I have two questions for the Bangkok governor candidates and ex-governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, should he be re-elected.
If you have not been able to rid the city of sidewalk vendors, or even provide trash bins on the city's main walkways, what do you hope to accomplish, and what would you do to improve the quality of life for city residents, if you are elected or re-elected as governor? I am not eligible to vote but I do live and commute in Bangkok. I'm interested in knowing what your answers are.
Blind lead the bus charge
Bangkokians always remind me of the fairy tale, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Bangkokians will follow blindly, without protest, simply because they lack the will, the initiative, the imagination or the courage to help themselves, instead relying blindly on politicians and their stupid campaign promises.
The BTS is increasing its ride rates again. If people would not mind inconveniencing themselves for a week or more, a boycott of the BTS would prove to be quite effective. Revenue counts.
Take it away and the BTS will suffocate itself. Remember the bus boycott organised in Alabama by Martin Luther King during the segregationist period in America's deep South? When the black citizens stopped riding on public buses, revenue declined to starvation levels.
The result? Segregated buses were abolished. Bangkokians need to learn from others how to control and hone their survival skills instead of saying, ''Ho hum, I'll just pay the increase''. As the Americans say, you are being ''nickelled and dimed to death''. However, if that's what you want, just pay and don't complain.
DAVID JAMES WONG
Let's stop aping the West
Re: '''No jacket' racket makes climate sense'' (BP, Feb 22). Indeed, Western formal attire such as suits and ties are definitively not suitable for a tropical climate like Thailand's, but neither are they to many traditional events that require people to squat or kneel. The high heels craze being equally obnoxious in those postures (but then again, aren't they ridiculous and physically damaging anywhere?)
Most of the clothes sold in malls in Thailand are only comfortable in aircon locales, and it is surprising that Thai people have not developed acceptable and appropriate apparel with lighter materials to be worn, well, outside! The Thai obsession with aping the West for status goes way beyond that, with skin-whitening lotions and the use of luk kreung (half farang) models and actors. The last straw being this weird plan to replace squat type toilets with the Western sit-ons, while the former is obviously more hygienic, specially for public use, where only the soles of shoes make contact with the device and the water-jet being hardly usable with the Western model.
Do Thai people really want to colonise themselves culturally, while remaining proud of not having been colonised in history? Weird indeed.
'Blade runners' here, too
Known as ''Blade Runner'', Oscar Pistorius _ the famous South African double-amputee runner _ has admitted to shooting dead his girlfriend. The key question is whether the act was premeditated. While this has left many people around the world shocked and speechless, I'm following the trial closely. So far, it appears the justice system in South Africa is treating the case impartially, despite Oscar's legendary status. No matter how fast Oscar can run, justice has caught up with him. On a related subject, we also have ''blade runners'' in Thailand _ of a different sort. When convicted of crimes, these blade runners will flee across the borders or overseas as fugitives. You will be amazed at how fast they can take off. These fugitives are way too fast for the Thai justice system to chase after. Maybe it's time the Thai justice system put on carbon-fibre running blades.
A truly amazing country
I shall never forget my first visit to Thailand 12 years ago. I was cashing some traveller's cheques in a Bangkok bank and as I leaned forward to sign each one I placed my wallet which contained my passport and cash next to my elbow on the counter. As I turned to retrieve the wallet, I realised in a flash, that it had disappeared. I felt completely helpless. The bank was crowded and the bank tellers did not know what I was trying to say. Also, the security camera was not working. I reported the theft to a local police station where I was greeted with courtesy and smiles but no sign of any help. I then went to the British Embassy where I had to go through the process of obtaining another passport which cost about one hundred pounds.
Well despite that very aggravating experience I am still here, living with my son in Bangkok, and loving every moment. Life continues to present challenges that we can blow out of proportion but in the wider scheme of things it is life's simple pleasures that keep me going. I often wonder just what is it about this amazing country that I have come to love.
Boys in brown at it again
The Thai police are up to their old tricks. They have now started targeting big bikes over the past few weeks for some extra cash. It's a shame really. It is bad enough that we have paid a half a million baht or more for a nice bike and we cannot go on the expressways. Yet if you drive a 60-year-old truck you can because it has four wheels, while police ride the expressway as desired. Now just lately they have been cashing in on those that have either modified _ or even those like myself who have not modified _ the exhaust by saying it is too loud. First they always start by trying to say you were in the wrong lane, then they look for a helmet visor that is perhaps too tinted ... then next on to registration, and so on and so on. The last time I was drilled I said to them: ''You fine me for something every week yet I follow the law each time.'' They did not like that so then they said I must have been drinking and asked me to blow in the tube for an alcohol test.
