I fully agree with the Bangkok Post naming the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) as its Person of the Year for 2012.
The TDRI continues to present well-researched analyses of the issues of the day, presented in a timely fashion and in layman's terms so voters can understand them.
I especially like the debate on the rice pledging scheme by academic Nidhi Eoseewong and the TDRI, who were on opposite sides of the argument, with both sides bringing forth well-reasoned points for the public to consider.
This kind of discussion is fully in line with former prime minister Anand Panyarachun's seven pillars of sustainable democracy, especially political tolerance, freedom of expression and civil society. As Aesop pointed out in his fable about the blind men and the elephant, truth has many facets, and no one person knows them all.
It is institutions like the TDRI and persons like its members who shed light, not heat, on vital issues that are so important to us.
We should carefully examine their arguments, and stop being a nation of sheep.
China threat is real
Shinzo Abe's warning to the international community concerning China's global ambitions (''World should remain wary of China'', Opinion, Dec 31) should not be taken lightly.
Although the Japanese prime minister is most concerned with the South China Sea, China will not confine its hegemonistic interests to this region alone.
Its record in Tibet and among minority populations within China's own borders speaks volumes about its lack of respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles. China's ruling elite controls the largest army in the world and is responsible for feeding the largest population in the world.
It is also well known that this relatively small group of autocrats tends to view the international family of nations as subordinates whose resources must be made available to fuel China's continuing growth.
The weaker nations of Africa and Southeast Asia are already succumbing to China's ascendancy. Thailand has had its textile and electronics industries strong-armed, its rice trade crippled and is now looking to establish high-speed rail links with China. I sincerely hope the government here will seriously consider Mr Abe's plea for caution.
Cops' bad rap deserved
Re: ''In 2012, police end up as their own worst enemies'' (BP, Dec 31).
Quite a string of criminal activity by our law enforcement officers has been unravelled lately.
But that does not damage their image _ it confirms their image. An honest Thai cop is an oxymoron.
On the other hand, their masters (politicians) don't want them to be any different. If you are a corrupt politician, you definitely want a corrupt police force.
Car scheme ruinous
Re: ''Gridlocked up north'', (PostBag, Jan 1).
Khun Khanatsanan is kidding himself if he thinks the problems brought on by the first-time car buyer scheme are limited to Bangkok and Chang Mai. Traffic in Yasothon is now like the rocket festival every day.
American, Korean and Japanese auto manufacturers pay off the appropriate government leaders, who then allot taxpayer money to the first-car programme.
Buyers then purchase their first new car, which will depreciate a few hundred thousands of baht as soon as it is driven off the lot.
I don't believe Thais have yet gained an understanding of depreciation in automobiles, because everyone thinks it is criminal for anyone, other than poor farmers looking for a running pickup, to buy a used car.
This has also occurred in Yasothon, which has inadequate parking, streets with inadequate lighting and roads with no centre line markings painted on them.
Someone please explain to me who, other than the politicians and auto manufacturers, has profited from this scheme.
Meanwhile ''Amazing Thailand'' will now be redefined by its number of cars and traffic accidents, the air will become unfit to breathe and road rage will become a new phenomenon.
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