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Waiting to Exhale in the Garden of Eden

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Phuket Gazette. Posted: 25th Aug 2012

I thought I was suffering a heart attack last week. My pulse was racing like some coked-up Hollywood type who was riding the early morning rails to oblivion.

My back was covered in sweat and beads of perspiration inched down my pumping chest.

The beating sound of my life force started to go jackrabbit mad, just ahead of those racing greyhounds who were closing in.

Inch by inch. Minute by minute.

High anxiety and not a brown paper bag in sight to settle down the nerves. Was this the end? Fortunately (or unfortunately for some detractors), I lived to face another day.

One glossy, juiced-up image of Phuket is that it's a modern day Garden of Eden, but these days it's taken a turn for the worse for property developers. Lost without a GPS, the industry has found itself somewhere around midnight in the garden of good and evil.

You can hear those baying wolves or even worse, a montage of hits by the reformed Spice Girls. If that doesn't make you shiver in your bones, nothing will.

Fresh ink, be it real or virtual, is continuing to pump up the volume over island land scandals.

Images of the one they call "The Demolisher" continue to feature in headlines.

Angst, uncertainty and paranoia are raging in Phuket business circles. But, as one friend of mine aptly pointed out "it's only an investigation". It's exceedingly hard to not get caught up in the moment.

Certainly my cultural points of reference remain "Tricky Dick" Nixon and a crew of madmen gone over the edge, but these remain dated and even those George W.

Bush crazed, delusional , Weapons of Mass Destruction claims have expired.

A more modern version, say Paranoid 3.0, could be an ampedup, post Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen ranting on Twitter.

You get it, right? It's hard not to be cynical in 2012, where Asia remains the only bright economic spot across the globe. This is, to put it mildly, as good as it gets.

Of course dangers lurk around every doorway. Rising religious extremism, sinking export markets, global warming, over population and the reunion of the Spice Girls.

But, top down or bottom up, the number one deal killer has to be high, low and medium level corruption gone wild. No spring break here, just down and out graft with little hope on the horizon for a better world.

As I plunk down the keyboard, a documentary on TV about DC Comics and its legion of superheroes is on air. It seems the core ethos of Superman (or whoever you fancy in the comic roll call) is the belief in equality and that the common man can prosper no matter what obstacles are placed in his way.

I'm a big fan of Thailand. It's where I've lived for over ten years, where I chose to grow old (make that older) and raise a family. It's my adopted home and, while I remain skeptical and opinionated in, what some may say as, a pro-business mentality, I do often lust after a higher plane of being.

This is where the laws of the land are followed, a democracy thrives and due process functions.

It has been interesting reading the online comments recently about the ongoing investigation by "The Demolisher".

There is widespread respect and support for what is happening, which is very untypical of most feedback in the tropical island news. A chord has been struck and it's resonating clear and loud.

Though I must add my own color to the events at hand: the method of investigation being depicted in the news, be it correct or embellished, does have some flaws around the edges.

Flocks of government officials arriving, each with a media entourage and lagging paparazzi.

Headlines sensationalize the serious issue but little emphasis is placed on the factual processes which will take place as part of these inquiries.

No matter what you think, Thailand is a developed business environment and has a defined legal system. It's not perfect, but please name me a country, which is? Those who have rightly or wrongly com under scrutiny will have due process, the chance to stand up and be heard in a court of law, as part of that process.

So, there you have it. We don't live in the Garden of Eden, and sometimes the clock does strike a panicked chord near to midnight.

It's easy to fall over the edge in a nervous exhaustion, but all I have to do is take a moment, breath in, and slowly but surely exhale.

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