Friday, 7 July 2017

UK and Thailand Road Safety weaving all over the road?

Khun Anchalee Kongrut swerves around none of the concerns of drink-driving and road safety in Thailand in her article:

Certainly 40 road deaths per day and 25% of those due to drink-driving is sadly Thailand living down to its reputation as one of the world’s worst nations for road safety.

And if the Buddhist Lent ban on drinking may reduce deaths over the long holiday weekend, then is the reality 6 months on from the 7 Dangerous Days of Xmas and Thai New Year that the death toll will simply remain as high as ever by next Xmas?

The reforms on passenger bans in the back of trucks and on minivans and seatbelt wearing will be fruitless unless drink-driving is tackled hard.

Britain can take great pride in its road safety work over the decades – and there is no quick fix it does take decades of consistent and rigorous effort - and is now rivalled only by Sweden as the safest roads in the world.

##UK Road Safety##

Chief Inspector Phil Vickers the road safety expert at Lincolnshire Police – one of the 43 UK police forces – has done much to promote the #Fatal4 next wave of road safety measures of which drink driving is a persistent problem.

While both Lincolnshire Police and Chief Constable Simon Byrne of Cheshire Police have been active in highlighting road safety work, especially speeding and drink driving with the Police Interceptors TV show.

If Red Bull has given wings to its heir now on the run – the Lord Lucan of fizzy drinks- it would be unthinkable for any cop-killer on UK roads to escape justice for so long. And Yoovidhaya having fled London before being collared managing to flee in a private jet to Singapore, raises concerns over Interpol’s activity so far.

As an aside, it raises questions over what the lawyers were saying to the courts until now in the Red Bull case. And certainly UK can take no pride in a wave of corrupt lawyers and courts – not just the South Thanet election fraud nor Russian libel tourism nor even Lord Grabiner and his cabal of crooked barristers in One Essex Court but also blatant HMRC fraud by Lawrence Stephens lawyers:

But with road safety, Chief Constable Pughsley of Kent Police can cite great improvements in frontline Kent with the police HGV to spot long distance lorry drivers drinking or using the mobile phone. Even watching television – presumably not Police Interceptors – while at the wheel.

Using a mobile phone while driving has been vigorously clamped down on as one of the #Fatal4 in the last year with a $300 fine and 6 points (out of 12 before a ban) on a licence.

While the Road Safety Experience by Kent Fire and Rescue (called out to rescue drivers from the mangled wreckage of car crashes as well as from burning buildings) is an unusual tourist attraction with not just the proverbial beer goggles on how drinking affects driving but road simulators etc.

While forensics are vital in road safety for crash analysis and the plethora of other techniques such as Cold Case review, crash analytics eg injuries caused by car keys requiring vehicle redesign or autoparts review such as brakes and larger scale reporting and recalls such as the Vauxhall Zafira fires are part of the police road safety armoury.

##UK and Thailand Road Safety##

And Bobby Bear merchandising surely a missed opportunity so far at King Power or the Siamese Foxes of Leicester City and the neat flourishes of a police tyre gauge thingummy to check tyre tread for road safety, laminated checklists, and windscreen ice scrapers. The latter admittedly not much use in Thailand.

Surely UK and Thailand working together should enable the boys in brown to get together with the boys in blue at the Road Safety Experience as well as Hendon and share knowledge and tips? To put it bluntly, Thailand would be pushing against an open door to easily access decades of road safety work that works.

And Kent Police are going into overdrive for the Summer road safety campaign – deaths on UK roads counter-intuitively more in Summer than the Xmas festive season due to longer evenings and pub drinking. Bizarrely KCC council are running separate rather clunky campaigns on mobile phones and even worse passengers and speed which is both mixed messages and campaign dilution at its worst.

In my politics work Garbutt for Ramsgate Mayor and MP I’ve urged Frontline Kent as a hothouse of innovation with 20mph zones (down from the usual 30mph) for 10 miles radius around town centres:

In my Sincerity advertising role, one of the most effective UK road safety campaigns was the Kill Your Speed not a Child ads as research showed adhering to the 30mph limit would reduce child deaths.

Plus I’ve urged zero drink-driving (currently about one pint of beer is allowed) and even the USA system of no booze in cars at all, except locked in the boot, and certainly no open cans or bottles.

And if Khun Anchalee expresses concern over jail sentences for drink driving that would be one tool in the armoury to make a huge dent in drink-driving initially. While the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation along with GRSP Global Road Safety Partnership must surely have a more active role to play with government to prevent half measures on drink driving?

Khun Anchalee’s potential dashboard cam for her car raises questions over the efficacy of Thailand’s CCTV and road camera systems first raised with the central BKK wat bomb - and the age-old problem of the public sector in the public paying twice, once for the system and then once again to do it themselves properly.

Shouldn’t UK and Thailand take turns at the wheel in sharing road safety experience before the 7 Dangerous Days come hurtling around the corner again?


Police reform in UK and Thailand lacking sincerity?

Khun Wassana Nanuam's article on “police reform lacking sincerity” highlights various issues not just for the boys in brown of Thailand but also Britain's boys in blue:

While adding an extra layer of debate on the military-police roles and interfaces.

Thailand's new Committee of 36 comprising police and academics and military as instigated by PM Prayut certainly does seem to be making all the right moves in police reform.

Thai readers may be unfamiliar with almost febrile atmosphere in UK over the regular Koh Tao deaths, wide publicity of Thailand as a dangerous tourism destination and Andy Hall and National Fruit Co. human rights cases and the Red Bull cop-killer case.

The default position, unfairly in my view, is one of instant and total criticism of Thai police.

Anecdotally in my (few) experiences of Thai police at road blocks or lost credit cards I've always been met with unfailing politeness if not embarrassment at my feeble knowledge of UK football. While Thai quirks such as Police Hospitals and Nurses are rather baffling.

Corruption is far more endemic in Kent with the police drowning under a tidal wave of dodgy Caribbean tax haven companies and council fraud with Pleasurama and Dreamland megaprojects and corporate manslaughter with Infratil directors, now of Wellington Airport, facing extradition.

Certainly the danger of a Costa del Crime culture that affected Southern Spain with British criminals on the run to the sun could infect Phuket and Pattaya without effective policing eg the recent arrest of UK drug lord Jonathon Moorby on the run in Thailand, or the arrest in BKK of Manston-Ostend gunrunner Viktor Bout.

I've urged for example a Kent Police International dept to focus on ASEAN with clear and fast links to Interpol and Europol as well as all 43 UK police forces. Whether focusing on UK criminals abroad or terrorism or stranded citizens.

Kent citizen Joshua French featured in my MP manifesto and now released from Death Row Congo and concerns over the murder of Kent's George Low and cross-border problems in Cyprus with the murderers fleeing to Turkey:

And there’s a wider debate on London's Boris water cannon - still stored on Kent territory and apt with Hamburg G20 riots now - versus water sprinklers in tower blocks.

While UK’s 5,000 guncops, in effect a Police Army, and redeployment of Special Branch the political police to counter-terrorism, with terror attacks on Parliament and Borough market, and upto 3,000 regular troops on the streets in aid to the civil power (with questions over what the other 76k troops are for) and shortage of detectives raises questions over who does what.

While Doitung must be a huge feather in the cap of Thai police in the Golden Triangle and ready to roll out to the Wa and Shan regions of Myanmar if not Helmand.

For surely the 36 Committee will have failed if it's merely used to truncheon Thai police into submission rather than highlighting reforms and success and best practice? And surely ACT amongst other civil society groups, and even Surin Pitsuwan in his Bangkok Governor campaign ushering in the beginning of a return to full democracy in 2108, should have a voice in the process?

While the 36 Committee is unusual to farang eyes in having General Boonsang a West Point (why not Sandhurst or Hendon too?) graduate military man in charge of policing scrutiny where the position is reversed in UK - albeit with the exception of Deepcut barracks as below.

##Kent Policing noodling##

In UK slightly different approaches have taken place in recent years with each of the 43 UK police forces having their own elected Police Commissioner (previously unelected) to scrutinise the police and hire and fire the Chief Constable.

It's proved something of a success with reservations providing greater public scrutiny of the forces. But very low election turnouts - as low as 15% in many cases. While the UK Commissioners have led to cronyism and padding of offices, and even concerns of going native and simply cheerleading the police forces, and party politics muddying the waters.

That mitigated to some extent by HMIC a separate civil service inspectorate of all the UK police forces.

In Kent though the Police Commissioner got off to an abysmal start with Ann Barnes the previous unelected commissioner being newly-elected to a car crash TV series of dogs in the office, a mountain of Pot Noodles - not a Thai curry brand unfortunately - that would shame the rice pledgers and that Kent Police are still working their way through, and the infamous Onion of Priorities.

And if Kent Police are struggling on weaving their way through the political jungle of the Manston-Infratil crimes committed by politicians and civil servants in removing monitors and faking pollution and cancer data, then Surrey Police are also caught between the devil and the deep blue sea in the Deepcut scandal.

##Deepcut scandal##

Deepcut army barracks saw 4 young soldiers shot between 1995 and 2002 supposedly in separate suicides. One supposed suicide with five(!) bullets in him.

Now a 2nd (new) inquest or Sean Benton is opening in January and detailed in Private Eye magazine (available in Asia Books) plus BBC Panorama with concerns not just in the interplay between Surrey Police and the Military Police over jurisdiction at the barracks.

But astonishingly also QC John Beggs - criticised over his involvement in the Hillsboro scandal with South Yorkshire police - now hired again by Surrey Police with public funds to speak for them, and essentially browbeat family witnesses on the rates and in the public's courts.

It's astonishing that in the UK mainland and in peacetime there would be any confusion over the primacy of civilian police in military policing, especially for murders.

While a swirl of rumours around war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and Bloody Sunday Northern Ireland and lack of military police or civilian police rigour have resulted in reduced sentences for the Royal Marines Sergeant Blackman.

