I have no problem with the DSI charging Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban for authorising the killing of anti-government protesters during the 2010 unrest, especially since it filed 213 legal cases against the red shirts and arrested and prosecuted 295 UDD members. No one is above the law.
But I am concerned that Section 70 of our Criminal Code states that those who act on the orders of their commanders are protected from prosecution. That's the so-called Nuremburg Defence, used by the Nazis in their war crimes trials to justify, among other things, the murder of millions of Jews. As Martin Luther King, Jr noted, ''We should never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was 'legal' and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was 'illegal'.'' Or as Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, ''Few things are more damaging to our democracy than a military officer who doesn't have the moral courage to stand up for what's right or the moral fibre to step aside when circumstances dictate.''
All must be accountable for their acts, even if done under orders _ although the degree of culpability is lessened by that fact. Even the lowest-ranking soldier must have a sense of right and wrong, and not be an unthinking robot. Thus, the soldiers who murdered the four Muslims at Nong Chik, used excessive force at Krue Se, or, in the future, follow their commanders and stage a coup d'etat, must be brought to justice along with their commanders _ even if that person is the army chief.
Prostitution isn't violence
A small sidebar in Thursday's Bangkok Post reported on the efforts of a European extremist group, the European Woman's Lobby (EWL), and its efforts to attack prostitution. EWL is quoted as saying, ''Prostitution is a form of violence, an obstacle to equality, violation of human dignity and of human rights.'' This is typical of the kind of extremist point of view that is rampant on the internet where every prostitute is an abused victim and everyone else is a trafficker.
From my experience no one is more likely to disagree with this than prostitutes themselves. Many women around the world find so-called sex work to be liberating and empowering. Sociological research, without a religious agenda, agrees.
While I do not specifically defend prostitution, I do strongly believe we should all stand up to extreme, sensational, and dishonest presentations regarding this issue via the internet and entertainment media. I am reminded of ''white slavery'' in the 1920s and the ''red scare'' in the 1950s, both later discovered to be faux issues driven out of proper perspective by the media of its day.
In our new internet environment a sensationalised, dishonest presentation can go viral and many people (and countries) can be harmed by a campaign largely powered by misinformation.
Take a stand.
Lovely Laos trying hard
In response to Jack Gilead's letter in Postbag, Dec 4, 2012, thank you for your commentary about English-language competency in Laos. Many visitors to Laos have also commented in the same vein as you have.
Many of us here, both foreign and Lao, have been working very hard for a long time to develop English competency, despite very considerable odds and also with very considerable success. We do not have the material resources that exist in Thailand, but we do have students who want very much to achieve positive recognition and overcome the ''least developed status'' applied to Laos. I firmly believe in their ability to help Laos move forward. There is rarely any positive commentary about Laos expressed in Bangkok Post articles. It is refreshing to find at least one positive commentary letter. Despite many problems of development, in my opinion Laos has some of the world's nicest people. I have been in many, many countries throughout the world and have been a Lao resident for the past 26 years in the field of education, and I am privileged to have been in contact with uncountable numbers of Lao people.
As a developing nation, we cannot offer all the amenities and income usual in more developed nations. But if you want to teach some of the world's nicest people, come and join us! There is no amount of money that can equate to the joy of achievement of students who have qualified for at least the beginning of the their dreams, and most often far more than that, and knowing that you have helped them to do so.
VIRGINIA VAN OSTRAND,
Lao-American College, Vientiane
I can't help but write to you to make a little complaint about the State Railway of Thailand. As a tourist I have travelled to many countries. Some good and some bad. Thailand is my No.1 favourite country _ exotic food, amazing places and friendly people. But not everyone.
Recently, I travelled from Chiang Mai to Bangkok by train which was three hours late arriving. I went to the information counter at Hua Lamphong to ask the reason for the delay.
To my horror they told me they didn't know the reason and they even scolded me and said I should go to Bang Sue station to ask why. What a silly introduction to Thai railways and of course to Thailand. How can an information counter staff member be so rude?
Paradise Samui lost
Sorry, the information you are reporting is: Samui and Phangan have basically been without power since 8.30am on Tuesday.
But the power cut was announced on Monday afternoon, and it was supposed to last for three hours.
When the power was not back six hours later, I tried to contact the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) customer service department and it took five hours to get some poor guy on the phone.
His information: ''We have a problem'' (I knew that already). ''It won't take too much longer'' (I asked him to specify that, like one hour, one day, one week?)
