Re: ''Oddball news of 2012'' (BP, Dec 28).
Of all the bizarre stories this year, none beat that of House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont's trip to England in September, together with a group of people close to the Pheu Thai Party and the red shirts.
Mr Somsak's appearance at the headquarters of the world-renowned magazine The Economist may have somehow convinced the title that it made a mistake in pitching Thaksin Shinawatra as Thailand's democracy fighter.
Such a visit could portray The Economist as taking sides in political situations in a country it understands very little about.
Hence the magazine, in its latest report on Thaksin, criticised him as ''a highly divisive figure'', for the first time in a long while.
Vote already flawed
Re: ''Governors to gather up support for referendum'' (BP, Dec 28); if you're going to hold a referendum to gauge public opinion, it needs to be neutral. Any campaigning should be non-political, use of governors and the civil service to encourage people to turn out is fine, but any information (which is essential to the exercise) needs to be presented in a balanced way, stating the arguments for and against a charter rewrite, along with the alternatives.
Spending public money to encourage the government's ''yes'' agenda is wrong.
Ultimately this process will be criticised as flawed, biased and therefore invalid, enabling opponents to dismiss the outcome. And when a private group of yellows threatens instability if the ''Thaksin whitewash'' charter bid goes ahead, encouraging a no-show at the polls, the government won't exactly be in a position to cry foul.
Lacking sense in South
Re: ''South post lottery draw upsets cops'' (BP, Dec 28).
While the country is being touted as a police state, can anyone within the organisation show some kind of intelligence and manage the situation professionally, rather than just popping up with the ''brainchild'' of a lottery draw gambling game?
People have been hoping for an improvement in the police institution in all directions _ corruption, justice, efficiency, and so on _ since the new leadership came into place, but so far nothing has happened.
The deep South insurgency is a most sensitive issue. Officials assigned to be part of the recovery programme must be of the top quality, with all applicable professional knowledge, efficient and with a good understanding of human rights.
This is the only way to improve the situation. Sending officials of lesser quality or those who are unwilling can only do more harm than good.
I completely fail to understand how such a crucial issue is being treated so lightly by the police forces, and how the government itself also seems to not give the matter much importance.
I told my little niece about the problem and she just said: ''I would send the best man to do the job.''
Challenge for Chalerm
Re: ''South post lottery draw upsets cops'' (BP, Dec 28).
As the precarious southern provinces need more police officers to fill job vacancies, national police chief Adul Sangsingkaew plans to select ''lucky'' officers randomly from a pool of 4,000 nationwide. Many officers have subsequently protested against this lottery system, citing family responsibilities.
Deputy PM Chalerm Yubamrung _ being who and what he is _ then told those officers to either quit or stop whining, lest they want to face a disciplinary investigation.
Since Mr Chalerm oversees the police force and operations to quell the southern violence, I dare him to demonstrate his leadership by moving to the South (along with his three sons and family).
Only then will he know if those police officers' protests are legitimate, and only then will he know if the media have stirred up violence by giving it too much coverage, as he once claimed.
Despite much rhetoric in tackling the southern violence, no one wants to move there, including and especially Mr Chalerm.
Drink up, quieten down
There's an argument for why drinking alcohol will be allowed in designated areas of national parks during the holidays.
Opponents say drinkers are loud, and disrupting the peace of others who want to appreciate nature.
Well, if that's the case, then the problem here is not drinking but making loud noises. Actually, there is a rule in national parks concerning people making loud noises. This is what should be cracked down on. Let people drink if they can stay quiet.
Stall Jet Skis for good
I am rather surprised the police on Koh Samui have finally disciplined some Jet Ski scammers, while their counterparts in Phuket and Pattaya have failed for years in the face of increasingly loud international complaints.
When I write travel blogs and website info on Thailand, I warn people to stay away from Jet Ski rental entirely.
Perhaps, in the absence of police action, its time for all the business owners in these resorts to put up warning posters in their establishments before any further damage is done to Thailand's reputation. The widespread message should be simple: avoid renting Jet Skis, unless you want to be scammed.
For anyone interested in viewing the planets in our solar system, January will have particularly good opportunities. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Venus will be visible, all near the crescent moon, on different nights.
Such events are particularly well suited for telescope parties, where someone with a telescope can assist any interested folks. This is a particularly good activity for kids.
