bit of an arguement. One shot his superior dead. Our soi's rife with rumours as to how, why and where it happened. 'They shot each other in a bar', one person said. 'On the street around 3 in the morning' another added. 'It was in one of their apartments,' a neighbour of K, one of the other foreign teachers at my school who lives near me, told hom. 'My wife said it was in the police station', K said.

Today, to my surprise the story even merited a couple of lines in the Bangkok Post. But, instead of cleearing things up, and clarifying the facts, the newspaper's report just added to the confusion. No one really knows what happened, other than the 2 policeman hated each other. They were supposed to have been working together to break an 'ice' (amphetamine) dealing ring. But, Thai policeman are notorious for being corrupt. Were they really trying to break it ? or fighting between themselves as to who was going to take a cut ?

That the police are busy shooting each other, and conducting their own territory wars is no surprise. Many already behave more like gangsters than the real criminals, the ones that they, the police are supposed to be hunting down.

There's police around Rama 8 bridge at the end of every month. Their job, to fine unsuspecting motorists. Bikers who have forgotten their helemts, drivers who look like don't have the correct documents, foreigners who don't have their passport, or, if they work a valid work permit and teacher's liscense to hand. Where do all these fines go? To the government ? To improve road safety ? Nope. They go to their bosses.

In Thailand, becoming a policeman is an expensive career. Cops have to buy their own uniforms and guns. They're not cheap. One of a police officer's basic tasks is to 'collect money' for their superiors. High ranking police officers have status and power, similar to that of high ranking soldiers. They recieve a small salary but are often very rich. Taksin Shinawatra, former Thai PM now facing corruption charges was once a police cadet.

When police officers start climbing the management ladder, they expect to be rewarded. Their salaries remain low but the extras (cash collected from people by lower ranking officers) increase.

People have often suggested reforming the police but, so far, every attempt has been met with fierce resistance.

There is one advantage to the police being so corrupt though. When the police are bigger villans than the 'real' crooks, the streets become much safer for us all.


Create Date : 17 ตุลาคม 2550
Last Update : 17 ตุลาคม 2550 15:07:45 น. 2 comments
Counter : 119 Pageviews.

 
Kerrie , you are almost Thai .
You know many things in depth although it is quite complex .
You know more than many Thai.


โดย: รายารีย์ IP: 125.25.88.159 วันที่: 17 ตุลาคม 2550 เวลา:15:59:22 น.  

 
mmmmm....
Am not sure whether thats a good or a bad thing...


โดย: kerrie วันที่: 18 ตุลาคม 2550 เวลา:1:45:29 น.  

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