Over the New Year's holiday, a group of Rohingya refugees managed to get by boat to Langkawi in Malaysia. Many swam over 500m to reach land and at least one died. Another boat of Rohingya refugees managed to reach Phuket around the same time.
While these human dramas were occurring, my husband and I were enjoying a New Year's trip in Tarutao Marine National Park, which is in the same part of the Andaman Sea that the Rohingya refugee families struggled through.
Our group found the conditions challenging at times _ high waves, strong winds and occasional driving rain.
We sought protection on cushioned seats inside our large tourist vessel where we chatted about the next coral reef we would explore.
The Rohingya's simultaneous passage through those same rough waters, in boats that were surely less seaworthy than ours, attests to how bad things are for them in Myanmar.
The government's treatment of the Rohingya families whose boat reached Phuket _ they were sent back to Myanmar _ is heartbreaking. Where compassion was required, none was given.
In the long run, such bad decisions can only tarnish Thailand's reputation in the international community.
Time for some road sense
Re: ''How deadly driving habits define a nation'' (BP, Jan 4).
To any experienced driver who has been taught the fundamentals of driver etiquette and road craft, the author's comments will ring true. He identified all of the most dangerous traits one sees daily on all Thai roads and not just in Bangkok.
Why Thai drivers are so complacent and accommodating when arrogant, rude, and utterly incompetent drivers literally push them out of the way as they make their illegal manoeuvres is a mystery to foreigners.
Who is to blame for all this incompetence and why is nothing being done to address the problems? The reasons are easy to identify.
1) The pathetic standard of driving tests and, one must also suspect, driving tuition.
2) The inability or unwillingness of the police to act on blatant violations.
3) The ineffective punishments for violators who are caught.
Actions to address the problems are also easy to identify but difficult to implement: Check that every candidate for a test has had professional instruction; make the driving test meaningful by holding it on busy roads after an initial basic check has demonstrated the driver can control and park a vehicle in an effective manner and has passed a comprehensive written test; educate the police in the laws of the road; and make punishments for the worst offenders severe enough to act as a deterrent to others, such as big fines, confiscation of vehicles for a month, and mandatory jail sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving.
If these issues are not addressed, chaos and incompetence will continue to reign on the roads.
Crash course needed
The police are quite correct in their actions to reduce road accidents, especially at peak holiday times, but I feel the figures should be examined in a different light, not simply by the number of accidents, but by also addressing why the number of fatalities and serious injuries from these accidents are so high.
As a UK expat living in Thailand I have noticed four things in particular which must affect the outcome, from the injury point of view, of relatively minor road accidents as well as serious collisions.
1) The reluctance of drivers and passengers to use seat belts when travelling by car.
2) Allowing small children to stand in the front well of the passenger side of a car or pickup (in a collision they stand no chance).
3) The carrying of unsecured, unrestrained passengers in the cargo section of pickup trucks.
4) The lack of protective helmets when riding on any form of motorcycle (especially children).
I know that enforcement by traffic police and the education of motorists and riders into the use of such safety devises will not reduce the actual accident rate but in the majority of cases the instance of fatal or serious injury will be vastly reduced.
BRIAN R STOCKS
Not too young for justice
I find it distressing that one of the six men accused of raping and murdering the woman in India may be tried as a juvenile.
It's insulting to people under the age of 18 to suggest they don't know they're not supposed to rape, murder and torture people. I cannot think of a time in my life when I was so young I didn't know that.
If you're old enough to rape and murder people, you're old enough to know you're not suppose to do it.
Snarl at transport policy
Re: ''Traffic snarls to last five years'' (BP, Jan 1).
The government has encouraged a million more cars on to the roads as a result of its first car-buyer scheme, and yet its ''flanking policy'' is to build not more roads to accommodate them, but railways for people who might have used mass transit if they had not been encouraged to buy a car. To make matters worse, the mass transit construction sites will take up a chunk of road space, so the increased demand for roads will actually be met with reduced supply.
That translates into horrific congestion for years to come, as your article points out.
Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt says he now plans to introduce ''measures to reduce the number of private vehicles'' that his government has just increased, which may include road pricing.
So the government seems to want more cars on the roads and less cars on the roads simultaneously.
You really couldn't make this up, could you?
Once a family possesses a car, its members are no longer captive to public transport and will use the car as their first choice. In countries where common sense is applied to transport policy, it is therefore usual to try to dissuade families with rising incomes from buying a car, by ensuring the public transport systems are highly efficient.
This approach has been spectacularly successful in places like Hong Kong, where car ownership rates remain very low despite high family incomes, and is in spectacular contrast to the environmentally incorrect ''backside-first'' approach applied here.
The local car manufacturers may have benefited from this populist nonsense, and perhaps that was the main intention of the policy. But do Thai transport users realise they've been taken for a ride?
Seeing total lack of truth
An open letter to the Marketing Manager of TrueVisions.
I contacted your Customer Service phone line on Thursday and explained to the friendly lady the situation, because the statements in your letter are simply not true.
1. The new magazine doesn't ''consolidate'' the information of both magazines. Rather, it limits it to prime time information according to the selection of TrueVisions, so the viewer has lost much information and totally lost the monthly overview and comparison.
2. The page on the website _ www.truevisionstv.com/trueworld.aspx _ is not available in English. The EN (English) button is missing on the top and at the bottom of the webpage. The EN button of the main website doesn't work either.
3. The information about the programmes on the TV ''guide'' is available for one week at a time and it is impossible to get an overview/comparison of different programmes. What should we do? Write them all down and compare them?
4. Are we forced to buy now Apple equipment to receive programme information? Or are we forced to buy the TrueVisions recorder/set-top-box with unknown specifications?
5. Did you ever think about older subscribers who are not able to manage all your digital piecemeal information or other subscribers who don't have access to your digital sources?
The new magazine has been out just a few days and you claim ''the majority of readers welcome the changes''. How do you know? This statement as well as the entire letter is the usual marketing eyewash.
The true rationale behind the new magazine is to reduce expenses for TrueVisions at the expense of its subscribers.
The old Premier magazine has been replaced with truncated and piecemeal information from different digital sources and it will be impossible for any viewer to plan ahead. Nothing is enhanced or improved; instead the opposite is true! A free magazine is no excuse for low quality information.
Luckily, the lady was friendly and agreed at the end to send me a detailed listing and I accepted paying an extra charge.
Truly sorry for problems
After monitoring the feedback from our subscribers on the issue of our revised magazine format and then having seen the letter from Mr T G Kent, TrueVisions really must apologise for a lapse which allowed his problem to go unresolved.
TrueVisions does indeed have a separate listing of detailed schedules and this is packaged as the Extra magazine. This is available to all subscribers on request.
As for any other subscribers who similarly would prefer to have the detailed 24-hour schedule as opposed to the prime time highlights, rest assured that TrueVisions will be happy to provide them with the Extra magazine on request.
TRUEVISIONS MARKETING PR
CONTACT: BANGKOK POST BUILDING
136 Na Ranong Road Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110
Fax: +02 2403666 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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