Adventures in Wonderland Thai Style
It is the election season in Thailand and a former MP for Samut Prakan. (the Parliament was dissolved two days ago) who is from the opposition party has been shot. The Bangkok Post has run the story as No. 1 lead two days running. Everyone has a say about the botched hit. The police are quoted as having increased “security and surveillance for cash, contract gunmen, and firearms.”
That raises an interesting question as to why the police don’t look for hitmen and firearms in the non-election season. The more you read from police, military, political officials, the more that catches your eye and imagination. There can be no other place where fiction authors face such fierce competition from those employed by the state.
After a quarter of a century, you get use to the police saying after what appears to be a politically motivated shooting, “Hired gunmen should be closely watched.”
Not a lot of disagreement on that score. Though it does beg the question that if you know where they are so that you can watch them, why not arrest them in one of the usual crackdowns authorities employ for a temporary fix to a social problem.
But occasionally you come across an original statement, one that reveals the true fears of those in charge: “We have information about contract gunmen from overseas being hired.”
In Thailand just about anything is possible, as Alice in Wonderland statements, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” This makes me wonder if Charles Lutwidge Dodgson might have spent a sabbatical in Thailand before penning Alice in Wonderland.
I like a stab at explaining why, in view, hiring imported gunmen is one of the six impossible things I believe won’t happen before or after breakfast in Thailand. There are many reasons but let’s start with 10 obvious ones.
1. Foreign Gunmen work on a much higher fee scale than local gunmen. Thai gunmen work on a pay scale that runs from two hundred dollars to two thousand dollars. Thais are notoriously cheap when it comes to hiring gunmen. Foreign hitmen demand too much money. This causes inflation. And we all know that inflation is bad for the economy.
2. Foreign gunmen are required by law to have a work permit and a permit for the gun. That requires filling out a lot of forms only to be told that hitmen is an occupation reserved exclusively for Thais. And that gun permits are only for locals. It is one thing to kill people for money—this is acceptable; but to take jobs reserved for Thais or to pack heat without a permit is something the authorities won’t allow.
3. Foreign gunmen won’t likely be Thai speakers. People who hired gunmen—as a rule of Thumb—don’t speak enough English or any other language other than Thai to get the instructions straight. There is a communication problem in other words. Pre-hit and post-hit communication is important in the assassination business. In all the confusion caused by an inability to communicate the chances of assassinating the wrong person rises disproportionately. And if things go wrong, the mastermind will forget any English and claim ignorance.
4. Foreign gunmen don’t know the system of small lanes and byroads. Those isolated places where shooting someone in relative private makes the get away easier. Shooting people in their cars is a favourite of local gunman. But that requires someone to ride the motorcycle (or drive the pick up) and the shooter is on the back. That’s a complication. It means the foreign gunman must work with a Thai driver and we all know that isn’t going to work for a whole number of reasons.
5. Foreign gunmen are time sensitive. Thais live outside the normal cycle of time. They are always late or early. They pop up where least expected. In other words, figuring out when is a good time to shoot someone becomes difficult. Thai gunmen, though, who work on the same flexible time mentality have no problem waiting patiently, knowing that marking time is natural and not the cause of massive frustration that might cause a foreign gunman to rush the job, make a mistake, shoot the wrong person.
6. Foreign gunmen are difficult to eliminate by the mastermind if things
go badly. They don’t run to their mother’s house, girlfriend’s apartment,
best friends pool hall because these are the perfect hideout. Foreign gunmen disappear after the job is done. They leave the country. They are beyond the reach of the person who wants to make certain they don’t open their mouth to the police. If the job is botched first time around, they won’t likely stick around and put it right. They’re gone, baby. And did I mention that they want their fee up front?
7. Foreign gunmen because they have white skin, are tall, and smell of rancid cheese are easy to track in Thailand. Facing prison, the gunman would spill the beans and that would result in a massive loss of face for the mastermind. Even worse, he might escape from Thailand only to be caught by authorities in another country and give up the Thai mastermind in exchange for a lesser sentence.
8. Foreign gunmen sometimes find God as their personal savior and confess all of their sins for salvation after death. Thai gunmen lack such fear as they believe it was the victim who was totally responsible for his own death as he chose to get in the way of the bullet. Also Thai gunmen have faith in amulets. They believe they bring good luck and make them bullet proof. Foreigners don’t have proper respect for amulets and this causes problems in the mastermind’s mind.
9. Foreign gunmen find a publisher is willing to pay them a huge advance for ‘A Tell All’ book, which includes a list of his best hits in exotic locations. Thai gunmen are basically illiterate, and even if they could read and write, the book business would viewed as a huge waste of time. Besides, no Thai would ever think of asking one to write a book about his exploits as he would likely become a target.
10. Foreign gunmen would likely celebrate by taking out a bar girl, who would steal his fee, his gun, ammo and passport and disappear to her village. The local district police officials would immediately learn the full story from the bamboo telegraph, pass the information to Bangkok and the gunman would be arrested coming out of his embassy, having applied for a new passport. This would never happen to a local gunman. Thai women are scared of them.