- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Practical Thai Law
Heart to Heart with Hillary
Bits ‘n’ Bobs
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
Roll over Rover
Family Money: Inheritance Tax
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.
Although I have written before on the complex issue of
estate planning and inheritance tax, many people come to see me who are
utterly confused by these issues, and not surprisingly.
Inheritance tax (IHT), or estate duty, or gift tax, or
capital acquisition tax (or one of its many other guises), is one of the
most complex taxes - particularly for cross-border issues, as almost every
country applies different concepts and criteria when taxing inherited
IHT is usually levied in one of two different ways: an
accession tax, or estate duty. Most countries use accession tax, levying
inheritance tax on what the beneficiaries receive on the death of an
individual. This system of inheritance tax is usually dependent on the
relationship of the recipient to the deceased or the marital status
between the deceased and the beneficiary.
Generally, the closer the relationship, the lower the
rate of tax. In France, for example, the spouses, children and parents of
the deceased benefit from the most generous exemption from the inheritance
tax charge. Brothers and sisters receive an exemption of around one-third
of this amount and all other beneficiaries about one-thirtieth.
All that remains
Estate tax is levied on the assets left by a person rather than
the amount of property received by each beneficiary. Tax is, therefore,
usually calculated by reference to the value of the estate.
Estate tax is a largely Anglo-American phenomenon; the
US is a good example. The UK system, although called inheritance tax,
levies a charge on the value of an estate before distribution to
beneficiaries. The UK tax is levied on the value of assets on death but
also on several lifetime transfers - into discretionary settlements after
using the lifetime exemption, for example.
Contrast this with other regimes. The Irish do not have
a formal inheritance or an estate tax but instead espouse a capital
acquisition tax or gift tax regime on life or death. Italy has an estate
tax, which is unusual for a continental jurisdiction, but also levies an
IHT in addition to the estate tax if there are beneficiaries other than
the spouse and direct lineal heirs.
Some jurisdictions do not have an actual estate or
inheritance tax but still levy tax when a death occurs. In Australia, for
example, death taxes were abolished in the 1970s but the Australians treat
this as the disposal of an asset under the capital taxes regime in the
same way as lifetime gifts. Similar principles apply in Canada.
Common or civil law?
Discovering which criteria apply in a jurisdiction can often be
traced to whether the region adopted a common or civil law regime. The
main criteria are nationality, location of assets, residence of the
individual donor or beneficiary, domicile, and the territoriality
A frequently used criterion is the residence of the
donor/deceased person. If a person is resident in a jurisdiction that
adopts this criterion, this usually means that the liability to IHT is
unlimited and based on worldwide assets. This would apply in Italy, the
Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden. But in Spain or Japan, the liability
arises if the recipient is a resident of those countries. A combination of
the two criteria is applied in Germany and Austria, which leads to an
extremely comprehensive charge.
Worse still, the criteria for a “resident” changes
from country to country. In some places, such as Greece and Italy, it is
based on civil law concepts whilst in others, such as Belgium and Spain,
the interpretation of residence is based on fact and circumstance.
Domicile is mostly an Anglo-American concept although the
definition differs slightly between the two jurisdictions. If one is
adjudged “domiciled” in either the US, UK or Ireland, this is the
basis for the imposition of worldwide taxation on the assets of the
decedent. Domicile may be broadly described as “the place in which an
individual has or is presumed to have his or her permanent home”.
Domicile can be acquired by birth (domicile of origin),
by operation of law (dependency), and by choice. It is much less flexible
than the concept of residence, more difficult to lose and often far more
difficult to establish. Austria, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and
Sweden have all adopted nationality as the criterion for levying
inheritance and gift taxes. If you are a US citizen or Green Card holder,
you will also have an exposure on your worldwide estate.
In certain countries the application of estate gift and
inheritance taxes is also dependent, in addition to the other criteria
listed above, on the location or “situs” of the assets. In most states
this can mean a limitation of the tax liability if the other criteria do
The application of the situs test may also vary
depending on the type of property, such as real estate, moveable or
immovable property, and so on. Situs may also be defined in a different
way and the treatment of immovable property may vary considerably between
countries. Occasionally the location or situs of the property is seen as
the sole criterion for taxation, regardless of the
nationality/domicile/residence of the donor or recipient, but this is
rare. This is the principle in Monaco and Portugal and is known as the
There are many factors that constitute the jurisdictional basis
of inheritance, estate and gift taxes. In most cases the liability is on
global assets and double taxation may occur where cross border issues
arise - for example, a French national with Portuguese property.
Fortunately, this has been recognised and several tax treaties have
concluded or reached agreement on unilateral measures.
The unilateral approach seems to be a more popular form
of relief, as governments appear to expend less effort towards estate
taxes than to income, capital gains and corporation tax. This is not
wholly satisfactory as tax credits are often partial. Inevitably the
highest rate within the two, three, or multi jurisdictions prevails.
