A colleague is desperately seeking funds to improve the kindergarten in her hometown in Si Sa Ket province.
The amount she and the school's principal is looking for is 3.5 million baht, to be used for construction work and to procure necessary items for the classroom.
This made me think of the cost of the House Speaker's media junket to Europe where he expected to learn some lessons about the parliamentary system _ but came back with nothing. That amount would pay for two good buildings for little Thai kids upcountry who are crying out for new and up-to-par venues for their studies.
Re: ''Yingluck to meet Queen Elizabeth II in London'', (BP, Nov 11).
It was in 1612 when an Englishman by the Latinised name of Antheuniss arrived in Ayudhya on the Globe and presented a letter from King James I to King Songtham.
The purpose of the voyage, and the letter, was to follow up on the establishment of the East India Company in the Siamese capital in 1600.
The company was, however, rife with people profiteering and filibustering which led to conflicts with the Siamese authorities and eventually to the company declaring war on Siam in the name of England.
The company closed down in 1684, the year that King Narai dispatched an embassy to England, possibly to find out whether England was seriously at war with the kingdom of Siam.
The embassy's voyage was a veritable saga. As their ship approached the English Channel, Barbary pirates appeared and gave chase. The Siamese were rescued just in time by the British Royal Navy who then escorted them to Margate.
However, as they landed, the gifts from King Narai to King Charles II and to King Louis XIV _ for their other mission was to cross over to France _ were impounded by the redoubtable British customs.
At the royal audience the Siamese recounted the episode to the king who then instructed his chief customs officer to release the goods. The latter refused to comply saying the matter had to go to parliament.
At the embassy's second audience, while the king was having his supper late at night in his hunting lodge outside London, His Majesty, having learned of the incident, immediately wrote a note threatening his chief customs officer of dire consequences, an unimaginable act considering the recent regicide in the country.
The Siamese ambassador duly took the royal letter to parliament and interrupted the House while it was in session.
The Speaker came out to read the royal instruction and told the customs officer to make amends. The latter then took the Siamese party to Margate where customs officials were made to line up to receive the embassy ''in State''.
The diplomatic effects were duly released and the Siamese were taken to the nearest pub for a pint. At the king's instruction, the royal yacht Charlotte conveyed the Siamese party to France (where another saga began).
Siam established her first permanent embassy or legation in England in 1882.
Our London embassy actually commemorated its 130th anniversary this year, but it went relatively unnoticed. Perhaps in two years time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make an event of the 330th anniversary of our embassy to England in 1684.
But I suppose few would care. It is all very quaint for this new generation without any knowledge of history.
Media must stay vigilant
On July 27, in Ao Nang district of Krabi, a very young Dutch woman was beaten and raped. It was not until recently that Thai police and officials _ who have been accused of covering up aspects of the crime _ have begun to do the right thing, although many are apparently still in denial.
In the US, the director of the CIA has been under investigation for ''several months'' or for ''four or five months'' with regards to his dalliances with a former mistress _ although US intelligence committees were not notified of the possible threat to national security until after the recent US elections.
The ongoing saga at the BBC over decades-old paedophile crimes by a famous BBC personality has led to numerous resignations at the media body after allegations of cover-ups and allegations of false reporting.
The Thai media, US media and UK media all have their respective jobs to do in these cases and we all sincerely hope that none of them let us down.
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