The planets can be seen without a telescope as specks of light, unless smog, clouds, smoke, or light pollution obscure the view. It might be worth the effort to take a trip away from a city to see our neighbouring planets.
This could also be a topic for Thai science teachers to share with their students.
Check out www.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcasting/whatsup_index.html for a description of which planets are visible on which nights.
All in one THAI terminal
Re: ''THAI terminal a waste'' (PostBag, Dec 25) and ''THAI wants own terminal'', (BP, Dec 24).
I'm not against THAI having its own terminal, because in many countries, national flag carriers or the largest airlines often have their own independent terminals, including related businesses and codeshare carriers.
However, THAI's exclusive terminal should combine both international and domestic flights, whether at Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang.
If the AoT is reluctant to approve this issue for financial or management reasons, THAI can go ahead with it on a build-operate-transfer basis.
RH SUGA, LAMPHUN
Recent quotes from members of the Pheu Thai Party as well as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's statements on the upcoming charter referendum suggest a shallow and self-serving idea of what constitutes a functional democracy.
All the Pheu Thai members' comments stop at ''majority rule'', but a democracy that works must serve all of its people and a failure to do that can lead to grave consequences and conflicts.
Thailand has clearly been a case study in the latter since 1932.
As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: ''The minority, therefore, must have the right to seek to become the majority and possess all the rights necessary to compete fairly in elections _ speech, assembly, association, petition _ since otherwise the majority would make itself permanent and become a dictatorship.''
Following the uninformed democracy statements made by some government members, the prime minister is now seeking to override the outcome of the upcoming referendum by stating she will seek to amend the constitution no matter what.
Democracy to the prime minister apparently is useful to her only when a positive election result is assured.
It is apparent that arrogant and dictatorial leanings run in the blood of the Shinawatra family.
Holy hollerers be gone!
I thought the recent observations by Andrew Biggs (Sanook, Brunch, Dec 23) were reasonable and topical. Normally, these activities are observed from a distance and forgotten about quickly.
About five years ago, the house right next to ours was rented by a group of Pentecostal Christians apparently hailing from Kalasin. It was obvious from the outset that despite our misgivings their attitude was ''if you are not with us you are against us'' and tensions gradually escalated due to their anti-social activities. They ignored the norms of living in a quiet neighbourhood where occasional celebrations are tolerated. On a weekly basis, or more often, they held loud congregations and music that should have been confined to a more remote location. After all, this is observed by more responsible sects in a Buddhist society that abhors disturbance to peace of mind.
We have no objections to any religious activities, but if they result in animosity and undermining of neighbourhood morale then the practitioners should reconsider their approach. Fortunately for us, this church was sold by the house owner to a real estate group two years ago which restored order and sanity to our soi.
I have never been so relieved.
Society needs manners
A lack of awareness and sensitivity appears to permeate society today.
Whether it is a temple disturbing the peace on a Sunday morning using a loudspeaker at 6.40, or roadworks leaving rubbish and debris strewn along the roads and pavements, the signs of not caring and causing danger and discomfort for others in our city are rife.
It is also present in individuals who stand in the middle of a doorway or on the path or stairs talking on the phone or simply staring into space, unaware that they are blocking the way and causing annoyance and inconvenience to others.
Finally the noise of televisions and radios on campus, in streets and in shops invades our very being.
This total unawareness and indifference to others is an unpleasant characteristic, and although it may be excused as lack of education or ignorance, in the end it simply means we need to be more polite.
Give green some spark
Re: ''Reflections on 2012 and beyond'' (BP, Dec 28)
One sector you seem to have forgotten about is green energy, such as wind/solar power and biomass, which are clean energy sources.
Thailand's electricity use growth rate surpassed its long-term growth rate this year _ and it's likely the country's total electric usage will double in less than a decade. How will all this new electricity be generated?
There are a number of very interesting smaller companies in Thailand's green industry. These are rather viable and socially responsible investments for many Thai retail investors, even while most brokers and institutions may chose to ignore them.
Why not mention this sector as a rewarding investor theme next year? Just because these do not fit into mega-sized institutional portfolios, due to their relatively smaller market size, it does not mean they deserve to be off the radar screens _ especially as they help in providing a green solution for Thailand in an ever-more polluted world, still dominated by carbon burning.
PAUL A RENAUD
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