This broad overview gives you some indication that
specialist expert advice should be sought with regard to your estate
planning: it can be a minefield for the unwary, and expensive for your
heirs if not properly planned.
Snap Shot: Four reasons for using manual cameras
by Harry Flashman
With modern cameras able to produce perfect
photographs, according to the publicity sheets if nothing else, why would
I use a battered old Nikon, which is manual in operation? Am I too old to
understand the new technology? Surely not, as again, according to the
blurb, all I have to do is set the camera on A for Automatic and its
little electronic chip brain does all the rest. I do not need to know
“how” it does it.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, in fact quite the
reverse, as there are many situations where your brains beat electronic
brains. Do not listen to the technocrats, listen to Harry Flashman!
The first area is that of focussing. I have written
about this many times, but modern auto-focus cameras deliver more “out
of focus” shots than manually focussed cameras. Why? Simply because the
camera’s electronic brain has no idea what the subject of your
photograph really is. The electronic gizmos sharply focus on a small spot
right in the centre of the viewfinder, and if that spot isn’t directly
over your subject, you have just got yourself a fuzzy photo. A classic
example is the shot of a couple. There are two heads, one each side of the
magic central spot, which is then making the camera focus on the
background, several kilometres away!
next good reason to go manual is when you wish to take an action shot. You
want to “stop” the motion, so you know you will need a fast shutter
speed. Takes one twist of the dial and I’ve got 1/2000th of a second.
With the fancy camera, you generally have to push a button to get the
“menu”, scroll down to find the “action man” logo and select
“on”. I was many times quicker than you - and, what’s more, I got to
select the shutter speed I wanted. You get what the camera decides you
want! There is a big difference in stopping a speeding railway train
compared to stopping Miss Lotus Blossom as she jogs past your front gate.
Manually you can select that faster shutter speed from the complete range
- even to the point of allowing a little blur to show dynamic movement.
The electronic brain cannot do that, sorry!
Likewise when you want to make the romantic portrait by
the window. The suffused light from the white curtain makes for a soft
quality to the photograph. But does the electronic brain know this? No! It
hasn’t a clue. You have gone through the menu and scrolling bit, and now
you (or rather “it”) have a camera ready to go in the “portrait”
mode, with a wide open aperture to give a short depth of field.
Unfortunately, as you compose the shot, all it “sees” is a strong area
of light and reduces the amount of light going to fall on the film by
upping the shutter speed (because the aperture is fixed in the portrait
mode). Guess what this does? It gives you a pale background and dark,
dark, features on the subject, and if your subject has a dusky skin to
begin with you have just turned it black.
No, what that shot needs is a human brain that can
dictate to the manual camera the exposure details needed for the correct
exposure for the face, allowing the background to “flare” mistily
around the subject. Microchips be damned!
Another area where the electronic brain is clueless is
when you want to take tricky shots using the flash. By setting the
aperture and the flash power together, I can then, by fiddling around with
the shutter speed, lighten or darken the background, even in daylight!
Yes, by having total manual control I can use the flash at full power in
the bright sun, something the electronic brain would consider a no-no!
For creativity and the sheer “joy” of photography,
use your brain instead of the camera’s one. Yours is much better!
Modern Medicine: Antibiotics
by Dr Iain Corness, Consultant
Perhaps one of the greatest discoveries in medicine was
the antibiotic. For countless centuries mankind (and women too!) died from
bacterial diseases. Microbes that could bring armies to their knees went
unchecked. Plagues decimated populations, but smarty pants that we are, we
developed antibiotics and we reversed the tables. “Human beings kill
millions of bacteria” could even be the headline for a newspaper!
However, it wasn’t that easy. We did develop
antibiotics. They did kill bacteria. But the bacteria did not take all
this lying down either. They developed new strains which became resistant
to the antibiotics and started to become rampant again. We, in
retaliation, developed new antibiotics and the balance of power returned
to our favour. After all, the “good guys” should be the winners!
But are we? There has been a price to pay for all our
“smartness” with now a plethora of pills and potions. That price is
even more noticeable in countries like Thailand, where self medication is
the norm. The price includes more antibiotic resistant strains of
bacteria, more symptoms caused by the antibiotics themselves and an
overgrowth of other organisms such as yeasts.
This was all brought home to me the other day when I
chanced upon a discussion in my city office. The manager had a chronic
sinus condition and was raking through his desk drawer to see what
“antibiotic” he had to combat this. Coming across some self prescribed
amoxycillin he asked me what did I think. I replied that I considered that
it was probably next to useless for a chronic sinus condition, so he put
them back in his desk. However, the office girl piped up that she needed
some, so she would have them! Now both of them are intelligent people and
I consider them as friends, but the medical training that either of them
has had in pharmaceuticals, let alone clinical medicine, is one big fat
zero. Yet both of them feel qualified to prescribe potent medications for
themselves. This is potentially dangerous.
