Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

Why the Herald online while travelling is both a blessing and a curse

I'm in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burmese border, but I assume Bob Clarkson's cartoon-blimp articulation of the contradictions and nonsenses within the National Party 'bedrock values' feint seems as amusing from inside the country as it does from out here.

It's understandable when people appreciate 'plain talking' about 'non-PC' issues, because bastions of blokedom need acknowledgement that newness and change makes them feel uncomfortable. But even those blokes would surely be so embarrassed by the moronic wittering of Bob Clarkson, that it seems almost unfair to pick on him. I mean, the man thinks 'Islam' is a country. Presumably he used the phrase "Islam religion-type people" because he couldn't remember the word 'Muslim'. He's into the idea of religious tolerance but doesn't like people dressing funny. No wonder Javed Khan's confused. He's not 'rubbishing' gays because he's at least aware that it's not actually a 'lifestyle choice', but they make him feel weird. Left there, it's just kind of sad, but perhaps understandable for a man of his generation. But simply being publicly exposed to even the idea of "that gay parade" makes him worry "in my mind, they're trying to make out that we should be the same as them," although presumably he hasn't been subjected to any recruitment attempts. Beseiged straight white not-even-that-Christian old moustachioed pot-bellied testicle-grabbing conservative white men of New Zealand who profess to Kiwi values of liberal tolerance and good humour! If it's 'plain talking' you're looking for rather than gibberish, you need a better figurehead, trust me. I mean, if you have one that's more attractive to gay men, at least you'd have a real anecdote about being actually beseiged.


Speaking of being beseiged, unlike Keith, I have an uncanny knack of missing riots and demonstrations, and headed out of Bangkok just as the steam started building over an incident of seemingly police-coordinated brutality against an anti-Thaksin demonstrator last week. Consequently, a large anti-Thaksin demo on Friday outside Police HQ was 'conveniently' overshadowed by what most of Bangkok considers a fake-out carbomb assassination plot, which Thaksin has blamed on elements of the military who he wants to purge.

Meanwhile, I am near the Burmese border, hanging out with a house full of dissidents and revolutionaries. When they come to town from their camps across the border, their primary activity is to watch English premier league football for days on end. Because they are soldiers, they can stay awake for 48 hour stretches. It's probably a kind of training technique.

I'll be in Jakarta on Wednesday if anyone wants to get in touch.