And now a Sunday Times expose last week, and UK's largest-ever Military Police investigation, on war crimes by a rogue SAS unit in Afghanistan acting as its own kill-squad and running amok and planting guns on executed Taliban, or civilians:

All of which has undertones not of Thailand's Deep South troubles and interplay of military and police in counter-insurgency terrorism, but more the My Lai and Speedy Express systemic massacres of the USA military in the Vietnam War.

While persistent unsolved crimes such as police corruption around the axe murder of private detective Daniel Morgan would have Robert Peel turning in his grave:

If the 36 Committee has the potential for root and branch reform of Thailand's police then as as Khun Wassana points out surely a lack of sincerity would hold back more effective policing and Greater UK and Thailand cooperation?


Thursday, 6 July 2017

Smart Farms served up fresh and hot for UK and Thailand?

The TDRI article by Nipon Poapongsakorn and Phunjasit Chokesomritpol on Agriculture 4.0 raises some food for thought on farming in UK and Thailand:

With 90% of Thai farms mechanised and the Electronic Government Agency developing satellites and soil sensors Thai agriculture should be best-placed to develop the Precision Agriculture Khun Nipon mentions.

And the Hom Pathum rice from Kanchanaburi with a yield increase of 27% highlights both the potential of boutique rice and crop gains.

With 50% of all farmland increasing crops from 878kg per rai to 1,118kg the potential is there. Yet 43% of all farms are under 10 rai and a further 25% just 10-25 rai.

While agricultural R&D dropping to 0.2% of GDP from 0.9% is a backward step. For, rather than just reduced tech costs or moves to larger farms surely there are qualitative improvements possible with Smart Farms and UK-Thai cooperation.

Even on instances of koi pla liver cancer in Isaan with over 20,000 deaths.

##UK farming growing?##

UK farming has troubles of its own with most farmers now over the age of 65 - Private Eye magazine detailing the rise in farm injuries from such elderly workers: 30% of fatal farm accidents are for those aged over 65. Agriculture with just 1.4% of the UK workforce accounted for 20% of work fatalities. Fatal injuries at 7.73 per 100,000 workers compared to 1.94 in construction.

Bumble bees have suffered a catastrophic decline and impact on crop growth through failure to manage hedgerows and prevent mono crops that reduce biodiversity.
And UK lags woefully behind nations such as Ecuador and India in tree planting - the latter with 50M trees planted in one day for Climate Change resilience.

UN Year of the Soil promoted by Kasetsart University highlighted potentially just 6 more harvests through degraded top soil.

Climate Change a factor with hotter summers and longer winters and fiercer storms and variable rainfall affecting crop yield.

And the contribution to Climate Change in non-seasonal foods and food miles in transport.

The Global Seed Bank featured in a New European newspaper article by Stuart Thompson Senior lecturer in Plant Biochemistry at University of Westminster, already under threat form flooding despite being in one of the remotest parts of Norway and supposedly Climate Change resistant to protect its bank of seed varieties.

UK farming employs less than 1% of the population but still 475,000 workers and covers 75% of UK land. While Resilience and Food Security issues are a concern with 40-60% of food imported and the risk of Pandemics such as Bird Flu or Dutch Elm disease. Last Xmas was nearly cancelled due to an outbreak of bird flu in much of UK's turkeys.

##East Kent farming##

And food is the largest UK manufacturing industry - or at least value added - with the switch to a service economy, worth £109BN and 3.8M direct and indirect jobs through the supply chain.

In East Kent with its rural heritage as The Garden of England as depicted in The Darling Buds of May TV show that rocketed Catherine Zeta-Jones to stardom. Or Charles Dickens waxing lyrical on its apples and cherries arming is crucial. Or Charles Darwin detailing the origin of species that forms the basis for much of the world's knowledge of the natural world.

While, Brexit silliness aside, Kent as UK's most European county must surely be able to capitalise on its Polish and Romanian and Hungarian links - as well as Benelux - in cuisine and culture if nothing else? The KCC faded links with Bacs-Kiskun and Virginia are an affront to good governance - and the dynamic Governor Terry McAuliffe Breakfast Club further food for thought on malnutrition, obesity and diabetes.

90% of the orchards have been lost since WW2 and even the most ardent non-Brexiter concerned at bland apple crop imports such as France's Golden Delicious. While Climate Change has positively affected Kent's vineyards with a resurgence not seen since Roman times of fizzy wines.

The last main fishing fleet in the South East works from Ramsgate harbour - battling the elements and lack of policy in combatting overfishing and reseeding the oceans. All to stock East Kent's booming Cuisine Culture from the Michelin-starred Sportsman pub in Whitstable, to Surin Thai restaurant by the harbour in Ramsgate (try the sea bass!).

##Smart Farms and ASEAN and UK##

A recent business trip to Vietnam saw discussions with students concerned at potentially going back to the farm, yet enthused at the possibility of Smart farms and the range of AI, sensors and robo-automation.

While Thanet Earth mega-greenhouses the largest in Western Europe provide supermarket crops and the basis for space food. And the thriving fruit and veg stalls of Ramsgate market days on Friday and Saturday provide a golden thread from farm gate to High St.

And rare Kent Orchids form the basis of a garden market economy that Thai orchids have already developed.

Surely the basis for UK-Thai agricultural industry cooperation is rooted in several measures in my politics and advertising work:

* Kasetsart links with say Hadlow Farming College in Kent and Kent University
* TDRI links with Produced in Kent and Sustain and Mayor of London Food board think tanks
* Kent and Thailand lead on filling the Svalbard Global Seed Bank faster: only 930,000 seeds out of a capacity of 2.5BN so far - and tighter links to the other 1,700 seed banks eg Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank in nearby Sussex
* Links with Kent's Givaudin flavouring and perfume experts and UNFAO UK and Thailand eg Laotian vanilla pods
* Surin's Rice Research centre plugged into the seed banks and IRRI
* A Thai-UK supermarket group to analyse and forecast consumer and market trends whether Thai pineapples or Argentine grapes
* True mobile links with Microsoft - the UK campus the largest outside USA- and Thai Farmers bank and City of London for technology developments
* Discovery Park links with Thai STEM parks and DaNang science park

Another Green Revolution to again triple food production is a must as hungry mouths to feed increase from 7BN to 11BN over the next 50 years. The potential of a 70% increase in food production made easier with DNA technology such as CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

While 40% malnutrition in Cambodia and Laos just across the Thai border and almost within sight of the glittering shopping malls of Bangkok and ever-present 7-11 and Boots Lotus and Makro suggests far more can be done.

And Discovery Park STEM science park, as it develops, with links to Sittingbourne Science park and Kent University and CCU University campuses in Canterbury and Broadstairs, and 6th form colleges, must surely focus not just on vaccine research and manufacture for malaria and TB growth markets.

And indeed Cancer and Dementia - but also Smart Farm technology to ensure that Kent's Farm to Pharma strategy grows.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Surin4SurinSchools – education reform for UK and Thailand and Bangkok Governor 2018?

Khun Surin Pitsuwan, Thailand’s former deputy PM and ASEAN Secretary-general and erstwhile Bangkok governor in March 2018 makes some eloquent points in his “Education itself must learn some lessons” article in the Bangkok Post:

The PM Prayut initiative on Thailand 4.0 to drive up the quality of teachers and education is an important one, in danger of being derailed, and resonates here in UK too.

Khun Surin rightly details the shocking litany of Thai education results in recent years:

• PISA results for Thailand and Cambodia 62nd and 69th of 70 nations in Asia for English proficiency

• The 2016 survey by Cambridge University of 400 English teachers in Thailand rated 60% as inadequate – and with worse figures in STEM courses

If the success of UK links and heritage via the Commonwealth could help explain the PISA success of Singapore at 12th position and Malaysia at 14th position then no such excuse could be found for Vietnam ranking higher than Thailand at 29th position.

Anecdotally the poor quality of Thailand’s teacher training and grammar books is only matched by my occasional series of what I call Tim’s Thai Typos the astonishingly bad translations of big brand advertisements in Thailand’s press and poster industries.

Clearly Khun Surin is right to flag up the need for root and branch reform of Thailand’s education system – and to highlight the success of the UK Russell Group and USA Ivy League universities as suitable candidates for emulation.

The UK is famed for the quality of its education system especially universities – the world top ten being American or UK universities. A success highlighted by UK being 5x smaller in population than USA and only 0.8% of the world population. And the sprinkling of Carnegie libraries that highlight UK-USA educational funding.
And, as an aside, why wouldn’t Khun Surin as Bangkok Governor in 2018 follow the Royal Road of closer education and cultural links with Cambodia as well as fast-forwarding hispeed rail links to Phnom Penh and onto both HCMC and Yangon to cement Bangkok’s role as essentially the capital of ASEAN?

## Surin Education Reform##

For if Khun Surin underscores the 166 international schools in Thailand – including his own Rugby School as Chairman and an honorary degree from my alma mater Bristol University– then it’s a concern that only 45 such schools are member s of the ISAT Thai International group with formal and active links to Thailand’s Ministry of Education. Hardly an engine for education reform and growth.

In UK pressure is on for continued improvement in education after the too-long Summer holidays – a Victorian relic of farming and harvests. But with the UK still facing the effects of the Great Recession of 2008, and a summer of silliness if not political mayhem with Brexit, then few people have been heard to call for a revamp of the whole UK education system.

In my Sincerity Advertising role I’ve volunteered and taught in Thai and Kent schools and universities in English, and Advertising, and Business Studies and highly recommend it.

Universities such as MMU, SPU, King Mongkut, Kasetsart as well as Chula and Thammasat and Sasin have much to offer UK.

The UK’s June election has sent British politics to the bottom of the class with wholesale U-turns in the Tory manifesto including the cancellation of the reintroduction of grammar schools and cancelling the cancelling of free school dinners.

Indeed calls for Brexit to be cancelled are growing by the week as a more outward facing UK emerges again from the insular Little England debates of the past few years.

And the new lame-duck Theresa May government now distracted in calling for a more equal society especially for white working class boys to attend university. And calls to end charitable status for public schools such as Eton, and increase the State school quota beyond 59%.

The dynamic UK Education Minister Justine Greening is active on UK reform and issues raised such as free tampons in school, or the DUP and Northern Ireland lack of access to abortions.