Coming to the sinus problem - amoxycillin, one of the
earlier penicillin derivatives, is not an antibiotic which gets good
tissue levels in the sinus region and by this time, most bacteria which
inhabit the ear-nose-and throat have long since become resistant to
amoxycillin. For my money, taking amoxycillin for his chronic sinus
problem is a waste of his money!
Now the young lady - it turned out that her symptoms
were not pathological, but represented a normal situation. If she had
taken the amoxycillin she would have ended up with a severe attack of
“Thrush” an irritating complaint that ladies can well do without.
So in these cases, indiscriminate antibiotics would
have been a waste of money and not done the trick for one person and given
the other another nasty condition as well. Perhaps now you can see why I
am not altogether in favour of self medication with prescription drugs. If
it were just a case of “any old antibiotic will do” then it would be
different, however, antibiotic prescribing is a sensitive and difficult
area of medicine.
Going back to our friend amoxycillin, adverse effects
include superinfection, a nasty type of bowel disease and liver and blood
disturbances as well as interacting badly with the contraceptive pill and
gout medication. Is it worth it? See your doctor instead!
Practical Thai Law: Child Prostitution and Sex Tourism
by Premprecha Dibbayawan - MCL Miami University
Chairman - International Swiss Siam Co., Ltd.
Ten years ago the press were not that interested in
reporting on tourists caught committing paedophilic acts because the cases
were so numerous. Walking down South Pattaya Street in those days one
could see many boys and girls selling items such as chewing gums,
cigarettes, condoms etc. who were, in fact, really offering their bodies
for sex with customers.
Nowadays public awareness has been raised and child sex
is no longer tolerated by society. On the contrary, the United Nations,
governments around the world and many NGOs have raised paedophilia to the
status of a serious crime to be urgently suppressed. There are hundreds of
organizations throughout the world working against the Commercial Sexual
Exploitation of Children, Child Pornography, Child Sex Tourism,
Children’s Rights and so on. In Thailand there are the Center for the
Protection of Children’s Rights, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking
(Thailand) [ECPAT,], a branch of ECPAT International. These organizations
research the subject and publish many reports, few of which do not mention
Pattaya, which they call ‘Fantasy Island’.
My articles in this column will concentrate on this
subject for a while as it will help Pattaya if people, both those
practicing this nefarious act and others to be aware of the legal aspects
of having sex with children. If one walks along a street and accepts the
sexual solicitation of a child or solicits the child to have sex, what
would be the offences committed, how many counts? Let us look at this
Supreme Court Case No. 2591/2540, Public Prosecutor vs.
Karl-Heinz Brands. In 1994, the defendant took four boys aged between 11
and 13 years to his room. He then caused all the boys to strip naked and
touch their own and each other’s genitals and took photographs of them.
The children were taken from the streets and from a department store. He
was charged with indecent acts with children, production of obscene
material for commercial purpose, taking children away from their
custodians and encouraging children to commit inappropriate acts. The
Court of First Instance found him guilty of all counts and sentenced him
to 43 years and 4 months imprisonment and a fine of 1,000 baht.
The Appeal Court dismissed the charge of “taking the
children away from their custodians” because the children were not under
any known guardianship and were picked up from the streets and a
department store. The other charges were sustained and the sentence then
reduced to 4 years and 2 months.
The Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the Appeal
Court giving the reasons that the children ran away from home; were
begging on streets and slept in public places and were therefore, not
under the custody of parents or guardians. The court also found that the
defendant did not take the children away from custodians. The finding of
the Supreme Court immediately created immense dissatisfaction at the
Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights, who filed a petition to
the Ministry of Justice claiming that the finding of the Court
contradicted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which
Thailand is a party.
After the complaint from CRC it became definite that if
a child under 15 years of age is taken for sexual purposes, even with the
consent of the child, the man (or woman) will be guilty of “taking away
a child from a custodian”. The claim of CRC is now supported by Section
53 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, B.E. 2540 which states:
“Children, youths and family members shall have the
right to be protected by the State against violence and unfair
“Children and youths with no guardian shall have the
right to receive care and education from the State, as provided by law.”
The new interpretation can now be understood as: even
when the children are not under the custody of their parents, they are
under the guardianship of the State.
In conclusion and even ignoring the heinous immorality
of such acts, it is just not worth involving oneself in such activities.
Although the civil compensation for damages in Thailand may not seem to be
severe and the statute of limitations may be fairly short, you must now
remember that you can be tried for paedophilia and even sued in your own
country for damages - as has already happened in Japan when a Thai man
sued a Japanese for sex abuse and won his case.
