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?