But before they did that it took several officers to try and intimidate me for money. While I had not had a drop of alcohol they still got their 100 baht because it was bloody hot and I was just tired of the hassle. Well, they are all your best friends then aren't they _ after they get their cash in hand, that is.
What makes this even worse is that if I ever call police to make a complaint about noise near my house, or other ''trifling matters'', not once have they responded. The term easy rider is slowly disappearing.
Smoke and lots of ire
Udon Thani has a lake called Nong Bua where the air is being polluted by barbecued chicken. It's a beautiful lake, which hundreds of people, including my wife and I, like to walk around near sunset. Women do aerobic dancing on one side and a lovely Chinese temple hosts worshippers on the other. Unfortunately, in between, there's somebody who's set up a shop selling barbecued chicken. On some days, the smoke from his barbecue spreads across the lake, forcing the dancers and walkers and worshippers to become smokers!
Thais don't seem to have any zoning laws against this, and nobody has kicked this guy out. Thailand seems to lack the British notion of ''The Commons'' _ that we all share the water and the air, and none of us should pollute it for his own gain. So all of us suffer so one person can sell chicken. Can't anybody help?
A gold medal for filth
If there was a competition for the dirtiest, most polluted and disgusting beach in the world, then the stretch from Hin Kaew to the Ban Phe end would surely win the gold medal. This area has so much going for it _ warm Gulf waters, tranquillity, hospitable people and wonderful food. Only the beach stops it being a top tourist destination. If you want the hotels full every night from November to April with Western tourists spending millions of baht a year, instead of weekends with only Thai visitors, then do something about the beach. I walk the beach every evening and morning and have seen many tourists taking pictures of the rubbish. When asked why, many said me they would send a picture to the letters page in the papers in their home country with the advice: ''Stay away from Ban Phe''.
I feel better for having had my rant but I doubt that the mindset of those who could make a difference will change, so many more gold medals in the years to come for Ban Phe but no tourist boom.
EXPAT BEACH WALKER
Car makers irresponsible
Almost since the introduction of the motor car and motor cycle, manufacturers have sought to enhance the appeal of their products. Traditionally, this has included offering attractive interior and body accessories. However, in recent years, engineering modifications have also been offered to improve the performance of the engine and handling.
While some offer real benefits (for example, more efficient braking), most are cynically designed to appeal to the more impressionable and competitive younger drivers who, as statistics confirm, are responsible for the majority of the thousands of injuries and fatalities on the road every year. These statistics are a national tragedy and disgrace.
To distinguish between the standard and upgraded versions, model names often include the abbreviations GT (Gran Turisimo), S (Super) and R (Racing). However, the decision by a major Japanese auto manufacturer to name its latest pickup as ''Hi-Racer'' seems to fly in the face of social responsibility. To make matters worse, the car is advertised with the slogan ''vroom, vroom, vroom''. Get a grip and grow up! Thailand doesn't need any more boy-racers or innocent victims!
ARTY A DRIVER
Time to get informed
If Long-Term Guest (Postbag Feb 18) stopped to think for a moment he would realise how nonsensical his assertion that a vegetarian diet lacks some essential amino acids must be. If it were true, millions of vegans would now be dead, not to mention about half the animal population including elephants, gorillas, orangutans and most monkeys. This falsehood may well have been initiated by butchers half a century ago when they began to feel threatened by the increasing number of vegetarians, but the scientific community and nutritionists abandoned it about 30 years ago mainly when it was realised that not only was it factually incorrect but that trans-amination could take place anyway.
In my letter to which he and Mr Meldrew refer, I specifically mentioned smoking, fried food, mercury, drugs and sodium fluoride as health hazards so I find the accusation that I am only concerned with vegetarianism and not interested in people's health both incomprehensible and malicious. I have in the past drawn attention to the dangers of margarine (a vegetarian product), formula feeding, lead, vaccines, high heels, sugar, pop drinks, electro-magnetic rays, vehicular exhaust, air pollution and even underage non-medically indicated circumcision, as well as many other health compromising factors.
I will now add one further hazard: the minute amounts of hundreds of chemicals and drugs in our drinking water, only removable by distillationor, perhaps, reverse osmosis.
DR MICHAEL NIGHTINGALE
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