More stories of the same nature in later issues.
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I remain utterly flabbergasted that every week, or it
seems that way, you will get another letter from a broken hearted male who
has lost another house and several ounces of gold to another young Thai
hussy. That is after the buffalo has had its expensive injections to get
it on its feet again. Does nobody warn these people that this is the most
likely outcome? Perhaps you should have a notice inserted in the Pattaya
Mail that Thai women are a wealth hazard!
Dear Browned Off,
Are you hurting, Petal? It sounds that way to me.
You do not say where you came from, but all the western so-called
developed countries have their own financial hazards in the men and women
stakes. Called divorce settlements and alimony, these are resulting in
many men walking the streets of Pattaya rueing the fact that they have
lost several houses, cars and been made poor by the women in their own
country. In America they are even drawing up “pre-nuptial” agreements
as a form of “damage control” to try and quantify and contain the loss
on splitting up. Since more than 50% of first marriages end in divorce in
the western world, that’s a lot of houses out there in the matrimonial
maelstrom. Hillary remains absolutely flabbergasted that people such as
you protest so loudly your amazement that this happens here, as if it
didn’t in your own countries. If you don’t believe me go your local
Chicken Pluckers Arms in the UK and take a straw poll of how many men have
lost everything but their shirts to some English women. You get off
lightly over here. Hillary does also take you to task, branding all Thai/Farang
marriage failure females as being hussies. Would you say the same about
British women? Or Americans?
My in-laws are coming out for their first holiday to
Thailand from Scotland and my wife and I were wondering if you could
recommend some places for us to take them? They are both in their 50’s,
active and reasonably broad-minded, though nothing too shocking please. We
are just a little worried with this being their first trip even outside
Is that “Jolly” Roger, I wonder? How long have
you lived in Pattaya? You must have an idea of what is on offer in and
around Pattaya, and if you haven’t you should go and visit these places
yourself. Really it depends on what they want to see. The Sriracha Tiger
Zoo is a popular venue, as is Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens as daytime
entertainment. Likewise one of the elephant parks should be on the agenda
- pachyderms being a fairly rare sight in the Highlands of Scotland.
Shopping is always high up on the agenda for visitors, and since the
in-laws come from the land of the locked sporran, some of the bargain
places such as the Made in Thailand Market on Pattaya 2nd Road would be
interesting for them. Wanasin Farm is another appealing venue with its
floating market, not on the same scale as the one in Bangkok, but fun,
nevertheless. Horseshoe Point has equestrian shows if they are into
horses, but no Clydesdales I’m afraid. At night there are the
transvestite cabarets, and do not forget the little Malibu on the corner
of Soi Post Office and Pattaya 2nd Road. Pubs appealing to the 50+ age
groups would include Shenanigans and the Green Bottle (though all ages are
welcome). You should also take them along Soi Pattayaland 2 for the most
amazing neon light displays and also perfectly “safe” go-go dancing.
As far as dining is concerned, get yourself a copy of Miss Terry Diner’s
Dining Out Guide Pattaya 2002 (available in Bookazine and many other
bookshops) and you can choose between local Thai cuisine to the top 5 star
restaurants. Stop worrying, the in-laws will love the place.
We have just arrived in your beautiful country and
expect to be here in Pattaya for two years. Since I will be working I am
not worried about filling in my time here, but my wife, who is a little
shy is fairly nervous about this. This is our first overseas posting so
any advice you can give her is appreciated.
Tell your wife she has nothing to worry about. This
is indeed a beautiful country and she should do all she can to explore and
enjoy it. There are many clubs and organizations in Pattaya and the
Pattaya International Ladies Club would be a good place to start. They
have organised tours to places of interest, both locally and in Bangkok.
You can find the contact details in the Pattaya Mail in the
“Clubs in Pattaya” page. There are also many charity groups who are
always looking for people to help with the poor, the handicapped and those
who are orphaned. The Jesters Care for Kids group are looking for
volunteers. There is more than enough to keep your wife occupied. Next you
will be writing in to say she’s never home!
Bits ‘n’ Bobs
Perhaps that should read ‘Wordplay’, but to many the
‘caption’, so to speak, fits quite nicely as regards people such
as myself whom enjoy cryptic crosswords. I am something of a
crossword buff but by no means an addict as proven by the fact that
I give up most days.
Crosswords were actually ‘invented’ in The
United States on my birthday 89 years ago, the first being published
in the New York World. Hardly surprisingly, the creator was an
Englishman. That said, Arthur Wynne first called the puzzle a
‘word-cross’, which takes the edge off the patriotic boast a
Just to upset the ‘crosswordphobes’, here is
a typical example of a cryptic clue: “HIJKLMNO” (5), the answer
being water. Obvious, yes? Well, here’s a trickier one. Clue: “A
sweetheart could take a Non-Commissioned Officer to dance.” (5).
