As a frequent visitor to Vientiane over several years I'd like to bring some disturbing matters to the attention of Bangkok Post readers.
I have spoken to some of the locals in the inner-city villages of Hadsady and Sailom who say they have been told that by the end of the year they will be given notice to quit their homes to make way for the ''big boys''. They are being offered land about 20km outside the capital with schools and hospitals.
There is no clear picture yet of any compensation, assistance or employment though, and one family I know are going to have to strip the wood from the top floor of their house along with doors and windows in order to build a new home. Many of these families have been there 100 years or more. People not signing up to the new deal are being threatened with ''visits'' and ''invitations to attend''.
On the upside of the development boom around Vientiane however, now on Route 13 going east there are hotels, government buildings and enterprises such as a one-rai plot of brand new trucks and earth-movers, warehouses selling timber and paint and motorbike franchises, right out as far as the 35km mark. I expect it is all financed by China. Hopefully the locals will be taking part and benefiting in this revolution.
HELP WANTED ON KOH CHANG
The article in last Sunday's ''News Bites'' entitled ''Koh Chang Ready to Clean Up'' made me and many other islanders smile. The article reported Damrong Saengkaweelert, the deputy director of the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) as saying that installed waste disposal equipment should efficiently help dispose of more than 20 tonnes of waste per day during the tourist high season. This probably means waste processing.
However, most tourists visit Had Sai Khao (White Sand Beach), and this area has no bins for rubbish collection. Most rubbish is put out or left in bags on the main street in the evening for a truck to collect it, while some people take the rubbish to drop-off spots up to one kilometre away. Please give us bins so we can get tidy.
On other Had Sai Khao issues, maybe Dasta could assist in providing maintenance for the streetlights, a proper water supply, liquid waste disposal and moving designated ''girl bar'' areas outside of hotel and shopping areas so that the loud music and voices don't affect the sleep of tourists and workers.
GET MINDS OUT OF THE TOILET
Regarding your story on Friday, ''Modern rest rooms impress jet set'', Don Mueang airport resumed its operations this month, but what is catching most visitors' attention are the two modern toilets. With sensory doors and space covering 110 square metres each, both are worth 15 million baht, built and paid for by Siam Cement Group.
The absurd thing is the praise and attention given to them. They are toilets after all. So long as they are cleaned regularly, and supplied with the usual amenities they are sufficient. The function of an airport is to get passengers to depart and arrive on time and in a safe manner, while serving as a security check for incoming and outgoing passengers. There are more important things to evaluate than intricate toilet design, including the short-staffing at immigration desks, security measures, the frequency of shuttle buses between the two airports, and the extent that taxi drivers are overcharging tourists. The fact that I haven't heard any praise in these areas suggests that Don Mueang airport isn't all that impressive, toilets notwithstanding.
ASBESTOS SAFE? IN A PIG'S EYE
It is shocking to me that according to an article in the ''Business'' section yesterday, ''Swine industry opposes asbestos ban'', the president of the Swine Raisers Association of Thailand states there is no solid proof that asbestos causes illness and death.
How is it that the respected US Environmental Protection Agency has clearly confirmed that exposure to asbestos leads to long-term lung diseases, loss of lung function and lung cancer? Furthermore, asbestos has long been classified as a known carcinogen by the US Department of Health and, as stated in your article, was banned in the UK in 1999.
I would also like to point out that asbestos exposure-related claims worldwide almost resulted in the collapse of Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurer (an industry not known for paying frivolous claims). It appears that the swine raisers of Thailand may be putting cost savings and profits ahead of public health. Having said that, however, I consider the general replacement of asbestos use nationwide should, for everyone's sake, be subsidised by the government forthwith.
SORAYUTH SHOULD MELLOW OUT
As an appreciative viewer of TV news presenter Sorayuth Suthassanachinda, I was saddened to see his retort towards his critics after the fraud charge brought against his media company by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Because of his excellent work as a social examiner and interviewer, it's not likely that Channel 3 or its advertisers will drop him like a leper. I wish he would brush off his detractors and face any possible decision from the court like a man. I do think that most Thais living in this imperfect and corrupt society would forgive him whatever he might have done. My unsolicited advice to him is to cool down.
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