An eclectic group today. Plus a funny story or two
34. Turkey. Mercedes S-class. The Turkish PM's security detail was investigated recently after a scary (and later amusing) incident. The PM suffered from low blood sugar levels and was semi-conscious. He was rushed to the hospital. Upon arriving, his security guards jumped out of the Mercedes and slammed their doors. The doors automatically locked behind them, with the PM slumped over in the back seat. No one had a spare key and the bulletproof glass was hard to break. They had to borrow equipment from a nearby construction site in order to extricate the PM, who is now fine.
35. Singapore. The younger Lee and other high Singaporean officials ride in official looking black S-classes. But the real story is the elder Lee's switch. In his retirement, Lee Kwan Yew traded in his Mercedes for a Lexus. Asked to explain, the former PM said-- With a Lexus, I spend less time at shop getting the car serviced.
36. Kazakhstan. The billionaire autocrat rides in a Merc S-class. No surprise. His license plate reads: 01 KZ. Okay, we get it, you're our glorious leader.
37. Myanmar. Than Shwe, the country's de facto ruler, is a no non-sense military man. Despite influences from the local elites to get a Mercedes like every other third world strongman, he has never wavered from his Land Cruiser.
38. Nepal. The Maoist insurrection, the royal killing spree, and the breakdown of civil society have made Nepal chaotic. Here, King Gyanendra in his Jag was being pelted with stones and other projectiles. Poor guy.
39. Indonesia. Like Gloria Arroyo, Indonesia's PM rides in a W140 Merc. With cheering crowds alongside the road, we see Yudhoyono and his wife with their window briefly rolled down.
40. Thailand. Former PM Shinawatra, after escalating his war against druglords, switched his official car from a Mercedes sedan to an armored van for more protection. After the bloodless coup, his successor the interim PM continues the tradition and now rides in a VW T5 Eurovan. He has to protect himself not only from drug lords and Muslim separatists, but Shinawatra supporters as well.