Regarding ''Moribund Elite Card rises like a phoenix,'' (BP, Business, April 26).
Apparently, Thaksin Shinawatra has instructed his government to resurrect the failed Thai Elite Card programme. It seems ironic to me that the red shirts burned and looted the Ratchaprasong shopping district purportedly to express their rage at the amataya
[elite] system, yet support an individual who personifies the entitled thinking of the elite classes. The Thai Elite Card programme is simply a means to sell entitlement to those foreigners who can afford to buy it. I submit that this undermines one of the foundations of democracy: equal opportunities for all. Thaksin's cabinet would have us believe that the programme is responsible for increasing foreign investment. Imagine how much more foreign investment would find its way to Thailand if democratic principles and the rule of law were truly established and the kingdom experienced an enduring peace in the southern provinces. Perhaps the prime minister needs to be reminded that this is the true responsibility of government.
PM, Pheu Thai the losers
Regarding ''Prem meet raises red shirts' ire'' (BP, April 27).
Some people were too optimistic about improved relations between the opposing camps. Gen Prem Tinsulanonda's side was far more clever than Pheu Thai in handling the situation. Gen Prem did not lose anything by agreeing to meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her delegates as a formality for rod nam dam hua. If Gen Prem had refused to attend the meeting, it would have widened the gap further between the two parties
[Democrats and Pheu Thai] and Gen Prem would have been blamed. By agreeing to the meeting, they could hide what they really felt on the matter and maintain the gap as it has been without anyone blaming them. Rather, the PM and Pheu Thai were the losers because they lost credibility with the red shirts, their major supporter. The PM and Pheu Thai might have thought it would show the public progress in reconciliation. But this was childish.
R H SUGA
Election results not trivial
Regarding ''By-election loss trivial'' (BP, Postbag, April 26).
As someone whose sister and brother-in-law live in Pathum Thani, I can testify on their behalf why they did not vote for the Pheu Thai Party in the by-election even though they have supported the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship all along. No, they are not unhappy with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's plan to pay homage to Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. That event means little to them. Rather, they just happened to be two among the hundreds of thousands of victims of last year's floods.
If people think a seat or two in parliament is meaningless, think again. If enough constituencies feel the same way about Pheu Thai's mishandling of the floods, we can expect to see a different result in the next general election.
Red shirts need educating
The eminent paleontologist and highly regarded humanitarian, Richard Leakey, in his book, Origins Reconsidered, declared that he was giving up his celebrated career in paleontology as his recent findings had finally confirmed to him the natural ascent of man. As the son of the world renowned Louis and Mary Leakey, this was no small decision. Richard was basically saying that there isn't any further need for the exploration of old bones as all the proof needed for the natural ascent of man was already in hand.
A recent Postbag proclaimed that the constant reporting of events surrounding Thaksin Shinawatra should be ended. The point being that such media coverage only glorified him more to his adoring constituency. I agree. A recently reported comment from a Supreme Curt judge stated it might take a generation before Thailand to achieve political reconciliation. It said the major combatants would have to pass away before any resolution could be attained. I concur with this assessment as well. The debate for reconciliation, which centres almost totally around Thaksin, is well understood by Bangkok Post readers. The point being there truly isn't any further need for editorials incriminating Thaksin. He is a guilty man and all of us who can read know this.
The focus of discussion regarding Thaksin's shortcomings must now be turned towards how to educate his red shirts. Unfortunately, this group of people does not read the Bangkok Post and, basically, only listens to red shirt rhetoric on the radio or the absurd and libellous pronouncements of Thaksin's disciples.
The task is daunting. How can anyone with an opposing perspective even get close to educating this brainwashed constituency? The origins of the present political split are not in doubt. The ascendancy of Thaksin and the reasons for his fall do, however, need to be clarified and clearly understood for Thailand to move on from this massive political impasse.
Regarding ''Thailand has betrayed Buddha ideals'' (BP, Commentary, April 26)
The story of Buddha's early life as a wealthy young Hindu is quite significant. As the privileged young Sitata living in a secluded mansion in Viranasi, he was unaware of the world outside with its poverty and suffering. It is significant, particularly as he not only became enlightened to reality as he ventured beyond his palatial surroundings, but he also rejected Hinduism for his own self-discovered philosophy. He developed his mind to understand how things really are rather than hiding behind affluence, fantasy and superstition. In Hinduism, there are very many different gods: in Buddhism there is no god. Buddhism is intellectual; it is in the mind, of the mind. Buddhism is the antithesis of religion. Albert Einstein considered religion to be childish but had praise for Buddhism.
Sanitsuda Ekachai's commentary seems to say that Buddhism has never been understood and practised in Thailand. Had it been, Khun Sanitsuda's article could never have been written. She describes how Thai Buddhism in Thailand portrays itself with Hollywood-style brashness that can be exported like an MGM blockbuster movie.
Sawai Boonma wrote an excellent article last year in the Bangkok Post questioning what had happened to Buddhism in Thailand where it is promoted by building more and more temples and filling them with more and more effigies that are intended to represent Buddha, rather like rows of gods.