And research this week showing the gender gap remains with Middlesboro being the worst town in UK to be a girl. And it’s horrifying that UK officially classes literacy as a reading age of just 8 years old at age 16.

##Kent and ASEAN education##

The UK education system certainly isn’t perfect here in Kent, Medway district has the dubious honour of the worst-performing primary schools in UK.

Kent social services had to be gutted in the face of vulnerable children scandals (plus scandals in youth football and youth military cadets), the Archbishop of Canterbury now calling for faster action on refugee children from the nearby Calais Jungle, and the Northfleet children scandal of the children being born with their intestines on the outside of their bodies.

All this with a council budget of $3BN per year just to manage Kent’s schools suggests reform has been held back. The specific schools and university budgets are extra to that figure.

Youth unemployment in EU is reaching epidemic levels with 39.7% in Spain and 21.7% in France and debates around the effectiveness of mainstream academic courses and vocational courses in UK’s 130 universities and dozens of colleges and language schools are underway.

Sadiq Khan the new London Mayor – the most votes ever in any UK election and most powerful Moslem politician in Europe – wiping the blackboard clean in urging a public inquiry into the Grenfell skyscraper fires, cancelling the garden Bridge scandal and expanding the Night train London Tube service to overground by December 2017 for a 24/7 global London.

While wider debates on the school leaving age increasing to 18 from 16, votes at 16 rather than 18, free tuition fees in Scotland but not UK and a Basic National Income are on the UK agenda.

In my Ramsgate Mayor and MP campaign I’ve urged a top 200 university in Kent along with ASEAN studies courses and BBCTV language learning courses even free-to-air broadcast exchanges and Open University expansion, the first MOOC.

News this month of the possible closure of the Broadstairs campus of Canterbury Christchurch University suggests a failure of both marketing and courses. While calls are increasing for Kent Police involvement in a CCU “Hendon of the South” as well as Community Policing with Charlton Athletic football club etc.

##Thailand and UK Education Partnership##

Shouldn’t the UK and Thailand form a long-term partnership in education?

And surely Khun Surin should make education a key platform in his Bangkok Governor campaign for March 2018?

It’s astonishing that almost no universities in Thailand have formal links and exchange programmes with UK universities.

Kasetsart being a dynamic exception with strong UK and EU and ASEAN links with its International dept, especially Newcastle University and its railway engineering courses. Indeed Newcastle MP and Shadow Industrial Minister Chi Onwurah has urged greater education and industry cooperation not just in excellent traditional industries such as railways but new industries such as computer coding.

With UK introducing computer coding as a lesson surely the expansion of Yingluck computers and Raspberry PI should feature in UK as well as Thailand?

And no Thai language courses or high schools or Rajabhat universities have formal links with UK universities.

While the Surin Village School Charity I founded has already built its first school in Isaan for just $30,000 for a new school building for 50 schoolkids including a library and satellite internet and computer links with Kent schools.

Wouldn’t Surin4SurinSchools be a key message for Khun Surin’s Bangkok governor campaign?

Certainly any new Bangkok governor would need to consider the disunited kingdom aspects of the Charter referendum and how to broaden education access to Isaan and the North and Deep South. As well as considering how to more equitably redistribute government funding beyond an ever-larger city-state that distorts national cohesion and affects both Krungthep and London.

Issues such as Bangkok lacking potable tap water compared ot Singapore or the Doitung Golden Triangle and Mynamar Wa drugs blight or even the monstrous failure in UK of Thai WW1 monument must surely be in the mix?

If London is cooking on gas to end the North-South divide through the Northern Powerhouse programmes then Thailand has much to do to end blatant inequality with luxury cars nestled next to street food carts. And the generation gap of 6 years of primary schooling in Isaan is a national drain compared to the educational access of central BKK. As would be a failure to expand the 10 baht healthcare schemes with sustainable vocational courses.

Failure by a Bangkok Governor to solve such problems could be the biggest disaster to befall the Thai capital since Ayutthaya in 1767.

While cultural issues such as Mahakan Fort and Bangkok Riverside developments as well as the new Observation Tower or High Speed railways will be a test for any Bangkok Governor in ensuring they graduate from being potentially costly white elephants or concrete vanity projects to credits to benefit future generations of residents and tourists in a world city like BKK.

Khun Surin would surely be pushing against an open door with the dynamic British Council – UK and Thailand’s secret weapon - for both cultural and educational opportunities – yet another UK Education Seminar near BTS Chidlom on 22nd July for example including Kent University:

As well as ensuring Universities UK – the grouping of all 130 UK universities – places Thailand’s needs first as well as with the Erasmus EU programme of university access.

Otherwise what a massive waste of both nations’ human capital?

##Thailand and East Kent##

Kent has 4 universities that are chomping at the bit to partner with Thai and ASEAN universities.

Kent University is a top 30 UK university (with an excellent journalism dept) while CCU Canterbury Christchurch University has strong teacher training and police forensic course, sports sciences and cinema departments. And a very strong business department and vocational courses and apprenticeships and work experience placements.

The latter could also be relevant for Gap Summers and Gap Years for UK students and teachers in Thai schools:

Thailand has a golden opportunity, before eventually the African Commonwealth nations such as Kenya or Ghana will put in place similar programmes, along with strategic growth markets such as Senegal, Mali, South Africa, Malawi and Angola.

Or with tighter Latin American growth market programmes with Mexico, Cuba, Chile and Argentina for example to move UK culture beyond just Shakespeare.

I’ve written before on Discovery Park and Sittingbourne science labs here in East Kent (both sites just 20km from the universities and with their own on-site STEM campus) for vaccines research and production – the former the largest US inward investment in Europe with Pfizer.

Both have excellent International Student departments and calls for Kent to have at least one top 200 university in the next decade. But already nursing exchanges are in place at CCU with DaNang University – Vietnam is not slow in grasping such opportunities and no doubt that reflected in the PISA results Khun Surin cites.
DaNang University in Vietnam is already the largest UK education investment. And UK has an Education export target for £30BN to be achieved – and both Thailand and Vietnam as key growth economies.

Will Khun Surin urge a Thai-UK Education partnership to create ASEAN Studies courses and languages and lift the number of Thai students in UK from 8,000 to 17,000 – the latter figure only the same as Malaysian students in UK now?

Shouldn’t all 8 top performing Thai universities in The Times higher education leagues be linked not only to a UK university but also to specific departments?
Plus there is East Kent vocational college opening its own hotel for customer service training and Creative Industries courses. Plus 400 other schools including Kings School in Canterbury the world’s oldest school, and dozens and dozens of language schools.

And David Cameron before standing down as PM and now MP made it clear that any international student graduating form a UK university and with a graduate-level job would be entitled to stay on in UK if they wished to do so.

Shouldn’t a Thai-UK university and education partnership help deliver on Thailand 4.0? For both nations to miss such an opportunity would surely mark them out as dunces?


Friday, 23 June 2017

PM Prayut four questions for UK as well as Thailand?

PM Prayut's Four Questions as always prove interesting reading - but also a salutary lesson for UK after the dismal election of 8th June.

With an unelected leader now held together by a minority government amidst the shambles of senior politicians voted out, new UKIP and Liberal leadership elections – although they could be held in a telephone box, senior civil servants defenestrated, a whole year of Brexit bumbling (and potentially upto two or three or four more years before it's cancelled), and a worsening economy, UK could well pay heed to PM Prayut's Four Questions.

Only the Ministry of Silly Walks seems well-staffed at the moment in UK government.

Certainly the robotic mantras of strong and stable from Britain's Blueshirts don't have the eloquence and openness of PM Prayut's fireside chats. While the lack of televised Leader Debates and party broadcasts are in stark contrast to the running commentary - no matter how impartial - of Thailand's 30 minute TV shows.
And the threadbare 1970's socialism of Britain's Redshirts is a knee-jerk ideology nationalisation of railways is perhaps only slightly more jaw-droppingly awful than the 18th century Blueshirtsim of foxhunting.

All again in stark contrast to PM Prayut's modernisation initiatives under the Thailand 4.0 umbrella. And Fruitival just one policy, served up fresh and hot, amongst many.
For Britain still to be bumbling towards its first Industrial Strategy some 200 years after beginning the Industrial revolution is concerning.
But if PM Prayut is an uber-patriot returning happiness - or at least a measure of stability - to the Thai people through the unrest and emergencies of the last 3 years, the demands can only grow louder for elections in 2018 from the Four Questions:

1. Do you think the next election will give Thailand a government with good governance?

An interesting philosophical question clouded in doubt and uncertainty for any nation. But perhaps the next election will do so for Thailand. Thailand’s economy is starting to tick upwards. Tourism remains resilient even with the shock report of Thailand rated as one of the world's most dangerous nations - perhaps because of the volume of tourism.

While civil society - a weakness in much of Asia - has been strengthened in Thailand with say ACT anti-corruption groups. While the National Strategy with politicians, businesses, civil servants and Third Sector groups is a refreshing contribution to oversight and scrutiny. It’s in stark contrast to the cod-cabinet of the UK Privy Council or House of Lords still infected with 91 hereditary Lords and bizarre farce of hereditary elections to replace them as they die off.
Unfortunately, as we've seen in UK with the trashing of the Fixed term Parliament Act at its first hurdle, and then the tearing up of the Blueshirt manifesto, elections don't always yield good governance. In Britain's case with even Northern Ireland's DUP now complaining, it doesn't even seem to yield a government.

2. If that is not the case what will you do?

Presumably, as in UK, Thai citizens will tut and sigh and turn away from politics in disgust. That demonstrated in the rise in low turnouts (over 30% of UK voters not voting in national elections, and 70%(!) not voting in local elections). A bitter harvest for the last D-Day veterans landing in Normandy to secure weak democracy in a failing nation. A weakened government and resurgent opposition will undoubtedly result in repeated carcrash elections in effect sifting through the detritus to eventually find viable leadership.