Answers to: email@example.com
...Eskimos have fifty words for types of
snow but no word for ‘snow’?
...Italians have over 500 different types of
Macaroni yet found the need to call one ‘Strozzapreti’, which
translates as ‘Strangled Priest’?
...Aborigines have a name for every type of tree
yet have no word for ‘tree’?
...Maoris have 35 different words for dung?
...People buy ‘evaporated’ milk?
Sitting in my alfresco office, I do not actually need a watch as I have a
free timekeeping service. Every hour, on the dot, this woman screams along
the soi on her ‘Bob’ motor scooter. I say ‘screams’, because
whilst the clapped out heap is travelling at no more than a brisk walking
pace, the sound it emits would make you think Concorde had just landed and
was employing reverse thrust in an effort to avoid running out of tarmac.
The obvious fact that however automatic the gears are supposed to be on
the contraption, it can only operate in first gear.
Alternatively, one could be forgiven for believing that
a lunatic, having swallowed a microlite aircraft engine, was attempting to
escape the men in white coats for all he was worth as he kept distance
between himself and his pursuers having scant regard for fuel consumption.
These runabouts are actually a very nippy means of transport and, thanks
to the constant free gratis demonstrations courtesy of the screamer, can
accommodate two adults, three toddlers and a baby swinging from the
handlebars. On Buddha days, it has been known for the family dog to perch
at the rear using the shoulders of the adult amidships for balance as its
tongue laps up the breeze.
I had often pondered what on earth this crazed woman
with a determination to keep the Noise Abatement Society justifiably
active was up to, and had concluded that she was running some sort of cr่che
for shift working mothers. However, of late she seems to be transporting
far more farang gentlemen than toddlers. Perhaps she has expanded her
business and has now opened a Health Spa or something. The farang clients
on the outward journey look as though they have just had a shower. It must
be a great spa, judging by the eager faces on the inward journey being
replaced with self-satisfied grins on the way back.
WORD OF THE WEEK
Flabbergasted. The reaction of a middle-aged
farang tourist when he/she tries on their new swimming costume in front of
a full-length mirror.
Are you a man? It’s a bit worrying to think
that sunbathing in swimming trunks, or less, could ruin your sex life. But
Japanese scientists are concerned that the harmful rays of the sun and
radiation glow from electrical appliances can actually cause infertility
as they constantly and invisibly strike the nether regions of your body.
So they have invented VibroTrunks which are actually steel lined
underpants to replace your ordinary cotton boxer shorts or Y fronts. The
general idea is that the rays simply bounce off the armor plate rather
than damaging your manliness. Preliminary marketing tests show that
Japanese men will be happy to wear safety underpants once a few minor
technical problems have been sorted out. These include the fact that it is
impossible to sit down whilst wearing VibroTrunks. Also, when put in the
washing machine, they invariably cause the appliance to break down. A
spokesman for a leading Pattaya superstore said, “Most of the underwear
we currently sell is lighter than these trunks which weigh in at two kilos
Animal Crackers: Racoons - Masked Bandits
By Mirin E Mc Carthy
are highly intelligent and cute looking mammals about the size of a huge cat.
Readily identified by their unique bandit like black mask across their eyes, and
down onto their cheeks and their distinctively banded black and yellow large
bushy tails. Their appearance is inquisitive looking, with round faces and white
patches above the eyes and around their short noses. Ears are small, and bodies
sturdy with, thick, grayish brown fur. They average a meter in length (3 feet)
including the tail, and can weigh between 7 to 22 kg (15 to 48 pounds), males
averaging 8.5 kg.
Equalling primates in intelligence, their paws and toes are
shaped like human hands and used the same way to hold and identify objects.
Perhaps this is part of their appeal. Names reflecting their manual dexterity
are: in Chippewa “Esseeban” and Cree; “Essebanes” meaning, “They who
pick up things.” The French-Canadians called them “Chat Sauvage” or
European wildcat. Racoons were given the scientific name Procyon Lotor as
“lotor” means “the washer.” Perhaps because raccoons have been observed
dunking aquatic food in water before eating it. When hunting for crayfish or
clams racoons often feel around in the water under stones and rocks with their
paws and dip prey in the water a few times while eating; however, they do not
habitually dunk all their food. Racoons just like to play and play with objects
in the water, food and otherwise.
Racoons are found over most of North and South America and
southern Canada, except in the western mountain ranges. Revered by Native
Americans and early settlers, raccoons were once considered the American
national animal. They inhabit many different locations, favouring wooded areas
near streams, ponds, and marshes. As humans have moved into raccoon habitat,
this clever little creature has proven more adaptable than most. For nesting
sites it prefers warm, dry, dark, easily protected areas. In the wild, it dens
in tree hollows, hollow logs, or sometimes rocky caverns. In urban areas,
raccoons often nest in drainpipes, basements, crawl spaces and house attics.
