Postbag: Stop krathong rubbish

Loy Krathong is almost here once again. I would like to put forward a suggestion regarding this important holiday. If you want to say sorry to the water then don't cut down millions of banana trees to make krathongs or even worse use styrofoam and then throw it into the nearest water source.

If you want to really show you're sorry, then go and pick up some of the garbage that's already there.


A tale of two killers

It's a tale of two countries. The government of India executed Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab for his role in the 2008 Mumbai massacre. Norway rewarded its world-famous mass killer, Anders Breivik, with 20 years in a jail that is more like a luxury hotel for murderers, and Breivik's lawyer claims his client's rights are being abused because Breivik does not have hot coffee. What a strange world we live in.


PM's absence is natural

Nattaya Chetchotiros suggests that the PM's lack of attendance of parliamentary sessions is due to her confidence in her government's strength. Although there may be some truth in this, the real reason lies in the parliamentary system used in Thailand.

The parliamentary system followed in Thailand is much the same as that in countries like the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In none of these countries will you find the PM or other ministers spending much time in parliament. In the UK, for example, the British PM attends the House of Parliament for 30 minutes every Wednesday to answer questions - nobody expects to see him at other times.

Ministers make up the executive branch of the government and their primary job is the running of their ministry and collectively, under the leadership of the prime minister, the day-to-day running of the government.

The legislature is independent of the executive and though ministers are members they hold no parliamentary office.

Under the parliamentary system the non-appearance of a prime minister in the legislature is not a sign of overconfidence, disdain or laziness, it is simply an acknowledgement of the fact that they have a full-time job to do elsewhere, and there is no reason why it should be any different in Thailand.


Unwelcome in Thailand

I visited the Thai Immigration department in Rayong recently to renew my retirement visa. I expected it to be a formality because according to the information that was available to me, I complied with all the requirements. Silly me. Having invested over 800,000 baht in the Thai Government Savings Bank for well over the minimum period of three months, I was informed that this is not an acceptable place for my money as ''it is a lottery''! There is indeed a monthly prize drawing but the invested capital is not at risk and certificates can be cashed in immediately if necessary.

There is no common sense or logic to so many of the requirements for residence in Thailand. It really makes me wonder whether I, and my fellow farangs, are welcome here: no land rights, property ownership is very restricted and the requirement to report to Immigration every 90 days, regardless of how many years one has lived here.

Those thinking of settling here in their retirement should consider very carefully the alternatives; other countries in Southeast Asia are only too pleased to welcome you.


Train safety comes first

Re: ''Beijing eyes train deal'', (BP, Nov 22).

China is famous for having the world's highest-speed trains. However, the high-speed train crash in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province on July 23, 2011 that killed 35 people and injured more than 200, greatly affected public confidence in China's high-speed train network. It was developed too quickly and did not meet safety standards.

Premier Wen Jiabao can call for fair and open competition in the high-speed train deal. But Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra needs to put public safety as her first priority. The bidders, whether Chinese or not, must possess high standards of safety technology. Expertise in high-speed railways alone is not enough.


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