Friday, April 13, 2007

More Backlash in the British Press over Ian Proud's Blog at The Nation's website

Our man in Bangkok upsets Thais and expats in 'patronising' weblog

The Scotsman


THE Scottish deputy head of Britain's mission in Bangkok has given up his internet blog after three days of insults on the internet, mainly from angry Britons in Thailand.

Ian Proud, also the head of the political department of the British Embassy, had started a weblog in Bangkok's English language newspaper, the Nation, edited by a personal friend

But last night, after a day in which rude comments had continually to be deleted by the web host, Mr Proud called it a day and his existing blogs, which had been described variously as 'patronising', 'naive', 'a load of bull' and 'disingenuous piffle', were removed from the newspaper's website.

What started off as a public relations exercise for an embassy, whose members have already been criticised as "unhelpful" and "arrogant" in an independent report by the National Audit Bureau, turned out to be a public relations disaster.

Mr Proud had also been accused of visiting Cowboy One, one of Bangkok's red-light areas, a fact which he admitted, but only to show visiting friends.

Mr Proud clearly was taken aback by the reaction to his blog. He said initially: "I couldn't write about my work. So it was harmless, cute little stories about Thailand. But the response has been quite remarkable."

In his first blog, heading with a picture of him playing football against Thai government officials, he told of how he arrived in Thailand four years ago and was treated to a welcoming dinner party by the then ambassador, Barney Smith. He talked about the highs and lows.

In his second blog, he praises the singing skills of one of the generals in last year's military coup, General Winai Phattiyakul, the secretary-general of the Council for National Security, favourably against Tony Blair.

In his third entry, he lectures to foreigners that the Thai smile is genuine and not fake. And in his fourth, he appeals to the public to donate to a dog looked after by an animal charity.

Then came the barrage of replies, almost all negative. The British Embassy has perhaps more than its fair share of enemies in Bangkok, mainly from Britons who have failed to obtain visas for their Thai wives or girlfriends.

But even by respectable businessmen they have been described as "remote".

Until reconstruction began at the embassy, many lived within the grounds with their own maids, tennis court and social club.

Last year, the National Audit Office published a scathing report on the behaviour of British Embassy officials after the tsunami of 2004.

They were criticised for being unhelpful, insensitive and selfish. One survivor described their behaviour as like "a vicar's tea party in a crisis".

Another reported: "They never offered to help. They just carried on drinking while waiting for their minibus. When it arrived they didn't offer anyone else a lift to a safe area; they just left.

"Their conduct was disgraceful and made me ashamed to be British. I've never seen such a selfish and self-interested display."

A third said: "The British Embassy in Bangkok made promises of assistance that were never delivered... Words cannot describe how disappointing and useless staff in Bangkok, and later in Phuket, were."

And a fourth: "They didn't have a clue. They had no emotional connection, no attempt to say 'Are you OK?' Actually, you are crying your eyes out; you are covered head to toe in mud and dirt." Mr Proud staunchly defended the actions of himself and his colleagues during the tsunami, but if appears few are willing to listen.

I really love the internet.

How did this idiot Ian Proud make it into the foreign service?

He has been in country four years and he is totally clueless. And he is the head of the political office? I bet I am not the only one who is flabbergasted by this idiot. How could he be a political officer and not know about blogging?

I love the British. At the first opportunity to make it known to the entire world the incompetency of the British Embassy, they go for it. I admire that. They know that their complaints have been unheeded for years.

This the first time I have heard about their disgraceful behavior during the Tsunami.

I am glad people who have had all these pent up emotions about the British Embassy have finally got the opportunity to express themselves.

I hope the British expat community doesn't let up. This will probably be their only opportunity to make their complaints heard far and wide. before everything goes back to the status quo.

I am sure that the British have tried to make things known in the local media, but obviously Mr. Proud had his best friend Nation editior Tulsie covering for him in the Thai press.


Anonymous said...

'The British Embassy has perhaps more than its fair share of enemies in Bangkok, mainly from Britons who have failed to obtain visas for their Thai wives or girlfriends'.

Perhaps Mr Andrew Drummond can keep his own objective of the world to himself.

Another piece of garbage from the sorry state of the global fourth estate.

BangkokAl said...

How could you live in Thailand and NOT know of the (alleged) incompetence at the tsunami site? Jeez, they even made an HBO movie about it that played at New Year's.

The other thing I wonder is how the highly ethical witnesses saw Mr Proud on Soi Cowboy? Were they on a high building several blocks away with binoculars? Surely, given their ethical stand, they were not in "the red light district" themselves. Right? I said, "RIGHT?"

Fonzi said...


Seriously, it was 2 years ago already, but I don't recall a lot of bickering about the British embassy staff concerning the Tsunami. I've heard complaints about outsourcing of visas, bad service, the selling of the British compound, the bad attitude of the FSOs, but never about the Tsunami.

I didn't see the movie on HBO. I don't have cable and watch very little Thai TV.

Also, Mr. Proud admitted that he cavorted with Soi Cowboy's finest, but you are probably right about the eyewitnesses who caught him in the act.

Anonymous said...

But then the visitors to Soi Cowboy arent doing a blog in the Nation and making a big deak out of their position in the Foreign service.