Published on July 17, 2007
But interviewing Civil Service Commission secretary-general Preecha Watcharapai proved to be an exception. All that was needed was a phone call to the Public Relations Department, which set the interview date and venue.
Preecha is certainly not a man for formality. While we were waiting for him in the meeting room, he poked his head out of an adjoining office, asking for five minutes to sign some documents.
When he walked into the meeting room about 5pm, he did not even try to hide the fact that he was hungry. He asked for permission to eat the cookies put in front of him while talking about the amended Civil Service Act.
While most top officials cannot remember the names of their low-level subordinates, Preecha can. He correctly named a girl who does not directly work under him. Interviewing such an easygoing guy was not difficult at all.
What's in a name?
Dr Pol Thirakhupt has always taken it in good stride when asked whether he has a stake in a certain law firm located on Ratchadaphisek Road. The question stems from the Thai spelling of this law firm, which apparently got its name from a monk but is identical to his family name.
Incidentally, Dr Pol is a distinguished law professor whose above-board interpretation of the law is highly regarded by his students and anyone else who values good governance. His latest book, "International Tax Law: Concepts, Questions and Answers" (third edition), is hot off the press and available at Chulalongkorn University's bookstore.
But some colleagues cast dubious looks and make comments whenever they don't see him at his desk. They suspect he has slipped away to run that law firm instead.
At first he found this amusing, but then downright annoying.
He and his family now feel irritated by questions about this law firm, which he neither owns nor in fact even knows the owner of.
Known for his wit and good sense of humour, Dr Pol still politely replies to questions: "I have no time to run a law firm. After work, I rush home to cook for my wife and daughter. Besides, I guess it must be a good sign - even a monk finds my family name auspicious."