Logo of Scuderia Ferrari

You and I know that a Ferrari is not for everybody like say the Volkswagen Beetle.

It is a luxury car line and obviously only those with very fat wallets or bank accounts can purchase a Ferrari.

Ferrari manufactures sports cars and Formula 1 cars in Italy.  It was established as Scuderia Ferrari in 1929 by Enzo Ferrari, himself a motor racing driver, to manufacture racing cars.  It soon started producing road cars or so-called street-legal cars as Ferrari S. p. A. in 1947.

Enzo Ferrari

The Ferrari Enzo with doors open

Enzo died in 1988 and from 2002 to 2004, Ferrari introduced the Enzo.  Produced and named after the company’s founder, the Enzo was Ferrari’s fastest model at the time.

Its most distinctive feature is its gull-wing doors.

So what’s this pedigreed luxury car company got to do with infamy and scandal? According to the news agency Agence France Press (AFP), China said that Ling Jihua, who has close ties to outgoing President Hu Jintao, had been removed as head of the Communist party’s powerful Politburo general office and given a new, less high-profile post.

No explanation was given for the surprise move, but a day later, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, quoting unnamed sources, said Ling’s son had died in a high-speed car crash in Beijing in the early hours of March 18, 2012 that also injured two young women, one of whom was naked.

Naked, injured woman.

The car involved?  A Ferrari. It is not clear though what Ferrari model it was.

AFP continues its report. “Reports of the crash first surfaced in March on China’s popular microblogs, along with speculation that the son of a senior Communist leader had been involved, but were quickly suppressed by the country’s army of online censors.

Photographs of the wreckage were briefly circulated online, sparking questions about how the son of a government official could afford a luxury sports car worth a reported five million yuan (around $800,000).”

For the full story, see http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2012/09/ferrari-crash-reports-bring-fresh-political-scandal-in-china/

In Bangkok, Thailand, the grandson of the wealthy Red Bull creator Chaleo Yoovidhya allegedly slammed his sports car last Monday into a policeman and dragged the officer’s dead body some 200 meters along a Bangkok street before driving away.

The Associated Press (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=160531532) reported the police initially attempted to cover up the heir’s involvement by arresting a bogus suspect until Bangkok’s police commissioner Lt. General Comronwit Toopgrajank took charge of the investigation.

I guess Comronwit’s sense of justice and fair play got the better of him.  And there’s this notion developed by Hollywood movies that cop killers should remain unpunished.

The car involved?

Another Ferrari.

Details of the model still to be known although photographs of the car wreck were plastered in today’s issue of Thailand’s newspapers.

The scion’s Ferrari and the police officer’s motorcycle (AP photo)

Voyaruth Yoovidhya

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the Red Bull scion, was arrested after police traced streaks of engine oil for a number of blocks back to his family’s mansion.

He admitted that he drove the Ferrari but claimed that the police officer’s motorcycle swerved suddenly into his car’s path.  He faces charges of causing death by reckless driving but was released on a 500,000 baht ($15,900) bail.

His grandfather, Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, died in March at the age of 88.

The Yoovidhya family was ranked the fourth richest in Thailand this year by Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $5.4 billion. Only a few in Thailand believe that Voyaruth will get anything worse than a slap on the wrist.

This incident follows several highly publicized others where the rich and powerful got away from their responsibilities with impunity.

In jurisdictions with weak institutions and personalistic political cultures, there seems to be two laws–one for the rich and one for the poor.  The rich are above the law while the law is fierce against poor ‘offenders’.

To sum up, Ferraris figures in two car crashes in our part of the world.

In China, the car crash resulted in the death of a son and the demotion of the father from his lofty position in the Chinese Communist Party.  The demotion is part of an effort to expunge forensic evidence of the car crash and to clean up the Party’s image.

The sub-text?  Your children should not engage in the conspicuous consumption of luxury goods; it strongly hints at ill-gotten wealth.  Conspicuous consumption highlights social stratification and the widening gap between rich and poor in contemporary China.  The Party seeks to maintain the fiction that it’s grounded and responsive to the people.  The greater the social distance between Party leaders and the people will mean that the Party is out of touch.

The Bangkok incident is at bottom a contest between unequals in wealth and power.  I guess you will agree with me that the winner is obvious.

We hope though that the Thai justice system will surprise us.

So what’s it with Ferrari?

Nothing,  or at least nothing that could link it organically with scandal.

The problem is with some of the people driving them.

Ferrari 458 Italia (Is this the model of Voyaruth’s Ferrari?)

Even if they are rich and powerful, they just don’t know how to handle a powerful and delicately crafted machine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s