Postbag: We have enough malls

I notice a construction is under way on a prime site opposite Siam Paragon. A few locals led me to believe the site is slated for another shopping mall. As if we don't already have enough of them.

Siam Square One which is being built on the plot which used to house Siam Theatre that was burnt down during the 2010 political violence.

Why don't they build a national library rivalling that of the New York Public library? The answer is simple: Only a handful would visit it, making it unprofitable.

What Bangkok needs is not another shopping mall, but a public space like a public hall. People could go there to listen to public lectures and discuss important issues. It would be a public forum where people could rationally debate and express different views on important subjects (instead of backstabbing on-line).


Ignoring impending crises

Re ''Economists query 2-trillion-baht borrowing'', (BP, March 29). I believe the Chulalongkorn lecturer is correct in her assessment of the borrowing methods.

Why burden a declining tax base when Thai society's birth rate is continuing to decline? And, by economic definition, Thailand is an ''aged'' society, with more than 14% of the population aged over 65. Furthermore, in 2010 Thailand had a ratio of five working age people (15-64) to one aged person.

By 2030, that ratio will be 2.5:1.

With fewer taxpayers, who will repay the enormous debt? Certainly, not the politicians who borrowed the money!

This is a question for Deputy PM Kittiratt Na-Ranong to address and, maybe, lead him to reconsider the government loan option and opt for private sector financing on a project-by-project basis.

The problems of the eurozone's financial crises should be sounding warning bells, but the Thai government doesn't seem to be listening.


Something fishy about this

It is not surprising that the Yingluck government's proposed infrastructure investment plan is supported by Thailand's business community. If carried out in a transparent and efficacious manner, this state investment would strengthen the country's economic performance in the future tremendously.

However, the manner in which this plan is being pushed through parliament by the government - as a law to allow the government to borrow 2 trillion baht instead of through normal budget spending - is fishy. Experts have predicted that this borrowing would eventually become a 5.1-trillion-baht debt burden for taxpayers. If studied carefully, this borrowing plan is also half-baked and precarious. It reeks of corruption. Thais should question this plan assiduously.


Abhisit making sense

Khun Abhisit makes some pertinent points in his address to parliament (BP March 29). The interest alone will be nearly twice the loan and if the government had thought about some of it's failed initiatives ... the rice pledging scheme, flood management, compensation to red-shirt agitators injured during their riots, there would have been sufficient funds to pay for all the proposed works. But these works haven't been funded so how can the government gauge how much money it needs? The only thing they can factor in at the moment is how many baht they need off the top of this loan to pay all the corrupt politicians and their minions.


Value systems warped

Re: ''Copyright laws need updating'', (BP Editorial, March 29).

When Euro-Caucasians invaded North America under the guise of colonisation and freedom of religion, they brought with them the concept of ownership, including land ownership.

The much more civilised Native Americans did not have the concept of land ownership and in some tribes, such as those in the Iroquois Nation, the chosen leader (chief) had to give up all personal possessions upon becoming chief.

In the case of Supap Kirtsaeng the issue is of owning everything in sight (including other people, as in chattel slavery), versus more communal value systems (such as those which exist today in Southeast Asia).

For instance, I recently received an email from the ''warden'' of the Bangkok community at the US Embassy. What does that tell you? As far as I know, the only US institutions that have wardens are prisons and US embassies.

Native Americans pretty much lost out in the war of ownership versus freedom, so people in Southeast Asia will have be more effective against the Euro-Caucasians.



Culture to blame for ills

Re: ''Education system ills'', (BP, March 27). The story proposed that ''teachers and principals should be made more accountable, and we can do this by linking their remuneration to students' learning outcomes''.

I find this proposal unrealistic and parochial. If the author of the article wants to put the blame on someone or something, then he should put it on Thai culture in general and Thai students' culture in particular. This is because an overwhelming number of Thai students are not willing to persevere in their learning; they simply want to get a degree. Their blase attitude toward education is outrageous.


