Thai cave rescue operation

Khun Saman's widow will get 495,000bt plus 7,500bt a month for life.

Finance Ministry pays tribute to hero Saman Gunan - The Nation
Surprisingly old news fromThe Nation, as not only was that announced elsewhere a week before that was published but he's also been posthumously promoted to Lt Cmdr as has been very widely reported and as they should have called him.

That's his official government compo / pension - minimal though it sounds, to put it in perspective the state old age pension is 500 baht (just over 10 pounds) per month, rising to 800 baht when 80.

His widow's also to be given 4 million baht by AoT (Airports of Thailand, his employer) and the RTN will probably be authorised to pay his widow a Lt Cmdr's pension.

The British RN Clearance Divers Association has also set up a GoFundMe page with an initial target of 6,000 pounds, which has been doubled to 12,000 pounds which it has already nearly reached.
 
In the absence of anything else I thought it may be worth a brief view (a personal one) of why Christianity can be popular among some Burmese, Khmer and Thais, particularly as it's 'sold' to some tribes such as the Wa (of whom Adul Sam-on is one), and why Christian churches aren't unusual in such communities despite the dominance of Buddhism which some may find perplexing.

This was brought home to me learning about Comrade Duch's conversion to Christianity despite his having been Khmer Rouge Commandant of S-21 / Tuol Sleng and directly responsible for torturing and killing upwards of 20,000 fellow Khmers.

Had he remained a Buddhist he would have been facing countless thousand re-births into miserable lives as atonement for his crimes, even if he'd been a saint in each of them. As a Christian, though, all he had to do was repent and ask for forgiveness from an unseen God and in return his sins would be instantly forgiven and forgotten and he'd by-pass the miserable re-births and go straight on to paradise.

Not really a difficult choice, even if repentance is genuine - particularly as, in his case, when he came up for trial he thought that his forgiveness by God should count on earth too and so he should be released for 'time served' awaiting trial.

In Buddhism what you return as depends on how your lives have been led, and repentance only counts as mitigation when merit's been earnt - it's not a get out of jail free card. In Christianity, though, that's the selling point here.

As King Mongkut / Rama IV said of Christians (he spent over twenty years as a Buddhist monk before becoming King and is as responsible as anyone for the path of Thai Buddhism, and his 47th child became the Supreme Patriarch), "What you (Christians) teach people to do is admirable, but what you teach people to believe is foolish."
 
In the absence of anything else I thought it may be worth a brief view (a personal one) of why Christianity can be popular among some Burmese, Khmer and Thais, particularly as it's 'sold' to some tribes such as the Wa (of whom Adul Sam-on is one), and why Christian churches aren't unusual in such communities despite the dominance of Buddhism which some may find perplexing.

This was brought home to me learning about Comrade Duch's conversion to Christianity despite his having been Khmer Rouge Commandant of S-21 / Tuol Sleng and directly responsible for torturing and killing upwards of 20,000 fellow Khmers.

Had he remained a Buddhist he would have been facing countless thousand re-births into miserable lives as atonement for his crimes, even if he'd been a saint in each of them. As a Christian, though, all he had to do was repent and ask for forgiveness from an unseen God and in return his sins would be instantly forgiven and forgotten and he'd by-pass the miserable re-births and go straight on to paradise.

Not really a difficult choice, even if repentance is genuine - particularly as, in his case, when he came up for trial he thought that his forgiveness by God should count on earth too and so he should be released for 'time served' awaiting trial.

In Buddhism what you return as depends on how your lives have been led, and repentance only counts as mitigation when merit's been earnt - it's not a get out of jail free card. In Christianity, though, that's the selling point here.

As King Mongkut / Rama IV said of Christians (he spent over twenty years as a Buddhist monk before becoming King and is as responsible as anyone for the path of Thai Buddhism, and his 47th child became the Supreme Patriarch), "What you (Christians) teach people to do is admirable, but what you teach people to believe is foolish."
I was in Cambodia at that time and as I've mentioned before I think, my wife is Khmer. When we booked the monks for our wedding we tried to get an American monk who'd been there for years but he couldn't make it, so we went with the crowd from the 'family' Wat (just behind the Royal Palace). However, whilst talking to him we got into the subject of the proselytising Christian sects who are all over Cambodia these days. He was particularly aggrieved about the ones who go round the hospitals and offer cash for conversion, to get their numbers up. Desperate poor people agreeing to a religion change in order to get enough cash to pay for their relative's hospital bills.

