Saturday, May 22, 2004

Pretzel Logic was the name of a classic album by Steely Dan. Apparently our elected representatives are big fans. May we have the wisdom not to elect them again.

BANGKOKIAN: Alternative reincarnation

Published on May 22, 2004
The Nation, Bangkok

The possibilities are limitless. Deputy House Speaker Somsak Prissanananthakul's ruling that the opposition can't grill a Cabinet member for what he did when serving in a previous ministerial position (albeit under the same government and prime minister) is such a revolutionary idea. Bangkokian wants to build a monument to him, because if his logic is applied on a wider scale, the world could be a much more enjoyable place in which to live.

Common sense dictates that if Deputy Prime Minister Suchart Jaovisidha can't be censured for what he alleged did when serving as finance minister...

l We can commit a murder and then have a sex change. When the police come, we can say, "I did it when I was a man!"

lAny newspaper facing a major libel suit can simply change its masthead, and do it yet again when another lawyer notice comes, and so on...

lWe can go to Parliament and throw eggs at Deputy House Speaker Somsak, and then change our names. If he wants to have us arrested, we can throw his accusation back at him.

l Before you resign from your job, you may like to go straight to your boss and give him a good hard kick in the butt. "His former subordinate did that," we can tell the court. "Not me."

The prime minister's crowning jewel

Bangkokian has been amusing himself with mental maths exercises. If the Government Lottery Office is to launch a football lottery worth a total of Bt10 billion, it will have to circulate 10 million tickets priced at Bt1,000 each. Will the Thai people cough up their money to fully subscribe to the lotto so that Thailand can fulfil its wildest dream of owning a 30-per-cent stake in Liverpool Football Club?

Thailand is a country of 63 million people. Let's say one in six Thais, or 10 million, is looking to buy a ticket. Bangkokian reckons that such an estimate isn't too far-fetched. After all, gambling is a national pastime. People from all walks of life in this land have a penchant for games of chance, gambling and all sorts of wagering. Getting rich quick through gambling is a kind of karma that you have to participate in to get the chance to win. This idea may have little to do with either Hinduism or Buddhism, but it is widely subscribed to nonetheless.

A study conducted by Dr Sangsit Piriyarangsan of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Economics found that at least Bt500 billion is circulating every year in the underground lottery alone. That puts the average gambling in the underground lottery well over Bt40 billion per month.

If Sangsit's number-crunching is to be believed, then it might not be all that difficult to persuade Thai punters to splurge on this once-in-a-lifetime gamble. Think about it, folks, the jackpot prize is Bt1 billion! The rest of the prizes from the lottery will be worth a combined Bt4 billion.

Bangkokian can assure Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that patriotic Thais who worship him should have no problem putting their bet on the football lotto if and when it is launched. The only regret that Bangkokian has is why hasn't our great leader come along sooner, with all his wonderful ideas, among which the Liverpool lotto is the brightest jewel in the crown of his achievements, so far.

There is no cause for the prime minister to worry that people will accuse him of trying to defraud them of their hard-earned money. People know - even the most gullible people know - that the lottery is a game of chance, pure and simple. Even the stupidest fool knows the government is selling each of the lottery tickets at Bt1,000 even though its par value equivalent to Liverpool equity is only Bt200. If that means the lottery will carry a premium of Bt800, no problem!

People will totally ignore those uptight academics who would advise against placing your money on this bet. People are willing to take a wager, just for the fun of it and hope that their good karma from previous existences catches up and rewards them with tons of money in this life.

It may be an unusual way to raise money to buy an English Premier League football club and to lift the spirits of Thai people everywhere, but anything can happen under our great leader. Lotto winners will forever owe a debt of gratitude to this brainy prime minister. The rest of the punters (or should we say investors?) will feel as if they have been had again. But rest assured that these people will be only too eager for an opportunity to fall for our dear leader's next bright idea.

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