Troops on the streets viable? Britain's tried that recently for a few days - along with armed police - with the London Bridge and Borough Market bombing to minimal support. And less so than in Thailand, France's ongoing state of emergency has failed to stem the wave of terror attacks or instil a sense of security.
But again PM Prayut must be thinking of the 2018 elections and standing with his own party or not?

He could certainly lay claim to strong and stable leadership. And as an uber-patriot surely he must also be best-placed to place a framework around any military aid to the civil power in the future? 21st century Thailand can hardly continue the rollercoaster ride of coups and counter-coups or tempestuous colourshirt politics.

And perhaps all the more important without the wise counsel of King Bhumibol for the first time in the Thai landscape.

And as a comparison, the vitriol routinely directed at the UK royals would cause thousands of lese-majeste cases in Thailand - each day. No wonder Prince Charles routinely heads off to Romania to relax and get away from it all.

With Prince Harry this week stating that no royal wants to be King or Queen Britain’s monarchy seems to be in something of a greater pickle too. With Prince Philip in hospital again and retiring from public life and Queen Elizabeth 91 years old, the smoothness of transition from King Bhumibol to King Vajiralongkorn – despite naughty German teens’s air rifles - is another stark contrast between UK and Thailand.

3. Elections are an integral part of democracy but are elections without regard for the country's future right or wrong?

Again a profound question that casts UK's recent election for Party purposes in a dim light. And as with the rise in civil society in Thailand whether Greenpeace or monks or farmer's or CEDT or TDRI groups, democracy is more than just elections.

Certainly the UK approach of essentially elected dictatorships every five years is overdue for reform. While the Blueshirts have been described as an absolutist political party tempered only by regicide.

While the merry-go-round of elections on Scottish independence, Brexit and national elections plus party leader elections and resignations in Clegg, Cameron, Farron, Nuttall, Farage and Miliband is hardly testament to elections leading to stability and growth in UK at the moment.

4. Do you think bad politicians should be given the chance to return to politics - and if conflict re-emerges who will solve it and by what means?

Does PM Prayut mean Thaksin or Yingluck? Or both? But surely Thailand as a modern democracy can’t perpetually ban citizens for taking up politics? Cambodia's PM Hun Sen's triumph with Sam Rainsy exiled and banned from politics, seems a pyrrhic victory worthy of UK elections and a cautionary tale on the Shinawatra debate.
As was the heat of a judicial coup around the rice pledging schemes and watermelon politics.

Even Boris Johnson, foreign Secretary and erstwhile PM, was only hidden away during the election campaign after his Brexit shenanigans. While the capable Michael Gove has been given another chance after the Brexit palace coup as Environment Minister to green Britain under the hot glare of Climate Change.

And if conflict returns to the streets surely the Boys in Brown of Thailand's police should be the first call, as with UK's Bobbies on the beat, rather than troops firing on citizens? The Bloody Sunday inquiry of Northern Ireland and 14 citizens shot dead by the Parachute Regiment still taints UK politics even now, with the Unionjackshirts of DUP urging amnesties.

Certainly no UK general would expect to last long outside the barracks for any dalliance in UK politics - even the Duke of Wellington met his Prime Ministerial Waterloo besieged in his Hyde Park home under the slings and arrows of the baying mob. And certainly PM Prayut has a golden opportunity in his fireside chats - or aerobic sessions - to openly discuss the future and reform of Thailand’s military?

Is conscription viable? Cancelled in UK back in 1960 even at the height of the Cold War, as an economic and social drain. What is the right size and role of the military? Is Cambodia stealing a march on UK and Thailand in its peacekeeping role with over 1,000 troops deployed? How does the military work in Resilience operations whether SAR search and rescue at sea or floods and earthquakes on land?

After all it took President Eisenhower a former military man and leader of D-Day, highlighted the dangers of the military-industrial complex soaking up public funds with perpetual emergencies and the inability to switch off the military machine. Even now UK troop still based in Germany long after WW2 and the Cold War.

Or PM Prayut could discuss the CEDT view of 61 deans of Thailand’s foremost universities urging the handbrake is pulled on S44 for the Bangkok-Nongkhai Chinese railway that seems to benefit China rather than Thailand or Laos. Is throwing billions of dollars to plough through the vast emptiness of the Laotian Highlands sensible even with OBOR?

With both Kent University and Newcastle University the latter already linked with Kasetsart engineering depts - and Kent’s Southeastern franchise due a Meiji Kent overhaul with a consortium of Japan Rail and Netherlands – surely rail technology transfers would easily be viable?
Certainly that would be of more use to Thailand - although less fun - than Lumyai's Mor Lam twerking? Rather than facing a barrage of three-fingered salutes - and more than a few UK citizens are offering the current UK PM a few two fingered salutes - PM Prayut himself rather than a Lukthung music video lookey-likey could give the thumbs up to increased UK-Thailand trade?

Sadly the Grenfell Tower firestorm in London has exposed shortcomings in both fire standards and UK Resilience - mobs besieging the council offices and resignations, before public inquiries beyond lessons learned, over such failures. And in Kent heavy rotation of press and radio advertising highlighting Pandemic preparation - and need for the Sir Julian Brazier Medical School project linked to Discovery Park vaccine factory - as vaccinations fall below the 83% safe level.

A healthy flow of nurses and doctors and researchers and pharma-factor workers is all the more important for the NHS as Brexit rumbles on and EU citizens and STEM workers feel unwelcome, and the Kent Farm-to-Pharma strategy falters.

Surely Brexit highlights to both UK and Thailand, Eire's sterling work in securing all ten of the top 10 pharma companies from Pfizer to Ameger as inward investment. And there must be a template of JV activity for the City of London and Thai firms such as KTB, SCB and Kasikorn?

For surely PM Prayut's Four Questions pose the basis not just to tee up the 2018 elections but for a strong and stable UK and Thailand relationship into the future.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

UK and Thailand yet to snack on UNSDG30? Or doughnuts in Parliament?

As always it was fascinating to read Khun Sirinya's report in the Bangkok Post comparing Thai street food with the retail (7-11?) options:

A mouth-watering smorgasboard of Thai food was laid out with over a dozen options and snacks.

It's hard to believe if she says she didn't eat it all - she must have hollow legs, but Thai food is so healthy it's difficult to put on weight. And the dynamic Travel Blogger and Teacher - from Kent too - Richard Barrow is cooking on gas with his Street Food Survey serving up a choice of snacks:

And UK doughnuts? Well, leaving aside issues of if/how BMA will clamp down on Street Food, or the surge of Thai Cuisine Culture with the new Michelin Guide for Bangkok, or even Superfoods, or even malnutrition in Laos and Cambodia there has suddenly appeared what's been termed a doughnut-shaped hole in UK policy with the UNSDG30 #globalgoals.

Just before Parliament was dissolved for the 8th June General Election, the Environment Audit Committee (specifically established to review UK Climate Change policy) produced the first report on the UNDG30 and UK.(And not one but two reports on flooding, and a further two reports on microplastics - from shower gels and cosmetics - and ocean pollution). And it was less than ideal:

Former PM David Cameron can rightly be proud of establishing UK as the first G20 economy to achieve the UN target of 0.7% GNI aid - and in the face of much criticism even from within his party. But UK is far weaker on using those funds (about $20BN a year) to achieve the UNSDG30 #globalgoals.

The Global Goals are 17 broad aims with 169 sub-categories, all signed up by every nation on earth and perhaps the only main gaps are a Global Space Plan, or WMD Disarmament - both hardly likely to wait until the next iteration of the Global Goals after 2030.

### Global Goals for UK? ###

Concerns have rightly been raised not just over the normal mishaps and corruption over aid spending that unfortunately happen - the Ethiopian Spice Girls project perhaps clumsily prioritising First World issues in a Third World nation. But even more worryingly DFID is simply salting away huge tranches of aid funds into the World Bank for audit tick-boxing where it sits idle rather than being spent on viable projects around the world.

Excessive financial reserves within UK government departments are part of the same problem for UK activity.

For the doughnut-shaped hole has appeared where UK is developing the Global Goals abroad but not instigating them at home. So doing, would not only promote the Global Goals to the UK public (who are ultimately funding them through tax), but would also frame UK policy in to solve UK problems.

For example, 3M UK citizens suffer from malnutrition. And the rise of 1M people needing Food Banks in a G7 nation (the oft-cited problem of affording to heat-or-eat for many families) is a Dickensian failure in 21st century Britain. And framing the Global Goals to UK problems would also highlight malnutrition in terms of say diabetes or obesity, from actual doughnuts.

And just as Pepsi and Coke are rapidly diversifying to sugar-free soda, and portfolio juice and water brands, and McDonalds to healthy eating as well as home delivery and waitress service it's interesting to see Chang move to drinking water over alcoholic beverages.

As an aside, surely it's an own goal for the UK as a Sporting Superpower from the 2012 and 2016 Olympics not to build on that success - with Goal 3 Healthy Lives - through framing UK Sports policy through the lens of the Global Goals?

Global Golas if you will.

Although other sports brands are available - as spurs to progress.

Here in Kent, Charlton Athletic are very active in their community work with schools and colleges, while Arsenal has very active Summer Schools, and a Goalkeeper school. While the Margate Beach Games has been a runaway success with UK Volleyball Championships and beach football and burgeoning kayaking, cycling and surfing events beefing up Kent fitness amidst the more sedate golfing and yachting.

### Global Goals for the World ###

And other nations are leading the UK already: Philippines has already adapted the Global Goals into much of its national policy. While the Parliamentary report cites 10 Argentinian Ministers active in their nations' Global Goals, and the Colombian government creating a ministerial department to deliver UNSDG30, and even attributing the success of the Peace Process to the Global Goals and Agenda.

With my Sincerity Advertising hat on, it's reassuring to see that the report highlights the need for advertising given the successful social media and app work by Finland.

Plus a German TV commercial - even Bonn being established as The UNSDG30 Town of Germany to focus delivery of the Global Goals - and in UK Project Everyone (and with The World's Biggest Lesson of free material for schools) established by Richard Curtis, of Comic Relief and Blackadder and Love Actually fame, is stumbling at making the Global Goals famous in UK.