I remember listening to the Duch trial and he seemed to display no remorse...'he was only following orders'...and it was rather convenient for the establishment to have some mid level KR leader who could be bought to trial. It glosses over the KR careers of people like the current Prime Minister.

Incidentally my wife won't visit his handiwork in S-21, because she's terrified she'll see a photo of her father, who was taken away and killed by the KR. Personally I don't think he made it out of the border of the village, but that's small comfort to her, of course.

Apologies for the thread drift...

S21 Victims - The Killing Fields Museum of Cambodia
 
Just watched an American-made documentary on Discovery about the whole thing. It was quite informative and some aspects of it we're good, especially the footage of condition inside the caves.(Quick, I know but US film companies already have people out there interviewing families and workers for potential films about it all.)

What I didn't like was it sort of gave the impression that "America saved everyone". They had "interviews" with USAF Master Sergeants and medics from the USMC talking about how they took part - along with civvy Yank engineers to pump the waters away.

They never credited the other nationalities with helping except for the very end when they mentioned over 1000 people took part in the rescue.

It smacks of the Erroll Flynn fiasco, Film,.... Objective Burma. No mention of the original participants, only the septic's, who defeated the nips in the jungles of Burma ,..... unaided............. U571 anybody?
 
It smacks of the Erroll Flynn fiasco, Film,.... Objective Burma. No mention of the original participants, only the septic's, who defeated the nips in the jungles of Burma ,..... unaided............. U571 anybody?

I wonder if it was the same one that I watched yesterday on Discovery? The one I watched had 2 or 3 short interviews with the US military and expert commentary from a Yank cave diver and also interviews with the Yank whose company was actually responsible for a lot of the equipment used for pumping water but it also had a Professor of hydrogeology from Birmingham University (UK not Alabama) doing quite a long piece to camera, interviews with the UK divers and lots of video of the Thai seals and other Thai folks. I thought it was a well balanced programme and quite enjoyable to watch.
 
I wonder if it was the same one that I watched yesterday on Discovery? The one I watched had 2 or 3 short interviews with the US military and expert commentary from a Yank cave diver and also interviews with the Yank whose company was actually responsible for a lot of the equipment used for pumping water but it also had a Professor of hydrogeology from Birmingham University (UK not Alabama) doing quite a long piece to camera, interviews with the UK divers and lots of video of the Thai seals and other Thai folks. I thought it was a well balanced programme and quite enjoyable to watch.
I've not watched the Discovery doc (no 'True'), but the Ch 4 Aus doc you linked to before gives them a lot of credit for the log and comd and control chains, which I think seems only fair. They didn't supply the individual experts and rescue divers, sure, and AFAIK they've never suggested they did, but their part seems to have been played down in the British press to the point where they're almost completely overlooked and barely get a mention at all which according to the local reports here is equally wrong.
 
I was in Cambodia at that time and as I've mentioned before I think, my wife is Khmer. When we booked the monks for our wedding we tried to get an American monk who'd been there for years but he couldn't make it, so we went with the crowd from the 'family' Wat (just behind the Royal Palace). However, whilst talking to him we got into the subject of the proselytising Christian sects who are all over Cambodia these days. He was particularly aggrieved about the ones who go round the hospitals and offer cash for conversion, to get their numbers up. Desperate poor people agreeing to a religion change in order to get enough cash to pay for their relative's hospital bills.

I remember listening to the Duch trial and he seemed to display no remorse...'he was only following orders'...and it was rather convenient for the establishment to have some mid level KR leader who could be bought to trial. It glosses over the KR careers of people like the current Prime Minister.

Incidentally my wife won't visit his handiwork in S-21, because she's terrified she'll see a photo of her father, who was taken away and killed by the KR. Personally I don't think he made it out of the border of the village, but that's small comfort to her, of course.

Apologies for the thread drift...

S21 Victims - The Killing Fields Museum of Cambodia
I'm not sure how accessible they are now, but S-21's records are almost unbelievably comprehensive, including not only photographs and 'confessions' from AFAIK all taken there but details of how they were obtained, etc. and orders from Comrade Duch for their 'disposal'. Comrade Duch was held to task by 'Brother Number Two', Nuon Chea, for not destroying them before the Vietnamese arrived.

