Jonathan - Bangkok
Posted: May 08 2018
We sat down with the Bangkok-based journalist Jonathan Miller to discuss world leaders, Hawaiian shirts and street food delights. Our most entertaining Bespoken to date!
You currently work for ITN/Channel 4 as their Asia Correspondent. How long have you been doing this and have you always been based in Bangkok whilst working for them?
I've been in Bangkok as Asia Correspondent since October 2016 -- before that, I was Foreign Affairs Correspondent for Channel 4 News, covering mostly wars and human misery in the Middle East and Africa out of London for 12 years. In a previous incarnation, I was a correspondent with the BBC, based in Phnom Penh and then Bangkok, during the 90s. And before that, I wrote guidebooks to Southeast Asia and freelanced my way around this patch as a journalist. I've hung out in Bangkok a lot over the years.
Who would be your dream interviewee? Or have you already fulfilled that dream?
I've had a few interesting encounters over the years. I tend to gravitate towards nasties... like Zimbabwe's President Mugabe and Sudan's President Bashir. Since arriving in Bangkok I've doorstepped Malaysia's Najib Razak over mind-blowingly huge corruption allegations, ambushed Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, over his shameful asylum policies and been the first foreign journalist to tackle the Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte over the death squads he's unleashed to kill crystal meth dealers. I've also managed a brief chat with Khun Vichai, the Leicester City boss. He didn't say much. The ultimate interview? Definitely a one-to-one with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, but only after being granted exclusive access to film with him as he plots World War III from his palace bunker. Perhaps I should be careful what I say in case he decides to order a new line in Pyongyang Dictator suits from Tailor on Ten. Please give me a visa, Great Marshall Kim! I promise to be good.
Who has been the best dressed world leader you’ve interviewed/met?
Hmmm. So I guess the elegant Daw Suu Kyi isn't the answer you're after here. None of that lot above shine out when it comes to style (although, God knows, they can probably all afford a decent suit. Even from Tailor on Ten). Best dressed? The pudgy Kim cuts a dash with his with his DPRK classics. Must admit, what they're wearing isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind when we're armed with a microphone and the camera's rolling.
You should definitely tout for a bit more business in this neck of the woods though, you chaps. It's clearly all the rage these days for army boys to swap uniforms for suits around here. It's happened in Myanmar and if I thought really hard about it, I'm sure I'd come up with another example. You could set yourselves up as "Tailor on Ten: Sartorial Advisors and Bespoke Cloth-Cutters to the Best-Dressed Juntas-in-Disguise Worldwide". You could really stitch them up.
As to world leaders I haven't interviewed or met, Barack Obama has a classy, understated style when it comes to suits. Yup. Barack. Definitely. Although even he slipped off his jacket up in Luang Prabang as he sipped from a coconut on the banks of the Mekong.
Who are your personal Style icons?
Bryan Ferry. Idris Elba. General Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha. Kim Jung-un. And not forgetting Khun Cha, the finest suit-fitter Nepal ever gifted Siam. (Cha is Tailor On Ten’s fabulous head fitter!)
In your opinion what is the one thing every successful guy needs in their wardrobe?
A Hawaiian shirt. Gotta be a classy one though.
Have you been to other tailors before and why did you choose us?
Yes. One in KL once. And another somewhere else off Sukhumvit. Why Tailor on Ten? Because the other guys were weren't a patch on you, to coin a tailoring term. Plus, I have to confide that I was the beneficiary of a top tip from a high-level contact. "A senior diplomatic source," as we say in our trade. A whispered conversation, a nod, a wink. Not the sort of thing a journalist with any sense should ignore, frankly. I thought it might actually get me a discount though.
You mentioned you don’t wear a suit that often. Do you enjoy wearing a suit or do you prefer being more dressed down?
I love wearing a suit. Well, hang on, let's be specific here. I love wearing my NEW suit. I love wearing it BECAUSE I don't wear a suit that often. Particularly being in dress-down Krung Thep and working everywhere from Afghanistan to the jungles of Sarawak. I don't think my navy Italian wool suit would cope that well with dust, diesel, cordite and crocodile-infested rivers. I love the informality of Southeast Asia. And I'm a shirt-tails out man. But now things may just have to change.
We love being based in Bangkok. Do you like living here? If so what do you love about this city?
I love Khun Rabbit's Pak Boong and salt-baked fish at his street stall on Suan Phlu (far end on the right). I love cycling around The Green Lung. I love skimming up to Koh Kret at breakneck speed in a long-tail. Drinking cocktails in skybars, Isaan music, Isaan sausages, sticky rice, wandering around in Chinatown at night. Larb. I love watching zombie-apocalypse storms blow in as I sit on my balcony nursing a Red Truck Chiang Mai IPA (my fave). I love stumbling across surprises... crumbling wats that aren't in guidebooks, getting invited to Elephant Polo, Chatuchak's Soi 21 Viva Bar, the new Royal Enfield showroom on Thong Lo. I love the MahaNakon building, kuay teoh nam tok moo, Khun Uthai, the doorman on my block and Chao Phraya express boats generally. I love how quick it is to escape up to Khao Yai National Park and Ayuttaya. I love hopping on the back of Khun Pin's motorbike taxi from the win at the end of my soi. I could go on. So I will. I am addicted to chillied dried cuttlefish. The sort you find hanging on those little bicycle stalls in back sois at night and you can smell from half a mile away. But I may be pretty much alone in that. I love the surgeon in Samitivej hospital for fixing my shoulder. (So that I can get into my new suit jacket.)
Finally, in your line of work what item of clothing can you just not live without?
My Cambodian Krama. And my Tilley hat. And my new blue suit, of course. Oh, and my finely tailored long-sleeved Indonesian batik shirt crafted out of a faded old Yogyakarta sarong at the suggestion of a rival tailor, I'm afraid. The inimitable Mr Singh and his talented Kachinese scissor-fiend wingman, Krish, who would probably be quite pissed off that I'm even writing this. Sorry guys. But you really should see my new blue suit.
Jonathan is wearing a Giovanni Tonella Super 110 Prince of Wales Check suit and a classic white twill shirt. Check him out on here on Channel 4. Thanks for coming in Jonathan!