Thailand has deservedly prided itself on being the world's No1 rice exporter. Now that status is being challenged, but being among the top 10 is still commendable. Anyway, rice is overrated. It is a water-guzzling, low-nutrition, labour-intensive, low-income crop. There are other crops which are better choices. There will always be rice farmers in Thailand, but let's see diversity _ fruits (trees, berry bushes, vines), nuts (very few nuts are grown anywhere in Thailand), avocados, hemp, ornamentals ... I'd like to suggest that rice farmers devote a portion of their farmland to perennials (useful trees or bushes) and another portion to annual crops which would generate better income than rice.
PROPAGANDA FLOURISHING IN LOS
China's Communist Party has a new leader, Xi Jingping, along with six newly appointed members on the central committee. One of these has the title of ''propaganda chief''. Now that's a fancy title I haven't heard in a while. The best example that comes to mind is Joseph Goebbels, the minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. The function of a propaganda chief is to control the media and regulate what information can be relayed, exaggerated, downplayed or not reported at all to the public. Putting it bluntly, the propaganda chief's role is to fool the public, and the main qualification is to be able to lie with a straight face. If Thailand were to set up this ministerial post there would be so many qualified politicians from both sides of the political divide to fill the role that it would be hard to make a choice.
OLD BLOOD IS GOOD BLOOD
I notice that, yet again, the Red Cross National Blood Centre is suffering a shortage of donors and presumably blood stocks.
As someone who has donated blood in every country I've lived, I tried to do the same here a few years ago in response to a similar shortage. I went to Rajavithi Hospital but was told my blood wasn't wanted because I was over 60.
This is ridiculous, just an arbitrary limit that has no basis in gauging the quality of blood available for donation. Who stipulates this bureaucratic rule? The Health Ministry?
I am still more than willing to donate blood, but obviously only when this stupid ageist rule is abolished or ignored.
EU AN UNNATURAL ALLIANCE
A recent article written jointly by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, claims ''Asem [Asia-Europe Meeting] offers peace and prosperity''. This may be true of the Asia part of the equation but Europe is currently in its deepest economic downturn ever. The people of Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy are being shot with rubber bullets, controlled with armoured cars and armed riot police, directly as a result of the imposed single currency, the euro. Europe is in turmoil with flights and train services being cancelled. The situation is worsening with hatred and anger growing.
Ironically, the European Union was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at a time when the continent is witnessing violence and animosity at the most frightening level since World War II. The writers extol the virtues of a stable common currency across Europe when in fact the current instability is directly due to the imposed common currency. It is accepted by leading economists and governments that a common currency system cannot work without an established common fiscal policy under a single democratically elected government. Europe has neither. It is controlled by the European Commission and the European Council based in Brussels which have not been voted into power democratically. The situation has little prospect of being rectified as the countries involved are too diverse socially, culturally and economically. Their only common characteristic is geographic location.
Prior to the EU and its euro currency, Europe was at peace under Nato in an era that embodied a common European market, the EEC. That is over.
MALAYSIA NO TOURIST HAVEN
Although I totally agree with Smanea Saman's letter to ''PostBag'' on Thursday in response to Bangkok Post editorials saying that more needs to be done to make tourists in Thailand feel safe, his letter implies that Malaysia is a safer destination than Thailand.
I have not found that to be the case. Twice - once in Penang and once in Butterworth - I have been a victim of crime in Malaysia. And the cab drivers in Kuala Lumpur are so crooked they make the worst Bangkok cabbies seem like Mother Teresa.
I speculate that the reason people think Malaysia is safer is because it is a country that has a government controlled press, crime (especially against tourists) is under-reported. But that doesn't mean that country is a safer place for us to go.
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