By Tammy, this blog humanity journalist
Note: I just got dragged to a meeting by Stingray with a bunch of western intelligent people. I find them boring and to gung-ho but I just decided to make the best of it and got a conversation going with an Australian intelligent guy name, David. The following is the jest of the conversation.
What is your main task as a senior Australian Intelligence office in Thailand?
Gathering economic intelligence with some political and security.
What are you guys telling Sydney about Thailand on the political front?
Our analysis points to something occurring, but that the we should work to help Thailand avoid it-that democracy should be nourished in Thailand.
What did Sydney or Canberra say to that?
They said leave the political for the Thais but help Australian businessmen.
What about the economic front?
We advised them to talk to the Thai government to make mining more accommodating because there are significant deposit of gold in Thailand and it could help the Thai jewelry industry greatly. There are also rich deposit of potash that can be used for the fertilizer industry. The difficulty Australian miners are having is about under-the-table payment because of strict Australian law against doing that.
Australia was the first to engage Asia, particularly ASEAN again, and that is now followed by the Americans, what do you make of it? Just talk?
The terrorist and trade picture had pointed to close cooperation as oppose to rivalry and suspicion for a decade now and Australia saw it coming and adapted to it. The Americans were slow in Asia, but it is mainly related to its energy security situation, but now it is changing and needs Asia for its growth. That is why the focus is now on Asia, other than Japan, India and China.
Everyone sees the Chinese as an opportunity, but also a threat. Security wise, is China a threat to Australia with its build-up of the navy?
Economic supersede all other interest these days, and in fact, economic can help lessen the national security challenge.
Can you explain a little more?
Many Chinese firms have bought business interest in Australia, like in mining, and are using it to do business with ASEAN countries. They look Australian and subject to Australian laws, but they are still Chinese and the interest is bringing all parties together and so it supersede national security.
But the Chinese are copy-cats looking always to get grab of cutting edge technology, one way or another. Are there no economic risk with the Chinese?
Not really, because Australia is very careful and selective on the Chinese-targeting only the leading Chinese firms that have international standard of practice. It just means the opposite really, in that Australians are now working as key people of some of the largest Chinese companies.
How do you stack Thailand against other countries in the region?
Politically, it is the worse, and I am afraid economically it will be hit hard by ASEAN integration because Thais have been self-focus because of internal politics, the interest to go regional or global, to take advantage of opportunities are just not there.
Australia has been a big player in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia is emerging. Why is that?
These are still anti-American feeling simmering in many parts, but they need western technology and know-how. Australia is politically neutral, even with better know how than Europe or America in many areas. We also have a national character of strength, forwardness and the love of a good time. Many countries just find us difficult to resists.
Well, you are hansom and nice, but I prefer Thai men, so sorry I will reject the more than friendship you are indicating. But Australian men marry a great deal of Thai women, but are not Australian sort of racist against Asians in general?
You are talking about the minority of Australians. Most Australians today are more interested in friendship with Asians than in Australian themselves, actually.
I see this conversation may be leading to a date, and not serious anymore, so I will have to cut you short, OK?
OK, but just one thing to add. I just want to say we Australians hope the best for the Thais. We are not involved with the internal affairs of Thailand and we respect the wishes of the Thai people always to run the country according to what they see fit. Australia is an advance Democracy, but we see Thailand as having its own ways and means and we respect it.
Yeah, as long as it do not get in the way of business, right?
Like I say, business supersedes all, these days.
Like you are against a coup because it is bad for business right, not about Democracy?
Let me tell you a story Tammy. There is gold in Thailand. And Australian firm got the OK to mine it after 2 years of getting the OK. Then the coup hit, and the new guys wanted new negotiation. It took another year for that. In the mean time, gold is being imported when a quarter of it can be met by Thai mines. It ended up hurting Australian and Thailand as well. Now gold is above US$1,000 and what do you think if there is another coup, except new negotiation. I am personally sick of coup, because I have to sit and listen to Australians complaining and write these damn boring reports. I rather be drinking beer of Soi Cowboy with cute Thai girls.
Why are you guys so into girls? You have to keep coming up with it.
Women are from heaven and guys are from hell. What can I say except opposite attracts.
This conversation is over.