He said ''I honestly do not know.'' These were the first true words of the day. All of the conversation was in Thai, which I manage quite well after 24 years.
Meanwhile, the PEA has been working hard to change interconnections, because only one out of three cables is without power. For Koh Phangan it is one out of two.
The idea is to give power for two hours twice a day. But in reality it doesn't work. First, it doesn't happen this way, because the technical staff taking care of this operation plan are stretched to the limit.
Second, it doesn't happen because Samui is a society of mafia and relations; hence the supply changes get super-supervised by so-called VIP requests.
I know what I am talking about, because I have spent the last 14 years living on this former beautiful paradise.
Furthermore, the PEA obviously never considered any emergency planning for such an event happening. The biggest problem is that the PEA does not give the necessary power to the waterworks to pump water through their pipelines.
Not a drop has come out of the pipes since Tuesday. The companies that sell water from deep wells have shut down because their pumps don't have power and pretty soon the water supply from the bottling factories will dry up because their stocks will be sold.
Then there is the positive talk by the PEA that in March a new cable will be in place which will solve all the problems, I heard the same talk in the year 2001. ''No more power problems for Samui in the next 10 years,'' said the then PEA governor when the second supply cable was hooked up to the island. Now it is the end of 2012. The PEA is working on its fourth cable which again will solve all problems, but I have not had a week on this island without a power cut since 1998 which is the year I got here.
Talking about the fourth cable, rumour has it that the old cable got damaged during bed dredging for the new cable and that they are having problems locating the spot with the damage.
It's just a rumour which nobody wants to confirm, because it would make the contractor responsible for the damage.
And as we all know, in Thailand these jobs usually go not to the most qualified bidder, but to the ''cowboy'' who promises the biggest kickbacks. And when bad things happen, we quickly declare an emergency and get access to another so many millions to line our pockets.
Ain't Thailand beautiful? Now you know why Samui is called Paradise Island.
Krabi simply stinks
It's been an annoyance to see those campaigns promoting how beautiful Ao Nang in Krabi is while visitors can smell polluted water that is drained into the sea right in front of their eyes. That shows how ignorant the local administration has been all the time. We all have a so-called hotel group supposed to sustain the environment but it's just a name. It seems, not only here but everywhere in the Land of Smiles, business owners are only taking advantage of Mother Nature, caring just about turnover and all of them without a vision of how they will be able to make a living on damaged beaches, islands and stinky water sources.
Blair wrong many times
Whilst I agree with Tony Blair's opinion that if the UK were to leave the EU now, it would turn into a disaster for Britain, I totally disagree with his statement that he has ''no doubt that if we could have foreseen the future in 1946, we would have wanted to be in Europe from the beginning''.
If we had had faith in our past and the countries we were mainly responsible for colonising, we would have cemented the trading agreements we already had around the world with the original Commonwealth countries and formed our own economic bloc. Now Canada, Australia and New Zealand have strong currencies and economies based on vast natural resources, which we already knew of then.
Imagine a ''Commonwealth Trading Bloc'' of these countries headed by the UK and the future would look a lot brighter than it does now.
Tony Blair has been proven to be wrong in his opinions many times since his time in high office, and I certainly wonder why he has never considered this option.
Focus on heads, not hair
So, the Education Ministry is reviewing students' hair styles? If change comes, which I doubt, it may stop my grandson griping when he comes back from the barbers with less hair on his head than there is on a snooker ball.
With the less than satisfactory results from students taking the Onet exams I would suggest that teachers concern themselves more with what is inside their students' heads than what is covering them.
Bangkok getting dirtier
Recently, I went on a photo tour through the centre of our city, it was disgusting.
Dirt was piled up everywhere. I took many photos and nearly vomited.
Homeless people were sleeping behind bus stops, beggars were everywhere with children as young as a year old sleeping on the pavement. I counted around the Sukhumvit area more than 200 of them.
Food containers were strewn everywhere with the leftovers all over the place, Red Bull bottles were discarded everywhere, specifically around MRT exits.
Overall, it was a disgusting sight and tourists must think so too.
But they still have the governor-appointed idiots in uniform following smoking tourists to get money if they dump a cigarette butt (as there are no public ashtrays).
However, I noticed Thais doing the same do not get targeted.
Sexual objects/pornography and more were on open display everywhere.
If I was a tourist with a family I would never come back and would advise friends not to come.
Good job Mr Bangkok Governor!
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