And in my politics work I've called for every Kent schoolbook, and pen and pencil, across all 400 Kent schools, to feature the Global Goals logo and graphics and website. And with branding on Yingluck computers and phones and screensavers too.

It's astonishing - as the report outlines - that some 15 years after the UN Millennium Development Goals and now into Year 2 of the UNDSG30 Global Goals not one UK government department has any plans to deliver them, nor even get the ball rolling by featuring the UNSDG30 logos on their websites.

And it was interesting that two sessions of the Parliamentary Environment Committee were on Soil Health - a subject that's perhaps not especially riveting to most people - despite fears of only six more harvests given Climate Change, existing overproduction, AMR and excessive antibiotics in animals and a further 4BN population growth.

So, Soil Health disappeared without a trace in UK - even here in the more rural Kent with concerns of most farmers over 65 years old, and Brexit fears of restrictions on farm subsidies and farm labourers - yet actively promoted by Kasetsart University after the UN Year of the Soil.

Surely whether it's healthy eating or Climate Change or social initiatives such as Children's Day or Teacher's Day or King Power and Leicester City or 7-11 expansion of 700 new stores just in Thailand, UK and Thailand could carve out a slice of the pie on the Global Goals.

And snack on Goal 17 Global Partnerships?


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Speeding up Road Safety for UK and Thailand?

Khun Ploenpote Atthakor in her Bangkok Post article makes some interesting points on Road Safety in Thailand:

Certainly she was lucky to be let off for speeding: 133 kph in a 90 kph zone: UK Police would be much stricter than Thai Police in such instances.

And she makes a fair point on speeding and German autobahn motorways (only 70mph in UK and 55mph in USA).

But the harsh reality is that speeding is one of the #Fatal4 most common causes of road deaths. Khun Ploenpote may be a superb driver - I'm sure she's not Twittering on her mobile phone at the wheel - but many people are not, and a pothole or a child running out or a patch of oil doesn't allow for reaction at high speeds.

In my Sincerity Advertising role, the "Kill Your Speed Not a Child" advertising campaign stands out as being a superb example of not just enforcing the 30mph limit on minor roads but in encouraging a reduction to 20mph.

Such advertising work is a key thread in ensuring UK is a Road Safety Global Champion - as well as a Sporting Superpower -with the lowest road deaths in the world. Germany probably has less serious injuries- with few if any survivors from a high-speed autobahn crash.

The various UK road organisations: Automobile Association and RAC and Green Flag are also active in promoting cheaper car insurance with advanced driving courses eg Institute of Advanced Motorists.

While in terms of speeding even the Road Safety Police in Kent and Lincolnshire - both with long stretches of motorway and rural roads - emphasise speed safety and have extensive high speed driving experience. Some police road chases are called off for the potential dangers of crashes and injuring bystanders, to call in the police helicopter or air ambulance. While the numerous instances of long-distance lorry drivers even watching television at the wheel is astonishing.

In my politics work: Garbutt for South Thanet MP 8th June I am urging the new speed limit for 20mph, zero drinkdrive limit (drinking and driving also one of the #Fatal4) to reduce the slight increase to 54 KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) on Kent's roads in the last year.

And to urge a UK-Thailand Road Safety partnership with AIP Foundation and UK and Thailand police.

We are after all speeding along to the Seven Dangerous Days of New Year again in just over 6 months time?


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Cambodia and USA and Kent - shaken not stirred

James Bond fan Jay Raman of US Embassy in Phnom Penh makes some interesting points on the sad death of 007 (003?) Roger Moore with his tribute of his favourite Bond films:

1)For Your Eyes Only
2)The Spy Who Loved Me
4)Live and Let Die
5)The Man with the Golden Gun
7)View to a Kill

And Jay a keen fan of Cambodian rock and roll and film with his dynamic work on Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten highlighting Khmer heritage:

Roger Moore though was brought up here in Kent - in Gravsend, Bexley and Tunbridge Wells - often bemoaning later that he no longer recognised many of the towns from the onslaught of Hitler and council town planners.

While author Ian Fleming lived near Canterbury - where he wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - and was devoted to East Kent's Royal St George's golf course near here in sunny Ramsgate.

That golf course the inspiration for the golf game in Goldfinger - but filmed at Stoke Park, Stoke Poges near the film studios and coincidentally the site for Daniel Craig's last pre-Bond film Layer Cake.

And Royal St George’s now host of the 2020 Masters Golf Open. Asian-American Tiger Woods featuring in previous Masters at Bond's course.
My selection of Roger Moore films would be of a slightly different order:

1. Spy Who Loved Me - the Union Jack parachute in the opening credits?
2. Live and Let Die - Bond in Harlem foiling a Caribbean heroin plot?
3. Moonraker – Bond in Space and Jaws, one of the few villains making another appearance
4. Man with the Golden Gun - Asian tourism in Thailand's Krabi benefiting to this day with James Bond Island: Sheriff JW Pepper appearing again from Live and Let Die and wrestling with both the Louisiana and Thailand waterways.
5. Octopussy - Bond as a clown?!
6. For Your Eyes Only - Bond in a Citroen 2CV, Jay?(!) :-)
7. View to a Kill - Duran Duran soundtrack need I say more

And East Kent's Manston airport briefly featured in Pierce Brosnan's Die Another Day as a North Korean airfield. And Manston briefly mentioned in the Moonraker novel with East Kent the base for the V2 missiles hidden near the White Cliffs of Dover.

Manston featuring in my politics work for the Infratil and council crimes of recent years, including gunrunning via Ostend airport to Africa, and UN-sanctioned aircraft for blood diamonds.

Interestingly Ian Fleming wrote a non-Bondian book on diamond smugglers.

In my film marketing work I worked on a few Bond movies, and who can resist a Connery ranking:

1. From Russia With Love
2. Goldfinger
3. You Only Live Twice
4. Diamonds Are Forever
5. Thunderball
6. Dr.No
7. Never Say Never Again

I've only just finished the novel of From Russia With Love - surely the best of all the Bond films, and with the best villains with both Robert Shaw's Red Grant and Rosa Klebb? And the most radiant Bond girl in Daniela Bianchi?

And Roger Moore giving Pussy Galore and Plenty O'Toole a run for their money in the double-entendre names stakes.

Interesting too that the novel sparked the lift-off of the James Bond craze after then-President John F. Kennedy cited it as one of his favourite books.
And Bond's entrance in the novel in breakfasting on Great British Seville marmalade, perhaps inspiring both Paddington Bear and Guy Verhofsdat breakfast favourites, the latter the chief EU negotitator warming up for more Brexit silliness in recent interviews.
Or perhaps not.

But interestingly JFK created the Peace Corps with Thailand and Malaysia the first recipients of US volunteers and students in 1962 - and so a UK version shamelessly copying the American initiative is long overdue. Tim Kaine, recent VP-candidate, former Governor and current Senator of Virginia introducing Jamestown400 links with Kent, and keen blues harp player, and also a Peace Corps volunteer in Central America.

Current Governor Terry McAuliffe keeping up Virginia's strong performance in ASEAN exports, despite being an ocean and a continent away from Asia - two continents if you wanted to include Australia as well as USA - and indeed nearer to Kent than Krabi. And the Governor like Bond no stranger to occasionally wrestling a few alligators.

Food for thought on Meiji Kent and UK ASEAN exports. And on the breakfast theme First Lady Mrs McAuliffe carrying out sterling work with her Breakfast Club work for under-nourished schools/communities. Hunger and Malnutrition surely absurd for both G7 nations if not any nation in 21st century?

And Kentucky's Matthew Barzun former US Ambassador to UK also opening the Pocahontas400 events in Kent earlier this year - Pocahontas as America's first Ambassador?

But if rumours of Fleming being inspired by the 007 bus route to Canterbury may not be correct, then surely the revitalised James Bond Trail is long overdue from Visit Kent and East Kent Council?

Is it so outrageous for Kent University to have a James Bonds strand in its Cinema courses, and Creative Industries Conferences with CCU or Visit Kent?

At the very least a keen Bond fan like Jay could celebrate an East Kent pilgrimage with opening a can of Dr. Pepper to JW - or a vodka martini or two to 003 - in celebration at the nineteenth hole of the Royal St George's?

Even President Trump might take a break from his Make America Great Britain Again work - with or without Kent's rascally Farage - for a turnout on Bond's golf course

While with all the Bond novels and short stories - and even Fleming's Goldeneye writing house in Jamaica where the novels were written - now used up, shouldn't there be a law limiting any future Bonds to no more than 7 Bond films so as not to overtake Roger's achievement?

And certainly a ban on American Bonds, with Woody Allen making a poor showing in Casino Royale?


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Garbutt for South Thanet MP: UK Creative Industries and national drift?

Tim Garbutt MP candidate South Thanet said:

"The traditional UK parties have now released all their manifestos - Northern Ireland something of an irrelevance given the collapse of power-sharing so still in emergency measures being run by civil servants.

And already we have a breathtaking Uturn - mercifully - in the repulsive policy of OAPS's selling their homes for NHS Social Care. Astonishing given it was the main manifesto pledge just four days ago.

And foxhunting vote again, a bizarre waste of Parliamentary time given the lack of information on Brexit, and all after a year of the May caretaker government.

It's astonishing UK national drift with Britain still mired in a continued fin de siecle swamp over Europe and 2008 Great Recession and struggling with the end of Empire and Cold War Worriers: the Brexit what-ifs concentrating on the last flakes of Empire in Gibraltar and Falklands if not Ulster.

And Kent's tax haven projects in Pleasurama and Dreamland and Manston: BVI, Cayman Islands and Belize are long overdue for police investigation.

The East Kent UKIP wipeout and Farage defeat - and Mackinlay Battlebus election fraud investigation - means the Remain debate for a Greater British economy is more viable than ever or certainly the 11 months since the Referendum.

And all the more relevant for East Kent's tourism industry - ABTA confirming some £37M in tourism income and £2.6BN spent in Kent citizens preparing for travel.

Plus the value of International students in Kent's 4 Universities.

