17 November, 2009

Thailand is jealous of Burma's nuclear power:
Let them eat Yellowcake

Disposing of nuclear waste? No problem, the monk-on-duty
with the 'glow-in-the-dark' orange jump-suit will take care of it.

A nuclear-powered Thailand? Yep, it's back in the news. But it's sure to be safe if the Reactor is built next to a Buddhist Temple or, even better still, near a 'good luck' Amulet factory.

I expect bamboo scaffolding during the building process. And a fleet of barefoot cops on scooters as a Tsunami-like warning system in the event of a nuclear accident.

I do really love Thailand - honest - but hardly because of Thais' rigorous attention to workplace standards. Thai expertise in matters electrical, for instance, is at best dubious. Most "electricians" have zero idea of how to ground [earth] a circuit, a safety standard universally assumed in the west. I think that before attempting to build a nuclear power station, Thailand might first consider working out how to build a half-decent footpath.

Good cop, bad cop, sharing a scooter. The officer driving should fine his passenger
200 baht for not wearing a helmet. Also note the excuse for a 'footpath' (outside a Wat).

Then there's the issue of corruption and kickbacks. Sub-standard concrete, thin or missing reinforcement [etc] is the norm here as the brother-in-law's suppliers pocket their tea-money. To save cost and make up for having to pay bribes, walls made of bricks only 2" wide are frequently built without any internal reinforcement [see pic at left]. This is the happy-go-lucky land of mai-bpen-rai, and even though foreign nuclear contractors themselves may be rigorous in their own internal quality control, would they be able deal with the deep rooted systemic graft and concealment that exists here at all levels? Even renovating our apartment revealed to us the cut-throat commissions demanded for contracts ...and all with the blessing of the condo management. Outcome? It was us who ended up paying - grrrr - up to 20% extra on occasion... to people who did none of the work!

Getting nuclear power is also about keeping up with the Jonses. Thailand doesn't want to be caught in a position where it might be seen to lose face in the event that its arch rival Burma announces its own Nuclear Reactor. Am I kidding? No, unfortunately. Burma has been promised a smallish reactor by Russia, and has also reputedly had contact with North Korean technologists. Burma has been told by ASEAN that it would be kicked out if it got nuclear power, but the Burmese generals, generously bankrolled as they are by China, really couldn't give a toss. In fact, it would conveniently reduce pressure on them to tow the line with all that pesky Democracy stuff. And with fugitive Thaksin now an employee of Cambodia, I'm expecting a competitive tender from Phnom Penh at any minute.

There is a protest movement against the nuclear push here, but it is routinely belittled by the Puuyai ('big guys'] who control the media. The immediate assumption is that these silly protesters are getting in the way of Thailand's progress. My immediate comment - moving forwards is not necessarily a good idea when you're standing on the edge of a cliff. But what intrigues me is the relative low media profile of the nuclear issue in the eyes of the Thai public. Truth is that few Thais read newspapers, and many are painfully slow at reading at all. Reading isn't big in Thailand - except maybe comics. And Thai radio tends to be populist and lightweight, especially up here in the rural north. For many folks, it is more important to score the next 20 baht for a meal than waste time on remote issues involving rich people:

But to put things in perspective, here's an interesting time-line which aligns the recurring nuclear issue with the history of coups in Thai politics:

Gotta love the tsunami image.

NEWSFLUSH !!  in Breaking Wind from the Nation Newspaper:
Dramatic Thai nuclear update (Dec 24 2009).

And, of course, the expected rush on Nuclear Merchandise starts TODAY!! All available from FunkyPix2. All environmentally fairly safe and posted discreetly to you gift-wrapped in a comforting shade of green:


  1. Wouldn't need so much power if they turned off half the fairy lights at the bars along Loykroh Road.

  2. Note from fruittbatt - I took that photo of the man begging with his dog in a pedestrian overpass at Siam Square, Bangkok