Raccoon populations now are actually densest in suburban and urban areas.
Nocturnal but occasionally active in daytime, raccoons are
really omnivorous, eating whatever their environment provides. In the wild they
eat fish, frogs, turtles, insects, worms, snails, birds, eggs, grubs, snakes,
rats, shrews, also nuts and fruit seasonally. In farmlands, they feed on corn
crops, poultry, mice and orchard vegetables and fruit. In urban areas, an easily
opened garbage can and dog and cat food is irresistible.
They are fairly sociable and often den with other raccoons
and are sometimes found hunting in small groups of three to six, probably
consisting of a single family. In colder regions, raccoons may sleep for a large
part of the winter, in the summer they find shady, cool places to rest. They are
territorial with limited private ranges, approximately 1 mile in diameter. Often
their territories overlap with those of other raccoons but boundary clashes are
rare. When confronting each other, they often growl or snarl threateningly but
Their call from spring to autumn is an infrequent loud
tremulous whistle. Other noises are a rasping scream when suddenly frightened, a
hissing cry to scold young and a loud purr when pleased. Baby racoons make an
“orr-orr-orr” cry when begging food and whimper pitifully when hungry or
Females produce one litter a year, numbering from one to six
kits and averaging four or five; they live for 10 to 13 years in the wild.
Raccoons may appear bold and tend to bite when provoked but usually are not
aggressive except during mating season or when defending their young. However,
their strength, teeth, and claws equip them to defend themselves effectively.
These cute little bandits are important links in the chain of life, controlling
pests such as mice, rats, and snakes.
Personal Directions: Happiness is Contagious
by Christina Dodd, founder and managing director
of Incorp Training Associates
If you walk into a party and see two groups of people,
one laughing and smiling, the other moping and frowning, which will you
want to stand near? Not a tough question to answer is it?
“Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the
mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.” - Joseph
People recognize positive (happy) people and they want
to be around them. Happiness is tremendously infectious and attractive.
It’s a comfortable and pleasurable “place to be” and even if it’s
only for a short while, it brings joy and laughter. Happiness is
contagious! If you make the effort to be happy yourself, the people around
you will become happy. It’s a simple principle, but one that many people
forget to adhere to and to employ.
Of course it’s easy to be happy when everything is
going your way. But if you think about it, it’s far more important to be
happy when things aren’t going your way. If you can adopt an optimistic
outlook in every situation, you will find that you are helping to create
that outcome by everything you say and do. Being optimistic (and happy) is
really that powerful.
It’s quite amazing how we mirror the behaviour of
those around us. Many a time I’ve been at a function and mixed with the
crowd, having a chat here and there and saying hello to as many people as
I can. And often I’ll come across a group of people who perhaps could be
a touch more lively, rather than drowning themselves in all the day’s
problems or the bleak outlook the economy has taken. I find that if I stay
too long around that particular group, I’ll become somewhat infected by
the same glum tone and attitude that has engulfed them. Mostly I’ll try
to add a bright and more positive or constructive note to the conversation
to steer it towards something more enjoyable. I think it is worth every
ounce of effort.
Our attitudes - either positive or negative - are
infectious and lead to positive or negative outcomes.
We do, however, live in the real world where life is
full of adversity and this is something we cannot ignore or overlook. But
if we are not careful and choose to be more negative than positive in our
attitudes and approach to life and all the difficulties that come with it,
we will only end up wallowing in the mud of negative thinking. This mud is
thick and will stick and dry rock-hard, making it all the more
uncomfortable and difficult to remove.
There are constructive and positive ways to look at
life and to deal with all its problems that confront us. Worrying, it
could be said, is thinking about what could go wrong. The antidote to this
is therefore to consciously dwell on what could go right! I think it makes
good sense and for far more promising results.
This subject reminds me of a workshop I ran where we
focused on “laughter” as one of the modules of the second training
day. Everyone had been quite tense during the first day’s program due to
certain expectations placed upon them and in order to relieve the
underlying tension we did a simple exercise together which showed how
powerful and beneficial laughter (happiness) can be.
Each person was given a mirror to hold in front of them
and to look at. They had to look at themselves and smile and then begin to
laugh. At first this was a little awkward, but as minutes went by, one by
one they began to smile and then giggle and laugh. In a matter of what
seemed to be no time at all the whole room of thirty people was suddenly
bubbling and bursting with noise and energy and sounds of enthusiastic
laughter - and all the positive aspects that go hand in hand with it. The
smiles were wide and beaming after that and the workshop moved along at a
There’s a lot to be said for having a good laugh.
