Dr Nithi Mahanonda (''No need to chicken out'', Life, Feb 5) makes good points about the health problems associated with eating chicken.
In particular I'd like to respond to his comments about salmonella and campylobacter which cause food poisoning and kills many people every year.
In his book, The Power of Your Plate, Dr Neal Barnard quotes former US secretary of agriculture Carol Tucker as saying: ''People have gone to the store and picked up packages of poultry and taken them off to a laboratory and checked them for salmonella contamination. The number of birds contaminated has been shown in several studies to be around a third.''
Dr Mitchell Cohen of the Centers for Disease Control in the USA added: ''A quarter of salmonella are now resistant to commonly used antibiotics. In a recent report a person died because she was treated with what was thought to be the drug of choice. The organism was subsequently found to be resistant to the antibiotic.''
What we have is a double whammy. First the poultry industry causes this disease, and then by over-using antibiotics they weaken the treatment of it.
As for campylobacter, it may have a contamination rate in the USA as high as 80% and is also often antibiotic resistant. It infects at least 2 million Americans a year.
Dr Barnard quotes USDA inspector Hobart Bartley as saying: ''If the American people knew what garbage they were eating they would revolt.''
Giving Pata a serve
CEO of Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Martin Craigs was quoted as saying that: ''Hotel rates are very low here in relation to quality of their service'' (''Changing Thailand's cheap and cheerful image'', Life, Feb 6). I was surprised by these comments as he was advocating this by comparing the quality of service and price of five-star hotels here to the UK.
The costs of operating in the UK through taxes, employee salaries and other operating costs are twice as much, so they have to charge more for that reason.
If hotels here increased their prices would they pass on some of the extra profits to employees? I don't think so. I have stayed in such establishments here and in the UK and have experienced the best and the worst of service at both, so I think his comments that the service here is better are wrong as it very much depends on the hotel and individual experience.
There is no doubt though that Thailand is a world-renowned destination that people come to for its value for money, great food and service. But the exchange rate and inflation in Thailand are already pushing up prices, and encouraging people to raise prices further will only put off visitors from Europe and the US _ the very kind Pata is trying to attract.
No interest in education
In his letter (''Let's be informed'', BP, Feb 8), Khun Burin Kantabutra maintains, like many well-educated people, that educating the public through policy debates is a good thing. I fully agree with him.
The big problem is that the majority of voters do not want to be educated, or at least, have never shown signs of interest in this direction, probably because thinking and rationalism do not seem to be part of Thailand's cultural mentality.
Graft pacts pie in sky?
It is a step forward that Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt wants the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) to scrutinise all future public transport projects (''Anti-graft integrity pacts mulled'', BP, Feb 8).
Of all the ministries, the Transport Ministry typically gets allocated the largest budget. And with many upcoming and ambitious transport infrastructure projects, Mr Chadchat will be responsible for allocating 2.2 trillion baht to these projects. It is a Herculean task.
Of all the Pheu Thai ministers and their rather dismal performances to date, Mr Chadchat is probably the most qualified person for his post.
I give credit where it is due.
But how successful will these anti-graft integrity pacts be? On this, I'm sceptical. As I said, 2.2 trillion baht is an enormous pie. There will be many stakeholders in these projects, notwithstanding the many politicians whose mouths will be drooling. These politicians typically have proxies to manage their construction firms.
Things in Thailand are not what they appear to be. We have the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and other independent agencies. Have they stamped out corruption?
It remains to be seen whether this move is truly a step forward _ or an illusion.
Thailand must wake up!
Re: ''Success now comes with a degree in degeneracy'' (BP, Feb 5).
Thai society is embroiled in a culture war. A society where young students spend half of their day worshipping and bowing in front of portraits of dull historic figures has no future.
When students are taught that on Monday they should wear shirts of a certain colour and on Tuesday they should wear another colour, this breeds nothing more than a regimented, obedient and dull society.
