Post Bag: Letters to the Editor
These days most Letters to the Editor come by email.|
Every day, the Bangkok Post, like most newspapers, reserves space on its comment pages for readers’ opinions. Here is where you will find some of the livliest reading in the whole paper. Readers hold strong opinions about everything from world politics to the noisy neighbours next door, and they are not shy about expressing them. In fact, many of the opinions are so strong and so controversial that they provoke forceful responses from other readers. Some debates last weeks, even months.
While it is natural to react emotionally to many of the letters, it is more useful and more interesting to carefully consider what they say. Here are some questions to consider as you read:
Let’s take a look at two sample letters. As you read, decide how you would answer the above questions for each letter.
- What point is the writer trying to make?
- Is the writer being critical of someone or something? being supportive? remaining relatively neutral?
- Is the writer being satirical or does he/she mean exactly what is said?
- What does the writer hope to achieve by writing the letter?
Serious or satirical?
Airbags not safe in themselves
SIR: In Post Bag Jan 6 you printed a letter about the usefulness of airbags in cars. Most of the
points mentioned in the article by Dr Ben are true, except for the one which states that an airbag
is insurance against a forgotten seat belt.
It is not.
Dr Ben, please be advised that an airbag can do its protective work only when used
together with a seat belt. The forces which tear on your body during an accident can only be
neutralised by a seat belt. The airbag will prevent your face from slamming into the steering wheel
Please don’t create false expectations in a country which has just declared that wearing a
seat belt is compulsory for all front seat passengers.
Remember: First click, then start.
10 ways to make it to the premiership
SIR: Recently, students here at Khon Kaen University developed the following list. I would like
to submit it for publication in Post Bag, in the hopes that it might be of assistance to aspiring
Top Ten Ways to Become Prime Minister
10. Exaggerate all the time.
9. Speak slowly when answering questions by the press.
8. Give away money.
7. Always say “No problem!”.
6. Have your own submarine.
5. Claim forest lands.
4. Close nightclubs at 1 a.m.
3. Develop only your hometown.
2. Be able to say only “Thank you” and “Sorry” in English.
1. Be short.
Khon Kaen University
It should be clear that Letter A (Airbags not safe in themselves) is a serious letter in which the writer is commenting on the contents of a previous letter. Although the letter is critical, the writer does not seem angry. He/She merely wishes to correct a mistake that could prove fatal.
Letter B (10 ways to make it to the premiership) is an entirely different matter. In it, the writer himself is not critical. But the contents, which were put together by some Khon Kaen University students, are but in a satirical way. Even though meant to be amusing, the students are obviously complaining (fairly or unfairly) about a very recent Thai prime minister.
Often times people write to Post Bag about a “sensitive” topic prompting other readers to write back in response. Sometimes these responses are rather emotional with writers expressing great anger and outrage at what has been said. Below we have included two examples. The first letter was written by an “Edith Clampton (Mrs)”, a writer known for her sarcasm and desire to “stir things up”. Her letters are usually meant to be funny but can sometimes cause problems for non-native speakers who unknowingly misinterpret them. Let’s take a look.
A case of misinterpretation?
|No faith in Philippines|
SIR: I was shocked to read in the Bangkok Post that the Philippines will be launching its own
satellite in 1996. With all due respect and with traumatic experiences behind me, I can honestly
say that country is not technically advanced enough to be setting off its own rockets. I have
written to the President of the Philippines, Cardinal Sin, and asked him to stop this nonsense.
They should be seeking the assistance of another country to help launch their satellite.
If they do insist on firing rockets into space, I hope they give us plenty of warning so that
we can build air-raid shelters. The last thing I want is to be on the receiving end of a Philipino
Edith Clampton (Mrs)
A rocket for Edith
SIR: Excuse me, but I cannot help but to react to Mrs Edith Clampton’s letter about the
Edith Clampton, the Philippines may not be as technologically advanced as your country
of origin, but we, the Filipino people (not Philipino), are not idiots either. I believe that we can do
good without seeking the assistance of another country in launching our own satellite. We can
make something as good as you people can by utilising our own resources and our very own
capabilities, however “limited” they may be compared to your “high” standards.
With all those “traumatic” experiences you have had in our country, I am sure that you can never be convinced that we can really launch satellites. So why not start building your own air-raid shelter and stay there so you can stop worrying about Philippine-made rockets crashing on your head? Or better yet, since I assume you come from a technologically advanced country, why don’t you just build your own spacecraft and fly as far as you can from the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia.
It is easy to see why Post Bag is one of the most popular columns in the Bangkok Post. Many readers follow it every day without fail.
Teachers, you can find Post tips classroom lessons based on letters to the Bangkok Post at: