I came across a video of what appears to be 90 year old and current Head of the Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda giving driving tips to teenagers of rich and well-connected Thai families.
Now to be fully honest, the character in the video may not be the real General Prem Tinsulanonda but there is a strong resemblance.
Regardless, this particular driving lesson seems to have made an “impact.” Here are three examples:
1. In 2007 Kanpithak Pachimsawas, 20, was driving his Mercedes in Bangkok when a bus cut him off, an argument ensued and Kanpithak hit the bus driver in the face with a rock. A crowd at the bus stop was witness to this and they started shouting abuse at the young man who responded to this by getting back into his Mercedes and driving directly into the crowd.
A 42 year old woman was killed and many more injured, when the police arrived on the scene they were accompanied by Kanpithak’s father, a well connected business man, who proceeded to threaten the witnesses with the police watching.
When the case eventually came to trial in 2009 (quite a feat in itself to actually bring it to trial) the spoiled child was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to 10 years in jail, then promptly released on 5 million baht bail not having spent one minute in jail!
Kanpithak’s mother is former Miss Thailand Sawinee Pakaranang and his uncle is retired deputy police chief Ukrit Patchimsawat.
2. On December 27, 2010 nine people associated with Thammasat University were killed and five injured in a car accident in Bangkok when Prae-wa (Orachorn) Thephassadin Na Ayuttaya, a 16 year old girl, slammed the Honda Civic she was driving into the back of a passenger van. Almost immediately afterward, this photo was circulating all over the internet showing the young lady with her smashed vehicle sending a text on her Blackberry to one of the social media web sites.
Prae-wa Thephassadin Na Ayuttaya
Orachorn also comes from a rich and well connected family. Her uncle, General Wit Thephassadin Na Ayutthaya, is chief adviser to army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha. Another relative was the leader of one of the paramilitary groups so prominent in another massacre of Thammasat students - October 6, 1976. It appears like mass killing with impunity runs in her family.
Orachorn has never been formally arrested because according to the Thai Police, “Authorities had no grounds to detain the teenager.” I guess that having no driver’s license, the closed circuit cameras that recorded the entire event, the photos afterward, the girl’s own admission that she was speeding, and the nine dead bodies are insufficient grounds to imprison one of the rich and famous in Bangkok.
3. On Mar 25, 2011, 19 year old Peerapol Thaksinthaweesap was driving his father’s Porsche at 120 km/hour when he hit a young girl on Pathum Thani-Bang Bua Thong highway in Pathum Thani. The impact from the crash was so severe it cut the girl's body in half. The lower half of her body flew out the back windshield and landed in a ditch in the middle of the road but the upper half of her torso remained in the car which Peerapol abandoned 10 km down the road to take a taxi home.
I won’t actually post the video of the recovery of the body parts here but I will provide a link to it below with the warning that is frightfully gruesome. Please don’t watch it if you have a weak stomach.
When police contacted the owner of the car, Peerapol’s father told them that ‘the driver’ would only surrender to police after he attends the Cheng Meng religious festival, where he would pay homage to his ancestors.
After finally reporting to Police in a black hood and sunglasses, Peerapol eventually admitted that he was speeding, and he was charged with careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He was released into his family’s custody and it is unlikely that he will ever be held criminally accountable for his actions as well.
Common sentiment is that justice is blind unless it's in Thailand where justice favors the rich, powerful, and influential.
Now, I don’t want to appear to be so callous. These are kids and I can’t help but sympathize somewhat over their situation. May they manage to live good lives and at least attempt to redeem themselves and try to make up for the tragic losses they are responsible for – and they are responsible. However, I believe they have gotten off on the wrong foot by having mommy and daddy elite take care of their legal responsibilities.
The truth is that these kids have become lightning rods for the hate that the aristocracy in Thailand has brought upon itself over the years. They symbolize the enemy; rich, uncaring, reckless, and protected. A true democracy in Thailand could ultimately solve this problem. That's why the people want it and the elite/military establishment are so opposed to it.