Sid Harta Publishers
AT LEISURE Canadian engineer-turned-novelist spins a tale about greed and corruption in Thailand Canadian expat Tony May brings to life his years in Thailand in his latest book titled Codename Dredge - a fiction based on real-life experience about corruption and greed in Thai society. May spent the early years of his working career as a fabricator/welder working in the oil and gas construction industry. The well-travelled engineer-turned-novelist spent six years working in Thailand before he left the country in 2000 after feeling betrayed by his former employers. Now he has put together that experience in the book which he says is bound to touch a few raw nerves, but he is prepared to face the consequences. May first took up writing as a hobby. "I have travelled to all the continents except South America. My stay in Thailand, however, was one of the most memorable, despite the less than flattering experiences I encountered at the work place. "Greed, corruption and a lack of understanding of the 'Asian way' are issues that I have touched upon in the book that should make Codename Dredge an interesting read." His first book Rig Pigs is about his adventures in the oil field and his younger brother's time in the military leading up to his untimely death during the Vietnam War. May says after his brother died grief set in. Writing helped him come to terms with his brother's death. Now he is working on his third book, and although he insists he is still an engineer at heart, he wouldn't hesitate to become a full-time novelist if his books take off in a big way. When did you start travelling? I first started travelling at the age of 17. I went to New Zealand on a working holiday. In the '60s that was the in thing. Countries in the British Commonwealth were popular destinations. Life wasn't complicated and air travel didn't involve too much hassle. I used to travel with my younger brother to New Zealand and Australia. Travelling gave me a headstart in life. What changes have you seen in the travel industry since your younger days? In the past the travel industry was much more open and free. Visa restrictions weren't as bad. Things were also cheaper. Most of my travel now is connected with my work. When I used to work in Southeast Asia, Nigeria and other West African countries, there weren't so many travel restrictions on the places one could visit as there are now. You were free to do as you please. Now there is too much political unrest around the world that makes people afraid to travel. People's attitudes have also changed. In the '70s, I worked in the Middle East. Libya, Bahrain and Iran. They were much nicer places to visit for Western tourists. Working on my last assignment in Dubai, I found there was a strong feeling of animosity towards Westerners, much more than ever before. I wouldn't bother to go to the Middle East anymore. What is the most incredible thing you have learned about Southeast Asian people? I guess the most incredible thing I have discovered in Southeast Asia is the patience of its people. In the West, people are very impatient. It's instant this and instant that. Southeast Asian people can wait a thousand years to get something. Their attitude is 'we will take our time', 'we will do it our way', or 'how you do it is up to you'. They are suffering through poverty, which comes from corruption. If we eliminate the corruption, we get rid of the poverty. If all you got is one bowl of rice and one shirt, what have you got to lose? How have you found Thailand's culture and people? Thai culture has always been very fascinating. It is open and accepting of people from different cultures. Having previously worked in Indonesia, I find Thai people to be a cut above the Indonesians. The education system here is also better. During my stay in Thailand, I got to know a handful of Thai families and found them warm and friendly. Thailand also has good infrastructure. To better understand its culture and Buddhism, I even thought about joining monkhood for a while. Unfortunately, I haven't travelled much around Thailand. The handful of places I have been to include Chon Buri, Rayong, Phuket, Kanchanaburi and Ayuthaya. Which country do you hope to retire? I will retire in Australia because it has good climate, actually very similar to North America. I plan to settle down in the state of Queensland, north of Brisbane on the sunshine coast. I enjoy the beach very much, especially the sound of the waves. It relaxes me. Why did you choose corruption as the theme of your second book? Tell us something about your third book? Frankly, out of revenge. I was literally sh.. on by my company in Baltimore and by the Thai agent hired for the project I was working on. After I left Thailand in 2000, I went back to Canada and found that I couldn't let what happened to me go untold. I knew I had been done wrong. My stories are based on facts, but there is a lot of fiction thrown in. There are a lot of stories other people have told me that are intertwined in the book. Yes, I plan to write a third book which will deal with the experiences I had while working in Sumatra, Indonesia, for three years. The story line will also include the time a group of us went to Kuwait, just before the end of the first Gulf War. This novel will have anecdotes about my experiences with local communities. In your opinion how can we help eradicate corruption and what does it stem from? People have to pay heed to the King's speech earlier this month where he spoke to the nation about the fact that no one is perfect and that people need to be told when they have done something wrong to enable them to correct their flaws. Don't put the dollar bill first is what His Majesty was saying. Corruption is not just a problem in Thailand but also in Canada. When I go back, people are not going to ask me how was the climate and people in Thailand, but who much money I made. Corruption stems from greed. It's really quite simple, we have to teach our children about honesty. Otherwise, it is monkey see, monkey do. Greed is a human fact of life. We all want to be wealthy and have a good life. Why do people in power want more? Simply because they are greedy. The presumption that voting a wealthy candidate into office doesn't stop corruption as has been proven time and again. If you wish to contact the writer, please feel free to send an email to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staying alive in a strange land isn't always easy... Read more about “Codename Dredge”