Thailand always wants to be the ''hub'' of something. Well, here's another ''hub'': Thailand is the second biggest transit point in Asia for illegal ivory. China is the biggest.
Only a comparatively few Asians even know that it is illegal to deal in ivory. It's carved into live-long-time sculptures in China, Madonnas in the Philippines and spiritually-enhancing bangles in Thailand, among other things.
Monks and downtown shops all over Thailand are involved. Buddhist monks are supposed to have at least a bit of consciousness about life around them. Are they aware that much of the ivory they're carving and selling comes from the tusks of elephants? Tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year, just for their dental protrusions. Whole families are decimated and left to rot on the ground. Poachers are now using poisoned watermelons (to avoid making noise) and automatic weapons _ mostly to supply consumers in Asia.
Elephants are virtually gone from the wild in Asia, and in Africa it's only a tad less dire. Even baby elephants are killed for their thin tusks. Nearly identical white plastic can provide the same material for making vanity products. Give elephants a break. Don't kill them. Your grandkids will never get to see elephants in the wild. To Asians, it's a yawning ''so what, we can look at photos''.
No laughing matter
So the latest megaproject is the giant transportation hub planned for the Phaholyothin Road area. Is this another joke? Does anyone seriously expect this to really happen and be completed by 2015? The megaprojects this government should be considering are flood prevention, water conservation, care for the greying population, and improvement of medical facilities, just to name a few.
What is more amusing is that the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is going to be involved. The SRT is the most inefficiently run agency in this country.
British lesson in need
British PM David Cameron correctly told a US magazine that his predecessor Tony Blair ''was too much the new friend telling you everything you want to hear rather than the best friend telling you what you need to hear ... We should always be conscious of the fact that we're the junior partner in this (US/UK) relationship and America is a Pacific power as well as an Atlantic power. I think that we should deal with things as they are rather than trying to be too needy'' (Time online, July 26, 2010).
Perhaps Thai leaders and news media could think about possible parallels between Mr Cameron's wise words and various Thai views as Thailand prepares for an upcoming visit by the US president.
Certainly, ''dealing with things as they are'' and ''not trying to be too needy'' would be good advice to anyone in any situation _ and ''not trying to be too needy'' might also be called ''independence''.
Culture of exploitation
Re: Nov 9 editorial on domestic workers' new legal rights.
There are thousands upon thousands of ''maids'' working in our nation (legal/illegal), in slave-like conditions.
Just within my own circles, I know many maids who work from 5am to 10pm each day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year without ever having a day break or holiday or pay or something new to wear.
They can't and do not want to complain as they often come from even worse conditions, and because of this fear, they are exploited. We talk a lot but never enforce anything. Improving labour laws without enforcement is meaningless.
Trial by public ordeal
I agree with Khun Voranai Vanijaka's suggestion that a way out of the present conflict may be for the leaders on all sides to submit to the judgement of the courts.
I have two suggestions that I believe would contribute to the public's faith in the judicial system and their acceptance of court verdicts. First, the trials should be broadcast on live television so that people can hear the evidence first hand. Second, before the trials begin, the law on contempt of court should be amended to allow people to discuss what they see and hear and to make fair comment on court verdicts.
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