Education in Thailand is still feudal in nature and is firmly rooted in the past. In this new globalised world, culture has very little or no meaning at all.
The world is becoming a hyper-linked economic zone. High-quality education is not only necessary but paramount; nothing else better defines modern societies and nations.
Thailand needs to wake up to the realities of the modern age, where the only way to survive is to have a well-educated workforce.
In my personal opinion, the Ministry of Education is simply an extension of its past. It has nothing to contribute towards enhancing the quality of education. This bloated bureaucracy must go. It is an agency that has become proficient in paper pollution. It is an agency with no expertise, no vision and no agenda to further the cause of the Thai economy.
Good education requires two things. First, the course contents should be exciting and relevant to the current job market. Second, the delivery methods should be technology-driven.
Homework for the 'Post'
Re: ''A disservice to Cambodians'' (BP, Feb 6). To ensure that the readers of your newspaper have factual information and balanced views, I wish to make several points.
First, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has not been denying any facts and did not want the Khmer Rouge tribunal to be shut down, as it was accused of in the BP editorial. It was Hun Sen who requested the United Nations in June 1997 to help set up the Khmer Rouge tribunal in order to prosecute former top Khmer Rouge leaders for their crimes against humanity.
Second, to state that the ''Cambodian government's ongoing battle against the court is arguably unique in modern times'' is to manipulate facts. There is no ''ongoing battle against the court''. It is the hope of the RGC to work with the court and to see the case proceed quickly because those top Khmer Rouge leaders who are now on trial are old and sick, while the cost of running the tribunal is also ballooning.
Third, it is normal to see two parties expressing different views, concepts, approaches and ways of doing things. But to say that ''the court and Hun Sen's government have fought from the start'' is absolutely a lie.
And also to state that the ''government continues to block the tribunal whenever and however it can'' is another major prevarication. If this has been the case, how could the Khmer Rouge tribunal have got this far?
Why should the RGC slow down the process of the court, if this means a greater cost to the government?
Again, the logic of the BP editorial makes no sense.
Fourth, it is sad and unfortunate for the Bangkok Post to engage in the work of negative speculation by trying to demonise Cambodia, its government, as well as its leader by suggesting they have been imposing impediments to the war crimes tribunal. To present this kind of negative speculation as fact is extremely dangerous and very much manipulative.
Fifth, to say that ''he [Hun Sen] fears an honest, open investigation by the tribunal could turn up unpleasant or embarrassing facts'' is to tell a lie.
I wish to underline that Hun Sen fears nothing at all. It was he who strongly supported the establishment of the Khmer Rouge tribunal from the very beginning. Then, why should he be afraid of the investigation by the court into the Khmer Rouge's past?
If he fears the investigation, he would never have asked the UN secretary-general to set up the tribunal at all.
Sixth, with regard to the statement, ''Hun Sen and [his] supporters have succeeded in keeping the terms and powers of the court narrow'', I would encourage the Bangkok Post to go back and re-read the terms of the agreement between the RGC and the United Nations.
I hope that the Bangkok Post will do its homework more seriously in the future.
MADAM YOU AY
Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand
Let's ice dealers for good
Re: ''Mozambican busted in crystal meth sting,'' (BP, Feb 5).
While the efforts of police in making this arrest should be applauded, a lot more needs to be done.
I have lost count of the number of times that I have been approached on the section of Sukhumvit Road between sois 3 and 11, by men of African appearance wanting to sell me drugs (''Heroin, ice, cocaine?''). The drug dealers approach pedestrians as uniformed police officers stand not 20 metres away.
Ya ice (crystal methamphetamine) is a very dangerous drug that destroys lives and communities.
Let's hope the police keep up the good work and this latest operation is not a ''one off'' attempt to address a long-standing crime issue in the area.
Drug peddlers, of all races and nationalities, must be driven not only off the streets of Bangkok, but out of Thailand for good. Our children's safety depends on it.
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