While the Sunday Times debate on how to fund - or cancel - the BBCTV licence flags up for the Creative Industries the potential in UK TV and Film deals in and beyond EU.

A specific point - as UK's ASEAN MP candidate - would be FreeToAir channel deals with ASEAN broadcasters to promote English language and ASEAN languages.

Brexit or not, UK in Asia, with resurgent USA efforts, needs to raise its game."

Time for Change


Garbutt for MP: Kent citizen Joshua French released from Congo Death Row

Tim Garbutt, MP candidate Thanet South election said:

"It's terrific news from yesterday that Joshua French the UK-Norwegian dual national citizen form Margate has been released from Death Row in DRC Congo.

Joshua's case features as point 23 in my A5 manifesto booklet and his release even before the election on 8th June is welcome news - especially with the death of his colleague from malaria - and reassuring for all Kent citizens around the world who may be imprisoned or stranded now or in the future.

Clearly my manifesto focus on ASEAN is key: Danny Glass of Margate facing trial in Thailand from a road accident featured on BBCTV and Kent newspapers, and some 6 months ago a Kent couple stranded in Cambodia. And Thai Red Bull heir Boss in London while wanted by Thai authorities.

I'll be urging both Kent Police International Dept and FCO to work closely on such issues and Costa del Crime havens, Road Safety, web-paedophile incidents in Philippines and drug smuggling given the epidemic of heroin in UK and USA."

Let's hope too that the Infratil directors from the Manston airport crimes now in New Zealand don't evade justice for much longer.

Time for Change


Friday, 12 May 2017

Time to Rethink Road Safety with UK and Thailand and ASEAN?

Khun Wasant Techawongtham’s article in The Bangkok Post “ Time to Rethink Road Safety” flags down some interesting points for both Thailand and UK:

His article eloquently as always details the horrifying death toll on Thailand's roads: the 2nd worst in the world league table after war-stricken Libya. With over 26,000 deaths and the Seven Dangerous Days of the New Year holiday in January and Songkran in April, as Bangkokians head out to the regions, the carnage is a national emergency.

And just this week national press and TV coverage in UK of a Kent citizen killed on a moped by an 18 wheeler truck in Phuket:

In my Kent MP role for next month’s election, I’ve called for greater links between Thailand and UK. Indeed Thailand’s politicians, and businesses and NGO's whether PM Prayut, Khun Kobkarn, Khun Yingluck, Khun Abhisit and AIP Foundation and Red Cross must be pushing for reform?

And in my Sincerity Advertising role - Bangkok office opening soon – I know there’s a wealth of UK public advertising available that’s been proven to reduce accidents over the last 60 years. Whether it’s ROSPA the accident organisation ideal for Royal projects, or the Green Cross Code avatar for child road safety and hard-hitting drink-driving and speeding commercials and resources.

Even Kent’s Road Safety interactive attraction opened just last year by Kent Fire and Rescue.

It’s exactly the sort of Innovation Fund and Community Fund projects that move the Blue Light services beyond just responding to problems.
Again, Thailand would be pushing against an open door for support for such innovations.

But why UK Road Safety?

Simply put it’s the best in the world: a population as large Thailand at c.65M but only 1,700 road deaths each year not 26,000. As the UK develops as a Sporting Superpower from its recent investment in the 2012 London Olympics and Rio 2016. But UK has been a Global Road Safety Champion for the hard work of decades.

Only Sweden might claim slightly better Road Safety statistics - but on a much smaller population of c.10M and snow-storm Winters of little relevance to Thailand.
And here in East Kent we have the perfect example of UK Road Safety not resting on its laurels. With only 54 KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) Kent Police have roared off the starting grid with a recent blip of a 10% increase.

Khun Wasant’s article rightly questions the value of Thai Police's military-style checkpoints: Kent Police use them very sparingly even on the main motorway routes through to London form the Channel Tunnel and Dover Europe’s largest port.

But the range of speed traps, CCTV, breathalysers and even their own HGV lorry to prevent lorry drivers watching TV(!) or using their mobile phone at the wheel are crucial tools. Plus tweaks to reporting for consistency across EU. While NGO’s such as Road Peace today highlight a fall in serious road safety prosecution that will undoubtedly be reversed.

Indeed Thailand’s road deaths of 26,000 is in stark contrast to 28,000 EU road deaths – the lowest ever and a 9% fall on the previous year - across all 27 nations and 500M population.

And there are calls for zero drink-driving limits and 20mph zones in the towns to reduce deaths and injuries even further. While autonomous driving vehicles could have the potential to reduce the 90% of accidents caused by human error.

And certainly the Red Bull heir Boss and hit-and-run cop-killer case would be unheard of in UK - and an example (as with Jonathon Moorby UK drug lord on the run in Koh Samui ) of where UK and Thai law enforcement could also cooperate more closely to prevent a Costa del Crime culture that damaged Spain’s tourism for years:

Thailand has already benefited from Mark Kent (good name!), the former UK ambassador to the Land of Smiles, now posted to Argentina, active on highlighting November's Road Safety Day as part of the UN Decade of Road Safety and the 1.2M road deaths worldwide. A horrifying total more than HIV and Malaria deaths put together.

Khun Wasant is right that Thailand needs to brake hard on these statistics to drive the casualty rate lower. Will another year drift by without UK and Thailand working together?

While Thai autoparts industries and car corporations could be plugged into the latest UK industry developments on safety eg the Parliamentary enquiry into the Vauxhall Zafira fires. Even the mundane but methodical police work on designing out road crash blackspots and car-crash reporting eg a spate of 9 injuries from car keys embedded in victim’s legs resulting in design upgrades.

With the UK car industry at record levels of exports- Sunderland's Nissan factory produces more cars than the entire Italian auto industry just down the road from the former Thai SSI steel factory.

As an aside, UK-Thailand trade down 35% and indeed Thailand's inward investment this year down a further 31% suggesting a need to put the pedal to the metal.
And major car site at Ford in Bridgend - handily positioned for both Port Talbot steel and port exports as well as BMW part of the Midlands Engine with Jaguar Landrover and Mini. Philippines is currently in the driving seat for the latter's exports.

While Lincolnshire Police Road Safety are caught on camera with the Interceptors TV show part of the rash of cheap Cops and Cars television, but detailing the long stretches of rural roads and safety issues such as #FatalFour relevant for Isaan.

PM Prayut's reforms on seat belts, mini vans and pickup truck cabins have been overly criticised but positive steps in decades-long work. the harsh reality is that without political will and business and NGO support over decades there will continue to be 26,000 reasons each year why Thai road safety is failing.

70% of Thai road deaths are from motorcycles highlighting the need for regular police enforcement rather than just ad-hoc checkpoints and cultural acceptance of wearing helmets as Vietnam has already successfully accomplished.

Surely it's absurd for most Thai cyclists to wear helmets but not motorcyclists?

Thailand and UK working together could easily move road safety reforms out of the slow lane and overtake the rest of ASEAN?


Friday, 28 April 2017

UK and Thailand economic growth and Resilience as smooth as silk?

Khun Pornpinun Chantapacdepong makes some eloquent points in her Asian Development Bank Institute role on the Fed rate tax hike and ultra-low Asian rates:

And it's interesting she cites the Eurozone negative rates of the last few years and even Hungary's developing economy of the last two months.

And she must surely be correct about a potential development delay in both overly-cautious financial institution investments and household savings in ASEAN, and especially Thailand, with both a sluggish global economy and much-reduced FDI.

In my politics role in Kent to help refloat the East Kent economy and greater ASEAN activity I'm aware of no particular UK role in the ADB - other than via the alphabet soup of IMF and ECB and even AIIB and UNDP. But there's certainly a revamped trade remit over UK's own sluggish growth in doubling UK-ASEAN exports over the next decade.

But surely a key aspect of boosting ASEAN trade - Thailand with Vietnam one of the UK's top 5 growth economies plus Mexico and Chile across the wider Asia-Pacific region - would be what Khun Sutapa Amornvivat, Chief Economist of SCB Bank has termed mega-infrastructure projects?

Germany's dynamic engineers from the likes of Siemens are already busy scoping out Southern Cone port and rail connectivity through the Chilean Pacific coast and Argentina's Atlantic coast. Important for tourism and the meat trade diversification.

ASEAN Rail to deliver on interlinked Greater Mekong Region capitals and through to China's One Road One Belt project and the new UK/EU-China rail link is already one of, if not the main, UNDP project.

That roster could easily be padded out with schools or broadband or sewage or sports or public transport infrastructure. Even refreshing-reappraising Bangkok's canals or the HCMC and Yangon waterfronts, as with Asiatique or Basson, before they disappear under a rash of cookie-cutter skyscrapers.

And both BKK UNEP and Philippines' dynamic IRRI Rice Institute already warning of the dangers of Climate soil salinity, waterway floods and rice shortages in the Mekong Delta as far north as the Tonle Sap. A man-made disaster with the similar Bangladesh Delta to rival the East African famines. And Swansea's Tidal Bay Lagoon perhaps offering some innovative answers on both renewables and resilience.

But innovative infrastructure firms such as Arup or Atkins or even Hitachi must be chomping at the bit, not just to complete the Singapore-Yunnan rail circuit, but to overhaul the electric rail infrastructure and double-track-double-stack rail systems throughout ASEAN. And especially in Myanmar and Cambodia where they would be essentially starting from scratch.

And if the Dawei link to Myanmar and the Indian Ocean may be a chimera along with the Kra Canal or Laos-China Highlands routes, but certainly the deep sea port at Vinh and link to Vientiane should boost trade across both Central Vietnam, Southern Laos and Isaan.

And therein lies a second stimulus to galvanise ASEAN trade, in effect Vinh and Cam Ranh Bay being robust port links across the Pacific (whether freight or booming Saga cruise ship over 50's tourism) despite the absence of TTIP at the moment, with a Resilience Strand.

Vinh as in effect a second Haiphong would provide insurance for Climate Change storm-battered Vietnam and a Resilience strand to inoculate both Hainan and Philippines and Indonesia. Much as Bari port in Southern Italy provides a UN and Red Cross Resilience base for the Balkans, Levant and North Africa.

