Today at the station there was a mobile store selling police equipment. I'm wondering if anyone can buy it, or if you have to be an officer. They've got some cool looking stuff, I would get a helmet and a stab vest and some mirror shiney shoes. I also wonder whether the police have to buy their equipment out of their own pocket. Danielle attended a lecture by the former head of the UN Convention Against Corruption, where she learned that police in Mexico have to rent their equipment - their guns and cars - before entering a lottery to find out where they will patrol that night. Of course the only way they can make the money back, lost on their equipment, is to use the equpiment to extort money from civilians - a lot of the time these are westerners - who of course have more money, but Mexicans are of course the more numerous targets. I don't know if it is the same in Thailand, but the police store semed to suggest it. It's that environment which makes corruption inevitable. So a van load of Burmese students, from a well off school - byMae Sot standards, would be a windfall for the Mae Sot Pirates - I mean, police.
Not that the Thai Police ever extort money from westerers, that I've heard. Except, in the southern island of Kho Pan Ngan, where we stayed two years ago. Every full moon, stupid westerners flock there for the "Full Moon Party" (A western invention), and every month the police set up road blocks to search for drugs, collecting massive fines from the tourists. Which seems fair enough, drugs are illegal. Except that at the place where we stayed, marijuana was ubiquitous, we found out it was dealt by the owner of the resort. One time the chief of police turned up to the resort - he was the owners husband. So. Maybe, the stuff is dealt, with connection to the police, the police confiscate it, fine and deport the westerner who possessed it, and put it back into circulation. There's something in there, about moon cycles and weed circulation.