Ministry of Wishful Thinking might help

All week we have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the new cabinet, although maybe eagerly is not quite the right word. The selection of cabinet ministers has always been a tricky affair for any new government. It is hardly a secret that certain ministerial posts are a lot more popular than others, owing to what could be politely termed "fringe benefits" -- and we are not talking about free rides on the skytrain.

Perhaps the government could consider creating some more exciting cabinet positions to ensure Things run smoothly. Here are some suggestions along with the qualifications required:

Minister of Good Excuses: Could be a busy post. Unlike in the past, it will not be advisable to blame everything on the previous government as most of the new team were the previous government. Useful phrases for this job include: "I was quoted out of context", meaning "I wish I had never said that", and "I was speaking off the record", meaning "I definitely wish I had never said that."

Minister of Silly Walks: The right candidate should be a veteran pedestrian who has suffered at least one "plunging down a hole" experience on Bangkok's pavements, as well as several close shaves on a zebra crossing.

Minister of Sweeping Things Under the Carpet: A most important position. Must abide strictly to the ministry motto: "Never Mind the Reality, It's the Image That Counts.'' Must be adept at saying in convincing fashion "the signs are very encouraging" when they are quite bleak.

Minister of Magnificent Menus: An exciting new post to ensure the preservation of such Thai culinary classics as " Steamed Crap in Pot", "Soap of the Day" and "Ham on Toes".

Minister For Stopping Tuk-Tuks Stalling at Intersections: Trivial though it may sound, this would be a most demanding job. A good challenge for someone who doesn't know what they are doing.

Minister of Wishful Thinking: A crucial post which requires the monthly announcement "all problems are solved", bringing much happiness to the people.

More jobs for the boys

While we are in the mood, here are a few more suggestions:

Minister of Inactive Posts: An enormous task, involving millions of people. Ability to doze off at a moment's notice is essential. Also a good command of yawning and appearing totally disinterested.

Minister of Magic and Absurd Superstitions: Another difficult post. However, there's nothing like the wave of a magic wand to turn things around. Harry Potter could be hired in an advisory role along with the three-headed dog as an enforcer.

Minister of Massage Parlours and Stress Relief: The right candidate should have a good background in bathtub navigation and be familiar with the uses and abuses of "vitamin soap".

Minister of Crackdowns: Must be able to announce a crackdown long enough in advance to ensure that anyone about to be cracked down upon can flee the scene in plenty of time.

Minister of Punctuality: The candidate should have a good sense of timekeeping. Ideal for a watch-collector. He might first investigate why True Visions' hourly BBC and CNN news "live" bulletins are always five minutes late.

The thought was there

Just about every new government announces a crackdown on corruption with that trendy word "transparency" appearing regularly. This is usually greeted by the general public with appropriate yawns and stifle smirks.

Any probe usually gets no further than an investigation of the ubiquitous "go-between" who invariably suffers immediate memory loss as does everyone else involved. The case then ends up in the pending file at the Ministry of Sweeping Things Under the Carpet, where it gathers dust. Rarely does anyone actually do "porridge".

No red faces

Of course, bribery and corruption have been in existence throughout the world for centuries. A famous case involved English statesman Francis Bacon, who was in charge of financial affairs during a while in the 16th century. He was subsequently heavily fined for accepting bribes.

Writer Edmund Clerihew Bentley described Bacon's demeanour in Parliament when he was undergoing investigation concerning his financial misadventures:

"When their lordships asked Bacon, how many bribes he had taken, He at least had the grace, to go red in the face."

Regrettably, in Thailand we don't even see anyone go red in the face … unless they have consumed too much amber liquid.

Tasty pastry

One of the most intriguing cases of attempted bribery in Bangkok, more than a dozen years ago, became known as "Pastrygate". It featured an innocent pastry lunch box intended for a judge presiding over an important case. The box happened to be inspected by a court official who found it was stuffed with two million baht in banknotes, covered by a few stale pastries.

The "pastry" delivery man was a lawyer's clerk whose boss was representing a very influential figure under indictment. The clerk explained it was nothing more than an "honest mistake".

He claimed he was carrying two lunch boxes and accidentally handed over the wrong one. Fair enough, although it was still unclear why one of the lunch boxes was stuffed with millions of baht. Perhaps he was going shopping … the malls are admittedly getting very expensive.

The court did not accept the "absent-minded defence" and the fellow along with two others from the legal team actually did six months in the clink.


Contact PostScript via email at oldcrutch@hotmail.com

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