As Philippines’ Transport Undersecretary Karen Jimeno has cited recently, the imperative to move beyond TalkTalkTalk to #buildbuildbuild must surely be where the ADB can leverage support too.

Unfortunately the potential of both the Adriatic and Messina tunnel links to unlock Italian trade through to the Near East are beyond effective EU policing and mired in difficulties. Perhaps it's for the best for UK fast-fashion if the Italian knitwear industry and Turkish or Iranian angora goats- or indeed further afield in Argentinian and Australia -take the slow road to market.

And Thailand's Deep South, in particular, suffering from the recent spate of floods and storms has much to gain from a fast-forward approach to putting in place shovel-ready Resilience infrastructure programmes.

While beyond merely pouring cement from Mergui to Mukdahan, such fine-tuned Resilience activity should lay the groundwork for a third strand in the innovative Thailand Plus One tourism strategy. Balancing Thailand's 10% of GDP as a tourism hub for ASEAN with 21st century Climate revisions such as national park protection and expansion, mangrove wetlands etc etc is a crucial aspect of the national plan.

And even moving forward on ending Thailand's now-minimal malaria issue before the 2024 target would be a major success story and pathway for say Myanmar or Indonesia. Oxford housewife Aung San Suu Kyi would no doubt be keen for UK and Thai support to cross off the deadly Larium from her shopping list in Boots or Tesco Lotus.

Surely ASEAN's next generation should expect nothing less than amazing prosperity rolled out as smooth as silk?


Thursday, 27 April 2017

A Hunger Games or bigger fish to fry for Thailand and UK and ASEAN?

Here in East Kent the Hunger Games movie has popped up with both the first terrestrial TV broadcast (Channel Four's Film Four channel, as with the BBC moving out of London to the regions). And East Kent MP Charlie Elphicke railing against the London transport system acting as a Hunger Games-style dictatorship to Kent transport:

East Kent the lifeline for London with the Channel Tunnel and Dover Port, Europe's largest port along with motorway routes and even the Ramsgate and Hastings fishing industries and seafood. And now of course the One Belt One Road freight train to China and extra Thames Crossing and a new Disneyland with Paramount theme park.

And any Brexit problems of customs delays and even the mega-cementing of Kent countryside for the odd Stack Lorry Park and New Town.

But even worse than the pressures on Kent transport is the news in Khun Sirinya's article of a possible ban on street food in Bangkok:

As a keen supporter of Thai food and Thai tourism I nearly dropped my Great British bacon sandwich on reading the news as surely reducing such street outlets is a backward step? And as Khun Sirinya details, a damaging move for Thailand's Cuisine Culture and a problem for hordes of hungry Bangkokians in having to search far and wide for sustenance?

The only possible benefit might be a reduction in the tidal wave of plastic bags?

And it's particularly worrying with the Michelin restaurant guide last Friday at long last rating Thai cuisine in Bangkok by 2018 - and hopefully out to the regions too. Hopefully one day here in Ramsgate too at Surin Thai restaurant already a top ten UK Thai restaurant - try the sea bass:

It was reassuring to hear Khun Kobkarn the dynamic Tourism and Sports Minister at the Michelin Guide launch quickly rowing back on any street food ban and urging a more detailed rethink, even a Street Food version of the Michelin by Thai Tourism such as the Michelin Rosette for Pub Food in UK?

Any half dozen street stalls are a delicious crash-course in the astonishing range and quality of Thai food, as well as a language course too, and far cooler and less antiseptic than the mall-marts or hotel restaurants.

While the horrifying malnutrition figure of 45% in nearby Laos and Cambodia suggests there is a hole in the ASEAN rice basket if almost 20M people are suffering African levels of starvation. Plus no doubt in Myanmar too where data is even weaker.

But thankfully ASEAN Rail is moving further down the track with PM's Prayut and Hun Sen due to open the Thai-Cambodian link to Sisophon by July. Leaving only a few hundred kilometres of track through to Phnom Penh and onto HCMC. 2 years to complete? 3?

The ASEAN Focus magazine details the spur routes from Vientiane in Laos to Vietnam's deep sea port in Vinh and Kanchanaburi through to Dawei which would expedite foodstuffs through ASEAN's markets and into China's Yunnan and Chengdu hubs, and with increased demand of course onto Europe and UK:

And ASEAN Forum magazine also with hispeed rail, Cambodia Tourism and UK Trade Envoy Lord Puttnam:

Indeed, the first London to China freight train has already left Essex and Kent through the Channel Tunnel and should be arriving in China any day now.
And here in UK, supposedly a G7 nation with the world's 5th largest economy, we've managed to reach the woeful figure of 1M people relying on Food Banks for free food welfare. Plus more action called for on a Sugar Tax for HFSS (High Fat Salt and Sugar) foods especially fizzy drinks along with the delayed UK Tobacco Plan (100k deaths each year in UK) and Air Pollution Plan (50k deaths each year in UK).

Kent County Council's investment of public sector pensions in tobacco is astonishingly foolish given its remit for Public Health and reducing tobacco. It's almost as silly as its investments in Fossil Fuels with the closure of all the UK's main coal mines last year, and last week the first full day ever of UK electricity generation without coal.

It's hard to see how either problem will be fixed, given UK smoking rates are static at 15%, without store permits/reductions for tobacco, especially the main supermarkets ending tobacco sales or at least donating profits from the cancer sticks to charity.
Plus the speeding up delivery of electric cars, batteries and charging posts from both public sector and private sector fleets before the end of combustion engine manufacture by VW etc by 2030.

In my politics work (Garbutt for MP on 8th June) I'll also be urging from the Sky TV campaign on Ocean Plastics biodegradable and recyclable plastics for products on sale here at the seaside given plastic washed into the oceans may be 80% higher than thought.

Street food stalls aside though, surely the Thai agriculture and food industry should be going full steam ahead for Superfoods and Healthy Eating for UK and Europe?

Scottish schoolchildren will no doubt struggle along with the tartan version of a balanced meal of just a deep-fried Mars bar and a glass of whisky for lunch. Although in a disunited kingdom they've somehow managed free university tuition and votes for 16 year olds that the rest of UK doesn't have. No doubt a boon for Scotland's 19 excellent universities as well as Kent's 4 universities and dozens of colleges and language schools.

One interesting policy for the 8th June election (did I mention Garbutt for MP?) is Labour - the UK's Redshirts if you will - new policy for free school meals for all 11M UK schoolchildren not just the poorer ones.

Surely that should be a major boost for Healthy Eating and surge in UK Obesity, whether Great British Quorn, a sort of mushroom protein, now big in Philippines exports (delicious in Laarb too) or Alpro Soya Milk in nearby Belgium. Or even 10 a day fruit and veg from the orchards of Kent's apples and pears and Thailand's bananas and coconuts.

While agri-research on Loei and Kent strawberries must be a shoo-in to phase supplies through the seasons for companies such as Tesco/Lotus?

Even the Kent and Thai orchids industries are being urged on by Asda-Walmart, John Lewis-Waitrose and Wilkinson and small florists here in Ramsgate. Again it's hardly outrageous to see the blooms phased into both the UK Summer and Winter seasons, even as a new variety of Xmas decorations.

Thailand's rubber farmers might want to urge on greater automotive links between Thailand and the resurgent UK car industry in Nissan Sunderland and the Midlands Engine for say increased volume on bumpers and floor mats before graphene takes a grip.

While increasing the Thai students studying in UK from 8k to 20k - on a par with Malaysia - would provide a ready-made boost for Thai food exports as well as remittances home. Surely an impetus too to expand Bangkok Bank or SCB branches in UK - one Bangkok Branch Branch in London City can't be enough to cope with extra Thai students and tourists and expats and investment projects?

The surge in Food Science and Sports Science along with Clean Eating and Mood Food fads must also be ripe for UK-Thai research with TDRI and TRF etc?

And why shouldn't Thailand's Superfood industries from Pomegranates to Pineapples be crammed in like sardines next to John West Seafood, and piled high on British plates?

Working together, shouldn't UK and Thailand ensure that nobody goes hungry, and that Hunger Games is just a rather dull movie?


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Is Justice Boss or not in Thailand and UK?

Khun Veera Prateepchaikul article on Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhaya was as horrifying as it was articulate:

For over 4 years for Boss, the heir to the Red Bull drinks fortune, to evade justice in the hit and run killing of Police Sgt Major Wichian Klanprasert is astonishing. And lost in the blur of four years of his lawyers citing ill-health or business or other drivers is the horrific death of Sgt Wichian knocked under the wheels of Boss' Ferrari and dragged for over 100 metres down Soi Thonglor.

And almost as concerning is Boss now living the hi-so life in UK at London restaurants and motorshow events and the Silverstone Grand Prix. Maybe slaloming through the sois of Mayfair. Perhaps even turning up here in Kent at Brands Hatch.

And as an aside, it resonates uncannily with parts of the La Propuesta segment of the Argentine movie Wild Tales, nominated for both Cannes Palme d'Or and an Oscar, in its story of a hit and run driver of a wealthy family and the gardener and lawyers bribed to take the rap.

## Justice delayed and denied ##

Sure, British justice has its blatant weaknesses too - and here in Kent the One Essex Court fraudsters of Ian Glick QC and Guy Hollingworth follow in Lord Grabiner QC's footsteps with Judge Mann to hide behind their judicial wigs and cronies and above the law.

Or we have Steve Fitzgerald and Matt Clarke as directors of New Zealand's Infratil airports sheltering from extradition over the Manston corporate manslaughter crimes.

And much of East Kent is a byword for council corruption and secretive tax haven corporations above the law from Belize at Manston or Cayman Islands at Dreamland or British Virgin Islands at Pleasurama.

Even Grabiner's cohort, one of UK's richest men, Philip Green of BHS was sheltering offshore in his yacht for much of last year and pursued by the Serious Fraud Squad and Parliament for the £300M BHS pensions.

The Rolls Royce corruption is settled in UK with a court payoff and management clearout but drags in Thailand.

All of which pale into insignificance with Sgt Wichian's broken body.

