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Harsh, but a little confusing.
on 20 September 2007
I have no doubt that the state of Thai prisons is as harsh as made out in this book.
Having lived in Thailand for months at a time, I would suggest that the corruption, and violence that stems from that rotten core, as described in this book is perfectly accurate. To say that Police, prison guards and other Thai's treat farang with utter distain I would suggest, is also highly likely. They don't like us much as it is when we're out on the streets, let alone convicted of a serious crime and awaiting sentance.
The thing that had me raising an eyebrow was the inconsistancy of Colin Martin's character.
A family man to start. Kids, wife, good business acumen. Conned out of some serious cash by hard hitting and large scale fraudsters. Ok. So far so good. It happens.
But then we see a darker side to Martin. Maybe its in the way he chose to write the book, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but a man goes from placid businessman, to someone who stalks and hunts the men who ripped him off. Still feasable. For 3 years? Benefit of the doubt.
But the moment comes when he meets one of the fellons and he smashes his face in with a headbutt?! No pre banterr, no real conversing or at least threatening... Just Bang !!! Headbutt and assault. From here on in I was just not taking to Martin's pitiful story probably as much as I should have been.
The fight by the road puzzled me greatly too. And the "evidence" brought against him at a later date. The fight itself seemed to be described in a disjointed fashion. Then later in the book we hear that the dead man had been stabbed more than once. Martin himself describes the police report. But he doesn't try to ask for answers. Or if he did, he didn't write it down in the book? If I had been sent to prison for murdering a man who's body went missing, then turned up, but was never physically seen by anyone, I'd demand to ask for photos, fingerprints. My lawyer to see the corpse... anything. But he doesn't. Its all just too weird.
As for his treatment by the police, the prison system and the general population of Lard Yao prison, among others, that part of the book I have no doubt is as accurate as you can get, and I feel desperately sorry for Colin Martin during that hellish plight.
I love Thailand to bits,and my thai friends, but I can see why after reading this you may never want to go there.
A book that is disjointed in its construction, but thoroughly frightening in its content. For a completely differing point of view, read "The last executioner" by Chavoret Jaruboon. This book will help you see that nothing is what it seems, and that no one is completely objective with the facts, in this case about criminality and punishment in Bangkok, be it Colin Martin or Mr Jaruboon.