Postbag: Thai politics are a joke

During my absence of three weeks touring Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region I was asked, upon learning I am a long-time resident of Thailand, why Thai politics appear so ludicrous, especially the red-shirt/yellow-shirt divide.

After reading the Bangkok Post's lead story on Nov 19, concerning the DSI being expected to bring hundreds of additional charges against the former prime minister and his deputy in cases linked to the political violence in 2010, I can understand why Thai politics are, to some outsiders, the laughing stock of the world.


What's in a name?

I've always assumed that ''Dom Dunn'' is a pen name of Thaksin.


It's all about rights

Here are some rights that Americans have and perhaps Thais should have also.

The right to keep a gun unloaded, locked up and hidden away.

The right to turn off the television and to read a book instead.

The right to eat normal amounts of food and to maintain a normal body weight.

The right to see all sides of an issue without attacking any particular position.

The right to listen intently without interrupting so as to fully understand the person talking.

The right as an adult to instill the value of education in children and to encourage children to do well in school.

The right to save money instead of buying what other people tell you to buy.

The right to silently consider advertising and political statements as full of lies and propaganda.

The right to laugh privately at people who take themselves too seriously.

The right to privately question things that do not make sense to you.

The right to think for yourself rather than letting another person, an electronic device or a government do your thinking for you.

The right to be polite when you are in someone else's home or in someone else's culture.

The right to laugh at yourself before others get the chance to do so.

The right to stay silent and be thought a fool rather than opening your mouth and removing all doubt.


Let's rethink Kra canal

Re: ''Reconsider the Dawei project'' (BP Editorial, Dec 19.

The caution sounded in your editorial about the Dawei project is well founded. But an almost throwaway couple of lines caught my attention: ''On the one hand, it sounds like a good idea to send Thai goods on a short trip overland for shipment from Dawei, instead of routing ships for two or three days through the crowded Malacca Straits. But so does the 50-year-old plan to build the Isthmus of Kra canal.''

It is unclear from the context whether your editorial writer supports the Isthmus of Kra canal project or is placing it in the pie-in-the-sky category. I hope the latter is not the case, because I believe this project is viable.

In fact, the idea for this canal goes back far further than the 50 years your editorial writer cites. In 1677, King Narai the Great commissioned French engineers to do a feasibility study, but the technology of the time was not up to the task. Various others toyed with the idea, including King Rama I in 1793, and, in the 19th century, the British East India Company explored the area. However, in 1897, Thailand and Britain signed a deal not to build the canal to protect the regional dominance of Singapore harbour.

More recently the idea has been revisited, including as recently as 2005, when a leaked United States Department of Defence document revealed Chinese interest in underwriting construction of the canal as part of its ''string of pearls'' strategy.

This plan would have employed 30,000 workers (hopefully Thai) over a 10-year construction period, at a cost of between US$20-25 billion.

It will take a true visionary to press the go button on this one. Does such a person exist in Thailand?


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