It looks like Red Bull have indeed given him wings.

And there surely with my politics role where I've called for greater coordination, is where Thailand and UK law enforcement should be active - with Europol and FBI - in pursuing arrest warrants.

Cases not just with gilded youth like Boss but the various drugs and gun runners and white collar criminals that can hide out in Pattaya or Pimlico, and as with the Costa del Crime in Spain and UK criminals, can so tarnish a region.

Will Thailand's legal system take another four years of delays from Boss before justice is heard?


Monday, 20 March 2017

Collapse of EU - and UK and Thailand?

Khun Sutapa Amornvivat as always provides an interesting Ponderland on the potential breakup of the EU, and tremors spreading through the financial markets:

Certainly the feverish atmosphere in The City and UK must be difficult to translate into market policy anywhere from Bangkok to HCMC to Yangon. Indeed it's often difficult to translate even in UK as we head into unchartered waters and potentially the greatest UK policy disaster since Suez.

Parliament and the Queen have in effect cleared the way for Article 50 to be triggered for UK to negotiate leaving the EU to begin from around 29th March for the next two years. Brain-drain prevention measures such as guaranteeing the rights of the 3M existing EU citizens in UK are being ignored for the moment. Yet the rise in hate crime extending to all communities beyond Pole-bashing.

Surprisingly though no UK negotiating teams are yet in place and already there is debate on a transitional system with the EU after 2019. A huge bureacratic tango through the muddle of maintaining the existing EU systems and laws in all but name beckons for months and years.

Probably the UK-EU relationship after two years and one day would be the same as now with existing EU laws preserved and complying with future EU legislation on say the automotive industry. Indeed Honda has followed Nissan in gaining sweetheart deals from the UK government in guaranteeing and expanding their investments with, fortunately, at least two new cars now being built in the UK's already booming car factories.

It's surprising to see so few Thai efforts so far on integrating the UK and Thai automotive supply chains.

## Brexit beyond UK ##

So an increasingly likely option is UK essentially remaining in EU - and there are plenty of sectors beyond UK cars such as Life Sciences and Creative Industries urging that - then there is no breakup of the EU at all.

Certainly nations such as Eire and their new Ambassador to Washington from London -potentially with an EU land border with Northern Ireland/UK - have urged remaining in EU as the UK's best option.

While the latest Dutch election with a PM Mark Rutte win actually suggests continuity with the EU: the Dutch Farage, Geert Wilders - with even more ferevent anti-foreigner and anti-Moslem rhetoric - has gained seats but a lower share than 2010, but neither power nor influence being rejected from any coalition.

Indeed Hollande and Merkel hailed the result as pro-European in contrast to Brexit. Perhaps the high tide of European far-right populism hs been reached.
Indeed one quirk of Brexit is the collapse of UKIP with leader defeats and resignations, (many of them here in East Kent as the only UKIP council in UK limps to an end mired in corruption, racism and stagnation) as well as the resignations of the Conservative Leave teams.

A UK Pyrrhic victory in just a year since the original, less than riveting, PM Cameron EU negotiations and reforms, hardly suggests Brexit is forged in steel or on track anywhere except in the most cloth-eared Little England fanatical circles.

## East Kent and Brexit ##

The UK Budget last week has been scathingly judged as "financially illiterate" with not one mention of Brexit by the normally capable Chancellor Philip Hammond. And the core Budget policy of national inusrance tax increases, essentially a peculiar tax on entrepreneurship, was U-turned and cancelled within the week by a Government rebellion, but leaving a black hole of billions of dollars in the cancellation until the Autumn Budget.

And East Kent has been front and centre in the election expenses corruption now affecting upto 20 UK MP's and police investigations passed to the courts with the unheard-of possibility of almost two dozen by-elections removing any Brexit majority.

Plus calls for the unelected PM Theresa May to go to the polls - at least to solve the problem of inertia and nationak drift with an Empty Parliament obsessed with the minutiae and multiple what-ifs and maybes of Brexit. A mix of navel-gazing and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The UK is lagging behind on key priorities such as:

* Climate Change
* Nuclear decommissioning and cleanup
* Pollution cleanup
* Education and Health improvements
* Space exploration

While basic reforms such as Victorian sewers and asbestos in schools are also ignored.

## Brexit and Belgium and France and Germany ##

The French elections later in the Spring suggests no real Article 50 negotiations until June, and probably not until the Autumn and the German elections - otherwise who would the UK and EU be negotiating with? The dynamic Guy Veerhofsdtat, former Belgian PM, as EU Chief Negotiator has been vocal on UK drift.

While UK could be left playing second fiddle not just to the immediaie crises in Syria and East Africa and Sahel, but also longer-term EU expansion to North Africa and Levant and the resulting Mediterranean port and rail infrastructure improvements such as Cape2Cairo, and Saudi/Gulf hispeed rail: Morocco now completing the first hispeed rail in Africa.

## Balkans guns and butter ###

While the quirk of UK leading a West Balkans Summit in 2018 actually means continuity on the necesary reforms for Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Albania to join EU: Croatia joining as recently as 2013.

Plus Montenegro combating Russian election interfrence in October in joining EU and NATO raises wider security and investment issues. Certainly the flood of drugs in Europe originates through the Albanian cannabis gangs and Turkish pipeline of heroin to Helmand and Shan as well as Ndrangheta activity in key Italian container ports is a UK interest best met through EU cooperation, given the rise in heroin and cocaine deaths to the highest-ever in both UK and USA.

UK may be in the position of being one of the few European nations with Belarus, of neither being in the EU nor in the process of joining it. While an EU-27 without Britain would rapidly become an EU-32 and more.

Much is made of new Brexit markets such as USA in San Diego or Virginia or Carolinas.

Indeed in my KCC Leader candidacy I've urged those investment grouops and new EU regions such as Molise in Italy:

Commonwealth exports are viable but far smaller and later than expected, certainly India and Singapore in the latter are economic powerhouses but most of the other 52 nations in that bloc are poor or small or both. Australia's 20M people or Solomon Islands 500k are unlikley to replace the 500M EU bloc, the world's wealthiest, or the UK's reliance on Arabian arms deals.

Certainly too in the West Balkans there are wider EU issues on Russia and Turkey joining the EU - perhaps both a decade or two further away after the Putin and Erdogan military actions but almost inevitable.

As well as the Sarajevo Shift of EU investment and infrastructure to the Balkans, beyond merely Brussels and Strasbourg overbuild, plus key projects such as the Messina bridge being revived and Bari port, the main UN aid hub, and bridge-tunnel to link the Italy (beyond the Mafiosi banks Khun Sutapa cites) and peace and propserity for the Greater Balkans region through to the Caucasus nations of Georgia and Armenia.

Already the EU has passed the latest phase of the hispeed rail integration and in June EU-wide mobile phone roaming caps and town wifi by 2020. But Mayor Sadiq Khan cites the Crick Institute of Life Sciences and Pharma UK under siege from EU regional missions from Hesse or Paris or Berlin to court UK industry relocations.

## Spain and Brexit ##

But such EU policies are few and far between, and the need for substantial EU reform beyond mobile phone tweaks is clear. the PM Cameron tweaks a fumbled opportunity. If the lavishly-funded alphabet soup of EU and IMF insitutions failed to predict or prevent or ameliorate the 2008 recession or collapse of Syria and refugee deaths in the Mediterranean then clearly something is wrong.

But that aside, Brexit more realistically could reveal not the breakup of the EU - but rather the breakup of the UK, with a second Scottish Independence referendum announced, and for a Scotland in EU, not a Joxit. Plus the aforementioned hard border issue with Eire and Northern Ireland and fears of a Semtexit could be completely swept away in a United Ireland. The Ulster election earlier this month means the first nationalist majority and Sinn Fein's louder call for Ireland's unity under both the Eire and EU umbrella.

Thai tourists may even benefit from such a Brexit with no doubt Eire-Schengen discussions phased into a virtual visa for visits to UK from Eire.

While Spain's Brexit Unit forecasts major companies such as Banco Santander and at least two others suffering devaluation. Indeed Spain's GDP could fall by upto $6BN and hardship for the 800,000 UK residents in Spain.

While as Khun Sutapa notes, few are impressed by the Mafiosi performance of the Italian banks or State-riddled Chinese banks, Brexit means the financial markets will be a hotbed of speculation and uncertainty from London to Bangkok and beyond.

London and The City is the focal point of world financial services for the largest clearing banks, perhaps pipped only by Wall Street, but two-thirds of UK's 2.2M finance jobs are not based in London but spread around the regions and Europe.

So a Brexit tremor would shake the coffee cups on the boardroom table in skyscrapers around UK and Europe.

## EU centrifuge and The City ##

HSBC has been clear that passporting rights will benefit its Paris offices at the expense of Canary Wharf. While the EMA European Medicines Agency also headquartered in Docklands would relocate. While the banks of the Liffey have a rash of Euro-splodge skyscrapers in anticipation of further corporate relocations.

Bank of America has already moved its European HQ to Dublin and at least six other organisations including Chicago-based derivatives group CME and asset manager Legg Mason are reviewing sites in Dublin.

And the centrifugal forces of Europe, one moment greater integration to a United States of Europe, and the next moment the uber-Balkanisation of regions such as Catalonia or Almeria, is normal.

Here in East Kent, calls for greater separation from the rest of Kent or even Flanders and Calais links ebb and flow.

And it's not so long ago that Brussels, the heartland of the EU, was reduced to stasis with Flanders and Wallonia disputes and the latter potentially delaying the Canadian trade agreement. The terror attacks in Brussels and Bataclan Paris, a year ago are a mere pinprick in comparison and to the future of the EU and Europe.

Britain's worry is not the break up of the EU, but an increasingly disUnited Kingdom - and with other nations picking over the scraps. Reassuringly, the longer the debate goes on the more Britons' appetite for Brexit in any substantive way will surely fade into a hungry winter and a blizzard of higher prices and corporate relocations and job losses.

The bill for UK plc, and ASEAN, in missed or cancelled opportunities could be far higher though in the years ahead.