Both these articles portray exactly what Buddha rejected. Praying to Buddha, hoping that one may find a good husband or wife or by giving to others with the intention of gaining merit for oneself, is in fact an insult to Buddha and the principles he taught 26 centuries ago. However, this practice seems to be common. Buddha clearly felt that his idea of training the mind, within itself, could help people to enrich their lives by being aware of who they are and where they are and accepting truth and reality. By developing the mind to a calm state that encourages awareness, concentration, thinking, learning and understanding, a person can become enlightened. A healthy, open mindedness, not restricted by a single belief that encourages bigotry and superstition, that in turn clouds the richness reality like a drug, would improve all life on the planet. The teaching of true Buddhism would make for a sound democracy. One can see why Einstein favoured Buddhism. He clearly understood Buddhist teachings.
J C WILCOX
Grains of truth misleading
Regarding ''Rice scheme bound to fail'' (Postbag, April 25).
While everything said in the letter might be factual, there is one factor that the writer has omitted from his calculations and that is the strength of the Thai baht. With the current head of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) sticking to his guns with regard to the rates set against a basket of overseas currency, am I not correct in my thinking that his time in control will end later this year and perhaps we might then see a devaluation which will assist exports, including that of Thai rice? Could it not be the case that Thaksin Shinawatra is well aware of this and is happy to shrug off the Thailand Development Research Institute's objections knowing what is around the corner and that perhaps the government might take up such a position in the BoT enabling Thailand's unelected leader in Bahrain to have greater control?
We are already seeing a slight weakening of the baht against most European currencies, with a high of 50 baht to the pound being seen this week. A devaluation of between 6% to 7% would not be out of the question at this time and a further devaluation, maybe next year, in readiness for Thailand's entry into the Asean Economic Community.
Tablets not the answer
The Thai government should perhaps take lesson from the Peru experience as reported in the Economist in its April 7 issue. Tablets for kids is a waste. A new, improved and a more international curriculum, better books and training of Thai teachers to international standards would be a better way to spend the money.
Road repairs a farce
About seven months ago road repair/resurfacing was started on Soi 2 off Sukhumvit Soi 22.
The repairs were supposed to take about two months.
A competent company could easily have done the entire job in a month.
Anyway, finally, after seven months it was completed and completely resurfaced/repaved.
Now almost the entire soi is being dug up again and one assumes is to be resurfaced again.
Would the the responsible construction company and the government agencies concerned please explain why this project took so long and more importantly why the work is being done a second time.
I suspect that the reason is to generate more profit for unnecessary work and that there is corruption involved.
Perils for kids travelling
Unlike other more responsible airlines, Thai Airways does not have nor does it appear to intend to have to have, a policy which addresses suitable seating arrangements for unaccompanied minors, that is children travelling alone. In the past two years since my daughter, now 12, has been travelling to and from London with THAI as an unaccompanied minor, there has never been any policy regarding seat allocations for these passengers, in particular that she/he should not be seated next to a man _ especially a single man on his own.
I have raised this subject with many THAI staff and none have been able to offer any help or reassurance; any changes must be made by senior management.
After several incidences whereby my daughter was seated next to a man on a flight, despite my requests to the contrary, I brought the situation in writing to the attention of the Thai Customer Services highlighting the potential risks of mid-air molestation.
I received only a routine and very unsatisfactory response to the effect that the procedure would be reviewed _ though still no action at all has been taken.
Most recently, when my daughter was travelling as an unaccompanied minor to London and I complained at check-in that she had been placed yet again next to a single man, I was told that the flight was full and the seating could not be changed.
However, after I had stood my ground very firmly and insisted that the position be remedied, I was assured that a female member of the THAI staff travelling on the flight would swap seats with the male passenger sitting next to my daughter.
Alas, it seems I was deliberately misled as, on boarding, my daughter found she was still seated next to a man!
However, aware of the impropriety involved, she pointed out the problem to the flight attendant _ who unsurprisingly knew nothing of the matter.
A call was made to the ground staff and subsequently the man was moved to a different seat.
It is all too easy to envisage the risks posed to a child travelling in a dark cabin during a long night flight, the stewardesses nowhere to be seen or too far away, being touched inappropriately but being too scared to cry for help.
Thai people are as concerned about the safety of their children as Westerners and thus, like British Airways and Qantas (who routinely never seat an unaccompanied minor child next to a man and, if the flight is not full, give the child an empty seat next to him/her). THAI should be giving top priority to ensuring that preventative measures are in place to minimise the potential risks affecting them and to avoid distressing incidents and problems.
Let's stop wasting time
The day before leaving Thailand, I read Ray Gregory's letter about rubbish in Thailand. I think he is wrong on one count. Thai tourism is already suffering a tourism loss from its failure to address waste management. I know I won't visit again until the situation changes. Waste is money waiting to be made; the future belongs to countries with the best recycling
[of everything, including energy use waste] and Thailand has the creative class to do it. But without strong political will at the top, it looks like this will take a while.
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