Laughter is like having a good dose of medicine. We as humans like to
laugh as we know we can receive immediate gratification in the way it
makes us feel. It feels great doesn’t it! When we have a real hearty
laugh then it feels ten times better! And if we are with others all having
a good old laugh together - then we are in trouble because we can’t stop
and start gasping for air until we exhaust ourselves and begin to double
over and roll onto the floor. Yes - laughter is good medicine.
When parents are around a baby and it begins to giggle
and gooh and make all those sounds babies make - just watch their
behaviour. They make faces and emit the most extraordinary noises and do
the silliest things. They mirror the baby’s behaviour just as we all
mirror the behaviour of people around us.
When we are happy - we do things differently. We act
differently. We walk and talk differently. We think differently. We
influence others to behave differently and in a positive way. Even though
we may be carrying enormous problems on our shoulders, the act and state
of being happy is a tremendous motivator, encouraging us to continue on
and to overcome obstacles that come our way every day of our lives.
Christina can be contacted by email at christina.dodd
@in corptraining.com or directly at Incorp Training Associates in Bangkok.
Tel: (02) 6521867-8 or Fax: (02) 652 1870. Programs and services can be
found at Incorp’s website www.incorptrain ing.com
Social Commentary by Khai Khem
Mother’s Day - for people who have lost their mothers - is unlike any other day of the year
With that in mind, I talked with a woman - now 45 years
old - who lost her mother to cancer a few years ago. As Mother’s Day was
approaching she was feeling an aloneness that surprised her.
After all, she wasn’t a child - she was well along in
her life. But now her mother was gone. Her mother had died in a hospital
in Bangkok. The daughter had been holding her. They had been doing that a
lot; the daughter would lie next to her mother in the hospital bed, and
just hold her to comfort her. The trivia of the world was all around them.
But none of it mattered.
The daughter was a schoolteacher, single and not
thrilled about it, and uncertain about what lay ahead for her. As her
mother was dying, she thought: “I don’t know how I will get over
She told me that she had called her mother on the
telephone every night of her life since the time she was in college. Her
mother had always told her that she was a good daughter, that she was
doing well in her life (even during the times when she herself wasn’t so
sure of that) and that if she got married, or didn’t get married, that
was okay too.
When the mother drew her last breath, she lay in the
arms of her daughter. This wasn’t frightening and it wasn’t awful and
it wasn’t terrible. She died in the arms of her child, knowing that she
But as each Mother’s Day approaches, something makes
the woman especially sad. There were nights when she would be getting
ready for bed, and she would realize she had not thought about her mother
that day. “Is this what happens?” she asked herself. “Life just goes
My friend said that her greatest fear would be that she
would somehow forget about her mother. However, this has never happened.
She said the older she gets, and the more experiences she goes through,
the more her mother is a part of her life. She thinks about her every day
because she carries the memory of her mother in her heart. If she is
having trouble making decisions or choices, she often asks herself what
her mother would have done in her place; would she have handled things?
The daughter found a new job. Met and married a
wonderful man and they now have two lovely children, a new house, and a
new life. Her big regret is that her mother never saw her grandchildren.
Then she hesitates for a moment and tells me that’s not exactly true.
She is certain her mother is watching over her and knows about each
milestone the daughter encountered since her mother died.
While we were talking, my friend finally laughed. She
said every day she gets older she sees her mother’s face looking back at
her in the mirror, and when she looks down at her hands, she sees her
mother’s hands. The woman has realized that her mother will always be a
part of her - the best part.
Roll over Rover: Try
not ruin a good dog
by C. Schloemer
Some owners prefer to send their dogs to
school and have professionals train their dogs. Many dog owners with
pedigree pooches want them either trained for special jobs, unique
activities such as hunting, show-ring, guard duty or special obedience
If anyone is going through, or is planning to go
through with the job of training a pedigree dog for whatever reasons, do
choose your trainer carefully. Just any old trainer will not do.
Training schools for dogs (like schools for children,
restaurants and shops, medical treatment and day care for children and the
homes for the elderly) vary in quality and professionalism. Owners who
truly value their dogs must be prepared to shop around and do some
checking into who will be handling their dog and what kind of methods they
Animal training is much like parenting. Any moron can
bring a child into this world. But only an understanding and caring person
can become a good parent and raise a child properly. Some parents are
abusive. Some dog trainers use abusive and aggressive methods to train
Let me introduce you to a lovely 10 month old
Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Manny. Manny’s owners were posted to
Thailand by a company for 2 years and arrived from Canada. The Bay
Retriever is a favorite with North American sportsmen. Not widely kept as
a household pet, its webbed feet and oily, water resistant coat make it
well suited for retrieving water foul. Manny, however was only a few
months old and was adapting rather well in the family’s small townhouse
and Thailand’s hot climate. The owners merely wanted someone to teach
the young pup some basic manners.
Their choice of ‘trainer’ was poor. After
pronouncing that Bay Retrievers are ‘one-person’ dogs and can be
aggressive, the trainer dragged Manny around by a choke-chain, yelling
commands and jerking the chain, assuring the owners that “this is the
way it has always been done.”
This trainer’s method of pain and force did not work.
Manny resisted the aggressive interaction, then became nervous, agitated,
and finally sunk his large teeth into the trainer’s leg. Manny’s point
of view? “I guess I’d better get him before he gets me!” The
trainer’s opinion? “You see! I TOLD you Bay Retrievers can be
This unfortunately is all too common. Ninety percent of
dog aggression problems come from using adversarial training methods. In
Western countries dogs with aggressive psychological problems are killed,
euthanasia, simply because the owners don’t know what to do about it, or
how the dog got that way.
For dog owners who are training their own dogs, here
are some tips and reminders for training and correction.
1. Never, never hit your dog.
2. When heeling your dog, never stop for him. Keep
walking. You are the leader and he must follow you. When repetitive
training is in session, walk in squares, not in circles. Maintain eye
contact. Speak only the commands. Pet your dog and praise him when he does
it right, and be generous when he makes a mistake.
3. Always be in the position to correct the dog before
any command is given.
4. You must be aware of para-language. This means
coordinate your voice command with your body language. Conflicting signals
will confuse him.
5. All corrections must be immediately followed by
6. Try not to repeat a command. Easier said than done,
7. Quick response time on giving commands is
imperative. Quick commands receive quick response.
8. Use the dog’s name, to get his attention, before
all commands, with the exception of the word “NO”.
9. Correction must be firm enough for the dog to want
to work to avoid it but not aggressive or combative.
10. Certain behavioral patterns may require confinement
when you can’t observe the dog. Observe the dog when you can’t confine
11. Strive for perfection through repetition on leash,
and then gradually transition to off-leash. Never leave a training collar
or choke chain on your dog when unattended.
12. You must be consistent.
Women’s World: The story of two women Part I
by Lesley Warmer
I asked Christine, “Why?”
She told me, “In my former life I was a faithful
husband to three wives but I never had any children. I felt no particular
difficulty with the role of a man but in retrospect can see that there
were obvious signs that things were not as they should be. For example my
undue interest in what my wife wore and the makeup she chose. It took me a
number of years to discover what I really wanted from life.”
I asked, “How did you eventually discover the
truth?” She smiled and said, “One day about 5 years ago a friend
invited me to a turnabout party, where men can dress as women. I had a
really great time and from then on started to dress as a woman more
as a chief engineer in Indonesia and Singapore, still posing as a man, but
managing to confuse the rest of the population as to her real gender.
Shortly afterwards she visited a clinic to talk to a
specialist about hormones, and during the visit she had liver and kidney
function checks to make sure that it was safe for her to take the
hormones. She told me it can be quite risky because of the large doses
needed. The doctor prescribed hormone 1.25mg to be increased to 2.5mg in
the second month continuing to increase the dose until she reached 7.5mg,
she also takes second hormone. (It is advisable to consult a doctor before
taking any drugs, the Bangkok Pattaya Hospital have a team of specialists
always willing to advise.)
Christine continued to work on a ship as a chief
engineer in Indonesia and Singapore, still posing as a man, but managing
to confuse the rest of the population as to her real gender.
Taking a break she came on holiday to Thailand and
stayed in Pattaya. During her stay she asked the manageress if she would
mind if she dressed as a woman, the hotel staff had no objections. After
this she started spending 4 months on the ship as a man and 2 months on
holiday in Pattaya as a woman. She enjoyed being a woman far more so she
decided to do something more radical about making it permanent.
of the people Christine met during her recuperation in Pattaya was Grace,
so she decided to visit her while she was in England and they became
Last September she left the ship and came to Pattaya to
have the SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery), and she had the operation in
October 2001. She had every intention of returning to the ship as
Christine, to continue her job but first she went to England on holiday.
She told me, “For the journey to England I started by dressing as a man
and then thought, no-way, so I changed my clothes and traveled as a woman,
from then on I never looked back. When I arrived In England I changed all
my certificates, except of course my birth certificate which you can’t
change in Great Britain.” (Although this may change in the future if the
UK goes along with Europe. The rest of Europe maintains it is an
infringement of rights to prevent a person changing their birth
certificate, therefore leaving them free to marry as they wish).
One of the people Christine met during her recuperation
in Pattaya was Grace, so she decided to visit her while she was in England
and they became partners.
Christine told me that when she applied to have her job
back she was told that the company policy had changed and she was unable
to return to the ship, so she returned to live in Pattaya and assist other
people like herself who need to fulfill their destiny.
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