On another front: for the first time in ten years, Le Seuil will publish early next year another book by Saneh Sangsuk, Seule sous un ciel dément, a really gripping story in throbbing prose which I’ve translated into French after translating it into English for them to assess (and incidentally published as an e-book).
French administration has greatly improved with the years: now both author and translator have to show evidence that they pay taxes in the country where they live to avoid being taxed in France. So Thai citizen Saneh Sangsuk was asked to show proof that he pays income tax in Thailand!
And so was Marcel Barang. On 1 August I went to my usual Revenue Department outfit close to the office to ask for a piece of paper stating in English that I do pay income tax here. I had to provide no fewer than eight pages of photocopies of passport, labour permit, income tax ID and income tax receipt – with presentation of the originals, of course. I was told the process took ‘only two weeks usually’ and never ‘no longer than one month’ as per regulation. ‘Leave your phone number, we’ll call you up when it’s ready.’ Curiously, even though all desks are equipped with computers, there was no record in the system of my income tax payments year after year – only of two payments made to me this year by the Ministry of Culture…
Exactly two weeks later, as I happened to be close by, and having received no call, I decided to drop by to see if that piece of paper was ready. Bad timing: I got there at a quarter to lunch. I must have disturbed a dozen well-meaning officials there who might have otherwise be on their way to nearby eateries as it took time to find out who the relevant officer was, that she was out for lunch, to call her back urgently, to find out that yes the form was on that desk there but had yet to be signed, please come back next week.
I was never called, but did retrieve the piece of paper yesterday morning on my way to my former office. It had taken only three weeks. In Singapore, I guess such a taxing exercise would take as long as one hour.
And the cherry on the cake. From L’Équipe, on the course du jour video of the Vuelta a España (it was the same with le Tour de France):