Friday, December 10, 2010

Flip-Flops vs. GT200 Bomb Detection Devices: Which are the Bigger Threats to Thai National Security?

Evidently, according to Thailand’s current government, the flip-flops are the more dangerous objects threatening national security. They’ve already arrested two vendors and confiscated about a hundred pairs (see here).

Maybe they feel that Thais can use flip-flops much like ninjas can use shurikens. There is some photographic evidence during the Bangkok protests earlier this year that the Red Shirts were throwing shoes.

I don't know if the shoe thrown at Abhisit in the above photograph had his picture on it but it certainly had his name on it. Obviously, Abhisit and company used this for justification to use snipers on the protesters.

On the other hand, there are those fraudulent 500 or so GT200 bomb detection devices purchased by the Thai military at over a million baht.  Even though the UK government banned the export of the GT200 devices and warned that they were "wholly ineffective" at detecting bombs and explosives and even though tests in Thailand showed that the GT200 was useless in detecting explosives the Thai government did not ban or stop use of the units, leaving the matter up to the discretion of individual soldiers.

Abhisit even defended his government's use of the devices, while noting that "sometimes if the user hasn't had enough rest or is not well-prepared, the detector's effectiveness will be reduced." He suggested procuring battery-powered devices to replace the GT200 units.

Even prominent members of Abhisit's government defended the effectiveness of the devices. Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban asserted that the GT200 actually works and that it is not necessary to establish a committee to study its effectiveness. Democrat MP and Deputy Interior Minister Thaworn Senneam told journalists after a fatal bomb attack in Southern Thailand on 6 October 2009 that the police had failed to detect the bomb "because the officer handling the GT200 detector was too nervous... His nervousness caused his temperature to rise which, in turn, caused the bomb detector to malfunction." He announced that in future two officers would be assigned to use the device, with the second ready to take over from the first if he was "not ready to use it."

Dr. Kalaya Sophonpanich, Minister of Science Technology also defended the use of the devices. "Regarding people's beliefs, some kinds of beliefs are harmless. If these beliefs make people comfortable, we should just leave them alone, shouldn't we? Some people are happy to worship trees, for example. We don't need to disturb them, do we?" she told a meeting with Thai students and scientists in London.

Then Army Chief Anupong Paochinda accused the press of being hired by competitors of the company which sold the devices. He organized a demonstration to "prove" to the media that the devices worked. 4th Army chief Lt. General Pichet Wisaijorn told the press, "It is not Gen Anupong saying the device is effective. Officers in the South and the North and the current and former 4th Army commanders also say the same thing. We have bought them and if the users insist they are good, that's end of the discussion."  

Joint Military Police Civilian Taskforce commander Lt-General Kasikorn Kirisri said any issues with the GT200 scanner were due to human error.

Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, Director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, had used GT200 devices to conclude that PAD protestor injuries during the 2008 seizure of Government House were due to police misconduct rather than accidental explosion of protester "ping pong bombs", and defended the use of the GT200 devices, claiming that they were effective when searching for bombs and even nails under water. She noted "I do not feel embarrassed if the bomb detector is proven ineffective. Personally, I have never handled the device myself. But my people have used it and it is accurate every time. Long, long time ago, people believed that the Earth is flat and anyone who said otherwise faced execution. Things which are not visible does not necessarily mean they do not exist."

After tests showed that the GT200 was useless in detecting explosives, the government reported the results to military field personnel. However, it did not ban or stop use of the units, leaving the matter up to the discretion of individual soldiers. 

I suppose if the Thai government can’t and won’t do anything against the military in using ineffective bomb detection devices which may result in deaths they may as well arrest flip-flop sellers.

This should tell us all we need to know about the current Thai government.

Weak, ineffectual, corrupt, and petty.

However, I don’t want to appear to be always critical. I want to help change things for the better.  You know; be part of the solution.

And I think I can help. Instead of purchasing worthless GT200 devices, my advice would be for the Thai military to consider purchasing this new product called the Porntip Toilet 200 Brush (PT200 device).

This device is designed and named after Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, who has been cleaning up the military’s messes for several years now. At a cost much cheaper than the 1 million baht price tag of a useless GT200 device, the PT200 actually can perform a necessary function (unlike the GT200).  I’m sure the Thai military could use the PT200 for bomb detection as well.  It has the same statistical chance of obtaining an accurate detection of explosive devices. Plus it has the additional properties of scaring animals and small children.

Just trying to help.

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