Stop these pen names

Jack Gilead (Nom de plume glory, Postbag, March 29) has misled my point and viewed me as rather Victorian which I regard as a compliment.

The writers using pen names cited by Mr Gilead were related to literary works and not opinions written to the press. The degree of allowance of pen names in a readers' column in most of the English-speaking world is exemplified in one of the names used by one of your Postbag writers today: ''No name, for obvious reasons''. Without obvious reasons, for the sake of fairness and transparency, I humbly submit that the use of pen name on innocuous matters should be discouraged in the Postbag.


What became of Edith?

There have been some excellent names used in the Postbag forum for many years now!

Perhaps some older long term resident readers can remember Edith Clampton.

I would dearly like to know if she is happy and well these days.



On behalf of Red Planet Hotels, I wish to clarify certain statements which appeared in the Bangkok Post (March 15, Business) which suggested that there was no synergy or working relationship between Tune Hotels, Air Asia and Red Planet Hotels.

We can confirm that Tune Hotels, Air Asia and Red Planet Hotels have an excellent, close-knit working relationship which will be further enhanced with joint marketing campaigns in the future.

Red Planet Hotels has always worked closely with Tune Hotels and Air Asia on the marketing of the Tune brand and will continue to do so.

As the third-largest shareholder of Tune Hotels and with a seat on its board, it is in the best interests of both companies that we work closely together to promote the brand and this includes the many global marketing campaigns we have worked on with both Tune and Air Asia already, and the many campaigns we have planned for the future.

I hope this helps to clarify any confusion there may have been.

TIM HANSING, Chief Executive Officer, Red Planet Hotels Limited.

Climate change is real

In the current extreme weather conditions, Sir John Beddington, the UK government chief scientific adviser, is calling for urgent action to tackle global warming and said the effects of climate change on the weather were already being felt in the UK.

Sir John said there were ''massive problems'' in the world of food, water and energy security as the global population increases, all of which would be exacerbated by climate change. He said there were some ''uncertainties'' in the analysis of climate and climate change. ''But those uncertainties are completely outweighed by the enormous body of evidence that shows it is happening and is happening in the sort of ways climate models would expect,'' he said.

No doubt the Thai megaprojects are taking this into account, with Bangkok likely to be below sea level by the time the megaprojects are completed.

If the government has not considered this in their well thought out project programme they might like to add another trillion baht debt to foist on to their great, great, great grandchildren


Thailand dangerous

This headline - ''Why Thailand and Greece spell tragedy for travellers'' - from Australia's Sydney Morning Herald (March 27) will have the Tourist Authority of Thailand rushing around for a new can of whitewash to save face and protect the all important image.

The newspaper report concerns the findings of the independent research agency, the Lowy Institute, that Thailand heads the list of countries in which Australians are most likely to meet their end while travelling, citing 100 Australian deaths in Thailand last year.


Thanks to British navy

Like Mugged in Bangkok (Postbag, March 23), I was also recently robbed. I was in the Silom area on a crowded Saturday night - not a single policeman or security guard in sight - when a man in his late 30s/early 40s threw his arms around me, claiming that I was a friend whom he had not seen for a long time. I was taken aback but managed to disentangle myself from his embrace only to discover, as he ran off, that he had picked my pocket and stolen my wallet. Together with my elderly companion (we are both in our 70s) I gave chase, shouting out to bystanders and stallholders alike that the man - now dodging through the crowds some way ahead of us - had robbed me. Several people showed concern, but made no offer of assistance. Except one man - a tall, well-built Westerner with what sounded like a British accent. He set off in pursuit of the thief but I thought it highly unlikely that I would ever see my wallet again. I was wrong. About five minutes later, the pursuer came running back to me with my wallet in his hand. He immediately asked me to identify it and to check that all of its contents were there. To my great relief, I found that nothing had been taken. Naturally, I was overcome with gratitude and asked if there was some way in which I might reward him. His reply was simple: ''No sir. All part of the service. British Royal Navy.''



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