Dusit Thammarak's argument, ''No right to judge'' (PostBag, Jan 29) saying that the Thai judicial system is now the only institution left the people of Thailand can rely and depend on since ''the parliament and the government are now dead'' rings hollow. Since when does being least bad equate to being good?
Furthermore, his argument that many Thai judges are educated in the West, thus bringing them ''into line with other judicial systems around the world'' also rings hollow. The sentence handed down to Somyot Prueksakasemsuk could have and should have been much less severe. May I remind readers that Thailand was one of the original signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs proudly proclaims that the Universal Declaration forms the basis for Thai law and that its principles are firmly embedded in Thailand's 2007 Constitution. It is time for the people and government of Thailand to wake up and speak up. Either live by your international commitments and promises or have the intestinal fortitude to renounce them in favour of your own hybrid brand of democracy and human rights. For those of you (including Khun Dusit) who are not familiar with the Universal Declaration let me conclude by quoting Article No.19: ''Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and import information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.''
Finally, I commend the Bangkok Post for its courageous editorial on the subject of lese majeste _ I just wish it had gone a bit further to include a discussion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But given the climate of fear that exists in Thailand today on this subject, I suppose that the editor's reluctance to speak the sad truth is understandable. Was it not the beloved King of Thailand himself who said that even he should not be above criticism?
People of Thailand, do yourselves a favour and join the 21st century. Repeal or at least amend your draconian lese majeste laws. You will be a better country, and your constitutional monarchy will be stronger as a result. I say this with the utmost respect and love for your country as well as for my Thai wife of 35 years.
RICHARD P BERRY JR
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Which European mess?
I would like to reply to Khun Dusit Thammarak regarding his letter ''No right to judge'' (PostBag, Jan 29) and ask him where he sees the European mess. Does he mean the economic problems? I think this is a different subject. But in the country I come from nobody goes to jail for criticising the president or questioning the political system.
DR KARL REICHSTETTER
Clarifying Myanmar debt
Re: ''Easy money for Myanmar'' (Opinion, Jan 30). I wish to clarify that the Asian Development Bank's recent resumption of lending to Myanmar is the result of debt refinancing, not debt cancellation. The ADB policy-based loan was used by the Government of Myanmar to repay a bridge loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, which the Government of Myanmar used to clear its arrears to the ADB. This in effect reschedules Myanmar's arrears over a 24-year term.
Accountability on the arrears issue helps provide accountability on the government's reform agenda. As you note, Myanmar's path out of isolation is a long one, with many challenges ahead. We are realistic about the effect ethnic and sectarian tensions pose to Myanmar's economic development and social stability, but believe economic growth can help mitigate these tensions if the authorities ensure that the benefits of growth reach the broad public, including minority groups. We remain optimistic that if Myanmar continues to demonstrate commitment to its ambitious reform agenda, it will see the kind of development that promotes peace and prosperity for all.
Director General, South East Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank
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