Postbag: A toast to Thai elections

Re: ''Judy vs Porky? A sobering thought'' (BP, Feb 24). It seems like Thailand has a strange fascination with banning the sale of alcohol on special days. No alcohol, no bribes, no partying and no nonsense, Thai elections are a serious business. Just go to the polling booth and cast your ballot and elect your favourite saviour. It is assumed that without alcohol in their system Thai citizens will make a smart choice on the ballot paper. After all, ticking the ballot is a tricky business.

And I am sure voters will have a hard time finding something to drink on the way to the polls? Just go to some mom-and-pop store anywhere and get what you want.

Banners, bribes and booze have become the most important ingredients in politics. In older democracies of the West, people cannot decide on their favourite candidate without a few pints of beer and brawls in the neighbourhood bars. In the West, elections are mostly about winning; they are like any other competitive sport. After the election results are out all sides find their own reasons to get high; winners toast to their triumph and losers drink to their grim performance and prospects. Both sides get drunk to get over the exhausting campaigns.

But for most Asean democracies, elections have become ceremonial. In Thailand, elections have very low consequences for the rich politicians who are mostly in the race simply to get wealthier. But they are a huge disappointment for the ordinary citizens who are barred from drinking and thinking on this special day. Cheers to Mr Voranai, I am sure he will stock up a few bottles to battle the other vagaries of life.

DR KULDEEP NAGI


Used, far from abused

Dear PM Yingluck, I would like to thank you for a lovely five-star Italian dinner plus a very expensive bottle of my favourite Valpolicella. Here's how it came about.

Used car lots suddenly sprung up along Highway 304 in Si Mahaphot, like desert flowers after rain. I took a friend up that route and he found a good deal, buying a repossessed used car for himself, one for his wife, and one for his son. Because he bought three, and paid cash, he got himself the sweetest deal that anyone could want. These cars each had a bit less than 20,000km on their odometers, and they were cheaper than they would have been even with the 100,000 baht tax rebate. So while the government is now going to bail out first-time buyers who cannot afford repayments, the market is wide open for fabulous ''used'', virtually new cars to those who want them. The reason I'm thanking you is because your populist policy earned me a great meal as a thank you from my friend for driving him to Si Mahaphot. Keep up the good work while bankrupting the national treasury. I'm sure your brother Thaksin will eventually find a fix for that too.

YANKELEH


Begging to differ

Re: ''Regulate the vendors'' (BP, Feb 25). I agree with you Martin, that regulation is in order. But in your experience, what would that knee-jerk red tape Bangkok regulation mean?

Firstly, my apologies for my repetition in using the word ''poor'' to describe the financial status of Bangkok's street vendors and the lower-echelon place in the food chain in which they have to survive.

Every organism needs to obtain energy, including money, in order to live. If the vendors were regulated as per your vision, I'm afraid that hundreds of thousands of ''poor'' people _ those who supply illegal immigrants, children, refugees and their ilk with work in ''sweat shops''' and hideous clothing factories _ would all be put out of business.

Then what? Humble residents such as yourself and tourists would then be writing to PostBag complaining about all the awful beggars clogging up and impeding progress along the sidewalks of Bangkok.

Maybe you have a solution for beggars?

RICARDO


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