I never met him or Comrade Duch, but I met Brothers Three, Four and Five and none showed any remorse at all; Ta Mok was the only one who made no secret about what had happened while the other two, whom I could hold pleasant conversations with (in French), were simply in complete denial.

What I found unbelievable about the reports on Comrade Duch was not only that he apparently genuinely believed that being a repentant Christian meant he should have been (edit: and would be) forgiven, but that the Khmer / American pastor who converted him, whose own family died under the Khmer Rouge, felt the same way. I'm all for forgiveness but to me it has to be tempered by accountability.

I've never come across the 'cash for converts' here, but I'm not too surprised in Cambodia. TBH they're never going to convert for cash and I can't blame them for taking it and walking away laughing, but rather than being "aggrieved" about it I think most of the monks I know here would suggest they take the money!
 
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Eleven of the 12 (less Adul Sam-On) and Coach Ek are to be ordained for nine days, starting on Asanha Bucha Day which is also the start of Vassa (Buddhist Lent / rainy season) so particularly auspicious, until 4 August.

Apparently they will not now be going to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (see above) but to local temples.
 
I'm not sure how accessible they are now, but S-21's records are almost unbelievably comprehensive, including not only photographs and 'confessions' from AFAIK all taken there but details of how they were obtained, etc. and orders from Comrade Duch for their 'disposal'. Comrade Duch was held to task by 'Brother Number Two', Nuon Chea, for not destroying them before the Vietnamese arrived.

I never met him or Comrade Duch, but I met Brothers Three, Four and Five and none showed any remorse at all; Ta Mok was the only one who made no secret about what had happened while the other two, whom I could hold pleasant conversations with (in French), were simply in complete denial.

What I found unbelievable about the reports on Comrade Duch was not only that he apparently genuinely believed that being a repentant Christian meant he should have been (edit: and would be) forgiven, but that the Khmer / American pastor who converted him, whose own family died under the Khmer Rouge, felt the same way. I'm all for forgiveness but to me it has to be tempered by accountability.

I've never come across the 'cash for converts' here, but I'm not too surprised in Cambodia. TBH they're never going to convert for cash and I can't blame them for taking it and walking away laughing, but rather than being "aggrieved" about it I think most of the monks I know here would suggest they take the money!
Indeed. The American monk was of the same opinion: the people would take the money, of course...he was aggrieved with the shallowness of his (largely) fellow countrymen.

It was Ta Mok who led the purge that resulted in the death of my FiL...
 
Similarly, I'd be surprised if there was anything to stop any of the many expat dive instructors here giving first aid to a student in difficulties, although I'm sure most aren't licensed to practice medicine here; on the other hand, I suppose it all comes down to what would be considered emergency medical treatment and an unavoidable part of any rescue attempt and what could be considered 'negligence'.

What I'd suspect is that it was just a big umbrella from the Aus side as they realised that his was the riskiest position of all in terms of possible bad outcomes for the kids and coach, and so diplomatic immunity was quicker and simpler than getting some legal expert to pore through the assorted legal ramifications, and fortunately the Thais thought the same.
As to the Aussies asking for and receiving diplomatic status; as a (retired ) lawyer it does make sense.
First Aid is one thing. Prescribing and injecting sedatives is a medical procedure. Doctor friends have said pediatric anesthesia is in their minds the scariest medical specialty as therapeutic doses and fatal doses can be quite close together. Diplomatic status would prevent claims that they were illegally treating the kids. In addition, the doctor may have preferred bringing with him drugs he is used to using and drugs in concentrations he is accustomed to. It would prevent unfortunate errors.
Also, Dr Harris brought with him a rescue cave diver who is a licensed veterinarian in Oz. Legally, vets cannot work on people, with some exceptions*. At least in the US, vets train for the same number of years (8 years in university) as doctors. If a vet can insert an angiocath in a dog or a sheep he could do the same for a child but it would be beyond his license.

It makes sense to me


* PS - as to vets treating humans, they can in some circumstances with supervision from an MD. I recall hearing a few years ago about an Irish vet practicing in Scotland. He had invented a method of implanting a titanium strut into bones so that the flesh grows around the implant and a prosthesis can be bolted to the strut. A few years ago the British vet was over in the US at a US Army hospital in Texas showing US Army orthopedic surgeons how to implant the titanium strut (or whatever the term is)

PPS - Thanks to many here for the detail information provided. Special thanks to @John G helping me understand better a country I have never visited.
 
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As to the Aussies asking for and receiving diplomatic status; as a (retired ) lawyer it does make sense.
First Aid is one thing. Prescribing and injecting sedatives is a medical procedure. Doctor friends have said pediatric anesthesia is in their minds the scariest medical specialty as therapeutic doses and fatal doses can be quite close together. Diplomatic status would prevent claims that they were illegally treating the kids. In addition, the doctor may have preferred bringing with him drugs he is used to using and drugs in concentrations he is accustomed to. It would prevent unfortunate errors.
Also, Dr Harris brought with him a rescue cave diver who is a licensed veterinarian in Oz. Legally, vets cannot work on people, with some exceptions*. At least in the US, vets train for the same number of years (8 years in university) as doctors. If a vet can insert an angiocath in a dog or a sheep he could do the same for a child but it would be beyond his license.

It makes sense to me


* PS - as to vets treating humans, they can in some circumstances with supervision from an MD. I recall hearing a few years ago about an Irish vet practicing in Scotland. He had invented a method of implanting a titanium strut into bones so that the flesh grows around the implant and a prosthesis can be bolted to the strut. A few years ago the British vet was over in the US at a US Army hospital in Texas showing US Army orthopedic surgeons how to implant the titanium strut (or whatever the term is)

PPS - Thanks to many here for the detail information provided. Special thanks to @John G helping me understand better a country I have never visited.
Agreed with all of that, but it's not suggested anywhere that I've seen (possibly deliberately, possibly totally innocently) that Dr Chris Challen was involved in any of the sedating / anaesthetising, and in all his interviews I've seen he's very clear that this was all down to Dr Harris, as is anyone else on the subject.

They also came and left by RAAF C-17, along with the other Aus divers and police / military support, so I think it's only reasonable to assume he brought all medication he may have needed with him.

Dr Chris Challen, the vet, has reportedly been his long term cave-dive partner for over two decades and they were both just leaving on a cave-dive holiday together in Aus when called, so I think it's only natural they came together and I'd suggest it may be stretching things to even imply that he may have been involved in any medical procedures beyond possibly acting as a medical assistant, preparing kit, etc. (the only detail I've seen on the diplomatic immunity is that it was granted to Dr Harris and two un-named 'medical assistants').

Thailand's not without its faults, particularly in some areas such as democratic rule, but it's also a country and a people with incredible heart and beauty - but however long you live here it's difficult to know if a foreigner can even scratch the surface as far as understanding goes.
 
Agreed with all of that, but it's not suggested anywhere that I've seen (possibly deliberately, possibly totally innocently) that Dr Chris Challen was involved in any of the sedating / anaesthetising, and in all his interviews I've seen he's very clear that this was all down to Dr Harris, as is anyone else on the subject.

They also came and left by RAAF C-17, along with the other Aus divers and police / military support, so I think it's only reasonable to assume he brought all medication he may have needed with him.

Dr Chris Challen, the vet, has reportedly been his long term cave-dive partner for over two decades and they were both just leaving on a cave-dive holiday together in Aus when called, so I think it's only natural they came together and I'd suggest it may be stretching things to even imply that he may have been involved in any medical procedures beyond possibly acting as a medical assistant, preparing kit, etc. (the only detail I've seen on the diplomatic immunity is that it was granted to Dr Harris and two un-named 'medical assistants').

Thailand's not without its faults, particularly in some areas such as democratic rule, but it's also a country and a people with incredible heart and beauty - but however long you live here it's difficult to know if a foreigner can even scratch the surface as far as understanding goes.
You have certainly helped me to understand a lot more, for which I thank you.
 
The arrangements for the nine days as monks have been finalised, according to the Bangkok Post. All (less one) going to the same local temple for nine days, so the idea of the PR stunt at Doi Suthep is thankfully out.

I'd guess the assembling at one temple then going to another is simply because they come from different villages, so rather than having a number of different ceremonies and processions from different places they're going for one big / communal one.

Apparently some of the villages are some distance apart as it's now becoming clear that the order of leaving / rescue had nothing to do with strongest first, etc, but was based on nothing more than whoever lived farthest away going first as they thought they'd be bicycling home afterwards!

(edit: it's still not exactly a 'local' temple, 50 kms away, but it seems the best compromise)
 
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